I’ve been taking a class on Karma (action) and the 12 Nidanas (links of causation) and what surprises me most is my difficulty in letting go of the concept of the soul. Throughout my studies as a Buddhist I’ve always been agnostic about the concept of reincarnation. My attitude for a long time has been that there is no way for me to know whether reincarnation is real; so why bother thinking much about it? What I didn’t realize, despite my ability to feign indifference to the questions of what happens when we die, is that I have been secretly holding onto the view that we all have a soul.
After studying the cycle of samsara in more detail, I realize that I’m confused. If you are raised as a Muslim, Jew or Christian, you might be taught that there is a soul that goes to heaven; this soul is believed to be the essential element of your self, which is not dependent on a body to exist.