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.
Eventually I gave up soul-searching, as evidenced by this and this, among other soulless blog posts.
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.
It pains me to see your condition.
How can you find something if you don't know what it is that you are looking for?
Posted by: Janya Barrish | October 10, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Prove that if you cannot find your soul, it does not exist. Just because you cannot find something doesn't mean it is non-existent.
This is an important semantic issue: What is a Soul? What are you talking about when you use the word Soul?
Regardless of whether the soul exists, the term Soul has to have a coherent definition before accurate and meaningful statements can be made regarding its existence or lack thereof.
Posted by: Janya Barrish | October 11, 2012 at 09:53 AM
Janya, thanks for reinforcing the point of this post. There is no coherent definition of "soul." So anyone who thinks they have one, or are one, must be mistaken.
When people talk about "soul" they're referring to a vague abstraction, a concept, in their very human brain. If you say, "show me your soul" or "show me evidence of your soul," they can't do it -- just as no one could do the same if told "show me the fairy in your garden."
You don't make any sense when you say "just because you cannot find something doesn't mean it is nonexistent." Well, duh. Of course. "There are fairies in my garden!" "I am the almighty God of all Creation; bow down to me!"
Well, sure. Maybe there are invisible, undetectable fairies in the garden. Maybe I am almighty God who should be worshipped (and sent gold bullion). "Maybe" is just a word. Substantial reality is something different, something separate from mere ideas in the human brain.
If you believe that anything can exist, even though you don't perceive it, how do you get through life? I'm curious about this. Do you stop at red lights and go on green lights, or do you think "That red light might really be green; even though I can't find a red light, it could be existent?"
I doubt it. You'd have too many car crashes. We live our real lives as if some things really exist and some things really don't. Only in religion are non-existent things believed to exist, and existent things believed to not exist.
Posted by: Brian Hines | October 11, 2012 at 10:10 AM
(1) I never said that I believed that the existence of "anything" is possible.
(2) How do you know there is no coherent definition of soul? Would it not be better and more intellectually honest to say that YOU have not yet encountered a coherent definition of the soul?
(3) Do you disagree with the assertion that "just because you cannot find something does not mean that it is non-existent?" Because if you do not accept that assertion as true, then logically, other galaxies did not exist before you were able to find them.
Posted by: Janya Barrish | October 11, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Janya, I take it you have a coherent definition of soul. If so, please share it. Of course, a definition isn't reality. So then I'd appreciate a description of an experiment or process that shows how it is possible to tell whether something with that definition exists.
Again, thanks for making my point. Until galaxies were discovered in the 20th century, people believed nearby stars were all there were. After evidence of galaxies was found, views changed to be in accord with demonstrable reality.
But until we have evidence of something, that something doesn't exist for us. And unless we accept that insane people who have hallucinations are in contact with reality, evidence for that "something" has to be public, not merely private.
Otherwise, like I said before, you'll just have to believe me when I say that I've seen fairies in my garden, and you should worship them like I do.
Posted by: Brian Hines | October 11, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Things do not exist "for you" or "for me". That which exists exists. That which does not exist doesn't.
Human views changed after the existence of galaxies was discovered; the objective existence of those galaxies did not.
Posted by: Janya Barrish | October 11, 2012 at 12:40 PM
are you sure you checked everywhere for soul? did you look in Motown? (and be sure to check behind Rhythm & Blues, it sometimes hides there.) how about the bottom of your shoe? i think you just didn't look hard enough. ;-)
Posted by: sgl | October 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Self..Soul..me, same non-thing.
As an entity I am not conceivable as 'me' or as 'I', because if the object is not, there is no subject either.
We have often seen it written in metaphysical literature "I am but there is no me", but this is deceptive because if there were not a 'me' as object then an 'I' as subject is still a conceived object by a subject which a 'me'! This could go on ad infinitum. There is no way to get out of duality conceptually. No way to solve the riddle of apparent existence.
All that can be stated about me is that I neither am nor am not, or, I am the absence of what I am as well as what I am not.
Conceptually, total absence of I-ness is all that I am. But absence and presence are interdependent counterparts in duality or divided mind. In Reality all that I am is the absence of both presence and absence, which is the absence of my absence as I.
This is inconceivable...beyond conception and there is no way to linguistically express it. You could ascribe a symbol to indicate it such as satori or nirvana, but they really mean nothing.
However, it can be apprehended, not in thought, which is dualistic knowledge, but in "intuition" which is not thinking. Rather, it is a spontaneous awareness that is unaware of awareness.
Posted by: tucson | October 11, 2012 at 02:01 PM
The term "dividual", used in academia, is I feel the self referred by both the author and tuscon. As opposed to "individual" it is applied in the analysis of societies/groups whose members have a high degree of empathy for one another; and which is reflected in their actions, language, myths, songs, 'economy.' i.e is not an abstract ideology. For example a forest dwelling tribesman in Kongo (where I used to live) responded to a pastor who questioned him: why he did not store the extra food he gathered and consume it in the future, by saying "I will store the food in my sister's bely." Dividuals in societies which are animists, in Africa, Amazonia, and Southeast Asia, Polynesia etc, have a perspectival understanding of the universe, which means that dreams, spirits, visions, animals, humans, rocks, rivers and trees are always embedded with the potentiality for dividual agency. For personhood. Read an article called Cosmological Deixis by de Castro for an understanding of this perspectival self. My point is that the self you are looking for is "you" playing a game with "you." It is something evident. The cup the bird the sky the tree the body the mind the thoughts the screen the keyboard the chair the music. All evident. Nothing mystical about this. "Bird sings I sing(s)" says Suzuki. Now "the soul" is a different matter. Despite you chastising sitting with infinite patience in silence and in darkness concentrated between the eyes listening to either silence or the finest and most subtle tunes of it and staring at no-thing, "I" for my part believe it beats the hell out of looking for a "soul" under a book (or worst within one!). This doesnt mean that "it" is not there though... A dead buddha whose blood is always warm.
Posted by: toure ali | October 12, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Read Mind is a Myth by U G Krishnamurti.
Soul and mind being the same animal.
Posted by: Mike Williams | October 12, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Old Papa Noah sat down on a trunc
The first college of knowledge had been founded that day,
Tell we more bout that story about water anwine
Or let it happen yes happen like mi mother seh
Big entertainer- hot drop inna your ear like paradise
"Oh stop the wailin" the prophet is sayin`
"Trust a guide ya ! open your heart now day by day"-
Life will be more easy, just like Noah m say ...
Try to save your soul,
Before you get old
Your body is fadinin time ...
What if Papa Noah was a liar?
Just mystic tales of bliss for the youth to keep the faith...
What if no light will guide us higher?
Would all our life have been in vain?
Old Papa Noah show me the way to make it happen
Hey let me go to heaven that day.
Oh Papa Noah ! hear what I say
Him say pray, pray sunday is a holiday
Old Papa Noah set up the rules built the schools:
Love your mother father eeh
Don't abuse a friend or hurt one another
Then you'll go to heaven that day!
Try to save your soul
Before you get old
Your body is fading in time
What if Papa Noah was a liar?
Just mystic tales of bliss for the youth to keep the faith...
What if no light will guide us higher?
Would all our life have been in vain?
Posted by: Moongoes | October 13, 2012 at 12:46 AM
It's amazing to have the above article from Brian who's written amazing books opposite to this article. But nothing to blame anyone.
Blaming anyone in front or behind is the worst thing someone can even think of. If someone does, there is no question of any spiritual growth.
Because blaming mainly comes from that notion of our mind which says I am above you or I know better than you or similar stuff, what we call "ahamkaar" or "aham" which is the last and the strongest evil of the mind, and without getting rid of from it, it's next to impossible to experience the soul.
So, if Brian is saying something, it's very true for him and from his opinions, because he's experiencing that and there is really nothing to blame about that.
Sharing our own experience is always good. Brian said that he did everything to figure out that soul thingy and couldn't find, so it psycologically it sounds correct that it might not exist. But, logically it sounds incorrect, because claiming that it doesn't exist also require a proof which isn't there.
But particularly my amazement on this article is not a blame on Brian, it's just coming from the background that it's totally opposite to what Brian has written in his own books. And it actually questions my mind how and why Brian has gone a total flip from those concepts of SantMat.
Now my opinions and experiences: (and the following are not blames on anyone, they are just my experiences, my reads and observations)
The discussion of "soul exists or not" itself is so ironical, because if soul doesn't exist, we wouldn't have been here to write/discuss this.
Certainly there is no proof for the material world to see or experience the soul because it doesn't belong to this world. For spiritual world there isn't a proof required, because if we can experience the spiritual world behind our eyes, then exactly yes, the soul is there.
Mind and Body does belong to this world and so we can see and experience with open eyes.
One of my interesting belief which I respect profoundly: "we can not even think or imagine the impossible"
We are part of the universe and our thought comes from our mind which belongs to the lowest of the universal planes that is the material world, the sukshma world and the kaaran world. Mind is created in the Kaaran world and can act in all the three levels on and below the Kaaran i.e. Kaaran world, Sukshma world and the Material world.
The soul actually appears after the Kaaran world and no material body(physical body), no astral body (sukshama body), no mind (mann) and no Kaaran body(causal body) is required beyond the Kaaran world.
Soul is made up of exactly same energy which the Supreme being is made up of.
By the universal law by the law of supreme himself, the "energy" which the soul and the supreme both consists of, is not allowed to enter in and below the Kaaran world without covering itself with the elements these world's made up of.
It is this reason, the soul and so the supreme being himself too, will have to take a covering of a body to enter the Karran, Sukshama and Material worlds.
And also is the reason why the Supreme being has to come to earth in a covering (a body of human etc.) so as to follow the nature rules he created.
The elements belongs to a specific plane are only required there and not in above planes.
That's why when we meditate and reaches the Sukshama plane, we leave our Material body behind, what we retain in the Sukshama world, is Sukshama body, Mind, Kaaran Body. And the material body almost achieves the state of death which is also known as "jeevat mariye" i.e. die while alive.
Growing further, when the soul reaches the Kaaran world, it leaves behind the Sukshama body which is not required in Kaaran world. Beyond the Kaaran world, the Mind and Kaaran world are also not required and when soul crosses the Kaaran world, it also leaves behind the Mind (mann) and the Kaaran body and very first time it becomes capable to see herself.
It is this reason why we can't see the soul, well, we ourselves are the combination of material body, sukshama body, mind, kaaran body and the soul. Since currently we are in material world, depending on at what level of spiritual plane we'd be able to realize that much only.
Now, the reason why the love and relation of soul and guru or supreme being and the ability to realize the spiritual levels never dies even when the soul leaves the mind and kaaran body behind is that the soul itself has two and only powers of surat(ability to listen) and nirat(ability to see). The ability to listen awakes much much prior to the ability to see. Even after the Kaaran world, the soul holds these two and only qualities to see and to listen the self being and the great supreme being.
Although not with that precision, but we can still realize the soul(or precisely the sukshama body or better I would say emptiness of material body), I would like to share bits of information and experience on this.
Below is the mix of my small experiences(realizations) and my beliefs.
Believe or laugh, some really very "important things" to follow to realize anything of this sort are:
-> has to be purely vegetarian
(non veg increase karmas million times than the veg, also it adds up lots of "tamas")
-> really feel kind and humble inside, always keep the feeling of giving things away and sharing them with others for good cause
(this feeling and way of living life will start clearing off lots of karms which will help to pull the consciousness upwards and inside)
-> never have a single little thought to have someone else's thing (or wealth or person)
(it jus doesn't belong to you, hefty debt will follow with it, result: won't be able to meditate)
-> always live on your own earnings, never ever expect anything extra or for free from any source
(you will fall in a great debt if you won't follow this, it pulls your consciousness with a great force towards below your head and out in material world, we won't be able to meditate)
-> stay away from alcohols
(it also create "tamas" and we just can't meditate with "tamas")
-> try to stay away from extreme hot drinks or extremely chilled drinks
(they also create "tamas")
The way is, while sitting on meditation, try to get rid of all the thoughts and just honestly focus on the pineal gland i.e. the inner center of your eyes. If you've actually achieved the thoughtless notion, within 5 minutes (or even less) of such state, you will realize the activity in your forehead (basically in the pineal gland). Afterwards, you will start feeling as if your body (starting from the legs) started to drain, and some immense liveliness and active substance is leaving your body and leaving that body part just like dead.
And this is actually called meditation, not only sitting stable with closed eyes is all the meditation is.
The same will happen to each and every part of your body, starting from legs then waist then hands arms abdomen chest shoulders and then the neck (neck is going to be the most painful).
What's leaving your body and getting collected at third eye, is infact the soul (along with sukshma body, mind and kaaran body) and is the proof that soul exists. If concerned to see it, it's an honest practice of years to surpass the kaaran world and see yourself. difficult yet possible.
I've met many people who gave up at some or other body part pain, some gave up even at legs and it's been 10s of years they've been initiated.
Remember, for some people even the legs, the starting point can also be very very painful (God knows why) but yes it might be extremely painful even at legs but the only key to success is just don't give up, feel the pain, get over it, every pain vanishes in 21 days (continuous 21 days).
ok, getting the neck drained is really really very painful (at least for me it was like I will totally die, I felt like I will be beheaded).. it was extreme pain, something which I never felt earlier. But, yes in beginning I gave up at that pain but practicing continuously, I finally got over it and it doesn't pain at neck anymore. Once your consciousness is totally out of your material body, it will finally settle on the third eye (the pineal gland).
The actual growth only starts after and only after this point, below this, be it years and years, nothing enough to realize anything.
If we are really following the above important things honestly, and we continue the practice of 2.5 hours daily meditation (the meaning of meditation matters, really) for minimum of 21 days (but the practice has to be dead honest).. we will surely start feeling somethings which do not belong to this world and just can't be replicated here to give a proof of. 21 days are of great impact, the universe around us, which we are part of, the sukshma world, there are 21 such worlds under one Kaaran world... and we are just part of one such sukshama world. It's very difficult to discuss the details of this concept here.
In a recent gathering in New Delhi, India, Babaji said a really unique and wonderful phrase:
(it was unique for me, not sure if they said from the saying of some other saint or else)
"We think of ourselves as human beings and we try hard to achieve spiritual experience whereas the fact is that we are the spiritual beings and we are passing though a human experience. We just need to sit and meditate to awake ourselves and realize our own identity."
These quotes went totally deep inside and are really motivating to keep on practicing more to realize the self and supreme greatness.
Good Luck to everyone. God bless you all.
Posted by: Someone | October 16, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Please observe the fact that the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Posted by: William | November 02, 2012 at 05:34 AM