315. To this I will append two narrative accounts. Here is the first:
I once saw, not far from me, an atmospheric wonder. I saw a cloud break up into smaller clouds, some of them light blue, and some dark; and as I watched they seemed to be colliding into each other. Rays of light began to flash in streaks between them, appearing now as sharp as rapiers, now blunted like swords broken. One moment these streaks would race out to strike, the next moment retreat back, altogether like boxers. These different colored little clouds thus looked as though they were fighting with each other, but in sport.
Now because this phenomenon appeared not far from me, I raised my eyes and looked more intently; and I saw boys, young men and older men going into a house, which was built out of marble with a foundation of porphyry. It was over this house that that phenomenon was occurring.
I then spoke to one of the people going in and asked what was happening there.
To that he replied, "It is a school where young men are introduced into various matters having to do with wisdom."
 Hearing this, and being in the spirit, that is, in a state like that of people in the spiritual world, who are called spirits and angels, I went in with them. And behold, in that school I saw up front a ceremonial chair; in the central part a number of benches; around the sides some more seats; and over the entrance a balcony. The ceremonial chair was for the young men when it became their turn to respond to the question that would then be put to them. The benches were for those who were there to listen. The seats along the sides were for those who had already answered wisely on previous occasions. And the balcony was for the older men who would be the referees and judges. In the middle of the balcony stood a dais, where a wise man sat whom they called Headmaster; it was he who posed the questions for the young men to respond to from the ceremonial chair.
So then, after all were assembled, the man rose from his dais and said, "Please give your reply now to the following question and explain it if you can: What is the soul, and what is the nature of it?"
 On hearing this they were all stunned and began to murmur. And some in the throng on the benches cried out, "What person, from the age of Saturn to our present time, has been able, by any deliberation of reason, to see and lay hold of what the soul is, not to mention what the nature of it is. Is this not beyond the realm of anyone's understanding?"
However, to that the men in the balcony replied, "It is not beyond human understanding, but within its scope and ability to see. Just respond to the question."
So the young men chosen to ascend the chair that day and respond to the question stood up. There were five of them, whom the older men had examined and found proficient in intelligence, and who were then sitting on long, cushioned seats to the sides of the ceremonial chair. Moreover, these afterwards ascended the chair in the order in which they were seated; and as each one ascended it, he would put on a tunic of opal-colored silk, and over that a gown of soft wool inwoven with flowers, and in addition a cap whose peak bore a rosette surrounded by little sapphires.
 Accordingly I saw the first one thus dressed ascend the chair. And he said, "What the soul is and what the nature of it is has not been revealed to anyone from the time of creation, being a secret locked away in repositories belonging to God alone. Only this much has been disclosed, that the soul dwells in a person like a queen. But where her court is, this a number of learned seers have guessed at. Some have supposed that it is located in the little protuberance between the cerebrum and cerebellum called the pineal gland. They have imagined the seat of the soul to be there on the ground that a person is governed in his entirety by the cerebrum and cerebellum, which in turn are directed by that gland; consequently that that which directs those two parts of the brain to its bidding also directs the entire person from head to heel."
But he said, "Although this appeared as true or likely to many in the world, in a later age it was rejected as a fiction."
 After he had spoken, he took off the gown, tunic and cap, and the second of the young men selected put them on and placed himself in the chair. His statement concerning the soul was as follows:
"No one, in all of heaven and in all the world, knows what the soul is and what the nature of it is. We know only that it exists, and that it exists in a person; but where is a matter of conjecture. This much is certain, that it exists in the head, since that is where the intellect thinks and where the will wills, and it is there in the face in the forepart of the head that a person's five senses are located. Nothing else gives life to these but the soul which is seated somewhere inside the head. But where exactly its court is there I would not venture to say, though I have agreed at different times with those who assign it a seat in the three ventricles of the brain, with those put it in the corpora striata there, with those who put it in the medullary substance of the cerebrum and cerebellum, with those who put it in the cortical substance, and at times with those who put it in the dura mater; for arguments have not been lacking to prompt affirmative votes, so to speak, in support of each of these as the seat.
 "Some people have voted in favor of the three ventricles of the brain on the ground that they are receptacles of all the brain's animating essences and fluids. Some have voted in favor of the corpora striata on the ground that they form the medulla through which the nerves exit and through which the cerebrum and cerebellum are continued into the spine, from which medulla and spine issue the fibers of which the whole body is woven. Some have voted in favor of the medullary substance of the cerebrum and cerebellum on the ground that it is a conglomeration and mass of all the fibers which constitute the initial elements of the entire person. Some have voted in favor of the cortical substance on the ground that this is where the first and last terminations of a person are, from which come the beginnings of all the fibers and thus of all sensations and movements. Still others have voted in favor of the dura mater on the ground that it is the overall covering of the entire brain, and extends from there by a kind of continuation around the heart and other internal organs of the body.
"For my part, I do not think any more of one theory than another. I leave it to you to please judge for yourselves and pick which is better."
 So saying he descended from the chair and handed the tunic, gown and cap to the third one in line; and mounting the chair the third young man made the following response:
"What business do I have at my young age with so lofty a subject? I appeal to the learned gentlemen sitting here at the sides. I appeal to you wiser men in the balcony. Indeed, I appeal to the angels of the highest heaven. Can anyone, by any rational light of his own, gain for himself any idea of the soul?
"As for its seat in a person, however, concerning this I can, like the others, offer a speculation. And I speculate that it is in the heart and from that in the blood. I come to this speculation because the heart by its blood governs both body and head; for it sends out the great artery called the aorta to the whole of the body, and the arteries called the carotids to the whole of the head. It is universally agreed therefore that it is from the heart by means of the blood that the soul sustains, nourishes and animates the entire organic system of both body and head.
"Adding to the plausibility of this assertion is the fact that the Holy Scripture so often mentions the soul and heart - as for example that you should love God with all your soul and with all your heart, and that God creates in man a new soul and new heart (Deuteronomy 6:5, 10:12, 11:13, 26:16; Jeremiah 32:41; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30,33; Luke 10:27; and elsewhere 1
); and saying straight out that the blood is the soul of the flesh (Leviticus 17:11,14)."
When they heard this, some of them lifted up their voice, saying, "Masterful! Masterful!" - they being members of the clergy.
 After that the fourth in line took from him the vestments and put them on, and having placed himself in the chair, said:
"I, too, suspect that no one is possessed of such fine and polished genius that he can discern what the soul is and what the nature of it is. I judge accordingly that anyone who tries to investigate it only wastes the cleverness of his intellect in vain endeavors. Nevertheless, from childhood I have maintained a belief in an opinion held by the ancients, that a person's soul dwells in his whole being and in every part of it, thus that it dwells both in the head and its individual parts and in the body and its individual parts; and that it was a conceit invented by modern thinkers to assign it a seat here or there and not everywhere. The soul is furthermore a spiritual essence, to which is ascribed neither dimension nor location but indwelling and repleteness. Who, too, does not mean life when he refers to the soul? And does life not exist in the whole and in every part?"
At these words, many in the hall expressed approval.
 After him the fifth speaker arose, and outfitted in the same regalia, he presented from the chair the following statement:
"I do not take the time to say where the soul is - whether it resides in any one part or everywhere in the whole; but from my fund and store of knowledge I will declare my mind on the question of what the soul is and what the nature of it is. No one thinks of the soul except as a pure entity which may be likened to ether, air or wind, in which the vital force is from the rationality which human beings have over animals. I base this opinion on the fact that when a person expires or breathes his last, he is said to give up the ghost or soul. For this reason the soul that lives after death is also believed to be such an exhalation, in which is the cognitive life which we call the soul. What else can the soul be?
"However, because I heard you men in the balcony say that the question of the soul - what it is and what the nature of it is - is not beyond human understanding but within its scope and ability to see, I ask and implore you to lay open this eternal mystery yourselves."
 At that the older men in the balcony looked at the headmaster who had posed the question. And understanding from the motions of their heads that they wished him to go down and explain, he immediately descended from his dais, crossed the hall and placed himself in the chair. Then stretching out his hand there he said:
"Pay attention, please. Who does not believe the soul to be the inmost and finest essence of a person? And what is an essence without a form other than a figment of the imagination? The soul therefore is a form; but what the nature of the form is remains to be told. It is a form embracing all elements of love and all elements of wisdom. We call all the elements of love affections; and we call all the elements of wisdom perceptions. These perceptions, flowing from the affections and thus together with them, constitute a single form, which contains an endless number of constituent elements in such an order, series and connection that they may be said to be one and indivisible. They may be said to be one and indivisible because nothing can be taken from the whole or added to it without changing its character. What else is the human soul but such a form? Are not all the elements of love and all the elements of wisdom in a person the essential constituents of that form, these being in the soul, and in the head and body from the soul?
 "You are called spirits and angels, and in the world you believed that spirits and angels were like bits of wind or ether and so were disembodied minds and hearts. But now you clearly see that you are truly, really and actually whole people - people who in the world lived and thought in a material body, and who knew then that the material body does not live and think, but the spiritual essence in that body, which you called the soul whose form you did not know. And yet now you have seen it and do see it. You are all souls, whose immortality you have heard, thought, spoken and written so much about. And it is because you are forms of love and wisdom from God that you can never hereafter die.
"So then, the soul is a human form, from which nothing can be taken away, and to which nothing can be added, and it is the inmost form in all the forms of the entire person. Moreover, because the forms which exist outwardly take both their essence and their form from the inmost one, therefore you, as you appear to yourselves and to us, are souls.
"The soul, in short, is the person himself, because it is the innermost person. Consequently its form is a fully and perfectly human form. Yet it is not life, but the most immediate recipient vessel of life from God and thus the dwelling place of God."
 At this many in the hall applauded; but some said, "We will have to think about it."
I then departed for home; and lo, over that school, in place of the earlier phenomenon, I saw a white cloud without the rays or streaks of light combating with each other. Then, penetrating through the roof, the cloud entered the hall and lighted up the walls; and I heard that they saw inscriptions, and included among them also this one:
Jehovah God breathed into the man's nostrils the breath of life, 2
and the man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
1. E.g. Deuteronomy 30:6; Psalms 51:10; Ezekiel 11:19.
2. Literally, soul of life. Hebrew: breath, spirit.