Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

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Rob X
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Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by Rob X » Sat Apr 18, 2015 3:53 pm

Following on from a recent exchange with E2B, here are a few thoughts on why, in my view, personal continuity after death is an incoherent and confused concept.

My argument is not against the soul as such, it's against personal continuity after death.

(A non-personal soul is not a necessarily an issue - it would accord with what Eckhart describes as "your innermost being, the essence of who you are." In other words, non-personal Being/consciousness itself.)

My objection is with personal continuity. And although (by my standards) there is no direct evidence for personal continuity after death, this is not where my objection here is aimed.

[And just to be clear (and avoid potential straw man arguments), my position here is not that of a materialist - I feel that reductive materialism is a premature conclusion and something that I don't resonate with (along with idealism).]

---

Firstly, a few notes about how biological limitation effects continuity before death.

Evidence from neuroscience clearly demonstrates that damage to brain tissue can completely alter the personality and character of a person. There is evidence of otherwise respectable personalities becoming violent and abusive (and in a couple of prominent cases, men becoming paedophiles) as a result of brain tumours.

High order functioning such as thinking, perceiving, planning, and understanding language are dependent on an area of the brain known as the cerebrum. Serious damage to this area (including the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes) renders this type of functioning inoperative.

It's a fact of everyday experience that sense perceptions are subject to the limitations determined by biology. I can only see things clearly within a certain distance. And I can't detect things beyond a certain magnification. Also the human eye is only capable of perceiving light between certain wavelengths (390 and 750 nanometers.)

Same with hearing: the frequencies that I can hear fall into a specific range (The human range is commonly given as 20 to 20,000 Hz.) The same goes for smell, taste and touch - limitations and thresholds fall into a typical range for most humans.

Now on to my main point:

Someone who is born with congenital deafblindness will live their lives without sight or hearing. Is it the case that their personal soul would also have this disability? Or what about a baby born with severe brain damage - it would live its life void of high order functioning (thinking, perceiving, planning, recognition, understanding language etc.) Does it follow that its personal soul would also suffer from such a severe disability?

There are two ways to go here:

1. The soul abides complete with the biological limitations of the person. The soul of a blind person will be blind. The soul of a severely brain damaged person will be severely disabled.

The problem with this is that if we admit to ANY biological limitation affecting the soul, then it follows logically that we must consider the ultimate situation of biological limitation i.e. the complete non-functioning of the entity - in other words, death.

Or:

2. The soul is not touched by the biological limitations of the (previously living) organism.

This is equally problematic for the soul apologist. If a soul is not effected by the biological limitation of the organism then it would bypass the limitations of human seeing and hearing and other perceptions. It would not be bound by light frequency wavelengths of between 390 and 750 nanometers - it would detect the whole spectrum (which is a mind boggling thought.) Magnification would be no problem: it would be able to see electrons and protons etc. Same with hearing: it would not be limited to the normal spectrum of 20 to 20,000 Hz - within a certain range. The same goes for smell, taste and touch - limitations and thresholds would be absent.

A soul that had none of these limitations would in effect have no sense of location, direction and perspective - everywhere it looked it would potentially see a mass of squirming quarks and hear a cacophony of multi-layered white noise simultaneously from all directions (thus losing a sense of direction.) Human physical limitations would be bypassed too - there is no reason why a soul wouldn't be able to fly or breathe under water, for instance.

It begs the question: why would a soul which is not meant to be affected by the biological limitation of the human organism be subject to the degree of cognitive and perceptual limitations that happen to correspond with this particular bipedal mammal at this point in evolution? Why wouldn't the soul, at least, have the capabilities of the most potentially superior being in the universe? In fact why wouldn't the soul resemble the most exalted being conceivable - Being itself? Thus rendering the concept of personal continuity, not only incoherent but redundant.

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by Enlightened2B » Sat Apr 18, 2015 5:16 pm

I'll tell you my opinion and it's only my opinion based on my perspective right now, which likely will grow again when I gain a new understanding experientially and conceptually.

I'm learning a whole lot more about interdimensional Being. Meaning, to me, it seems that there isn't just a 'soul' per say in the simplest sense, but that we are energetic Beings existing on multiple planes/dimensions simultaneously which all vary depending upon the vibration level of that dimension. Ultimately, all part of the same one Pure Being itself. Yet, a lot more going on between what we think we understand here physically speaking, and Source itself. Physical reality being the lowest, densest of all layers of Being is the outermost and densest most layer of reality. What we call the 'soul' (at least in the context that you and I refer to it) is merely the highest self. Which means, we have selves that exist on multiple energetic/conscious layers of reality. Who we really are, is Pure energy itself with no separation. The highest self is our energetic Being that exists in the highest energetic realms of reality, where we also exist right now! Our physical bodies and personalities do not carry on after death of the body. All that lives, is an energetic conscious perspective, yet which has energetic imprints from all of our previous lives and which gets carried over into the physical body in our next incarnation. Ultimately, again, we are all the same One Energy Source.

But, it also is not as simple as that as I see it. After death of the body, when we immediately leave our bodies, in that first energetic realm of Being which is a higher vibrational realm than physical reality, but still much lower than some of the other ethereal realms, everything is thought based. Meaning, you literally manifest based on thought/belief, which happens in physical reality, but to a lesser, slower extent due to the denser layers of energy. Therefore, your current state of belief at death of body, carries over into the next realm and you manifest your own reality instantaneously in that realm, based on the belief systems you are still carrying around. I see it that people who believe they are seeing demons during OBE's along with those who have hellish NDE's are likely manifesting in the lower realms, based on their beliefs of fear, at the time that have carried over from physical life. Once you are able to move beyond those beliefs or at least embrace the fear and surrender to it, into the acceptance that you are Pure Being itself, you are able to evolve to a higher vibration of Being into the higher realms.

As to your last question:
why would a soul which is not meant to be affected by the biological limitation of the human organism be subject to the degree of cognitive and perceptual limitations that happen to correspond with this particular bipedal mammal at this point in evolution? Why wouldn't the soul, at least, have the capabilities of the most potentially superior being in the universe? In fact why wouldn't the soul resemble the most exalted being conceivable - Being itself? Thus rendering the concept of personal continuity, not only incoherent but redundant.
I would suggest that the answer is all about learning and growth for that particular Soul through experience. That is what this physical reality is all about. A training ground of sorts, a gameboard for the Soul to learn and evolve and bring back experience to Source itself, which it is a very part of and not separate from. And learning can only happen via limitation. Physical reality therefore is the ultimate, learning experience because of the limitations here on this energetic level.

I think (and I know from my own experience) when we try to understand this stuff rationally, logically and analytically by our own human brains, by looking for physical explanations of this through neuroscience (as I discussed with epiphany in another thread) or trying to understand this through our own colored belief systems which all of us have, it makes little to no possible sense, because we can't conceive of this idea through our limited minds and yet not realizing that physical reality is likely a mere manifestation of an even greater energetic reality which is layered in countless vibrational dimensions upon dimensions based on our evolutionary status as a Soul perspective of Consciousness.

Just my perspective at this juncture in time which is constantly changing for me, the more insight I gain. I'm starting to study out of body techniques and energy meditation techniques to allow me to get in touch with my higher self/selves, because I feel that the only way to know this stuff directly without speculating (which is all that I'm doing here) is to experientially explore it yourself. It's allllll energy as I see it which is all based upon different vibrational levels. I've had countless lucid dreams throughout my life and have been many times in the 'vibrational state' that William Buhlman talks about in his videos and it clicked with me so much hearing him talk that I want to experience it further directly now. We all can do it ourselves. So, why not?

Anyway, I'll leave the floor open to other's own perspectives from here on out.

Thanks for opening the discussion Rob.

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by Rob X » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:43 pm

Thanks E2B, but I'm not sure that you got the point I was making.

Saying things like:

"After death of the body, when we immediately leave our bodies…" and "That is what this physical reality is all about. A training ground of sorts, a gameboard for the Soul to learn and evolve…" assumes that such a thing as a soul has already been established. But it hasn't - this is just an example of a circular argument. My whole point is that there is no soul that leaves the body or goes on to learn and evolve since such a personal soul can be seen to be incoherent.
Enlightened2B wrote: "All that lives, is an energetic conscious perspective, yet which has energetic imprints from all of our previous lives and which gets carried over into the physical body in our next incarnation."
Enlightened2B wrote:...your current state of belief at death of body, carries over into the next realm and you manifest your own reality instantaneously in that realm, based on the belief systems you are still carrying around
These quotes indicate that mental or psychological material (thoughts, memories, hopes, desires, fears etc.) is carried by the soul. My point is that specific mental and psychological material depends on a functioning cerebrum and the network of neural connections which supports memory. There is plenty of evidence that demonstrates that these can be lost in living people - so the chances of these somehow surviving the death of the brain seem remote to fanciful.

As for "energetic conscious perspective", this (the word perspective) indicates a separate consciousness. Isn't it more likely - as some claim - that the brain is the instrument through which the pure light of consciousness fragments, prism-like, into apparent separate perspectives. And with the dissolving of the brain, the separate perspectives dissolve.
Enlightened2B wrote: I think (and I know from my own experience) when we try to understand this stuff rationally, logically and analytically by our own human brains, by looking for physical explanations of this through neuroscience (as I discussed with epiphany in another thread) or trying to understand this through our own colored belief systems which all of us have, it makes little to no possible sense...
I'm not sure that playing the 'the rational mind can't get this' card is appropriate here. I'm mainly pointing out logical inconsistencies in your claims. Personally, I've done thousands of hours of meditation and contemplation over the last 16 years and nothing seems more the product of the limited (and needy) imagination of the human mind as the anthropomorphic idea of personal continuation.

Still, your perspective is interesting and it's gratifying that you present what you say with 'this is my opinion' or 'just my perspective'.
Enlightened2B wrote:It's allllll energy as I see it…
Me too. :)

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by Webwanderer » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:49 pm

Rob, I see some fair questions based on faulty assumptions. The primary misconception is that we have a soul. We do not. A Soul has us. Life in the human experience is one designed for limitation. Why? Because limitation offers unique experience in being. And as far as 'us' or you or me, the human mind is a window or lens through which we as souls perceive experience. Our sense of being is soul. Our sense of identity in this form is mind made up of thought constructs and beliefs about life.
This is equally problematic for the soul apologist.
This statement seems a bit unnecessarily perjorative. Discussion of soul possibilities is legitimate regardless of possition so long as it's honest and open minded.

It begs the question: why would a soul which is not meant to be affected by the biological limitation of the human organism be subject to the degree of cognitive and perceptual limitations that happen to correspond with this particular bipedal mammal at this point in evolution? Why wouldn't the soul, at least, have the capabilities of the most potentially superior being in the universe?
The soul does have a vastly superior quality of being. Is is so vast and capable that it can create human perspectives, repleat with designed limitations, to explore unique environments. Eternity is a long long time. It is so long that time doesn't actually exist. What does exist is eternal expansion. The human experience is just one such venue of expansion. In an infinite universe of being the possibilities are endless.

You mentioned a blind or deaf person. The human form is designed with five commonly accepted senses. What would life be like if one or more of those senses was non functional? As a soul, what could be gained through such an experience? Also, within the NDE reports are a few from people who were blind from birth, but while having an NDE/OBE they were able to see the physical world that before they could not.

If one can get to a little understanding of a soul perspective, what then is a soul? I suggest a soul is a unique perspective of Source Consciousness. There is only One infinite consciousness, but within that infinite One there are infinite perspectives - identical in nature, but unique in individuation and experience without being individual or separate. All such perspectives add to the Whole while having the benefit of all life expereince from all such individuations.

In the evolution of the human experience, I suggest that we are moving toward greater realization of being - our soul nature - within this human form. More of our soul nature is manifesting as we align with that nature through clearer perception of our feelings and our being.

This of course is a thumbnail sketch, as the Greater Reality is far more than suggested here and is likely multidementional and multilayered.

WW

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by runstrails » Sat Apr 18, 2015 9:31 pm

Rob X wrote: In fact why wouldn't the soul resemble the most exalted being conceivable - Being itself? Thus rendering the concept of personal continuity, not only incoherent but redundant.
Makes logical sense to me. In Vedantic self-realization--atman (individual soul) and Brahman (universal 'soul', if you will) are both ultimately realized to be the same.
Rob X wrote:It's a fact of everyday experience that sense perceptions are subject to the limitations determined by biology. I can only see things clearly within a certain distance. And I can't detect things beyond a certain magnification. Also the human eye is only capable of perceiving light between certain wavelengths (390 and 750 nanometers.)
Same with hearing: the frequencies that I can hear fall into a specific range (The human range is commonly given as 20 to 20,000 Hz.) The same goes for smell, taste and touch - limitations and thresholds fall into a typical range for most humans.
This is a very important realization. Ultimately, all objects/experiences are simply in the mind (neural representations) and thus not separate from mind. By the same logic, the mind can only appear in awareness and so it is not separate from it. Thus, all of reality is just awareness. Awareness is, of course, synonymous with existence (that is, there cannot be awareness unless there is existence and there cannot be existence unless there is awareness). So there cannot really be more than one awareness. So, everyday, ordinary awareness (of the individual/jiva/atman) is also the non-dual awareness of existence ( brahman).

This world view is so intuitive to me now--yet, I struggle to find the right words to explain it. The simplest thing in the world sounds so complex when you start to explain it :D.

Good stuff, Rob. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by ashley72 » Sat Apr 18, 2015 11:12 pm

A human being is just a bunch of deterministic physical processes. When a human being dies those individual human processes cease... End of story.

Free-will is merely illusion of neural loopiness... More free won't than free-will. :wink:

As I have posted about previously... There is now physical evidence (oil droplet experiments) that demonstrate all the key properties of quantum mechanics as complex interacting standing wave systems.... Which have deterministic cause & effect physical processes connecting their wave behavior. Matter is most likely a special kind of superfluid with a viscosity close to zero.

In the future more oil droplet kind of physical experimentation will uncover this complex determinism.

The question is whether or not that it would be possible to preserve or transmit those human-based processes into some other human body or medium to preserve the so-called "soul". Could you somehow mimic or mirror the exact processes in way a that the human being feels a continuum or preservation?

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by Enlightened2B » Sat Apr 18, 2015 11:23 pm

Rob X wrote:
Enlightened2B wrote: "All that lives, is an energetic conscious perspective, yet which has energetic imprints from all of our previous lives and which gets carried over into the physical body in our next incarnation."
Enlightened2B wrote:...your current state of belief at death of body, carries over into the next realm and you manifest your own reality instantaneously in that realm, based on the belief systems you are still carrying around
These quotes indicate that mental or psychological material (thoughts, memories, hopes, desires, fears etc.) is carried by the soul. My point is that specific mental and psychological material depends on a functioning cerebrum and the network of neural connections which supports memory. There is plenty of evidence that demonstrates that these can be lost in living people - so the chances of these somehow surviving the death of the brain seem remote to fanciful.
Rob, this is what is reported by non physical explorers. Yes, for the human physical body to work, you're right, the human brain is essential. But, I'm saying that we are not the body, but a mere conscious perspective utilizing the body as a vehicle. Fears, thoughts, memories, hopes, desires are all energetic constructs. We are energy already. Therefore, what we think, feel, believe, fear, hope, desire, gets carried over starting from the energetic level to the physical level in the human body because the physical level is energy as well of course. Everything is based on vibration. Those energetic constructs rely on a physical brain for as long as you are incarnated in a physical body. But, what I'm saying is that, when we leave the body, we have energetic resonance stemming from belief structures that carries over from incarnation to incarnation because everything exists energetically first and foremost, before it gets imprinted to the physical level. Can I prove this to you? Of course I can't physically. But, that's why exploring for ourselves by going out of body, taking part in between life regression sessions or channeling our higher selves, or taking part in energy healing is the only way to truly convince ourselves. Energy healing is incredibly powerful. Why does it work? Because everything IS energy.
As for "energetic conscious perspective", this (the word perspective) indicates a separate consciousness. Isn't it more likely - as some claim - that the brain is the instrument through which the pure light of consciousness fragments, prism-like, into apparent separate perspectives. And with the dissolving of the brain, the separate perspectives dissolve.
No, it does not mean a separate consciousness. although it could be taken that way. I'm saying there is One Consciousness. One Energy Source, One "All There Is". One 'I Am'.......through which infinite exploratory opportunies/perspectives exist in a countless number of dimensions. The human brain is merely the instrument for human exploration. Human exploration is merely one potential avenue for Source Consciousness to explore as a possibility. Basically, everything is already aware, including every drop of matter. Hard for us to understand, but there are oh so many NDE reports that confirm this. Just think of the life review process. You experience everything you've ever interacted with, whether it's another person, another blade of grass, a tree, a grain of sand that you've interacted with in your physical life. Why is it that we experience their perspectives in the life review process? Because we are not separate from them. We are experiencing the hurt and pain we inflict upon others in the life review knowing during the life review, that we are One and the same as every other speck of reality and therefore, the pain we inflict up on others, is just being inflicted upon ourselves ultimately, since there is only One actual Being in reality.
I'm not sure that playing the 'the rational mind can't get this' card is appropriate here. I'm mainly pointing out logical inconsistencies in your claims. Personally, I've done thousands of hours of meditation and contemplation over the last 16 years and nothing seems more the product of the limited (and needy) imagination of the human mind as the anthropomorphic idea of personal continuation.
Nothing anthropormophic about a blade of grass being conscious in a completely different way than a human is or a bacterium experiencing in contrast to our experience. I'm trying to say that we (me, you, all other humans who converse here) simply can't grapple with the idea of a greater reality where everything is already alive and rich with energy and conscious because we have a mass belief in physicality....all of us...myself included.... and because none of this can be proven, in the conventional physical sense utilizing our physical senses, we often disregard it. So, yes, the rational mind simply can't grapple with this. You don't seem to like when I say that, but it's not meant as an insult to anyone, because I'm including myself in that same category as everyone else. I'm saying that none of us can even grapple with it, which is why I'm choosing to explore it myself to prove it to myself.

Millions and millions of people are going out of body and exploring for themselves. I say, instead of us going in circles with these debates, we should be exploring it for ourselves.

Thanks again Rob for the conversation and I'll be glad to clear anything up from my own perspective that might seem confusing.

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by Enlightened2B » Sun Apr 19, 2015 5:04 am

runstrails wrote:
This is a very important realization. Ultimately, all objects/experiences are simply in the mind (neural representations) and thus not separate from mind.
I think you're confusing solipsism with non-duality RT. What you are describing above sounds to me like flat out solipsism, which is not non-duality. I think you're confusing experience with existence, like many in the solipsistic community often do.

If you truly believe that all objects only exist in your mind's neural pathways (the mind of the atman, or individual soul), then what you are saying is that this particular body/mind of mine (E2B), does not exist at all, outside of your own individual neural pathways (atman) mind. How again, is that not solipsism?

Instead, your (individual) experience of the objects exist in your mind, yes. However, that, in no way means the objects themselves don't exist outside of your own mind. Understand that your experience, as a human vehicle, is just one avenue of exploration.

Here's a link from Rupert Spira which talks about the difference between non-duality and solipsism. I'm not a Spira fan, but this is a very good explanation that he gives here I feel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2anz9QKD7Y

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by Rob X » Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:06 pm

WW

Apologist simply means defender, advocate etc. It's not a pejorative term and it wasn't intended that way - although I freely admit that I am skeptical of personal continuation after death.

From your response here WW it sounds as if your emphasis is not on personal continuation. Still, I don't resonate with the idea of a unique perspective of Source beyond the manifestation of the body-mind. It's my intuition that at the dissolving of the body-mind, the filter of individuated perception would cease to be.

I've gone into this in a bit more detail in my response to E2B.

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by Rob X » Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:09 pm

Hey RT great to see you back - hope it's not just a flying visit.

Yes, the objects of experience are very specific neural representations of a datum ultimately beyond conception. They appear exactly as they are due to the evolved neural architecture of the mind. It's also my intuition that existence and awareness are the same foundational basis of experience. How this works is (in my view) beyond the conceptions of the limited mind. For me it's an error to collapse one into the other - to say all is energy/existence leans towards materialism. To say all is mind/consciousness leans towards idealism/solipsism. But in some sense both statements contain the truth - but ultimately the deepest truth is beyond our formulas.
runstrails wrote: This world view is so intuitive to me now--yet, I struggle to find the right words to explain it. The simplest thing in the world sounds so complex when you start to explain it :D.
I agree, words don't get near. Probably explains why you haven't been around here for a while. :D

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by Rob X » Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:16 pm

E2B

Your emphasis here is to try this for yourself. I agree with this sentiment. But the specific issue here is with the premise of an individuated experience in an afterlife. I obviously cannot experience what it is like to be dead (I'm not that committed to getting to the bottom of this. :))

The crux of the matter here is the incoherency of how continuation after the death of the organism would retain personal and human characteristics which can be clearly demonstrated to be attributes of human biology.

Look around the room right now. How you see things, what appears to you, how it is cognised, how it makes sense to you… is the product of a finely tuned biology evolved over millennia. It is specific to the biology of a Homo sapien. A snake, a fish, a fly, a bat, a micro-organism etc., would see and experience things entirely differently. An alien from the planet Xog might not even perceive physical objects at all - it might well have senses that we cannot conceive of.

The point is that how we perceive and experience the world is determined by our evolved biology (this is why I refer to specific frequencies and wavelengths etc. specific to human biology.)

So when or if (in the case of a soul) the body-mind is left behind, experience would not resemble 'normal' human experience in the slightest - that particular experiencing/perceiving is wholly determined by the particular biology of that entity. In fact when the filter of the body-mind is no more, the singular, specific and narrow band of perception/cognition associated with this particular mammal would vanish - the doors of perception would be demolished and consciousness/experience would resemble something beyond human conception.

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by Enlightened2B » Sun Apr 19, 2015 5:45 pm

The way I see it Rob, is that the physical/body/mind is merely a vehicle for this particular dense dimensional vibration of Energy. There's so much evidence for that, once we leave this physical layer, that physical senses/body structures are no longer needed to perceive, as documented by WW above, when blind/deaf people who gain their sense of perception after death of the body, because in the less dense layers of reality, it's all subtle energy, meaning, less dense, higher vibrations of energy, where thought/belief immediately takes action, as opposed to this outer, most dense layer of energy, where it's like walking through thick mud, as described by Natalie Sudman and other NDE'rs. So, each layer we go to, is less and less dense, until we reach the highest layer possible, where everything is already One without any even apparent separation. That's the game of evolution of soul perspectives as I see it. We come to Earth to experience what we need to experience in order to gain a greater understanding and appreciating of our true nature as unconditional Love, and in the process, we evolve as individual (but not separate) souls, constantly to eventually reach the vibration level where we 'merge' back with Source. Granted, we are never actually separate from Source, but, even the apparent individuated perspectives eventually dissolve, once we reach the highest possible vibration. Again, all based on energetic vibration as I see it.

Just want to point out that when you say 'personal', I don't mean 'personal' as in separate, I mean personal as in 'unique'. There is nothing that is ultimately separate from anything else in reality as I see it. It's all One Energy/Consciousness manifesting in an infinite number of ways to explore itself uniquely through different avenues and in turn, know itself experientially. I like what you said earlier about the human brain breaking everything up into separation. I would agree with that. Because of the human ego as a result of the human brain, we perceive in the form of separation. Yet, as you wisely indicated, that should not be misconstrued as though the human brain is what 'creates reality'.

Vedanta had it right, in my opinion, at least initially, as it was referenced earlier in this thread. I think many of the initial folks who wrote the scriptures had clear cut OBE's. I just think Vedanta has been so grossly misinterpreted over the years, that it's led to traditional Vedanta dogma (which has become a form of religion), then neo-advaita and then, sadly solipsism. It's gotten so far away from the initial realizations documented in scripture. However, what was documented at the time, was documented in the way it was, in order to reach out to a much different audience than those today and as a result, like almost all organized religion, has been vastly misinterpreted over the years as the initial ancient quotes reference/context wise, has been lost. But, the initial teachings line up very similar with what NDE's say. The Vedanta folks said 'All is Brahman'. That doesn't mean that the world exists in my individual mind/brain. What that to me, indicates, is that Brahman (energy, Source Consciousness) is already everything there is, whether it's a human expression, a bacterium's experience, a cell or a blade of grass. It's all the play of Brahman.

So, yes, Atman is Brahman of course, but this can lead to nihilism, if misunderstood. While Atman is not separate from Brahman, it is most certainly unique from other Atmans, including the Atman that is the tree, the cell, the bacterium, the blade of grass, the other human, the bird. That's how experience takes place, by the form of relationships. All of those Atmans are ultimately Brahman. Brahman is the tree outside, as is Brahman the cell, the bacterium, the digestive system, this body/mind, the hair on my head. Yet, all unique (but, not separate) expressions of this same, one Brahman Energy Source.

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Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by ashley72 » Sun Apr 19, 2015 10:28 pm

Some of you guys might be interested in this online Coursera course about philosophical emotions (free to enroll). Course starts in May goes for 6 weeks (3-4 hrs per week required)

https://www.coursera.org/course/emotions

Emotions: a Philosophical Introduction

Emotions are the backbone of social activities as well as they drive the cognitive processes of several living entities. This course tries to elucidate the controversial nature of emotions and their evolutionary meaning. Several animals, including humans, have emotions but…what about machines? This is a course to feel and think about.

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At the end of the course:
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b) the student should be able to relate concepts and knowledge among different areas of contemporary philosophical research related to the bonds between emotions, culture and nature. She/he must be able to observe epistemic, ethical and political implications of these dependencies;
c) the student should be able to identify and describe relevant theoretical elements of contemporary research on emotions;
d) the student should be able to evaluate the implication for the human nature of the influence of emotional forces that operate intensively today in human societies.
Most people probably associate their Soul with emotions like empathy & love... this is why this course will be interesting.

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Rob X
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Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:37 pm

Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by Rob X » Sun Apr 19, 2015 11:45 pm

Thanks E2B. At the risk of us going round in circles, I can only reiterate my central point that the concept of individuated continuation with personal traits after the death of the organism is (in my view) incoherent. The organism is the locus for an individuated perspective - the grounds for individuation dissolve when the organism dissolves.

And as I wrote earlier:

"So when or if (in the case of a soul) the body-mind is left behind, experience would not resemble 'normal' human experience in the slightest - that particular experiencing/perceiving is wholly determined by the particular biology of that entity. In fact when the filter of the body-mind is no more, the singular, specific and narrow band of perception/cognition associated with this particular mammal would vanish - the doors of perception would be demolished and consciousness/experience would be beyond human conception."

epiphany55
Posts: 212
Joined: Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:13 pm

Re: Why the concept of a personal soul is incoherent

Post by epiphany55 » Wed Apr 22, 2015 11:46 pm

Human beings will always perceive from within the limitations of their biological form.

Even the idea of awareness comes from our experience as aware beings, the awareness itself being limited by the size of the window of perception afforded by our neuronal make-up. So we naturally project this most valuable property of being aware on to the external world, in its limited form.

It's all an inescapably self-fulfilling concept.

I'm prepared to accept there are infinite possibilities. Our existence could be the result of anything, within or outside the limitations of human imagination. The question is, where do you want to draw the line? At what point does an experience become so pure that it is beyond the limitations of the brain that interpreted it and converted the raw data into coherent meaning?

If there is a way to experience outside of the human perspective, as long as I experience it as a living human I will never know if it truly is a non-human experience.
Thought is the object, not the essence, of consciousness.

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