Do we have a soul?
January 18, 2007 9:03am CST
Is everything that we refer to as 'I' contained within our body and brain or is there some essence which transcends this?
20 Jan 07
It can't be proven, 'evidence' of reincarnation from Arthur C Clarke?? I don't think so.. However I think each of us knows that there is more to self than the physical - even those that choose to deny it. I include the brain in the physical, there is also a 'mind' which is separate from the brain - I think this is linked to the soul (maybe the same thing, but the word 'soul' implies so much more). Lots of peole like to think of the soul as returning to earth (reincarnation), my beleifs don't stretch that far i'm afraid, I believe every living person has a unique soul, evidenced by the fact that there are more people (souls) now than ever before...I believe our souls 'progress' when we die, rather than return... You have posed this question in a very neutral way, but I know you will have a 'take' on this - reincarnation or Heaven? (that's my next question - thanks for the inspiration)
27 Jan 07
One of the ways I was able to see the mind, or thoughts as separate from the brain or physical body was through meditation. As difficult as it is, you can actually be in a no mind state. Or quieten the mind long enough to actually feel thoughts drop into the head. Now it may sound weird, but I have experienced it physically. I have been in states, out of my brain, where I am totally unaware of my body, yet am conscious. This is something that can be experienced by anyone patient and diligent enough to try it.
22 Feb 07
The problem with that meditative state is separating mind from brain. It is one thing to say I was not my body duing that state but another to say I was not my brain. Because we tend to experience consciousness as originating from the brain or at least the physical space where the brain is, it is impossible to objectively distinguish the two. Even in astral travel where people bring back evidence that they have seen something that they can't have known about without being there, there is no way of saying for definite whether that is mind separating from the body or the brain showing telepathic ability. On the other hand, the neuroscientists haven't yet come up with any convincing explanation for consciousness - either how the brain produces it or why.
27 Jan 07
In ancient Greek literature, and also according to Rudolph Steiner the Soul refers to that part of us that is thoughts and emotions. As such it is not really a higher part of our consciousness. It is something to be transformed because if we are constantly being swayed by emotions and thoughts we can never find stillness, we are subject to reactions. It is certainly becoming confusing when different teachings refer to soul as ego, when in other great teachings ego has a capital E and is what stands for our higher self. Self (Atman) is actually an experience and is not cognised by the ordinary mind, therefore is very difficult to explain to someone who has not experienced it. And if you are not fully conscious of when you are swayed by your reactions to external influences then you really can't say you make choices in the greatest sense of the meaning of freewill.
22 Feb 07
I totally agree that free will is something that only comes once we have freed ourselves from the indoctrination and unawareness of ordinary living. I don't see soul as thoughts and emotions though. Soul is everything BUT those things. It is, to my mind, the part of ourself that can't be expressed with words. Emotions are very subject to the physical (especially if you're a woman!) and thoughts are shaped by our experiences in the world. I would say that Soul, Self and Ego (in the transpersonal sense) are roughly equivalent and are the part of us which remains constant and is unshaped by the world, it is the 'feeling' that someone has about them, their atmosphere if you like - in the same way that a house has an atmosphere. Although, I read an interesting idea yesterday when surfing the net which talked about soul loss. It suggested that, each time we experience a trauma, we lose a little bit of our soul - some of the essence or spark goes out of us. Though I don't necessarily agree that that could happen to the soul, it certainly made sense in terms of how we experience trauma. We never have feelings of emptiness in childhood, those feelings gather after life has been at us.
24 Jan 07
there is a question which will answer all ur queries regardin soul . ask dis to ourself .. WHY M I MYSELF RATHER THAN SUM1 ELSE ??? .. Y u do v sumtimes do d things nt even approved by weakest of weakest brain .. I do strongly approve d existence of soul .. N even a many experiments r conducted worldwide fr dis
• United States
19 Jan 07
There is no soul; we are our brain and body and that's it. In part, I take as evidence the considerable historical record of people who have suffered brain injuries and degenerative conditions that manifested as all manner of personality changes. If the essence of our selves existed outside our bodies, then changes to our brains shouldn't change the fundamental persons that we are; nevertheless this is exactly what happens. Read "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat" for some examples of how intimately the brain is meshed with identity/personality. We are extremely sophisticated biological computers running an extremely complex set of neural programs that include the notion of 'identity' and self-awareness; these happen to be powerful and very successful programs that have yet to reach a comparable level of sophistication in other animals. However, we are only separated from other animals by a matter of degree. Particularly in other great apes we see evidence of identity and self-awareness similar to ours; chimps and gorillas who learn to communicate with sign language can use sign-language words to refer to themselves just as we do.
22 Jan 07
It can't be proved of course, but don't you feel there is a spiritual element to your make up which seperates us from the apes? I accept that brain damage changes the way the brain works and indeed the 'mind' if we treat it as separate - I have seen personality change and have been struck by the affect it has. Nevertheless, I still believe that we have a spiritual aspect, even though as you rightly point out - how is this linked to the 'mind' if the brain is affected? Good point, I hope someone can shed some light on it...
27 Jan 07
Hi Nicky35, I think we are a consciousness, the brain is more a physical organ. And yes the car is the vehicle in which the mind functions. Thing is to be in this world we need a physical vehicle. But to prove we are more than the brain and physical body, see what happens when we fall asleep.
19 Feb 07
Many of us cannot accept that we have a soul, me myself in my own learning cannot grasp reincarnation as it is non acceptable in my religion. But some how in my own self and the things that are happenning around, like I have two boys of age seven, we visited granddad house and one of the boys suddenly played the piano in excellent rythm, how can it be , he never seen a piano before and playing old music which I supposed he never heard. How can you explain that. A soul of long ago in the kid. I dont know.
• United States
31 Jan 07
OverSoul- - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - \ -------/----\--------------Space Time--\---------\----------- / \ \ \ Incarnation1 Incarnation2 Incarnation3 IncarnationN.... The soul is created when the Oversoul which exists outside of spacetime extends a portion of it's conciousness into our universe's spacetime continuum in the form of an incarnation. The incarnation does not normally retain memories from prior or future incarnations unless it enters an altered state of conciousness and allows it's concious access to information flowing into the Oversoul from other incarnations.
20 Jan 07
I guess this is a very old and unresolved philosophical question. I quite liked the way Philip Jose Farmer handled this question in his "Riverworld" series. The concept he proposed was like an atheist's dream of course, but still sophisticated enough to raise the issue and the discussion.
• United States
18 Jan 07
There is a very interesting documentary on VHS from the early 80's narrarated by a very thorough metaphysical researcher, Arther C. Clark. He went to India and Malyasia. He did thorough reserch on people who had documented proof of reincarnating from a past life and they describe in detal the process in which their "soul" went through in the transition from one life to another. It is the most thorough account of people with facts about their experience. the case studies describe the soul as who they really are and the physical body and brain is just a housing a mere shell. The soul is the eternal energy that goes on.