Without strength there is no hope. Without mind there is no decision. Without emotion there is no point.
They make up existence and fashion it the way they see fit. They are the dreamers who weave realities and the observers who explore them.
Maybe they are independent entities? Maybe they are all the same being, echoing itself throughout eternity, making its copies interact with each other? Maybe it doesn't matter?
There have been numerous attempts at defining the essence of the soul, with varying success and applicability. Even among systems compliant with the Omniverse principles there is an overabundance; many of these end up incomplete or overly specific, but others have been found to be useful for describing specific phenomena.
One of the notable frameworks is the uncreatively named Soul Model. It actually encompasses two separate and yet compatible perspectives. First, the entity of indispensables, typically used for momentary interactions among souls. Second, the path of experiences, focusing on how souls change over eternity. In the Soul Model context they are often referred to as the "entity aspect" and the "path aspect," respectively; the soul as a whole is said to display a "path-entity duality."
The Entity of Indispensables
Among attempts to describe the soul, many attributes were considered - identity, memory, senses, emotions, free will, strength, imagination, insight, wits and so on. However, their combinations were often chosen haphazardly, without a common trait or a core idea connecting them. To address this, the concept of the indispensables system has been proposed. It initially had been defined as "one or more distinct attributes required by each soul, together fully describing it." After someone had jokingly suggested the technically valid but unhelpful "being a soul" as the sole indispensable, the definition was promptly corrected to "two or more attributes." When it comes to the Soul Model, the indispensables chosen are willpower, awareness, and intent.
The first indispensable - the most straightforward of the three - willpower, also known as strength, force, determination, focus, or frequency. It's usually described as a raw imagination power - the ability to affect and shape greater, more complex realities. It may fluctuate, possibly ranging from tiniest, barely noticeable amounts to arbitrarily large, if not infinite, values. Yet no soul can be completely devoid of it - otherwise, it would have no potential of its own, and without any means of interaction it would leave not a single trace of existence. In general, willpower is rarely considered in the context of a single soul; it becomes more relevant when multiple souls cross their ways by trying to alter the same reality.
The second indispensable - much broader and more intricate - awareness, also known as mind, perception, insight, intuition, experience, knowledge, consciousness, or method. Its role is to assess the environment, interpret the information available and compare it to the knowledge gathered so far. Alternatively, it may be seen as an ability to see options (without it, the soul wouldn't know how to use its own willpower). With the sheer number of possible approaches to a given problem, more or less effective, it comes as no surprise that awareness has so many facets to it, whether more immediate (perception) or established (experience). Because of that, awareness has became a kitchen sink of sorts, encompassing a variety of more specific and optional soul properties.
The final indispensable, intent, also known as emotion, motive, judgment, choice, subjectivity, direction, or attractor. It defines the soul's goals and classifies specific states as more or less desirable. Whereas the awareness finds the possible options and chances, the intent ultimately decides which of these aligns with the soul's goals. Without the intent, the soul would use its willpower randomly, acting more like a mindless force of nature. Much like a soul without willpower or without awareness, it would be as good as dead (inanimate).
All three attributes are represented in a certain depiction of the soul - the perception with an eye, the willpower with limbs, and the intent with one direction the eye and the limbs are facing. For multiple reasons, this depiction became associated with the Soul Model as a whole. First, the entity of indispensables is rarely introduced independently of the model; second, the entity aspect is used more frequently than the path aspect; third, the symbol is memorable, especially compared to other common soul depictions such as simple circles or amorphous blobs.
Scope and Partitioning
With the indispensables summarized, one may be tempted to advance right to the path aspect. Before that, however, the scope of a soul and the partitioning of experiences need to be introduced.
Briefly put, the scope of a soul is the fragment of reality the soul observes and manipulates - the extent of its willpower and awareness. Such a scope may include a living organism (a human, an octopus, a plant, a bacteria), a collective (a colony, a swarm, a species), a mechanism or other inorganic object (a car, a house, a mountain), a natural phenomenon (light, heat, electricity), a celestial body, an abstract concept (a geometric shape, a sentient set of differential equations), a whole universe... In principle, no imaginable piece of existence is more or less suitable as a scope than any other. In practice, souls are drawn towards entities that seem easier to grasp, manipulate, and change environment with.
It should be noted that scopes of different souls may, and often will, overlap; that's how souls are able to interact in the first place. Often, the interaction is one-sided - only one of the souls shapes the overlapping scope, while the others observe. Other times, many souls try to change the same reality. In such case, they either negotiate or engage in a battle of willpowers. Not only that, the scope itself constantly fluctuates and adapts - to conjure a serving of ice cream a soul may briefly expand its own scope to the matter the dessert is formed from, and then shrink back into the human organism it usually inhabits.
The partitioning of experiences is a phenomenon complementary to the scoping. The scoping determines how all existence is bound to souls at a given moment, whereas the partitioning divides entire experience of a soul into manageable chunks - moments of awareness. Each of these chunks encompasses the knowledge, observations and decisions at a specific point - the momentary scope of the individual soul. Not only that, the stream of consciousness never ends; each sensation will be eventually followed by another, even if it takes aeons. Many people have found this concept intuitive and relatable, and confirmed experiencing the partitioning. Soul researchers can't agree if this mechanism is inherent to awareness or a mere temporary illusion.
Multiple Omniverse theorists believe that partitioning of experience is essential to determining the soul's individual potential. The idea is straightforward - sum the information contained in all distinct moments of awareness to obtain the potential. The result depends on choice of two values - the momentary density (the amount of information a single moment carries) and the number of possible moments. With each different moment containing at least some information (finite or not) and their number assumed to be unlimited, it is agreed the entirety of existence is at least countably infinite.1 If larger infinities are postulated, they are typically explained by similarly infinite momentary density.
Path of Experiences
Much like the entity aspect deals with all souls interacting in a single moment, the path aspect focuses on a single soul's experiences throughout eternity. The partitioning plays a crucial role here - it defines moments of awareness and implies they form a sequence - the very path of experiences. Such a path has several noteworthy properties.
It has no end, which is a direct consequence of the partitioning mechanics. Also, it not only goes through each possible experience but does so repeatedly - abandoning an experience and never coming back would be a loss of soul's potential, breaking the symmetry principle. Furthermore, it is postulated that the path can go between any two experiences (each experience can be immediately followed by any other); at the same time, there is no guarantee each transition is equally likely. Building up from that, not only each individual experience, but also any finite sequence of experiences will play out again and again - this, too, is enforced by the symmetry principle. With all this constant repetition making backtracking virtually impossible, the path of experiences effectively has no beginning much like it has no end.
Occasionally, the path aspect is used to explain the apparent merging and splitting of souls. It is possible for multiple individual souls to enter the same subpath at the same time and go through the same experiences - for other souls they seem like a new entity, with its own scope and possibly greater power. Then, the souls might part ways due to different intents - other souls would then witness the superentity having its scope divided. Some people even claim that merging and splitting happens on regular basis, with a small number of souls joining and leaving the stream every moment. At the same time, there could be sensitive spots of convergence and divergence, where merging and splitting becomes much more noticeable.
Certain Omniverse Theorists argue that there's no actual splitting or merging, as no soul can be distinguished from another and they are all as good as one (this notion has been previously mentioned in the context of the symmetry principle). Others point out that, sure, reducing all existence to a single soul might feel elegant and not without merit, but also hardly relatable, useful or inspiring. Some even claim that it completely misses the point of the Soul Model, which relies on the soul being one among many.
Indeed, the Soul Model isn't meant to reveal the absolute truth about souls. It provides a system one may try to explain one's own experiences with, correctly or not.
Yet, there's more to that. As any other idea, the Soul Model shifts one's perspective, if only ever so slightly. And in the realm of souls, even the smallest change may be leveraged to bring a massive change in reality...
Next time, the most elementary actions and interactions of souls will be explored - all together forming Chaos.
- ^ A finite sum of infinitely many items is technically possible - a typical example is a decaying sequence with each item followed by its half, adding up to twice the first item. However, it is usually agreed there's no finite upper bound of momentary density; one can form a never-ending sequence of increasingly large moments with unlimited sum.