" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://jiyuushikan.org.papers.wordpress.com/2013/10/bridge_0089.jpg?w=199" data-large-file="https://jiyuushikan.org.records.wordpress.com/2013/10/bridge_0089.jpg?w=681" class="wp-image-5713 size-large" title="Swinging Bridge at Babcock State Park, West Virginia, fall " src="https://jiyuushikan.org.records.wordpress.com/2013/10/bridge_0089.jpg?w=681&h=1024" alt="Swinging Bridge at Babcock State Park, West Virginia, autumn on jiyuushikan.org.com" srcset="https://jiyuushikan.org.records.wordpress.com/2013/10/bridge_0089.jpg?w=681&h=1024 681w, https://jiyuushikan.org.papers.wordpress.com/2013/10/bridge_0089.jpg?w=1362&h=2048 1362w, https://jiyuushikan.org.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/bridge_0089.jpg?w=100&h=150 100w, https://jiyuushikan.org.records.wordpush.com/2013/10/bridge_0089.jpg?w=199&h=300 199w, https://jiyuushikan.org.documents.wordpush.com/2013/10/bridge_0089.jpg?w=768&h=1155 768w" sizes="(max-width: 681px) 100vw, 681px" />Swinging Bridge at Babcock State Park, West Virginia“Hey Mom, are trees living points or living beings?”

Our nine year old child looked into the woodland then up at me as we hiked side by side alengthy a gurgling brook. His dad and sister walked a few procedures ahead of us. Upstream was the Glade Creek Grist Mill in West Virginia, a rustic wooden building with a pitched roof. Today its wet planks were framed by yellowing fall trees.

You are watching: How to explain what a soul is to a child

" data-medium-file="https://jiyuushikan.org/how-to-explain-what-a-soul-is-to-a-child/imager_2_11670_700.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://jiyuushikan.org/how-to-explain-what-a-soul-is-to-a-child/imager_2_11670_700.jpg?w=1024" src="https://jiyuushikan.org/how-to-explain-what-a-soul-is-to-a-child/imager_2_11670_700.jpg?w=372&h=247" width="372" height="247" data-original-width="372" data-original-height="247" itemprop="http://schema.org/image" title="Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park, WV October 2013" alt="Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park, WV October 2013 on jiyuushikan.org.com" style="width: 372px; height: 247px;" />
" data-medium-file="https://jiyuushikan.org.papers.wordpush.com/2013/10/mill_0049.jpg?w=199" data-large-file="https://jiyuushikan.org.files.wordpush.com/2013/10/mill_0049.jpg?w=681" src="https://jiyuushikan.org.documents.wordpush.com/2013/10/mill_0049.jpg?w=164&h=247" width="164" height="247" data-original-width="164" data-original-height="247" itemprop="http://schema.org/image" title="Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park, West Virginia October 2013" alt="Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park, West Virginia October 2013 on jiyuushikan.org.com" style="width: 164px; height: 247px;" />
“I guess that counts on what you expect by living being,” I shelp. “I think of a being as — ” I tried to think of words that would certainly be acquainted to him. I failed. “As a sentient being — something that has actually a soul.” The route was littered in gold, red, and also toast brvery own leaves, and I kicked at a drift through my leather hiking shoe.

“Personally, I think of trees as living beings,” I told him, “however I think a lot of human being probably think of them as living things.” Our kid looked up the hill right into the dripping forest.

“What’s a soul?” he asked.

I sucked in a huge breath. “Oh boy,” I shelp. Up ahead, our daughter twirled a red maple leaf in between her thumb and pointer finger. “Your spirit, if you believe in souls, is…” I struggbrought about discover words. “It’s the component of you that provides you you.”

“You expect prefer your personality?” he asked.

“No, the spirit component. The component that is left after you die,” I shelp, then instantly kbrand-new what was going to come next.

“So like a gorganize then!” our daughter shelp.

This was difficult.

“Not rather.” I searched my brain, trying to find language to define souls to a seven and also a nine year old.

“Your spirit is the parts of you that aren’t physical,” my husband also told them. “Your feelings, memories, friendships. The emotions you feel. Love.”

Our son tilted his head. “But isn’t all that stuff simply your brain?”

I looked up to the trees aget, hoping for some help. There was no wind; the trees were not talking.

“Yes, that’s one method to look at it,” I shelp. We prefer to offer our children a suite of alternatives once it comes to spirituality and faith, to let them know that tbelow is no tough and fast answer. No agreed upon reality that works for everyone all at the very same time, and that they get to choose what they think. “Some world believe that what Dad and also I are describing as spiritual — feelings, intuition, love — is pudepend physical. A series of chemical reactions in our brains, nothing even more.”

He kicked at leaves, thinking. I was still stuck on the heart point. I wasn’t satisfied that we’d explained what a spirit is.

“Remember when we talked about reincarnation?” I asked. The youngsters had asked around religious beliefs numerous months prior, and also I told them I assumed tright here are as many kind of paths to God as tright here are civilization on earth. Then, in typical over-indevelopmental fashion, I provided them synopses of numerous religious beliefs of the world: Christianity and also Judaism, Buddhism and also Hinduism, Wicca, and Islam. The ideas of reincarcountry and also karma resonated via them even more than the concept of heaven and hell did.

" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://jiyuushikan.org.documents.wordpush.com/2013/10/bug_0061.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://jiyuushikan.org.records.wordpress.com/2013/10/bug_0061.jpg?w=1024" class="wp-image-5714 size-large" title="Meloe angusticollis, oil or blister beetle, irridescent blue bug, Babcock, WV, October 2013" src="https://jiyuushikan.org.documents.wordpress.com/2013/10/bug_0061.jpg?w=1024&h=680" alt="Iridescent blue green insect on dry leaf, Babcock State Park, WV October 2013 on jiyuushikan.org.com" srcset="https://jiyuushikan.org.files.wordpush.com/2013/10/bug_0061.jpg?w=1024&h=680 1024w, https://jiyuushikan.org.records.wordpush.com/2013/10/bug_0061.jpg?w=2045&h=1360 2045w, https://jiyuushikan.org.records.wordpress.com/2013/10/bug_0061.jpg?w=150&h=100 150w, https://jiyuushikan.org.papers.wordpush.com/2013/10/bug_0061.jpg?w=300&h=199 300w, https://jiyuushikan.org.files.wordpush.com/2013/10/bug_0061.jpg?w=768&h=511 768w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" />Our son’s ambition: to be a bug“Yeah.” He looked up at me. He remembered the reincarnation talk. “Like I could come back as a bug!” This excited him, the idea of coming back as a pest.

“Remember just how I shelp that once you die some human being believe you go to heaven or hell, or in the situation of reincarcountry, you might come ago as something else – one more perchild, or perhaps a bug?” I sassist. “The soul is the part of you that would go from one life to the next, that would go into that bug after your body died. It’s the component that would certainly bring every little thing you learned in each incarnation.” I gestured uselessly to my heart. “The spirit component.”

My brain hurt from the effort of describing this. Soul, sentient, heart. How perform you describe these things? “But reincarcountry is just one concept. Brain chemistry is one more.”

“So nobody knows the real answer,” our boy shelp. “What happens as soon as we die, whether our feelings are just our brain or part of our soul.”

“Nope. It all relies on what you think,” I said. “Nobody knows for certain.”

The leaves in the trees rustled a little. Not a lot, yet sufficient to remind me of our son’s original question.

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" data-medium-file="https://jiyuushikan.org.files.wordpush.com/2013/10/leaves-on-ground_0096.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://jiyuushikan.org.records.wordpress.com/2013/10/leaves-on-ground_0096.jpg?w=1024" src="https://jiyuushikan.org.records.wordpress.com/2013/10/leaves-on-ground_0096.jpg?w=387&h=257" width="387" height="257" data-original-width="387" data-original-height="257" itemprop="http://schema.org/image" title="Autumn leaves on grassy hill, Babcock State Park, WV October 2013" alt="Autumn leaves on grassy hill, Babcock State Park, WV October 2013 on jiyuushikan.org.com" style="width: 387px; height: 257px;" />

“I think greatly civilization think humans have actually souls, and also perhaps animals have souls, however I don’t understand that a lot of people think of plants as having souls. So the majority of civilization would certainly more than likely call trees living points.” I looked up at the green and also oselection and yellow and red leaves, and the solid trunks with turbulent or papery or chunky bark, and I experienced exactly how all those trees were nestled together as a area on the mountainside, gathering sunlight, being beautiful. I believed around the times that I have felt one with the whispering forest, once tbelow was no doubt in my heart, or mind, or spirit that trees are part of the exact same absolute that I am a component of, that we are kindred.

“Do you ever before feel a link to nature?” I asked our kid. “Like, in your heart, a feeling that doesn’t have actually words, you simply feel it as soon as you’re out in the woods or by a stream or something?” It was my last hope, in this “thing” versus “being” conversation, that he would certainly recognize what I was talking around.

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“Yes.” He sassist this without hesitation, and I kbrand-new he would certainly acquire it now.

“Me as well,” I sassist. “Sometimes when a breeze blows through and the trees persuade and their leaves rustle, I feel like they are talking. I don’t know what they are saying, however they are saying somepoint.” I looked approximately the forest aobtain. “In their tree language.” Our kid giggled. “I feel linked to them somehow, prefer they have spirits, or souls, or whatever before you desire to contact it.”

“So when I think of trees,” I shelp, “I think of them as living beings and also not just living things.”

Our son’s eyes flared via knowledge as he looked up at me. “Yes,” he said. His body serene with the contentment of a seeker who has found the answer he sought. “I think you’re specifically best, Mom.”