Many religious people believe that the spirit or soul is the ego-self, our personality, the person we think we are in our heads, our psychological “self,” with all our memories and experiences and relationships, etc. But none of this existed at our birth. We had no ego, no personality, no sense of “self” in our heads, no memories, no self-awareness whatsoever. These all develop gradually throughout our childhood and life, and are mortal qualities formed through the arrangement of neural networks in our brains during mortal life.
If we think our spirit/soul is the ego, then it seems we had none at birth. But if we did have a spirit/soul at birth, then this must have been something else entirely.
I suggest that this spirit/soul was and is the Spirit of God living in us, it is the Life-force energy of the Cosmos which comes down from the energy of stars such as our Sun and makes us living breathing souls, and which gives us conscious awareness. It is God’s Incarnation in you and me, the Universe becoming a Life. When the ego falls away from our consciousness, we know ourselves as this Spirit which is One and the same in all beings. It is One in God. There is no differentiation in this Spirit, in this Consciousness. We are all One, and that One has traditionally been called God, but there are many names for it both in the East and West.
In my view, when we die, we don’t continue being the ego-self we think we are, with all its memories and experiences and personality. I think these qualities go with our body/brain to the grave. What continues is that Spirit, that energy, that Life-force that arises in all of Life, that brings Consciousness to all of Life, that is the Incarnation of God in all of Life. This is the Eternal Life of God, of the One, of Reality, Truth, of the Cosmos.
The role of spirituality and religion is to help us recognize and identity ourselves with that deepest essence of which we all are, our true nature, the Spirit which gives us all Life, which is One in all beings and God. We detach our identity from merely being the small separate ego-self, and identify with the deeper Spirit of God that arises in all of Life indefinitely throughout the Cosmos.
This is what I think all of the great mystics, prophets, sages, saints, shamans, gurus, swamis, and other holy people of history were trying to teach, but which many misunderstood. It’s hard to understand because nearly everyone comes to identify strongly and exclusively with their ego-self, this psychological construction that makes us feel separate and isolated from one another. They have not had a direct experience or awareness of the deeper universal Spirit that lives within them, and that is their Life and all of Life. It almost always takes a direct perception of that Divine Spirit within before one will be able to recognize it as their deepest and truest identity, even their eternal identity.
And so this is the purpose of spiritual practices; they seem to subdue or silence ego in our minds so that we may become aware of what we really are behind the ego. The ego normally veils it so that we can’t see it, and aren’t aware of it. We’re blind to it, and don’t know it. But when the veil parts, we finally see the Divinity that we and all beings are, and this is our true nature, at-one in God, the Eternal, the Cosmos, Life, Truth, Reality.