You ask how, if souls continue to exist, the atmosphere has room for them from time eternal. But how does the ground have room for the bodies of those who for so long an age are buried in it? The answer is that, as on earth change and dissolution after a continuance for so long make room for other dead bodies, so in the atmosphere souls pass on and continue for so long, and then change and are poured out and are kindled being assumed into the generative principle of Universal Nature, and so provide room for those which succeed to their place. This would be the answer presuming that souls do continue. But we must consider not only the multitude of bodies that are thus buried, but also the number of animals eaten every day by ourselves and the rest of the animal creation. How large a number are devoured and in a manner of speaking buried in the bodies of those who feed upon them; and yet there is room to contain them because they are turned into blood, because they are changed into forms of air and heat. How shall we investigate the truth of this? By a distinction into the material and the causal. Meditations 4.21
To the Stoics, the cosmos is a single pantheistic god, one which is rational and creative, and which is the basis of everything which exists. The world is one, and must arise from one principle. The active substance of the world is characterized as a ‘breath’, or pneuma. Meditations 4.21 asks if the atmosphere has room for them from time eternal . Where is our place in the universe especially with the immortal soul?
Centuries ago, people believed that the sun, the stars, and the planets was orbiting around us and that the earth was the center of the universe. The discoveries of great astronomers and physicians and the evolution of the sciences has revealed to us that such is not the case; a fact that is common sense in the modern society. However, the spiritual tradition of the West; that is Christianity, has not been able to keep up with the rapid progress of the scientific discoveries and the transformation of the world views of the modern man.
The Christian thinking of today is still not far from the centuries old idea that universe revolves around us humans. Christianity is losing more popularity than ever and is no longer able resonate with the spiritual needs of the modern man. Needless to say, people have come to start questioning the Judeo-Christian idea that man was created in the image of God. And rightfully so.
How We Fit
With the information flow of today we are no longer limited to build our world views from merely our own experiences and near surroundings, we are well aware of the fact that we are coexisting with billions of different creatures and organisms all around the globe, that we are affected by each other and that together we are creating an ecosystem that is functioning in the circles of life.
In the light of this, it can indeed be a challenge to conceive that man, a creature far more devastating and destructive than any other creature known to have resided on earth could be the representation of what is holy in this universe. We can observe how the constant expansion of the human civilization is continuously violating itself on nature for its own sake; cutting down forests, polluting the air and poisoning the waters.
An endless amount of wicked deeds and crimes are committed on continuous basis by this image of God; acts that are unheard of in the animal kingdom. One might quickly assume that humanity is in its essence a destructive force working against the otherwise harmonious laws of nature. However, the experience that numerous of people report having when spending time in nature speaks otherwise. Indeed, first we must remember that the spiritual needs of man are none the less simply because the spiritual traditions of our society are outdated.
On the contrary, the thirst for spirituality is greater than ever before as society has failed to fulfil our needs. If it cannot be found in the religious traditions of our culture, nor in the materialistic approach of society, people have no choice but to seek elsewhere. For a vast number of people, it is out in nature where they have been able to reestablished a sense of spiritual connection, and sitting on a mountaintop with the view of vast landscapes, watching insects and animals of wide variety, plants, and trees of all kinds; that all have its own purpose, it is difficult but to see that this universe is in fact a beautiful interconnection of everything inside it that supports its own existence.
Discovering Our Meaning
The overwhelming serenity that one might feel in such circumstances will make one ask the question whether God is not in the image of us humans, but in the world around us and the entire universe. As people develop these insights there is one natural result that follows; which is tolerance. If by repeated experience of serenity in abovementioned circumstances and one develop an inner feeling of conviction that we are indeed an interconnected existence and gradually start to view God in all that is around and within, how can it be possible for us to be judgmental towards our surrounding; to cause harm and to be cruel?
If we carry a deep understanding that all is one, we would care of everything as we care about ourselves: the true meaning of the golden rule! It is moral laws that is not brought to us from reading old scriptures of ancient cultures but from the very spiritual connection of our beings. What can be more convincing? It creates a profound sense of purpose: fulfilling and including. Every being on earth is our siblings, the stars, the planet, and the rest of the universe!
With the connection to the whole universe, it may guide us through our lives, to live in harmony and to make rightful decisions that will not only benefit our own needs but that of all existence. As we care for our surrounding, we are simultaneously caring for ourselves and vice versa: as we harm our surrounding, we are simultaneously harming ourselves.