Proof of the existence of souls

I composed the following for the Chopra Forum on October 20, 2000 after recent discussion at the forum about the nature of truth and proof and the existence or otherwise of souls. By the time I post it to the forum it may be a day or two past that date, around message # 54, 200 or so. It's well worth a search through the other 54,000 messages in the archive. You never know what you might find.

Warning. Large post ahead. Proceed with caution.

I read the forum messages yesterday and then I went out to mow the lawn. As some of you may know, I get some of my best ideas mowing the lawn. Anyway, I was tossing over the question in my head of what would constitute proof of the existence of souls. Personally, I see the whole concept of 'proof' as being anchored to a certain way of viewing the world but let's see what we can come up with anyway. :)

So, I started to mentally list those things which I regard as evidence of the existence of souls. The following kind of just grew from that little list ...

Proof of the existence of souls

Here is a short list of those aspects of reality and humanity which I consider to be evidence of the existence of souls:

* Poetry

* Music

* Literature

* Painting

* All the other arts

* The CAPACITY of human beings to be emotionally transported by all of the above

* The CAPACITY of the human mind to be boggled simply by contemplating the scope of it all and being unable to wrap the intellect around certain ideas like eternity and infinity or the idea of higher dimensions and realms of existence

* The existence of countless inspired or religious texts throughout the millenia

* The goosebumps I regularly experience when reading such texts.

* The existence of language itself and our capacity to understand it - remembering this list would mean almost nothing to a person who only speaks the Greek language

* The human CAPACITY of humans to alter their own state of consciousness consciously if given enough practice and effort

* The human CAPACITY to experience awe at the beauty and complexity and harmony of nature and the breathtaking variety of all forms of life on this planet

* The human CAPACITY for love

* The human CAPACITY for wonder

* The human CAPACITY for enchantment

* The human CAPACITY for compassion

* The human CAPACITY for sacrifice

* The human CAPACITY for random acts of kindness

* The human CAPACITY for forgiveness

* The human CAPACITY for gratitude

* The human CAPACITY for imagination

* The human CAPACITY for science

* The human CAPACITY for fantasy

* The human CAPACITY for optimism

* The human CAPACITY for invention

* Any other manifestation of the loving or creating capacity of human beings

* Masturbation (more details later)

* The beauty and terror of madness

* Laughter (the music of the soul)

* Humour

* The voices of angels singing me off to sleep each night

* The Chopra Forum and the souls that visit it :)

* Altered states of consciousness - sleep, dreaming, LSD, mediatation, contemplation, psychosis etc

* Spontaneous eruptions of joy for no apparent reason :)

* Countless stories of lives being transformed from the depths of despair

* The very fact that the word 'soul' exists and we have a sense of what it means

* The infinite variety of personality traits in human individuals

* The existence of the soft voice inside my head dictating this little list to me as I walk back from the shops.

* The existence of the big questions and the almost universal urge to answer them one way or another.

Those of you who know me may be shocked by this next statement after such a long list. I do NOT believe we have souls. I believe we ARE souls. I am a soul. You are a soul. (Be careful how you say that last one!). As someone recently posted, the events and circumstances of you life are like a movie role. The analogy with a movie is a useful one but not a perfect one. Take Jack Nicholson, for example. I have enjoyed his stuff since "One flew over the cuckoo's nest" for some reason. :) He has played a wide variety of roles in his career - the joker, the axe murderer, the devil, the writer, the soldier, and others I can't immediately bring to mind. He was equally convincing in each of those performances but NONE of those roles IS Jack Nicholson. He has an ongoing existence which is entirely separate from whatever role he happens to be playing at any given moment.

The point of all this is that ONCE you become AWARE that your life is like a movie your spirit is watching then you can have some real fun. You can even rewrite the script if you're that way inclined. Most people go through their lives living roles written for them by those around them (otherwise known as expectations). And that's okay. That's one way to live. But it's not the only way.

Okay, this is a personal proof and not a rigorous, incontrovertible proof in the conventional sense of the word but it's good enough for me. I am absolutely open to any counter-argument but it would seem the main counter-argument is to say "That's still not enough proof as I define proof". So for me the weight of evidence is overwhelming. What would constitute enough proof? Or a more interesting question to ask might be why do certain people wish or choose to believe souls do not exist and that the observable and the rigorously verifiable is the ONLY reality. One could speculate a great deal on such a question.

And if you only believe in things which stand up to scientific criteria of proof, then what of love? You can't put it in a test-tube and examine it. You can study its effects on people ... I'm not quite sure where I was headed with that ... :)

And I didn't even mention the really interesting stuff like ESP, astral travel, alien abduction, out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, reincarnated lamas, ghosts and other 'weird' phenomena as they don't yet form part of the pool of experiences of the average joe. :)

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I don't honestly expect this will be the sort of proof some are asking for. I'd be interested in what they would consider sufficient proof and what form it might take. I suppose in effect I would regard the above list as reminders that we are souls not as proof that we have souls.

For those of you wondering about masturbation being given as evidence of souls. It is one example of the capacity of human beings to create experiences or sensations using nothing but memory or fantasy which is a form of imagination. In this case physical arousal without the presence of that which is normally required to produce it. Namely the physical presence of a partner. Bet you never thought wanking was proof that souls exist. Well, you learn something every day. :) I listed science for similar reasons as the progress of science depends on the creative capacity to invent a new theory of reality and then test it out. For me, the two aspects of human beings that are the most persuasive 'proof' are our creative aspects and our loving aspects. The rest is just window dressing. Your experience may be different. I fully respect the right of anyone to believe that their very existence arose through random processes and it's really just dumb luck that we have all these unfathomable aspects to our nature. :)

I also welcome any and every reply. Just nod if you agree.

Add these bits -

I had a few other thoughts vaguely related to the idea of 'proof' and 'evidence'. Consider a radio or TV broadcast. There are radio waves which travel around the globe but if you lived in a tribe that never encountered modern technology then a man walks in with a pocket radio you'd regard this as proof he has magical or godlike powers.

Imagine taking a radio back to 1500

We only see & hear a fairly narrow range of the electromagnetic spectrum. We can't detect x rays or gamma rays or radio waves etc unaided with our normal senses

electricity as in chris

Imagine being born into a society of blind beings and you have the gift of sight. Could you even describe vision to those who have never experienced it? Would they believe you? To me, this is akin to trying to describe higher states of awareness and consciousness to those who have yet to experience them personally. :)

Zukav & align the personality with the soul and until you do that you'll seek satifaction everywhere and never find it??

Some interesting replies and links ... so i send the following as message # 54, 241 -

After reading a few of the posts from the past couple of days, here's a few more passing thoughts ... make of them what you will. (Geoff, they'll do that anyway - you don't need to give them permission) ...

Isn't there an element of belief in accepting scientific evidence and theories as being 'solid proof'? How solid is it? (as the hooker said to the ...) The history of science shows that theories evolve and change. In an area like relativity theory or quatum mechanics, who actually understands the theories anyway? The 'man in the street' lacks the mathematical background to evaluate the theories for himself so there is an element of trust involved ...

Not to mention the fact that even among the 'experts' there is far from universal agreement. Besides which, the very idea that scientific 'proof' is th only way of knowing something for 'certain' originates from locking yourself into one way of looking at reality. Maybe the key is to unlock yourself. :)

I'm far more interested in the question of how to get more people to experience the proof. You'll just have to trust me on this but there are levels of consciousness where the very idea of 'proof' simply dissolves. How to get to these levels? Well, I got there through 17 years of a wild, psychotic ride but there are safer paths. That is the purpose of any true meditation or spiritual practice - to access these levels personally. I mean we could sit around the forum for the next 20,000 lifetimes discussing the nature of truth and proof ... and that might be fun ... on the other hand ...

I think there's a story about a man who goes to a teacher and says he wants enlightenment and the teacher sticks the man's head under water until he is struggling for air and then says something like "Come back when you want enlightenment as badly as you wanted that gasp of air". Someone may have a better memory of the tale than I do. The implication being that many people say they want to be enlightened but how much are they prepared to let go of to experience it.

G'day, Hadi. How's it going, mate? :)

Hi TO, How old is any of us? That depends on how 'real' you believe time is. :)

Dave, I can't hand you all the answers on a plate. That would spoil the movie. I hate it when someone tells me the ending half way through. It ruins the fun. :) I'll check out your link and get back to you ... Also great questions about the origin of those human qualities and where do they 'go' when a person dies. Well, the way I understand it, it is only the body which dies and since those qualities are aspects of the soul they accompany the souls wherever it goes. Even the idea of 'going' is a concept based on our everyday experience of time and space. Other realms of existence are spaceless and timeless and our imaginations boggle to even get a glimpse of what that would be like. :) But a good question to consider - if there is reincarnation then just WHAT is it that reincarnates? The personality? The capacity for love, kindness etc? The gift for music or literature or healing? ... excellent question to meditate on ...

The point is we do not generally experience reality directly. We experience it through a number of filters. Ideas. Generally we adopt other people's ideas. The specific ideas any person adopts depends on their conditioning to a large extent - the social environment in which their upbringing takes place. For example, a person living in a Native American tribe a few hundred years ago would not have any of the 'scientific' ideas about the world that a modern citizen of a western civilisation and thus would perceive and experience 'reality' in a fundamentally different way (I'm not saying 'better' or 'worse' - that's a judgement call :) Not quite sure where I was headed with all this ... anyway the aim of meditation is to peel away the filters. Meditation is a technique - in itself it requires no specific belief. All it requires is effort and concentration and a method to examine and probe the contents of your own consciousness. And nobody can do it for you. Just like nobody can 'make you happy' if you are determined to be miserable. If anyone had told me less than 2 years ago that I would get heavily into meditation one day I would have laughed in their face. Life is full of surprises. Unless you're omniscient - thank God I'm not! :)

And, like that question Peggy posted a while back ... IF I could transfer 'my' experience into 'your' head via some kind of telepathy ... would you want that or would it rob you of discovering it in your own unique way? I can't give you MY experience in such a way that it becomes YOUR experience. Can someone let me know if this makes ANY sense at all ... :)

I suppose the answer can be summarised in two words - Let Go. "Let go of what?" you may ask. :)

"The farther you go into truth, the deeper it is."
- Zen master Bankei

One interesting link posted by Dave - click here

And a couple more - Interactive Soul Quiz

Interesting debate - civil ...

Letting Go (of nothing)

Another debate on existence of god - click here

Dave, apologies if my little attempt at humour gave you the wrong impression. :) I am referring to 'handing the answers on a plate' which was meant very much tongue-in-cheek. I was in one of my frequent silly moods. I have to remind myself that not everyone shares my quirky (some would say warped) sense of humour.

Speaking of letting go - click here *********** do searches for "proof and existence and soul" .........

Another link - interesting even if do not 'buy' the whole conclusion - click here - that IS the interesting question isn't it! why do some BUY right in and others do not ... if we are all made in the same image ... why do our internal compasses point in such divergent directions ... but a general principle is anyone demanding unquestioning belief or total obedience as opposed to MAKING up your own mind and awakening your own INNER wisdom ...

Another link is How to have more contact with spirit beings


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