What has a soul?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by brian, Jun 19, 2003.

  1. brian

    brian Administrator Admin

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    I thought I'd extend some ideas from a previous thread, and work with Dave's definition of what the soul may be for the purpose of this thread:

    My personal opinion is that every living thing has a "soul", in that every living thing contains some degree of "essence" that returns to a state of being at One with Divinity at death.

    By that I don't mean to suggest that bacteria are sentient - simply that their physical forms are like much smaller cups dipped into the waters of life - their bodies hold far less than ourselves, and so so they can only be aware of far far less, and in far different and more cruder ways than our own complex senses.

    I'd also suggest that current definitions of what constitute's "life" may also be lacking. :)

    Of course, no one has to agree with me here - hence this thread. :)

    So what is the consensus for what may or may not be privileged to have a soul?

    Is it all things?

    Just animals?

    Just some animals - especially mammals?

    Or is the soul a distinctly human-only gift?
     
  2. Elizabeth May

    Elizabeth May Well-Known Member

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    Uh, mammals definitely get my vote. But I've not thought properly about the other animals. Are we talking birds and reptiles and even the insects as well?
     
  3. Polycarp

    Polycarp Established Member

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    According to C.S. Lewis, this was the standard view during the Middle Ages. (I retyped a long passage from The Discarded Image to answer this question on another board, and can't find it right at the moment; I'll C&P it when I do.) Briefly, plants have "Vegetable Soul" with the properties of nutrition, growth, and propagation; animals "Sensitive Soul" with the above three properties and sentience; and humans "Rational Soul" with all four properties plus reason. Lewis understands the first two as equivalent to "life" in the medieval mind.
     
  4. Cloud Woman

    Cloud Woman Active Member

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    To ask what has a soul we'd need to understand the essence first. If we know what that is then we'll know better what has it.
     
  5. exastra

    exastra Established Member

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    any living thing has a degree of soulness or spiritual (meaning life) energy.
    but a linguistic distinction must be made.
    the soul is our distinct individualized spirit which our body is immersed in; the spirit is life force, extended from the spiritus mundi.
    the undead would be activated and manipulated by an external spirit which currently has no physical life in its own host body; occupying (probably by force) a new host body whose own spirit is then displaced, subjugated or subverted. therefore the body has no soul.
    this is differentiated from cases of possession, symbiosis and mind-body swaps/melds.
    so the essense (essential life force) would be the spirit free of our attachments. these attachments are the clothes worn, and the essence is our naked body.
     
  6. dr_mabeuse

    dr_mabeuse New Member

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    Of course, there's another view, taken by the Buddhists and to which I subscribe, albeit reluctantly, and that is that the soul is an illusion; it doesn't exist. Belief/non-belief in an immortal sould is the single biggest difference between Western and Eastern religions, though it's seldom stated so explicitly and baldly.

    Our personalitues and hopes and dreams and feelings are products of our bodies. When our bodies go, we go too. It turns out that we never were separate from the rest of the universe, we just thought we were. It was the concept of a soul that maintained this separation. We have always been everything and we will always be everything.

    At first it's quite terrifying to think that we have no immortal part of us. In truth, it can be terrifying still, until one can finally accept the advantages that go along with being soulless. The fact that we are the same as the universe is not an easy idea to grasp, and it is much easier and intuitive to assume we have some little part of us that will go on forever just as we do from day to day.

    Although at first it seems like the most pessimistic view one can take things, you have to work to look below the surface to realize what it means. First of all, it means that both birth and death are illusory. We have nothing to be "born" and nothing to "die" except our bodies. We have no little person hiding insdie of us waiting to fly up to heaven or hell. We are free--have always been free--of birth and death and suffering.

    The common eastern idea of reincarnation is actually a way of saying that as long as you cling to the idea of a soul, you are doomed to be reborn and live through the painful illusion of birth-suffering-death, again and again and again. The only way off this wheel is to realize that you're already free: you have no soul.

    No heaven, no hell, no God, no problems of angels on pinheads or vegetal souls; no good, no evil.

    The only problem with this is that it goes so counter to what we as humans want to believe, what we feel we absolutely must believe, that one turns from it in absolute horror. But I can say that once one has the experience--the flash of insight that tells you that you are not the same as everyone else but in fact are everyone and everything else--it is patently obvious and undeniable.
     
  7. exastra

    exastra Established Member

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    the soul-- assuming it exists-- IS connected to the all. but our ego stands between the will and the universe.
    it is the EGO which is illusory and deceptive.
    i'm willing to concede that we do not have any kind of immortal soul, and would be fine with that. however, that has not been my observation. i know of more evidence in favor of the theory that our consciousness exceeds the physical. this is the only point in Buddhism that i disagree on.

    Both skepticism and faith have their merits. It is when they become extreme that they lose their usefulness.
    There is blind faith as there is blind skepticism.
    The blind man sees nothing. And the one eyed man rules in the kingdom of the blind.
    Is thine eye open?
    ***
    Do you think that what happens on one side of a window is more or less real than what happens on the other side?
    No?
    Then why believe such a distinction exists between internal and external reality?
    The dream world is no more or less real than the waking world.
    To assert one at the expense of the other is to deny the fullness of reality.
     
  8. Arch

    Arch Active Member

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    How about the idea that the soul is never actually separate from the Divine in the first place? Seems like we're trading definitions here, and all talking about the same thing through different eyes and with different words. *shrugs*
     
  9. brian

    brian Administrator Admin

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    Hi there, dr_mabeuse and Arch! Welcome, both of you, to comparative-religion.com!

    As for the soul - I personally see Divinity itself as like a sea, and the physical body is like a cup dipped into that sea. When the physical body dies that is to mean that the cup is broken - and the fraction of the sea held there returns again to the larger whole that is the sea.

    Thus is can be said that the water in the cup is indeed separate from the sea - but that this is both illusory and temporary. The water in the cup is the soul and the sea is both God and a state of Heaven. But God is more than that. Divinity is everything. Divinity is the sea and the cup.

    Just 2c

    :)
     
  10. Iacchus

    Iacchus God of the Mask

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    I have a soul. A soul which is conscious. A soul which lives on unto Eternity. An Eternity which is Ever-Present -- "In the Moment."
     
  11. brian

    brian Administrator Admin

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    Hi, Iacchus, and welcome to comparative-religion.com. :)

    Do you see the soul existing only within - or outside of time?
     
  12. Iacchus

    Iacchus God of the Mask

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    I don't think the soul itself experiences time. While I think only to the extent that we're tied to our physical bodies can we observe the passage of time. Instead of time the soul experiences the differences in "qualities of state," similar to what we say about time passing by more quickly when we're "having fun," as opposed to more slowly when we're not.
     
  13. Elizabeth May

    Elizabeth May Well-Known Member

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    Iacchus, what do you think actually has a soul? Do you think it's just us humans? Or animals as well? Anything else? And hi as well!
     
  14. Iacchus

    Iacchus God of the Mask

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    Hi Elizabeth, I think the fact that the "life force" (or spirit) permeates everything, suggests everything has at least a rudimentary form of soul, even something as inanimate as a rock. I say this because I know that "spirits" (souls) do exist and, that they share a dimension or domain, similar to what we experience here on earth. And yet how could this be, if there weren't some sort of "spiritual counterpart" to those things we see on the physical level? Or else how could they differentiate?

    However, I would like to refer to a dream that I had, where somebody picked me up by the scruff of the neck, thinkng I was a little kitten. Really? While I have had other similar dreams where I've encountered animals, knowing full well that these were actual people I was dealing with. In which case it might be hard to establish that animals do have souls, although I'm sure some form of relationship must exist.
     
  15. emong

    emong Well-Known Member

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    To go back to the original question: What has soul?

    For many years my wife and I have had relationships with a series of feline souls. Upon the physical demise of each of these creatures, thier presence could be felt physically for varying periods of time, all of which eventually stopped.
    These manifestations were in the form of a felt touch and occured at various times of day but mostly at night.
    For instance......there was a cat, whom we called Diamond, that in life was prone to butting heads with me when I was lying down. After his death, I would "feel" his head butting mine with an intensity that seemed to be an insistance that he was still there even though I had stopped my communications.
    Eventually, after a few months, these physical manifestations stopped and we were no longer aware of his presence.
    These "feelings" occured with other cats, but were manifested in ways associated with personality traits singular to each cat.
    In each case, the presence faded over time.
    It's my belief that, that it took time for their souls to realize their separation from vessel and that they subsiquently returned to the "ocean" which Brian talks about. This gradual return allows for the abandonment of inividual personality and acceptance of the one.
    I do not attempt to "prove" anything here.....I'm just relating an observance.

    So often in this forum, there is propensity to quote from this guy or that guy. (Interestingly, there are few quoted women)
    How can anyone's approach to spirituality be influenced by essentually
    just another soul who wonders. Unless it's to gain his perspective and move on from there. No one ever was the end all and be all of the "truth". And we will not know the truth untill we return to Brian's "ocean". And at that time we will no longer be the personality that cared whether we new it or not.
     
  16. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I would personally agree there - though that raises a particular objection in terms of moral judgement - not least, the potential lack of.

    As for quoting from men - apparently the spread of IQ across males is greater - so that men can take credit for producing more of humanity's geniuses...and morons. :)
     
  17. emong

    emong Well-Known Member

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    It has been a notion of mine for some time that there are "soulless" personalities (whether man or beast) who will not return to the "ocean" simply because they never sprung from it in the first place. Which brings us to the question: Where does evil come from? And is it a choice or an inevitability?

    As to the second statement above: I don't want to be near when L'l Miss or, God forbid, dwndrgn reads it.:D
     
  18. littlemissattitude

    littlemissattitude Creative Thinker

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    Taking my name and dwndrgn's in vain, eh, emong?:D

    Actually, I've never heard any statistics as to the distributions of IQs in males versus its distribtuion in females. So, statistically, Brian could be quite correct. However, I don't think that has anything to do with there being more male than female geniuses recognized by history. It has much more to do with the fact that throughout most of history, most cultures have not allowed women an outlet to do the work that would lead to their being recognized for their true genius.

    Just remember, guys, it was a woman (Madame Curie) who was the first individual to be awarded two nobel prizes.:p
     
  19. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters Well-Known Member

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    Mithraism proclaims dogs have souls. Christianity teaches only man has a soul, which separates him from the beast. However Eccl. claims animals have souls. Genesis covers up the souls of animals in its translation. In Genesis 1:20, 1:21 "nephesh hayyah" is translated as "living creature" when referring to animals. In 1:27 the same phrase is translated as "living soul" when it refers to a man.
     
  20. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste dr_mabeuse,

    thank you for the post and welcome to the forum.

    actually... the Buddhist position is that there is no eternally abiding self not soul, specfically, the selflessness of persons. depending on the school that you practice and their philosophical outlook, this can go all the way to and including the selflessness of phenomena and persons.

    i like the rest of the post and have nothing to add... though i would, perhaps, differ on my understanding of rebirth.

    interestingly enough, Native American Shamanism, would posit that everything has a soul or spirit. the trees, rocks, mountians, rivers, animals, people and so forth. everything is a vast panoply of spiritual expression and display. i was quite interested in some specific tribal traditions for awhile and if you've not had a chance to read Black Elk Speaks, i would strongly urge you to do so. (anyone that is :))
     

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