Other researchers – literal-minded scientists – decided after elaborate experimentation that wherever it lurks in life, the soul must exist, for at death there is an infinitesimal but measurable weight loss representing its departure from the body.
I’m not so sure about this idea. I would think that energy, or whatever the spirit or soul is would not contain any weight. I would be more inclined to attribute this to some biological process.
The followers of Orpheus turned the Dionysian method on its head, seeking ecstasy through abstinence and rites of purification, denying the senses rather than using them as vehicles for bliss. In the Orphic view, the soul was of divine origin but had been cast down to suffer imprisonment in human form. The reward or punishment awaiting it in the next life depended entirely on the degree of bodily purity attained on earth.
Through meditation, I’ve found that there is also bliss in denying the senses, in refusing to do what the mind is requesting. This is not easy to do and I have to be in a good meditation practice to succeed. For the past year I’ve not been meditating but find that my mind is much more calm if I can make myself sit down and do it.
Certainly, as Descartes explains, he can mentally erase his own body, the world, and his immediate surroundings. But try as he might, he cannot doubt his own existence because the conscious act of doubting requires thinking, and thinking entails existence as a thinking substance. The truth, writes the suddenly enlightened Descartes, is self-evident: Cogito, ergo sum. “I think, therefore I am.” This truth is undeniable as well as inescapable since to deny it also requires thinking, and to think is to exist.
Leibniz speculated that all apparent matter is made up of basic bits of mind called monads. Monad types are nearly endless in number, he said, and are strewn along a scale of lesser to greater intelligence. A rock is made up of very dumb monads, while a microbe has smarter monads, and a mammal has brighter ones still. Higher on the scale are humans, then angels. Finally there is God, with the highest sort of monads – a special case in that He is infinite and the creator of all monads, which are finite.
Russel believed every human soul chose of its own free will to leave its heavenly station and enter the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Only this way could it gain the experience that would make it richer than before its descent: “They are but the slaves of light / Who have never known the gloom. / And between the dark and bright, / Willed in freedom their own doom.
I’d be pretty upset with my heavenly self if I were born into the time of world war or had a life of extreme suffering such as abuse from parents, or at an extreme tortured for some reason. Perhaps the soul could not see what type of life it would have and so it is a huge gamble?
Roll ascribes to an Iroquois Indian concept called the long body. According to the Iroquois, the long body is all that has impinged upon us or been impinged upon during life. There is no true line of demarcation between the self, the self’s environment, and other selves. Each of us interacts with others and with the place we inhabit in the world. We become part of others, and they of us. There is no distinction between self and other. Similarly, there is no distinction between ourselves and the ground we walk on or the air be breathe. When we die, what survives us is our long body. We persist as part of a continuum that, by extension takes in all the universe.
I like this idea a lot and by subscribing to it feel it to be true. That is why I do not kill any bugs. However, what about plants? We weed our gardens and need to eat something in order to survive. Until recently it was thought that fish or other animals did not have feelings which science is proving false. I imagine we’ll learn a lot more about plants in the future. Will our definition of what constitutes “alive” change? Obviously there is a food chain and things that are “alive” must consume other living things to survive.
In any case, our culture focuses on the individual as a separate entity to everything around them. I think an enlightened person knows just how false this is. There is a deep connection with the universe and everything in it we do not yet (or refuse to) understand.
We see that the self is individual and also universal. Each self and its body has a place and a time in the world, and each self is connected to everything that exists. The self lives and dies and at the same time transcends birth and death.
Since our sense of ourselves is derived in part from the sum of our previous experiences, what is the state of Wearing’s soul (Clive Wearing – disease destroyed an area of his brain called the hippocampus, whose function is to store memory)? Is it diminished? Does it still exist?
Various laboratory experiments, and the very nature of thought itself, suggest to some observers that consciousness may extend far beyond the physical brain, that it may waft through time and space to influence events in ways that have very little to do with ordinary notions of cause and effect.
I’m very interested in this idea and look forward to learning more. However, I think our species is still too primitive to make much of an impact and any that try would be ridiculed. That is unfortunate.
Somehow the process must begin; an act of conscious volition must occur to start the chain of neurological events. And for Eccles the human will is its own entity, a superior being, independent of neurons and synapses, but empowered to act on them. The will enters the brain through a “liaison area” in the SMA (supplementary motor area), he suggests, recalling René Descartes’s notion of a liaison area in the pineal glad where flesh and spirit interact.
As Popper describes it, mind and brain exist within two separate realities. The brain and all other natural objects belong to the world one. The self-conscious min inhabits the abstract horizons of world two. Beyond both of these lies yet another reality, world three, which embraces the full abundance of the mind’s achievements, from the geometry of the pyramids and the sculptures of Michelangelo to skin-cream ads on TV – in short, civilization itself. All three worlds are distinct from each other, yet they continuously interact.
For any LOTR fans out there, I noticed a similarity between the passage above and a description of the Elves in the Silmarillion – The Children of Huron.
The Elves are the “First-born.” They are not angels but have a special connection to the divine that men do not. They exist in both the physical as well as spiritual world simultaneously.Silmarillon
Therefore, I believe this is why the elves would be so disgusted by the Nazgûl: they can see their physical as well as spiritual form at the same time thus know how grotesque and evil they really are whereas men can only see the physical and that alone inspires intense dread and fear.
“The Supreme Person, of the size of the thumb, dwells forever in the heart of all human beings,” reads a passage from the Hindu Upanishads. (Although the Hindu sage may have placed the SMA in the wrong internal organ, he managed to hit upon its correct size.) The New Testament is briefer, if less specific: “The kingdom of heaven is within.”
The phrase “The kingdom of heaven is within” I believe is severely overlooked in modern religion. If one listens to the prayers it is always focused on God or Jesus as they are separate beings. The prayers are always asking them to listen, to provide some sort of blessing and so on. I think Buddhism is more correct in regards to focusing inward and understanding the spirit that dwells within us. If our spirit is created by God are we not part of that light and have a divine spark within all of us? In meditation we try to get past the “ego,” to quiet it and reach that divine spark which is our true selves. These ideas are so beyond the majority of humanity that it is only with “spiritual” people that it can even be discussed.
For years he poked into the skulls of chimpanzees, plugging in electrodes and measuring the current in hopes of discovering a physiological code that controls memory storage and retrieval. Eventually, he decided that there is no specific code – or rather, that the code is nowhere and everywhere at the same time. According to Pribram, the mind works like a hologram.
“The mind isn’t located in a place,” Pribram suggests. “What we have is holographic-like machinery that turns out images, which we perceive as existing somewhere outside the machine that produces them …. Dualism’s ok for the Newtonian domain. But it doesn’t apply to the holographic, enfolded order. There is no space and time, no causality, no matter and no mind. Everything is enfolded. There are no boundaries.”
“The stuff of the world is mind stuff.”
Some physicists have suggested that the universe itself can be seen as a giant hologram. According to David Bohm of the University of London, each cluster of stars and every spinning atom somehow bears within it the total cosmos. We live enmeshed in a seamless, multidimensional fabric of being and nonbeing, Bohm claims, in which mind and matter appear as ripples on a vast ocean of pulsating energy. All creating is mysteriously connected “in a state of unending flux of enfoldment and unfoldment,” he says. “With laws much of which are only vaguely understood.”
I like this idea, especially when sitting comfortably in my armchair with a blanket. It doesn’t work so well when we feel pain.
Just as waves in a bathtub take their shape in part from the dimensions of the tub, our thoughts and experiences are shaped by the nature of our environment. But if the tub overflows or shatters, the waves become freely propagating, like thoughts that range beyond their normal spatial and temporal limits.
Since becoming a Nobel laureate, Josephson has come to be known as one of the scientific community’s most distinguished believers that a dimension of reality lies beyond the reach of Western science. He first pursued an understanding of this dimension through Transcendental Meditation and more recently took up raja-yoga, an ancient Eastern system that includes meditation and also entails other stringent mental and physical disciplines. Through these practices, Josephson became convinced of the existence of a soul that survives physical death.
I hope I get to this point one day. It is difficult to keep up a consistent meditation practice.
Given that the stuff of the universe is indestructible and, like matter into energy, can only be transformed from one from of experience into another, does it not follow that if the soul is a reality, in whatever form, it must live on, perhaps in some altered state? Sir John Eccles has declared that it does. Physicist David Bohm also implies as much, asserting the timeless durability of the holographic continuum. Jahn and Dunne, too, see free-moving waves of consciousness, released from their mortal environment, rippling on indefinitely.