I'm an atheist by early training and an agnostic with a gut feeling that there is nothing beyond this mortal coil by inclination. Almost everyone I know is either religious or has some sort of loosey goosey spirituality. Which is all fine and good until your mom dies and then there is no one to talk to who really gets the true sense of loss and frustration and all the many layers of underlying and overlying thoughts and emotions that go along when someone you love dies and you really believe that they aren't around AT ALL any more (not out there somewhere or up there somewhere or part of your lawn or present in that kitten you found in the alley or whatever). Mitch tried really hard and he was a good listener, but someone who isn't afraid of death and has a general feeling that we are all connected couldn't really get on board the emphathy train on this one. The exception to this generalization is of course, my friend Allie, who is also in my boat of no mystical afterlife to go to when the shit hits the fan.
Anyway, point being that I don't really believe in the soul, at least not apart from the body. But I was reading this interesting novel, a mystery that takes place in Tibet under Chinese occupation, and one of the characters in the book says that everyone has two souls, a night soul and a day soul, and that the goal of life is to introduce your night soul to your day soul. In the context of the book the idea was that at night sometimes you believe things about yourself and reality that you are unwilling to invest in during the cold light of day. And that essential to being is to bring these two parts of your personality, soul, what have you, together.
The idea struck a chord because I have a night "soul" that doesn't meet my day "soul" and I do wish that they could meet and get along. My night person/thing/thoughts is all to aware of the fact that all existence is temporary and that I and everyone I love could die at any moment. When these thoughts occur to me (in the middle of the night) I get pretty freaked out and have to shove them down deep, deep, deep and think about something else so that I can go back to sleep. During the day I just try not to think about death at all.
I do think that it would be ideal to come to grips with the idea of death and dying and be able to acknowledge that reality without feeling like throwing up. Thus when I read this statement about night souls and day souls and the need for the to meet, I thought, "yes, I whole heartedly agree." Of course, that doesn't really bring me any closer to accepting the impermanence of all things...but there you are or I should say, there I am, an imperfect being still striving to get a grip on the nature of reality.