In the canonical (by Word of Mike) online game meant to explain the events between Book 2 & 3 - Escape from the Spirit World - Kuruk obtains information about his wife being in the Realm of Koh from Aang, and sets off to track Koh, while Aang goes his separate way.

However, Kuruk is supposed to be a previous incarnation of Aang, with the two having the same spirit. So the question is - if Aang's spirit is the same as Kuruk's spirit, how can Kuruk's spirit try to achieve an individual unique action during Aang's lifetime, separate from Aang, even in the Spirit World?

(I've edited the question to convey more simply what I'm trying to ask, with a specific example, instead of the general question it was before)

  • Mainly because it's a poorly though out retcon, just like LOK is a poorly though out add-on to the series. Remember, they had no plans for a sequel. Korra was created last minute simply because Nick wanted a sequel after ATLA's success. (P.S. I like LOK, but truth is truth).
    – user16696
    Jul 5 '14 at 1:35

He never stopped looking. Like the Flying Dutchman cursed never to return home Kuruk never found the spirit of his wife and continues to search for Koh and a way to get her back. Also, while each Avatar is tied to the spirits of the Avatars that came before they are not the same spirit. It is why Aang had to summon each Avatar from the spirit world and couldn't call them up at will. They are all separate entities that share a thread of power.

Spoilers for middle of Legend of Korra book 2

That thread of power, or "shared spirit", is the spirit Raava. One of two of the greatest spirits who's merging with Wan transformed Wan into the first Avatar. Raava continues to be the thread which all Avatars are connected. This was revealed in Korra Book 2, chapters 7 and 8.

Spoilers for end of Legend of Korra book 2

When the dark spirit Vaatu captured Raava Korra was cut off from the Avatar power and the previous Avatars. Though Korra was able to reconnect to Raava thus reinstating the Avatar Cycle, her connection to the spirits of all previous avatars was lost. Potentially permanently for all Avatars going forward.

  • Thanks! That is definitely the kind of thing that would easily explain this situation. However, iirc, the atla canon itself seems to say 'they're all one actual spirit'. Do you have any canon source to back your take?
    – Shisa
    Aug 19 '14 at 3:12
  • They all share the same spirit, Raava. Raava is the thread that connects all souls of all avatars. They all exist as individual personalities and can exist coexistent in the spirit realm while the current avatar exists. Aug 19 '14 at 18:52
  • Oh wow, thanks! I haven't followed Korra, so I didn't know about this. If you could add this info in your answer to make it more complete, I'd be happy to accept. :)
    – Shisa
    Aug 20 '14 at 1:59

It's just how spiritualism works in that show's universe. Think of it like drafts of a book or screenplay: just because it's "the same script", that doesn't mean you can't identify individual versions of it over time.

Presumably as the Avatar's spirit reincarnates over and over it imprints each person's personality like tree rings, so that the next Avatar can look back through the different generations of their continuous consciousness.

  • Have added some more clarification about what I meant in the OP. :) The thing is - if the Avatar 'spirit' is the document, even if the document is versioned so that we have all the info about anything it has ever been, there still should be only 1 document in the 'memory', so to say, right?!
    – Shisa
    Jul 4 '14 at 6:06
  • I think my answer would remain the same: each version of the avatar is like ripples coming from the same source, connected but independent. In the document analogy, it's like saving different versions of the same file. In your mind you know they're "all the same," even though each one has different details. Perhaps a better analogy is memories of a person: I can imagine what my friend would have done as a kid, and I can imagine what they would do as an adult. They're the same person, but their unique traits in each age bracket allows me to conceptualize them as "different people" in a way.
    – Nerrolken
    Jul 5 '14 at 0:54
  • You misunderstood what I was saying with the doc analogy - that each document is 1 spirit, so while we can access different versions of it - you are NOT saving different versions of it. If you were, how would it be different from any 2 people that don't have the same spirit? Your friend@5 and friend@50 don't get together regularly for tea and decide to do two separate things that day, do they? That is my question, how is Kuruk's spirit doing things independently of Aang in the SW? A
    – Shisa
    Jul 5 '14 at 1:32
  • Friends at different ages don't exist alongside each other. This show is fiction, and they've decided that in their world, different iterations of a single spirit can have semi-distinct existences. Trying to force it into a perfectly logical structure will only lead to frustration. How can two lives of the same spirit talk as two separate entities? Because on this show, that's how it works.
    – Nerrolken
    Aug 4 '14 at 21:50

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