Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Don't tell a soul

I just finished reading a novel on my Kindle about a company that was able to track your soul as it progressed from one life to the next. The book was called Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder. In the book, the Soul Identity company made big bucks by offering people the opportunity to pass their resources on to their soul's next incarnation. The kicker was that the company had to be able to find you in your next life in order to give you your many lives savings. To make matters worse, you couldn't remember anything about your past lives from one life to the next.

That sucks. What is the point in having your soul reborn if you can't remember anything? Doesn't that create a Groundhog's Day effect of repeating your same mistakes over and over? It would explain why humans continue to engage in futile activities like war and political parties.

Oh I am sure there are loop holes in this arrangement. Maybe you take stock of each life in between passing on to the next life. Maybe you map out things to do and learn in your next life. If this is the case, I have a few bones to pick with my soul.

I would like to believe that I have a soul. The thought of having something continue after we die is comforting. But I wonder if that is why humans want to believe in souls. The alternative is "just living and then dying and that is it." And that seems particularly pointless.

I am not a religious man so I don't equate having a soul with a belief in god. I believe in the patterns inherent in nature and that nothing is totally random. This is not to say that I believe in fate or a master plan that is outside of me. Maybe it goes back to my believe that we create our own reality.

One thing I have always had trouble with in any theory of soul progression or reincarnation is giving up the sense of self. Even thinking of death I hate the idea of ceasing to exist as me. For I equate my personality with my soul. It is MY soul, not a community soul. And that, according to many religions and metaphysical theories I've read is what I need to give up. I need to become one with the universe in order to become enlightened.

But is it really necessary to give up my sense of self to discover (or uncover) my soul? Do I have to be assimilated in order to exist? What is the point of having a soul if it is not truly yours? Shouldn't it be like a comfortable old sweatshirt that fits perfectly and only gets better each time you wear it? Why should we have to keep the same soul but wipe it clean each time we use it in another life?

Funny how each of my questions just leads to more questions. And the only answer anyone could possibly give me is that I have to have faith.

Oh well, enough tail chasing for now. I have a soul to catch.


R. said...

I've always been partial to the idea that our physical bodies were meat puppets. The soul has its hand shoved up the body's backside trying with varying degrees of success to get the possessed to reflect the soul's nature.

If one considers how difficult it is to work a puppet with only a few strings, imagine what it must be like to work a human body with an independent mind!

Anyway, the idea goes that when the body dies it is cast aside and the soul finds another one to possess.

Time said...

R. Thanks for that visual.

So you think that the soul is separate from the mind and personality? Or do you define mind as simply controlling automatic body functions and the soul controls the thoughts and personalities?

I would think that if the mind is separate from the soul you create yet another puzzle as to what happens to the mind after you die.

R. said...

First I'd like to clarify that I don't "believe" any of this - I just like the idea.

The soul is separate from the mind and personality. The mind thinks its own thoughts, develops a personality, keeps the heart beating and so on. The soul takes an active role in influencing all these physical mechanisms but is not the ultimate arbiter. The mind has free will.

Maybe souls posses bodies that are suited to them. Maybe souls influence how bodies choose mates so that other souls can posses the suitable offspring. Maybe it's all evolutionary. Maybe it's all bureaucratic.

When the mind dies, well, it dies. It's just a chunk of sweetmeat after all. We have plenty of mechanisms to make sure things of interest to the mind are not forgotten - religions, written and spoken language, children, youtube and so on.