— Ann L., Los Gatos, California
You'd be surprised how often this question comes up, usually in the spirit of "gotcha." Skeptics say: "There are twice as many people in the world as 50 years ago. If all have a soul, and souls are immortal, there can't be more souls. Therefore, reincarnation is wrong." I notice that you are asking in a friendlier spirit, so here are my candid thoughts.
First, reincarnation isn't being tested by this question. For all we know, souls may be released in some kind of order human beings cannot fathom. Maybe there's an endless supply in an infinite Pez dispenser. The rhythm of soul birth isn't our concern. All we know is that each of us is here, doing the best we can to evolve.
Second, the ego is used to thinking in terms of "I," or the separate self. But let's set the ego aside for a moment. Your soul is your deepest consciousness, the source of your awareness. To me, consciousness is a singular that has no plural. One gold can be made into many ornaments, one fire makes many flames, one ocean many waves. Souls are patterns of movement and behavior in a single consciousness. Call it the mind of God or the womb of creation, this single source can give rise to as many souls as the universe calls forth, just as the ocean can have a few waves or many.
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Deepak Chopra is the author of more than 50 books on health, success, relationships and spirituality, including his current best-seller, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, and The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, which are available now. You can listen to his show on Saturdays every week on SiriusXM Channels 102 and 155.