Soul, essence, and consciousness. All terms that create quite a bit of confusion. Let’s explore our hidden nature!
I avoid the term soul in teaching at first as the soul is a very overloaded term. Too many different definitions over time have been collected for the soul. Whenever I come across a term which is overloaded like this, my reaction is that various definitions are not the root but rather interesting leaves of corollary truths. So at this point, I get dirty to dig for roots.
For the case of the soul, a good root definition becomes: Soul represents what something is, the base quality that transcends the actual object in question. But even that is too complicated, so I simplify the core definition of the soul to be: The base quality of what you are.
This definition takes a person pretty far. In Taoist thought (actually in many traditions) a person is composed of multiple aspects of life. This creates an interesting insight. We are comprised of several different souls working together in tandem. Our physical body has a soul (Po Soul), and our mind/spiritual form has a soul (Hun Soul). Depending on the Taoist tradition there can be multiple Hun and Po Souls. These souls merge up to create a person as a whole. This concept is important for later.