I've been looking for my soul everywhere I can think it might be. No sign of it.
I've gone through the drawer where I put stuff that I figure I might need someday, but don't want to throw away. Nope. No soul. Our garage is filled with places it might be, lots of boxes filled with long-forgotten crap. But I don't remember putting my soul into storage there.
So I'm left with talking to myself. Or to whoever might be listening who could help me out. Dude, where's my soul? (If this allusion doesn't make sense to you, your taste in movies is too elevated. Lower it, dude.)
For a long time I've been on a soul search.
After all, back in 1971 I was initiated into a mystical/religious practice called Sant Mat which promises to unite soul drops with the ocean of God. There was a lot of talk about "soul" and "spirit" (universal side of soul, basically) in the teachings. But not much guidance about how soul could be recognized.
My previous post, though, got me to pondering this whole soul-business in a fresh fashion. Here's part of what I quoted from Jan Westerhoff's book about the nature of reality.
To put the point in a different way, suppose someone offered you a drug that completely destroyed your self while leaving all your beliefs, desires, preferences, and so on intact. Would there be anything wrong with taking it? It would certainly be preferable to a drug that destroyed all our beliefs, desires, preferences etc. and left our self intact.
Substitute "soul" for "self" in that quotation and you'll see why I'm having so much difficulty finding my soul. By many accounts (especially of the Eastern philosophy variety), it's supposed to be something different from mind and matter, something spiritual, ethereal, pure.
Christians seem to look upon soul a bit differently, but there's a problem with every notion of "soul" that I'm aware of. Westerhoff described it nicely through his thought experiment.
If soul is different from mind and matter, would you be willing to trade everything mental and material that you're conscious of now for whatever might be left over once you're "soul"? (Note: I'm not implying a strict divide between mental and material; my view of mind is that it's what the physical brain does.)
Let's say you're deeply religious. You love God. Or you love your guru. Or you love Jesus, along with the angels which accompany him. Regardless, you love something divine. That love is precious to you. It's a big part of what makes life so satisfying.
Your mental life. Your emotional life. Your thoughtful life.
So if soul is different from mind, and you choose to discard mind and matter for whatever "soul" might be, say goodbye to those love-feelings. Also, goodbye to your perceptions of whatever/whoever you love. And goodbye to being able to know their presence in any sort of material way also, since soul is supposed to be something non-physical.
Do you see the problem with believing that you are, or have, a soul?
There's absolutely no evidence that it exists, apart from abstract concepts in holy books and theological teachings. The life you actually live is filled with mental and physical experiences -- perceptions, feelings, thoughts, intuitions, sensations, etc.
Subtract all that out and what are you left with? Do you know?
Have you any experience of being conscious without any experience? (If you believe you have, I'd like to ask how you can know what something is like that has no qualities, and thus nothing to like. Or, dislike.)
Soul is a fantasy. Soul is a concept dreamed up by religious authorities who want to control people by making them afraid that if they don't follow the precepts of a certain religion, they'll lose their soul.
To which I say, I can't lose what I don't have. No one can. But if you believe you have, or are, a soul, feel free to show it to me. If I know how to recognize it, I'll take another look in my garage.