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Invisibledorkus
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Do you have a soul?
    #3354859 - 11/13/04 09:41 AM (12 years, 22 days ago)

Do you have a soul?

Is it time to create a science based religion that does not promote belief in magic and the supernatural?




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When I was a child I was an atheist and only believed in what I could see and touch. By age nineteen I started to believe in the existence of souls and reincarnation as a result of my exposure to a number of famous Indian yogis and the majestic J. Krishnamurti, who once claimed to have remembered all of his past lives. At age 21 my belief in soul was dramatically reinforced by explosive experiences with Acharya Rajneesh, later known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and Osho. I never believed in any "God," but for 35 years I lived under the shadow of the great meditation masters and was fairly certain that we all possessed souls that would survive our physical death.

Unlike Hindus and Christians, most Buddhists believe in some mysterious and poorly defined personal karma that survives death. I never believed in the Buddhist concept of immortal personal karma without soul, because when you reject soul you lose the vehicle for the transference of karma from one life to the next. If soul goes, to my mind, so does any possibility of immortal personal karma and reincarnation.

When I met Acharya Rajneesh in 1970 he not only spoke of souls and reincarnation but also claimed to have the power of astral projection. I believed his claim because of what I thought were authentic experiences I had with this "Master" astrally projecting himself, not just into my room, but into my body while he was physically several miles away. After reading Matthew Alper's excellent book, The "God" Part of the Brain, I wonder if those amazing experiences were really what I thought they were. Alper's book summarizes the latest scientific research into how the human brain functions while having religious experiences. In this essay I have added my own personal experiences, observations, and theories to several of the main points of Alper's book, which I consider one of the most important books I have ever read.

Medical research has shown that if you stimulate certain areas of the brain with a small electric current, you can give people the experience of spiritual visitation. You may feel that Christ is touching your heart or that the soul of a dead relative is near you. There is no evidence to support a belief in authentic astral projection, however, as all studies indicate that consciousness only exists in the brain cells which create it. You cannot remove consciousness from the physical body because consciousness is a physical phenomena created by chemistry, just as a firefly's light is created by chemical reactions. That is why you can turn consciousness on or off by injecting a person with drugs to wake them up or to put them to sleep. Near death experiences or even certain drugs can give you the feeling of being outside of your body, but researchers say that is just an illusion of the holographic nature of the human brain.

While true astral projection may be impossible, there is credible scientific theory to suggest that telepathic communication is possible in human beings. The human brain is an organic electro-chemical computer so complex that to match it with current silicon technology you would need a computer the size of a city. Think of all the things your relatively simple cell phone can do. There is plenty of computer power in the human brain to imagine that some portion of it could be allocated to broadcasting and receiving messages from other human brains. This extra-communicative ability may be the reason why disciples feel the presence of their spiritual teachers so strongly.

The brain is the most metabolically active human organ and requires a steady supply of oxygen and glucose as fuel. Although the brain represents less than 2% of the body's mass, it utilizes 20% of the body's oxygen consumption and 15% of its cardiac output. Thus the brain produces an extraordinary amount of energy in the form of electrical wattage in relationship to the rest of the body. The entire human body uses chemical reactions to produce both mechanical movements and electrical current which flows through all our living cells. The brain is an analog computer, but amazingly the DNA code that creates it is digital. The average human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons connected by approximately 50 trillion synapses. It is therefore not difficult to imagine that this fantastically complex device, the human brain-body, could have mysterious communication abilities beyond our current understanding.

Perhaps what I thought was astral projection was simply Rajneesh concentrating on me, sending me his super-mental energy via long distance. That powerful jolt of energy may have caused my brain to supply the added illusion of personal visitation on top of the strong telepathic transmission. Rajneesh had tremendous mental powers no doubt, but the question is was that power really supernatural or just a product of his unique brain structure and meditative skill.

If you inject any human being with enough sedative, enlightened or not, they will become unconsciousness. If you damage certain areas of the brain you can drastically alter human behavior. You can turn a conservative bank president into a garbage eating bum just by killing off some of the brain cells that contain the bio-computer program for his personality. If you damage other areas of the brain you can erase all memory.

If consciousness, personality, and memory are all physical phenomena of brain cells, then when the brain dies there is nothing left of your individual identity. Your permanent identity of time-energy-space continues unharmed (see The TES Hypothesis), but there is no soul, no reincarnation, and no Buddhist transference of personal karma. If this is true it means that Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, Christianity, and Islam are all wrong. It also means that we all achieve "moksha" (liberation) at the time of death because there is no personal cycle of birth and death to escape from and no magical afterlife. You are born once and you die once and you will never come back!

One theory states that we have personal souls and/or karma which transmigrates from one life to the next, and the other states that nothing survives death and only DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and the will of the living determines the future of our species. Which theory is correct? I use to believe in reincarnation with a high level of certainty. After many years of seeing the rampant corruption of gurus, "enlightened" or not, the idiocy of disciples, cults, and organized religion, and with the new scientific evidence in hand, I find the soul-reincarnation-karma theory far less plausible.

You do not have to believe in anything supernatural to believe in cosmic consciousness (satori). Anyone can take the drug psilocybin and get a cheap imitation of the natural religious experience. Clinical research shows that our brains are built to have religious experiences and as time-energy-space is one singular phenomena, it is only natural that we occasionally experience the grand cosmic unity. I personally suspect that even animals have satoris, though they apparently have no ability to give it a name or understand its implications.

One of the most interesting concepts of Matthew Alper's book concerns the rise of self-consciousness in human animals and how knowledge of our impending death has effected our brains and even our DNA. If you put a dog in front of a mirror he will never figure out that he is looking at his own reflection. If you put a higher primate in front of a mirror, such as a chimpanzee or a human, he will use the mirror for grooming purposes because he recognizes himself in the reflection. Because man's self-consciousness is so highly developed, man has come to realize that our life expectancy is short and our personal demise inevitable.

Animals, like human children, fear death, danger, and pain, but they have no real understanding of time and the inevitability of their own destruction. The time-death equation that adult humans understand becomes a constant source of anguish. A strong survival instinct is built into our DNA code from our long evolutionary journey from bacteria to man. When that survival instinct collides with self-conscious knowledge of our impending death, the brain itself needs both a neurological and psychological barrier to block the conflict and tension. That barrier we call religious belief and "the God part of the brain." The theory states that man has invented myths of God, soul, reincarnation, karma, and afterlife as a way to provide the brain with mental opium, a buffer to the constant ticking clock inside our heads that tells us our inevitable doom is getting closer every day.

The psychological need for a feeling of immortality is so great that our religious tendencies have become part of our DNA code. Humans who believe in the supernatural religions tend to be calmer, healthier, and thus live longer than the non-religious. Believers also tend to show more bravery when courage is needed to protect their tribe. Genetic tendencies to have religious feelings are fortified over thousands of years of evolution through survival of the religiously fittest. If your religious beliefs feel intuitively right to you, it may be because your subconscious mind wants you to believe them so you will have a better chance for health and a long lifespan. If you intuitively sense that you have been alive on planet earth before, perhaps that feeling of d?ja vu comes from your DNA code, not from a reincarnating soul, because DNA has been active on planet earth for at least 3.8 billion years and we are all created and united by its existence.

All over the world, wherever you find man you will find supernatural religions promising some kind of life after death. Moslem extremists gladly kill themselves in the name of their religion. American war heroes have died fighting Japanese and Germans in the name of Christ, and no doubt many felt they were going to heaven for their heroic efforts. God is a pretty handy device when your tribe is in trouble. Almost all of us, atheist and theist alike, instinctively call out to God for help when we are in grave personal danger.

Man's philosophical beliefs have also been shaped by a survival contest of world religions to see which religion can most completely satisfy our emotional needs for a feeling of comfort and safety. Organized religion is a business and must have money and public support to survive. If your spouse or child dies you want a priest, rabbi, monk, or swami to tell you that your loved one's soul is going to a better place. Can you imagine a funeral where a holy man bluntly states that the deceased has no soul and is gone forever? That would seem cruel and any religion that provided such a funeral service would not last long in the religious marketplace.

Why do so many enlightened teachers believe in souls and karma? It has been my observation that even the enlightened are affected by cultural conditioning and have a tendency to pass on the religious teachings of those who came before them with only minor modifications. For example, the famous enlightened teachers from meat eating societies in Tibet, China, and Japan also ate meat, while the great sages from strictly vegetarian India claim that eating meat is a horrible unspiritual practice. So I ask, did Rajneesh and J. Krishnamurti believe in souls because of some direct experience or because they both grew up in soul oriented Indian? Rajneesh once stated that even plants have souls and that if an enlightened man (Rajneesh himself) sat next to a plant, that plant would be so graced that in its next incarnation it might be born as a human being. I find that grandiose and self-serving statement difficult to believe and I suspect a significant amount of the time Rajneesh was simply shooting his mouth off without even thinking about what he was saying.

On another occasion Rajneesh stated that we are attracted to beautiful people because their outer beauty represents the inner beauty of their souls, as it is the soul which creates the physical body and mind. Science has proven as fact that DNA creates the body and brain, not any mysterious immaterial "soul." Outward beauty does not always mean inward beauty or even a sane mind. The infamous serial killer Ted Bundy was quite handsome and charming outwardly, yet he is estimated to have murdered between 35 and 50 women just for the trill of it (see photographs of Ted Bundy). If Rajneesh could be mistaken about something this basic, then couldn't he be wrong about anything?

The "Master" Rajneesh presented many idiotic theories about life right here and now, so why should anyone believe his theories about souls and reincarnation? It is only because of his great presence did his disciples refrain from laughing out loud at some of his ridiculous ideas. Rajneesh was living proof that enlightenment, intelligence, and honesty are separate phenomena. You can be a fool, liar, and a criminal and also become a great energy channeler (enlightened) if that is your predisposition and desire. Freedom means free choice to be good or bad and you have that choice no matter how powerful your meditation skills have become. The famous Greek-Armenian mystic George Gurdjieff chose to become an alcoholic, Rajneesh a drug addict, yet both men could channel great cosmic presence that inspired thousands of spiritual seekers.

Rajneesh's use of drugs, especially nitrous oxide and LSD, also cast doubts on his soul theory of enlightenment. In his last years Rajneesh declared that from his own experience LSD could produce the same consciousness as a Buddha. During his younger sober days he stated that LSD produced a "false samadhi" and that consciousness was the product of "soul," not just physical chemistry. Rajneesh changed his teaching to rationalize his drug use by stating that "you are nothing but chemistry." He thus implied that it is OK to use chemicals to alter consciousness because you are chemicals bonded together in an organic biological machine. One could ask if Rajneesh really had the ability to leave his body and fly around the world at will, wouldn't that be more entertaining than getting cheap thrills from LSD and nitrous oxide?

Rajneesh claimed to be as enlightened as the historic Buddha, and I believe that he was, but why does a Buddha need to take hallucinogenic drugs? My answer is that Rajneesh became bored with the Void because the Void can only provide peacefulness, not an eternal buzz of blissfulness. Judging from my own meditative practice and reading of science, the buzz and bliss of meditation comes from a build-up of excess neurotransmitters like serotonin in the brain. When you meditate in formal sessions you are conserving the chemical energy of your brain by not wasting it on thoughts and sensory distraction. Thus you become blissful and may experience non-sexual orgasms during meditation sessions, but that ecstasy gradually dissipates after you return to your normal work routine. The feeling of spaciousness and peacefulness continue, but the buzz settles down to a feeling of neutrality and quiet emptiness. There is no eternal orgasm-ecstasy-bliss-buzz possible because any human feeling that has a beginning must have an end due to the inherent chemical nature of the brain.

The Buddha is reported to have said that there is "no bliss." Rajneesh at times admitted that he himself felt "no energy," though those around him felt awash in his energy. U.G. Krishnamurti has stated that there is "no bliss" as well. When I meditate in formal sessions I feel bliss and non-sexual orgasms felt in the hara (belly center), the heart center, the forehead center, and in the center of the head directly behind the eyes. The problem is the orgasmic feelings never lasts. I have to go back to my meditation room and sit to regain the neuro-chemical energy which dissipates during the daily routine of work. Using my brain for utilitarian proposes eats up those neurotransmitters rather quickly. It may also be that the brain itself wants to bring us back to a state of neutrality because a neutral brain has the greatest ability to ensure our physical survival. A man distracted with a blissed out brain is likely to be the first member of the tribe eaten by the lion, not the last! Meditation and enlightenment may be a neuro-chemical experience, not a magical soul experience outside the laws of brain chemistry and physics.

Rajneesh changed his name to "Osho" and ended his life in a state of dementia due to illness and drug addiction. J. Krishnamurti avoided major scandals, stayed sober, and is still highly revered long after his death. But was J. Krishnamurti really a saint and somehow better ethically than any normal human being? I know many people who lead virtuous lives and who don't meditate at all. What made J. Krishnamurti different was not how he lived, which was ordinary, but his tremendous presence of being. You stood next to him and felt flooded in cosmic energy which pushed you high into the sky and destroyed all feelings of limitation. Was J. Krishnamurti's grand presence the result of many past lifetimes of spiritual effort, or was it the result of modest effort in meditation in this life combined with a genetic propensity to cosmic consciousness?

Matthew Alper points out in his book that some forms of epilepsy (see temporal lobe epilepsy) cause hyper-religiousness and mystical experiences. J. Krishnamurti's mother was an epileptic and we know epilepsy can be a genetically transferred disease. J. Krishnamurti never had fits, but he often mysteriously passed out, giving those near him warning that he was about to lose consciousness. George Gurdjieff and the Indian sage Ramakrishna are reported to have had fits in which they thrashed on the ground uncontrollably. The universally revered Ramana Maharshi claimed that his emotional heart center was located in the "right side" of his chest, which I suspect represents a brain abnormality as in normal human beings the emotional heart center is felt in the exact center of the chest.

Is it possible that natural variations in our genetic code could produce in each century a handful of people with brains perfectly adapted for enlightenment, thus making meditative practice so easy that they reached the goal with little effort? Ramana Maharshi is reported to have achieved "God consciousness" at the tender age of 17! Rajneesh claims to have become enlightened at age 21. J. Krishnamurti was in his early twenties when people around him started to feel that he was fully enlightened. Ramakrishna was reported to have been "born enlightened."

Are the spiritually gifted among us the rare but natural result of genetic variation? Few have the artistic talent of a Michelangelo or the scientific genius of Einstein. If there is a natural genetic "bell curve" for intelligence, then why not a natural genetically driven bell curve for spiritual power as well? [see The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray] Research has shown that identical twins tend to have the same level of interest in religion and/or mystical experience. This suggests that there is a strong genetic component to our personal meditative potential.

Are the enlightened simply those few individuals at the extreme forward edge of the bell curve with the masses of the world population stuck near the middle? If there are child prodigy pianists, artists, and even astounding child prodigy golfers like Tiger Woods, then why not child prodigy meditators as well? The Asian cultures may have simply mistaken naturally occurring genetic variations in the human brain with evidence of a romanticized past life history that does not exist in fact. The group conditioning became so strong that the myths of reincarnation fooled even the enlightened ones. History shows that the easiest explanation for a phenomena that has the most supporting evidence is usually correct. Grand claims require grand evidence to justify a belief in them and there is currently no scientifically valid evidence for reincarnation or a magical transference of personal karma whatsoever.

If the spiritual bell curve theory is true it could help explain the obvious corruption of gurus. Rajneesh was a convicted felon and a proven liar of historic proportions. George Gurdjieff was also a chronic liar and a loud and often rude alcoholic. The genetic based view of enlightenment also explains why there are so few enlightened ones at any given time. If every soul has multiple chances to improve their meditation skills over lifetimes of effort, then surely the world would produce more than the meager handful of enlightened sages that are born each century. Since at least the dawn of Hinduism (about 1500 BC), long before the historic Buddha was born (about 563 BC), millions of human beings have been making sincere effort at meditation, yet where are the results of these heroic lifetimes of effort? The mathematics and logistics of the soul-karma theory do not add up any way to look at it.

The argument for souls and/or immortal karma is that enlightenment is a process that takes many lifetimes of effort and the fruition of our long journey through time is the eventual payoff of moksha, infinite ecstasy, and liberation from all suffering. This highly romantic idea appeals because it brings a sense of justice and warmth into a cold and often pointlessly cruel world. It intuitively seems fair that right action is eventually rewarded with positive results, but this belief in inevitable karma has also caused negative results. In Tibet it produced a kind of fatalistic inaction which aided the Communist Chinese in their military takeover in 1950. To quote Drupon Samten Rinpoche, "They can be taking this life, but they cannot take the next life." This feeling of immortality has brought Tibetan Buddhists a great sense of peace and compassion in the face of invasion and genocide, but is it based on truth or wishful thinking?

Belief in souls and immortal karma has had many negative effect in India where the theory of reincarnation helped establish the ancient Hindu caste system. The caste system was abolished by law in 1949 but lives on as an unfair social class structure, considerably worse than the traditional class snobbery practiced in Europe. The lowest class, the Sudras, are considered inferior while the outcasts, the "untouchables," are looked down upon as being spiritually unworthy due to past life sins rather than just being poor and uneducated human beings. Skin diseases like leprosy are considered signs of punishment of evil deeds from past lives, though medical science recognizes leprosy as a disease anyone can contract given sufficient exposure to the bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae. Even the great Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh promoted that anti-scientific and inhumane belief.

Reincarnation and immortal karma were a way ancient peoples could explain the inherent inequities of life, death, disease, riches, and poverty in religious terms that often had no basis in fact. All the major world religions are relics of the pre-scientific era and all have negative biases woven into their teachings. I therefore suggest that now is the time to create a new pro-science religion that does not promote irrational belief in magic and the supernatural (see The TES Hypothesis).

Rejecting the soul theory outright negates any need to answer such impossible questions as where do souls come from and why do they exist in the first place. The rebellious sage U.G. Krishnamurti has been saying for decades that "there is no such thing as enlightenment" and that his state of continuous cosmic consciousness was without cause, or "acausal." Could it be that the real cause of enlightenment is rarefied DNA combined with modest effort? Perhaps the ancient Hindus and Buddhists invented myths of souls and immortal karma simply because they had no science and were thus uneducated observers of the phenomena around them and inside them. Siddhartha Gautama never knew about neurons or DNA, so how could he be expected come up with any explanations of life that were not based on magic and the supernatural?

I dismiss claims of past life memories because of the projective nature of the human brain. The brain can project any image or feeling and it is exactly the same neurological mechanism which projects fantasies of the subconscious that also projects authentic memories stored in brain cells. What comes out of that one singular projector may be real memory or real fantasy, but no one can tell the difference with certainty, not even the late J. Krishnamurti or the Dalai Lama.

False memories are common occurrence in courtrooms and have sent many innocent men to the gallows for crimes they never committed. Just imagine a monk walking into a courtroom claiming to remember all his past lives. Then imagine the monk grilled under cross examination and he cannot even remember what he had for lunch just a few days back. Even the enlightened sages have memory problems and need to write down important dates and facts so they won't forget.

If a high Tibetan lama or Hindu yogi enters a medical laboratory full of skeptical doctors and proves through testing that he can transfer his consciousness out of his body then belief in soul and reincarnation would be easier for everyone. To date that has not happened and hospital tests designed to prove out of the body episodes during near death experiences have yielded no positive results. As far as scientifically valid evidence of soul is concerned, the well is completely dry. Humans exist as footprints in the sand. One day the footprint will be erased and only the sand will be left behind. There is no reincarnation and there is no personal continuity of karma.

Until fairly recently I had dismissed U.G. Krishnamurti's claim that there is no enlightenment, no soul, and no reincarnation as just his negative way of teaching. Perhaps, however, he is just trying to tell the truth no matter how shocking that truth may be. Instead of becoming attached to the small personal identity of a soul it is apparent that one must become attached to nothing less than infinity itself. All of the great religions of the world may be wrong and just a product of our own fear of dying. That idea is electrically shocking to me, but it may well be true.

A summary of the main issues

1) There is no positive proof for the existence of souls, immortal karma, reincarnation, or any spiritual afterlife. It is interesting to note that in their last years even Osho and J. Krishnamurti reversed themselves and stated there was no reincarnation and thus presumably no soul. If there is no reincarnation and no heaven or hell, then the question of soul is moot.

2) There are legitimate science based alternate explanations for phenomena attributed to souls and immortal karma. The enlightened teachers seem to confuse the effects of DNA for the effects of soul. For example, people with higher intelligence and a more finely articulated DNA code are perceived by them as being older and higher souls.

3) There are obvious profit and political power motives for those who promote belief in the supernatural. How many gurus have made fortunes off the idea of souls and reincarnation? How many monasteries, ashrams, churches, mosques, and synagogues would go out of business if people found out there is no soul or immortal karma? How can governments and the religious hierarchies control the masses if word leaks out that we all end up in the same state of eternal unconsciousness when we die, no matter how we behave while we are alive? Would there be a Vatican City or Tibetan Portola Palace without a belief in souls and/or immortal karma? The idea of soul has historically been as much a matter of politics as it has been an issue of personal religious belief.

4) It is highly probable that human animals have a built in genetic predisposition to avoid the inevitable fact of our future death in order to reduce fear and stress. Our brains create myths of God, soul, immortal karma, reincarnation, and afterlife as a buffer against the hurtful knowledge of the inevitable demise of ourselves and everyone we know and love. By inventing myths of afterlife and/or reincarnation the brain can exist comfortably without the highly charged survival instinct electrically connecting to the newfound knowledge of the inevitability of our future death. The supernatural myths thus act as a resistive electrical shunt, blocking a dangerous short circuit between two parts of the brain.

5) Life on earth was created through the non-human laws of chemistry, physics, and probability. Strands of chemicals (DNA) were created by sheer accident and replicated themselves faster than they could be destroyed. By further accident, some DNA strands became encased in protective shells which increased their survivability dramatically, creating the first bacteria. From simple bacteria more complexity was added until a myriad of multi-cell creatures were produced. Through this slow process of evolution over billions of years there was never any need for soul, except as a myth to help human animals deal with their growing consciousness of the inevitable time-death equation.

The logistical mathematics of the soul theory do not add up. Does every new bacteria, seed, egg, minnow, spider, or cockroach that appears in the world demand a soul to go along with its already sufficient DNA code? We know that humans evolved from bacteria. Where did soul come into the picture and why? Is there a printing press somewhere stamping out trillions of new souls every day to keep up with the demand? The soul theory lacks logical credibility and science has shown us that the universe is extremely logical in its structure, formation, and evolution.

6) The famous film director Alfred Hitchcock often added a ploy to his movies called a "MacGuffin." The MacGuffin distracted the audience long enough so that suspense could be created and the plot could develop without giving away the true course of the story. In the end the MacGuffin had no meaning in itself. Likewise Hindus and Buddhists have invented complicated myths of reincarnation and/or immortal karma and declared that we are all trapped in a cycle of birth and death and that only our eventual enlightenment can free us. The Eastern traditions have created a highly sophisticated myth structure, but the underlying function of their myths is identical to the more childlike myths of Christianity, with its almighty God, angles, and heaven. The belief in immortal karma and reincarnation is the MacGuffin that keeps our minds diverted from the inevitability and finality of our own death.

No one can honestly say that it is impossible that human beings have souls or immortal karma. You cannot prove an absolute negative against such a big and complex issue. One can only say that given the evidence the possibility is unlikely. The burden of proof is on those who believe in the supernatural and there are currently no facts to back up their case. A more realistic and scientifically valid way to view the big issues of life and death is detailed in The TES Hypothesis.

Christopher Calder

See also:
Osho, Bhagwan Rajneesh, and the Lost Truth
Common Lies of the Phony World of Mystics


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OfflineJacquesCousteau
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Re: Do you have a soul? [Re: dorkus]
    #3354866 - 11/13/04 09:51 AM (12 years, 22 days ago)

Creating more religions is not the answer.

Finding your own spirituality without buying into a "group-belief" would be a much wiser route.


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OfflineTag_Number
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Re: Do you have a soul? [Re: dorkus]
    #3354876 - 11/13/04 10:06 AM (12 years, 22 days ago)

Only you know that.

Maybe the sugar-coated plastic version of reality you should look into.

Somethings you would not say as you did not exist.


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Offlinefireworks_godS
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Re: Do you have a soul? [Re: dorkus]
    #3354943 - 11/13/04 10:56 AM (12 years, 22 days ago)

Did you write that? It was definitely a good read. :thumbup:

I don't agree with everything that was said, and I certainly don't have enough time to break those points down and explain my perspectives on said points, but I think that this writing definitely presents some important points to be considered.

The writing speaks of consciousness, awareness, and I think this is the centrum that really needs to be focused on. The issue lies on knowing whether consciousness exists seperately, beyond the physical body, and that it is accessed by the brain and the interactions between the two (the mind), or if awareness arises as a result of reactions within the physical body itself. Basically, does the body create consciousness itself, or does it access it?

Personally, I do not know which one it is, but I do know that knowing where consciousness is coming from would answer these questions - if we have a soul, etc. etc. etc. Personally, although I do not have a scientfic understanding of this, I see a link between consciousness and energy... I think they are of the same. This becomes more intriguing when one realizes that we do not understand what energy is, it is an ultimate. This intrigue is intensified when one realizes that energy composes everything. :laugh:

I do not feel that alterations of the chemical balances of the brain, or removing or fucking with parts of the physical brain point towards a consensus that the brain is responsible for creating consciousness. Just as we say that psychadelics will alter one's perceptions, I would see it feasible to conclude that it is possible that altering one's brain, physically or chemically, alters our perception of consciousness. If I manipulate a radio so that it no longer accurately reproduces a broadcast from the local radio station, does this suggest, then, that the radio itself was responsible for creating the radio signal? The signal is coming from an external source and is still existing independant from the radio, whether or not the radio is accurately reproducing the signal as sound.

No matter where pure awareness arrives from, the importance still lies with pure awareness itself, with consciousness. I cannot make assumptions on whether we have a soul, or if we will reincarnate, or go to heaven, or simply die, although it seems to me, personally, that this is it. Awareness, even if it is produced by your chemical reactions, still will continue to exist - it is formless, and its source does not matter. Awareness does not identify with your thoughts or your memories or your life, it observes them, impartially, as it goes down, and I don't see any individual aspect of ourselves carrying on after this physical body stops functioning.

It doesn't matter, anyways. Presence and being is all that matters in this life. Energy is energy, and it feels cosmic to be energy. :grin:

One last thing:

Quote:

dr_mandelbrot said:
Your permanent identity of time-energy-space continues unharmed (see The TES Hypothesis), but there is no soul, no reincarnation, and no Buddhist transference of personal karma.  If this is true it means that Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, Christianity, and Islam are all wrong.




Perhaps whoever wrote this article does not understand Taoism, but I would personally say that this doesn't prove Taoism wrong, it would prove it right. Taoism and this way of thinking go hand in hand. :thumbup:

:headbang: :headbang: :headbang: :satansmoking:
Peace. :mushroom2:


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:redpanda:
If I should die this very moment
I wouldn't fear
For I've never known completeness
Like being here
Wrapped in the warmth of you
Loving every breath of you

:heartpump: :bunnyhug: :yinyang:

:yinyang: :levitate: :earth: :levitate: :yinyang:


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OfflineGomp
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Re: Do you have a soul? [Re: fireworks_god]
    #3354970 - 11/13/04 11:12 AM (12 years, 22 days ago)

"change the change"
-unknown :P


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Offlineskystone
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Re: Do you have a soul? [Re: Tag_Number]
    #3355030 - 11/13/04 11:42 AM (12 years, 22 days ago)

I have read your text, and I have a few comments.

From your point of view (that is considering the things you have considered), it's all logical.

But you have taken science as a definite reality-number-one
and you have take religions as a definite reality-number-two
Both science and religion can have flaws. Science has been changing for centuries. And each moment of this history was not a complete image of the universe. If you lived In any of the past years of the history of science, you couldn't take it for granted because new theories were created every next century. There is no reason to believe
that current science is the ultimate version of Truth. New theories will come, and old ones will either disappear or be transformed and understood better. So science is not definite, it can be taken as a path, a method of understanding, and it's knowledge can be be used for modeling new ideas in philosophy. It is an inspiration. We can rely our lives on it, but the fact that we are still not immortal and the gods of the universe means that our science is not complete, and any theory or "proof" can be changed into something opposite any day, and could be shown to be a part of some bigger picture that can lead us to new understanding of the universe, quite different than when we only considered these little pieces. Science is a method, not a certain truth.


OK, then religion..
Religion is a human interpretation. It's like art , like poetry.
The basic truths that get interpreted in religion could be coming from some higher creatures, or from aliens or just human philosophy, but they are just interpretations, nothing more.
So even if some universal mind itself came to tell the true nature of the universe to humans, what they would write down would be their primitive version of the source. Religion is being lead by humans, and humans make mistakes and sometimes are very stupid, so you can't take religion as definite statement on it's own behalf.
Instead, you have to wonder what religion might represent. What was the original idea.

And as for brain, soul etc..
Let's speculate that there is a soul, and that this soul's contact with this world is the brain. In that case, any damage to the brain would damage this connection of the soul and this world. So there is no reason to believe that if the soul exists, the brain damage shouldn't make any difference. It should.

And let me remind you something. Human mind records it's whole life
from the birth to death, it can only be accessed in hypnosis. In the state of hypnotic regression you can relive any part of your life
as you are living it right now. So there is no real loss of memory,
there is only a loss of paths to certain parts of the brain.

Drugs, consciousness etc..

If there is soul, then according to many religious philosophies,
it must be on a higher level of consciousness as it releases itself from the terrestrial body. Now the question how can a soul be unconscious under narcosis? Well, how can a soul be so stupid and limited as humans are? It can. If it can be as low as that, it can be even lower, so low that it gets unconscious. The physical reality makes a soul more limited and unconscious that it was before it's human life and that it will be after the human life. So, then there is a possibility that a soul can decrease it's consciousness by physical factors. Some drugs dumb the brain down, the gate of the soul, and thus lower the consciousness, and some drugs like LSD
have the reverse effect. The widen the "bandwidth" of the information transfer between this terrestrial self and the soul, and let more soul "data" to come into this physical brain.

After all, my advice is that we should not be certain about anything, because we are all so ignorant, our science is like 0,00001% of what we still have to learn about how the universe works, and our religions are misguided, and have been abused, and distorted in history, and are only subjective interpretations of the truths
that they were inspired by. Let's just speculate for fun and keep the science research. We should just collect information, and not make any definite conclusions.

And one more thing. You keep using the word "supernatural"
how can something be supernatural? IF we run into something "supernatural" it means that our understanding of "natural" is not as deep as we thought. There can not be anything supernatural.


--------------------
"..and suddenly it began to rain"


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OfflineNomad
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Re: Do you have a soul? [Re: dorkus]
    #3355041 - 11/13/04 11:46 AM (12 years, 22 days ago)

I never believed in the Buddhist concept of immortal personal karma without soul, because when you reject soul you lose the vehicle for the transference of karma from one life to the next.

Buddhism does not need any vehicle for transmigration, as it denies any continuity of self at all. The 'you' which exists five seconds after your physical death is in exactly the same relationship to the 'you' five seconds before your death as the 'you' you were five seconds ago is to the 'you' which you will be five seconds into the future. In both cases, no substance is transferred, it being just a disconnected sequence of mindframes.

A buddhist would claim that you are reborn fifty times each second.

UG Krishnamurti just blows my mind. Again and again, this is the most amazing stuff I have ever stumbled upon. What strikes me is that, though he claims the absence of any path, he himself admits that he achieved enlightenment (the "natural state", in his terminology) by the "burning out" of an ultimate question which made the questioner finally disappear, a process very similar to the koan practice in japanese zen, which is probably the most reliable method for achieving a satori experience. UG displays every symptom of what is diagnosed as depersonalization in western psychology, and most often considered a grave mental illness which has to be medicated. Yet, he is able to function sanely in the world, and there is little doubt that his state of consciousness has an awesome lot of spiritual significance (though he violently denies that). Again and again, western psychology is proven completely wrong.

On another note, it is rather obvious that UG has some serious problems regarding basic ethical behaviour. Though he is fully enlightened, he acts very much like an asshole at certain times. This, again, reminds one of japanese zen, which is sadly renowned for being the only buddhist school which has ever led a holy war. According to the original pali sources, there is little doubt that the Buddha emphasized not just satori, but also the practice of the jhanas, higher meditative attainments which enable you to attain knowledge regarding past lives, transmigration, and suffering. It is right there as the last step of the eightfold path: Right jhana, often mistranslated as right concentration.

These meditative states are completely absent in both zen and the philosophy of UG Krishnamurti. They may make all the difference between good and evil.


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Offlinerelativexistance
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Re: Do you have a soul? [Re: JacquesCousteau]
    #3355240 - 11/13/04 12:47 PM (12 years, 22 days ago)

Quote:

JacquesCousteau said:
Finding your own spirituality without buying into a "group-belief" would be a much wiser route.




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Invisiblelooner2
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Re: Do you have a soul? [Re: relativexistance]
    #3355584 - 11/13/04 02:17 PM (12 years, 22 days ago)

People don't have souls.


--------------------
I am in love with Acidic_Sloth



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OfflineJacquesCousteau
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Re: Do you have a soul? [Re: looner2]
    #3355588 - 11/13/04 02:17 PM (12 years, 22 days ago)

Thanks for clearing that up for us.


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Invisibledorkus
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Re: Do you have a soul? [Re: dorkus]
    #3355851 - 11/13/04 03:30 PM (12 years, 22 days ago)

The essay was written by Christopher Calder (homepage). I just wanted some input on it.

I have noted U.G. Krishnamurti's statement claiming all will achieve Moksha immediately upon death. If our physical presence is what binds us to the illusion of time, how is it possible for our souls not to achieve Moksha when the physical vehicle dies? Doesn't this mean we step out of time?

UG Krishnamurti:
http://www.well.com/user/jct/
http://www.ugkrishnamurti.org/ug/ug_video/index.html

Another essay by Christopher Calder:

The TES Hypothesis

It is a mind that is unprejudiced by religion, philosophy, and cultural conditioning. It is going naked in the stars.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The TES hypothesis is inherently obvious, fundamental, and in harmony with a state of mind that values both science and religion. It declares that the universe and all of its manifestations are created by time-energy-space, the TES. Even the ethereal phenomena of compassion is a product of this singular and universal being. There are forms of energy and dimensions of space that have not yet been quantified by science (example - scientists break the light barrier). Those mysterious realities are also within the normal workings of TES. Nothing in the universe is truly supernatural and beyond the laws of nature. Everything that exists is created through cycles of the TES, both on the large physical scale involving the formation of stars, galaxies, and planets, and on the subtler inner dimensions involving the evolution of the human brain and consciousness.

The Hindu word 'Atman' means the soul of life and the essence of being. The Atman is not just the individual human mind, but is defined as the universal soul that exists everywhere. For this discussion we will use the word Atman more strictly to designate that part of the TES that becomes conscious of itself on the grand and cosmic scale. We thus define the Atman as the universal cosmic consciousness.

The vast majority of the TES exists unconsciously without feeling or life. This portion is made up of empty space, stars, and the bulk of planets. Primitive life forms that do exist on a minority of planets have a utilitarian consciousness which allows them to survive through interacting with their environment. The fundamental awareness of physical objects combined with the pleasure-pain mechanism creates the evolutionary pathway through which the unconscious TES slowly evolves to greater levels of consciousness. The unconscious TES, raw matter and energy, gives birth to the partially conscious TES, the world of plants and animals. Then with the evolution of higher animals the intensely conscious TES, the Atman, arises. This vast and oceanic consciousness is a normal product of the TES and is inherently immortal. When human beings become enlightened their consciousness becomes one with the Atman, but they never achieve magical abilities outside of the natural laws and properties of the TES. Enlightened beings remain physically mortal, but their consciousness becomes one with that which has always existed and that which will always exist in the future.

No human being has ever known the unconscious TES directly because all that we know is within the world of consciousness. We are aware of the unconscious part of the TES only through inference. When you look at a tree you are not seeing the tree directly, but rather a representation of that tree created by your own mind. Our experience of colors, smells, tastes, and sounds are all subjective creations of our mammalian neurological evolution. Thus the question: "If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, is there any sound at all?"

As long as we feel we exist as individuals we suffer because that perception is based on a temporary neurological illusion. This illusion of an individual 'I' is so vulnerable that even sleep destroys it. Every time you go into deep sleep your consciousness temporarily dies and your subjective individual identity dies with it. Get rid of the feeling 'I exist' and you get rid of attachments which create tension, suffering, and feelings of danger. When you focus your consciousness on that which is limited you become small and vulnerable. When you open your consciousness to experience the whole universe, you become vast, limitless, and without mental anguish. Thus the art of meditation is the art of inner astronomy.

The ultimate experience of the TES is so vast that there is nothing to compare it to. With no comparison possible the experience of everything feels like nothingness. How can infinity have a size or a shape when by definition it has no boundaries? The TES is so full of space that it feels like oblivion and thus many enlightened teachers have called it the Void. This feeling of the ultimate extinction of all things is cosmically erotic, and in a strange contradiction of terms, is a rich and positively charged experience. Scientifically speaking, even this ultimate experience is also a subjective illusion because matter-energy and time-space do exist, even if enlightened ones do not perceive them in the ordinary gross physical way.

If one looks deeply into the Eastern religions, the Hindu and Buddhist concept of an ultimate personal liberation, "nirvana" or "moksha," is impossible if you take the idea literally. Ask yourself two fundamental questions. Who is going to be liberated and what is he going to going to be liberated from? In truth the 'who' and the 'what' are one and the same thing. Ask yourself what being was behind the eyes of the Buddha? The answer is time-energy-space,... the TES. Then ask yourself what being was behind the eyes of Adolf Hitler? The answer is still time-energy-space. Individuals do exist and have reality, but they are just temporary products of the TES, which is our fundamental immortal identity.

The TES is always creating new life and new personalities out of its own being. Unless the whole TES is destroyed, liberation from the cycles of life and death is impossible. The TES creates a human being and that human animal experiences joy and suffering, but it is the TES having these experiences in a dream drama that the TES itself creates. The TES is within each cell of our body and is our true personal identity, not the temporary mortal personality that carries a picture ID in his wallet. Therefore the goal of religion should not be an impossible liberation from the inevitable cycles of life, but rather how to make the unstoppable fact of life more ecstatic.

The word 'TES' is a temporary creation, as are all the holy words of ancient scripture. These are names used to designate that which is beyond any language. They are an effort to express that which cannot be expressed by a mountain of scholarly scriptures. No name can stick, and no philosophy can ring perfectly true, because you cannot paste a bumper sticker on a tidal wave. You cannot condense a supernova into a library.

In time all evidence that human animals existed on this earth will be washed away and new civilizations will be born on other worlds to take our place. Those new conscious beings will discover the unity of the TES, which they will call by another name in a language never spoken by any human being. The meaning, however, will be exactly the same.


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OfflineAlan Stone
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Re: Do you have a soul? [Re: dorkus]
    #3356244 - 11/13/04 05:05 PM (12 years, 21 days ago)

I disagree about buddhist mythology. It depends on which buddhist school you're talking about, of course.
From what I've read, the buddhist mythology is a basic guide for the human mind and its archetypes. The gods, demi-gods and so forth are symbols, not 'real' persons.

I'll state again that whether there is a mechanism in our brains that allows the spontaneous occurence of mystic experience or not tells you nothing about the nature of such experiences. Those same mechanisms might have been put there by a Creator to allow us to contact it/him/her/them. What's more, it's not about the experiences themselves, it's which conclusions you draw from them. After all, if we based our views on experience alone (and if we'd never been in an airplane), we'd claim the earth was flat.


--------------------
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

- Aristotle


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