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March 04, 2010


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“There's no convincing evidence that consciousness exists separate from a body.”

It's actually obvious if you look. There is an unchanging background which allows for the noticing of all body movements. Have you ever been on a train that's moving and you couldn't be sure if you are moving or the train next to you is? That's because movement can only be seen against a backdrop of stillness.

“How can the soul be unaffected by the body, yet also inhabit a physical form?”

The soul is not in the physical form, the physical form is appearing in the soul (mirror). Things come and go in the mirror but the mirror is never affected by it.

Steven, your viewpoint is a belief. How can you say that consciousness isn't affected by materiality, that it is an unchanging "mirror"?

If you're hit over the head hard with a bat, you'll fall unconscious. Ditto with anesthesia. Where is the "unchanging background?" It's changing all the time, switching on and off.

Again, there is no evidence that the "mirror" of consciousness is separate from the reflections that appear in it -- that the brain isn't responsible for consciousness.

Why do you feel the need to prove this?

Rain, prove what? Do you mean, why do I want some evidence that consciousness can exist apart from the body before I believe in this?

If that's the question, it's because -- as I said at the end of this post -- I consider that living in accord with what is real generally is better for both individuals and society than living in fantasy.

I'm not saying that everything in life has to be logically or scientifically provable. Art, music, sex, athletics, all kinds of stuff are experienced, not analyzed.

But soul is something that can't be experienced, if we take "soul" to be metaphysical, separable from physical reality. Yet believers in soul affect social policy (to offer one example) when they claim that fetuses have souls.

This further complicates an already complicated debate over abortion rights. Rather than looking at human facts and human values, metaphysical beliefs get mixed into the equation, which I don't think is healthy or helpful.

Anyway, this is a rather long answer to a question that you might not even have asked the way I took it.

you can either understand reality dual-istically, or 'duel'-istically, or as polarity.
The former looks at seemingly opposing CONCEPTS (keep that in mind) as either in conflict (hence my wordplay 'duel') or they explain away one 'side'. In the modern case that is 'physical' ism
explaining away 'consciousness' or 'mind'.

But reality isn't like that. Reality is Mystery and undermines all the models used to try and grasp what 'it' 'is'

Before your physical body was born, you were not.
While your physical body lives, you are.
After your physical body disintegrates, you will not be.

This is existential conjugation.

After you physical body disintegrates, it will be exactly, precisely, as if you never existed in the first place.

And you do not exist in the first place to begin with. That is - there is no extracorporeal entity that is forced to endure the vicissitudes of raw beingness.

Consciousness is entirely integral with "physicality".

"Awareness" is just Reality - whatever is or is not.

There are no answers, because there is no entity to ask a question.

It does not matter what happens or does not happen. Ir does not matter if you happen to think it does matter, because it still doesn't.

There is nothing to do except what you are doing. Nothing to feel except what you are feeling.

You are dealing with what I am asking but it's more than whether you personally have to believe in a soul. It's a question of how important is it to prove it? Does it matter to our life either way? There is a soul or there is not.

Now sometimes it matters like say with global warming which is another-- it is or is not, but with it, there might be things we can do to make our life different, to change things. What can we do about the question of a soul? And even if we prove one exists by say soul travel, that doesn't prove it exists after the body dies. But, what real difference does it make to prove or disprove it?

If one is using the existence of a soul as an excuse for blowing up people or ignoring quality medical treatment for children or a host of other things that impact other people's lives, than I'd say that matters but for you individually right now, what difference will it make if you prove it exists? And most of them do what they do based on a heaven or hell, not a soul alone. They are expecting a reward or a punishment and that teaches them to do what they do.

If you had a good friend, one who is not a nut and they told you about past life experiences they had had which could be validated as having been real people, if they were someone who could trace where the soul went after the body of say a grandfather had died and knew the next life it was leading, and that other person did exist, would any of that change your decisions today? That's more my point. That it doesn't really matter and it's why I am an agnostic about it. I don't think it matters to living a quality life and I cannot prove it either way. Neither can you.
(I don't know if there is a soul but I tend to believe like you that when we die, we die (which would mean soul also) but I have had things in my life that make me wonder about that-- my own events, but whether I know. When I die, whatever happens will happen not based on my figuring it out ahead of time).

Now if the fundamentalist religions were right and there was a heaven and more importantly a hell, if they had the right idea about how 'god' operates and people got punished after it ended for saying the wrong words, that would matter to life today (in my opinion); but I spent the time thinking about this one some years back. The end result came that I don't believe they are right. I could be wrong ;)

What I think about the existence of a soul that goes on after we die is-- it is mystery. Since we are beings made up of energy, we don't even know whether life exists as we presume it to. We operate as though it does but they have done tests with people showing how they expect to see something and they do. What if someone came in here who didn't expect any of it. What would they see?

The thing is people can get so tangled in all that thinking that they don't live all they could on a 'spiritual' plane for where they are. We can explore a lot of things that we can prove are good or not-- like that meditation lowers blood pressure or that reiki actually helps heal some things or acupuncture can help some illnesses. We can look for meaningful coincidences in our life and utilize them for our benefit.

These are what many call spiritual that we can do something about; but we cannot prove what happens to the soul after the person dies-- even if we could prove it exists. For all the stories where someone dies and the one with them feels when the 'soul' left, for all the reincarnation stories, for all the 'soul' travel while someone is alive, it does not prove the soul goes on to anything when its vehicle dies.

For that matter, I can't prove there isn't a heaven and hell but it goes against all my reasoning to believe it exists at least as the fundamentalists claim it. That won't change their minds though. I can't prove it doesn't by any physical means.

Rain, great comment. Yes, life (and any afterlife) is a mystery. Living happily, creatively, and passionately is a reality.

You're an artist. You express yourself via words, photography, and other means on your blog:

You also have an artistic attitude toward spirituality, which I share. It's wonderful that people have so many attitudes, beliefs, hopes, dreams, expectations, desires and such regarding God, spirit, soul, life after death.

To me, these are akin to the diverse booths at an art fair. You browse around, enjoying the artistic expressions. Nobody says, "My art is the only true art!" Yet religions do just that, unfortunately.

If we look upon spirituality as an art form, a way of self-expression and relating to the mysterious cosmos, no problem. It's only when people view their beliefs as gospel truth that problems arise.

Actually, I'm not sure Batchelor and Hines have Buddhism correct here.

What I have understood is that Buddhism does not teach that mind is immaterial, but that it is formless, so the connection problem does not arise.

Todd, Stephen Bachelor is a Buddhist scholar who describes in his book how he studied with Tibetan monks, learned Tibetan, and translated classic Buddhist writings into English. So he knows his Buddhist philosophy.

Bachelor says, correctly, that belief in an immaterial mind (which in many ways is equivalent to "soul") is an essential feature of Buddhism. This is what makes rebirth, karma, and the Mahayana teaching of resolving to work for the liberation of all sentient beings possible.

Meaning, that if one's existence ends at death, if there is no continuation of consciousness (formless or not), then Buddhism simply becomes a meditation technique, like TM or whatever. There is nothing "spiritual" about Buddhism once notions rebirth, karma extending over several lives, and such are removed.

This is what Bachelor considers to be the true Buddhism taught by the Buddha. So I think your view of Buddhism is agreeable to Bachelor. And even the Buddha. However, this isn't the Buddhism that is currently practiced in the world, which has taken on many religious faith-based characteristics that Bachelor finds objectionable, like a belief in rebirth and non-physical mind/soul.

If you're hit over the head with a bat, you'll fall unconscious. Ditto with anesthesia. Where is the 'unchanging background?

I can honestly report to you that I have never experienced unconsciousness. Without consciousness who would there be to experience it?

There cannot be non-existence. "Be" and "non-existence" are not possible together by their very definitions.

The thing people who think there could be nothingness after death have failed to explain is, how did things ever go from nothingness to aliveness?

It's that first moment I'm interested in.

There has never been and will never be 'Nothing'.

Since there is no 'Nothing' there is no relationship between 'Something' and 'Nothing'.

Because there is no relationship between them, 'Nothing' cannot give rise to 'Something', nor can anything which is 'Something' decline or change into 'Nothing'.

Fair enough, steven. There cannot be an experience of being dead. That is what is so compelling about death. The living can only ever be the living. There are no dead people - only dead bodies.

Steven, obviously you haven't experienced unconsciousness consciously. But you have experienced unconsciousness unconsciously.

Do you really believe that the only stuff that transpires in your brain is conscious? Neuroscience has disproved that (as did Freud, if you give him any credence).

So it seems that all you are saying is that when you are conscious, you're conscious of that state, and that when you're unconscious, you're unconscious of that state. Well, that is obvious.

But to other people, such the anesthesiologist who has put you under, it is clear that at one point you were conscious, and at another point you were unconscious. Thus unless we take a solipsistic view that your reality is the only view of reality that counts, my point remains valid:

There is no evidence of an unchanging background to consciousness. Consciousness comes, consciousness goes.

Juliano, I certainly agree that reality is mystery -- ultimate reality, at least.

So Willie R, I also agree: what else is there to do but what we're doing? Anything else is fantasy (unless what we're doing is fantasizing, then we're doing that).

Ok Brian just expain: How can non-existence form into awareness?

Once that is answered I will understand your point by just mentally reversing it.

I don't know if you've ever reviewed this website Brian:

Steven, the web site you linked to isn't functioning at the moment. In the course of Googling "actual freedom .com" to see if the URL was correct I came across a critique of this philosophy which makes me think there's no reason for me to learn about it.

So the secret to life is being aware in the present moment. Wow. Pretty obvious.

Richard claims to have reached God consciousness and then went beyond that to experience a condition in which he realized by direct experience that there is no soul and no afterlife.

In hindsight he realized that the God consciousness he had been in for 11 years was pure delusion.

I was surprised to hear you reject it based on a review.

Steven, I'lll be happy to look at the site when it is working. I'm just skeptical that anyone could know by "direct experience" that there is no soul and no afterlife.

How does Richard experience the absence of something, except as an absence? He hasn't died yet, so how he know there is no afterlife? If he's simply saying, "what there is, is what there is," who can disagree with that?

But if he's saying, "I didn't experience X, so this proves that X doesn't exist," I'd have to disagree with his logic -- though his conclusion may be correct. I mean, "agnostic" means not knowing. "Atheist" means not believing.

By contrast, it sounds like Richard knows that there isn't a god, and he firmly believes there isn't a god. I'm comfortable with his belief, but not with his knowing -- which seems purely conceptual to me.

steven writes:

"I can honestly report to you that I have never experienced unconsciousness."

you are fooling yourself. you are in denial. the fact is that you experience drifting into unconsciousness every night when you go to sleep.

"Without consciousness who would there be to experience it?"

-- who is experiencing? what is this who? consciousness occur only when there is a functioning brain and sensory perception. all you know begins from the time you were born (and perhaps some months while you were in the womb). without a brain, there is no consciousness.

"There cannot be non-existence. "Be" and "non-existence" are not possible together by their very definitions."

-- No. "Be" and "non-existence are merely words and concepts.

"how did things ever go from nothingness to aliveness?"

-- things never came from nothingness. nothingness is just an idea. aliveness occurs and is experienced when there is a functioning brain and physical form/body and senses.

"It's that first moment I'm interested in."

-- what "first moment"?? there is no first moment. time is the perception of movement, continuity and change. "moment" is just an idea.

"There has never been and will never be 'Nothing'."

-- yes and no. "Nothing" is really just an idea. but also, 'nothing' could be said to be where there is a vacuum. but then even in a so-called vacuum, there is electomagnetic wave radiation and sub-atomic particles.

"Since there is no 'Nothing'"

-- i don't agree. see above.

"there is no relationship between 'Something' and 'Nothing'."

-- this is mere word jugglery, without significance.

"Because there is no relationship between them, 'Nothing' cannot give rise to 'Something', nor can anything which is 'Something' decline or change into 'Nothing'.'

-- more meaningless word jugglery.

"How can non-existence form into awareness?"

-- what do you mean by "non-existence"?? do you mean not alive?? or do you mean empty or absent?? you must define your terms better.

"Once that is answered I will understand your point by just mentally reversing it."

-- like i said, word jugglery. and mental jugglery is basically the same thing.

"Richard claims to have reached God consciousness and then went beyond that to experience a condition in which he realized by direct experience that there is no soul and no afterlife."

-- claims claims claims. who gives a dman what some guy claims? as if that is supposed to make it real, or impress me? well it doesn't. i too can claim all sorts of shit, but so what? just because some guy claims god consciousness is a joke. humndreds of people have made such claims. it doesnlt mean or prove anything. you need to start over from a solid foundation. because you don't know what you are talking about. just because some guy makes some claim. come on, wake up dude. this is the same old same old. it just doesn't fly.

"In hindsight he realized that the God consciousness he had been in for 11 years was pure delusion."

-- oh yeah? well if thats what he thought back then, then he is most likely still deluded. this is a friggin joke. haven't you got anything better than this lame nonsense?? what kind of fools do you take us for?? you may buy into this sort of crap, but I don't... and I don't think Brian does either.

why are you touting some other guy?? just because he makes some stupid-ass claim?? thats lame. where is the substance to it? and what is your point anyway??

why don't you try to say your point or present your position clearly. and speak from your own views and experience, not some supposed claim of some other guy. come down to earth and get head out of the clouds and your feet on the ground of reason.

you know there is a sucker born every minute... and there is also another phony 'enlightened' stupid so-and-so popping up every day. don't be a fool.

Except for the RS soul-talk, I have read very little about the ' soul ' and other related topics. Obviously, I'm totally ignorant on the subject !

However, I enjoyed this post and the comments above.

After de-converting from RS, I had to see life from a fresh perspective. I did not know where to start so I decided to seek happiness in the present moment.

I found this a few days ago and wanted to share it -

By Khushwant Singh

Having lived a reasonably contented life, I was musing over what a person should strive for to achieve happiness. I drew up a list of a few essentials which I put forward for the readers' appraisal.

First and foremost is GOOD HEALTH. If you do not enjoy good health you can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct from your happiness.

Second, a HEALTHY BANK BALANCE. It need not run into crores ( millions ) but should be enough to provide for creature comforts and something to spare for recreation, like eating out, going to the pictures, travelling or going on holidays on the hills or by the sea. Shortage of money can be only demoralizing. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in one's own eyes.

Third, a HOME OF YOUR OWN. Rented premises can never give you the snug feeling of a nest which is yours for keeps that a home provides : if it has a garden space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them grow and blossom, cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

Fourth, an UNDERSTANDING COMPANION, be it your spouse or a friend. If there are too many misunderstandings, they will rob you of your peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to bicker all the time.

Fifth, LACK OF ENVY towards those who have done better than you in life; risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be very corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.

Sixth, DO NOT ALLOW OTHER PEOPLE to descend on you for gup-shup ( small talk ). By the time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their gossip-mongering.

Seventh, CULTIVATE SOME HOBBIES which can bring you a sense of fulfilment, such as gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music. Going to clubs or parties to get free drinks or to meet celebrities is criminal waste of time.

Eighth, every morning and evening, devote 15 minutes to INTROSPECTION. In the morning, 10 minutes should be spent on stilling the mind and then five in listing things you have to do that day. In the evening, five minutes to still the mind again, and ten to go over what you had undertaken to do.

Many Splits, good advice. I can't disagree with any of them. I'd just add: Drink several cups of strong coffee or tea every day.

Yes, Many Splits, good rules for "Happiness" indeed, well put together, makes much sense, yet, yet, yet, it all makes me want to run to the nearest precipice and look over.

Hi Many Splits, though initiated at a very young age and for more than four decades, I think I m RS-Neutral.

In some of my comments, I’ve addressed the Guru as Don because what I understand is Don means a talented person,having leadership qualities and I think Gurinder is, and further in Malaga (Spain) where Gurinder used to work it is normal to address a male as Sr. (Mr.)Don...... or only Don.....

I’m sorry for posting it here asI tried to post in the related post but couldn’t and now I’m unable to find it.

Thanks for the clarification Juan !

Don Juan, isn't your name modelled after Don Juan -the Great Lover?!

Juan, I reckon, anyone sitting on a dias with thousands of people longing for their darshan has a choice to either show appalling leadership qualities by running in the opposite direction or appalling leadership qualities by staying!

Catherine, good one ! But I wonder what can the Master do in the situation he finds himself in... I guess, all that adoration keeps him going on the Guru-trip !

If soul is real well never know.. Not so bad :)

Great topic! I've been all over the "sole" thing the last several months.

I've been a computer programmer for 15+ years, designed Siri-like applications, i.e. very complicating human-like robots, reversing human brain.... Logic opened up a whole line of understanding.

Most of the scientists say that a person is 100% made up within our physical dimensions. Your decisions are the result of the past; i.e. you are a calculator.

I had the experience to touch the limits of logic, and can say this.

Yes, it is 100% possible to reverse and replicate a human brain, if needed, I can demonstrate. But it is not possible within the dimensions we're made, within the logic that we function, to replicate a human; not possible at all.

A robot is a calculator, you cannot logically give it a character. For example, the robot will never feel pain. We can create a "selfish gene", that will make it function for the benefit of oneself. It will cause it to react when it's hurt, to defend itself, just like all the animals. But it will only show the signs of pain, not actually feel it.

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