April 2nd, 2011

Defining the Soul: Can you?

I'm about to try to apply logic to a situation. I invite you to do the same, even if you are foolish enough to counter me! (joke)

There is nothing that we could possibly experience in this world that could ever tell us about an afterlife. That much can be, arguably, stated. If you'd like to debate that, feel free. I'd be willing to duke it out over this point.

Logically, I'd argue that the afterlife requires some immortal thing. An immortal thing would be needed to transcend our decaying fates to another plane. There is nothing immortal about us (aka no atman, no soul).

Paradoxically, the thing we cling to most and think is immortal, our thoughts and psychological profile, are the things about an individual that change the most. From moment to moment this occurs, altering your thoughts and placement. I'm thinking of a dog eating crackers one instant, the next instant I'm thinking of my mother scolding me for not picking up my dirty underwear. My thoughts are changed by my environ. They are not "me" any more than my vision or sense of balance is; my thoughts are senses and they are material phenomenon which can be measured.

The physical body is actually the least changeable thing about an individual, out of an array of things which are all changeable, and that clearly dissolves in the end.

Take away an individual's body, take away the senses (the physical faculties we interpret the outside world with) and the psychological faculties (our logic, our emotions, our memories, all of which are changeable and mutable) and one is left with nothing.

Well, not nothing, but a feeling of "I am" that is the direct result of the former things. If all the other threads are gone, there is no thought of "I am" because it is a vague feeling, not a reality. Hell, often when I sleep I lose even this feeling: I cease to exist, except for the body that others can see. Consciousness arises and dies with the senses, whether they be senses aimed at the outside world (the 5 traditional senses) or senses aimed within (the psychological senses that are our thoughts, logic, etc)

Since there is no soul, there can be no afterlife. If there were an afterlife, there is no soul to attain it and so any afterlife has no bearing on an individual's life: it may as well be a fairy-tale (even if it were real) for the consequences it has to a finite individual, like myself.

When you die...you die! It's the simplest concept, and yet difficult for our 'selves' to handle, 'self' being the concept of "I am" layered upon our senses.

All this being said, this logic means you can not prove nor disprove the soul. But, really, how can any definition of the soul survive this logical barrage? I invite you to provide one. I can't come up with one, and my own concepts of the soul disappeared because of this.

Your turn to explain and pick me apart ;) Virtual high-fives for anyone who can rip me to shreds on this topic. You'd be doing me and the Buddha a favor (that Indian cat formed this idea).