What are we?

Cino

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Starting a new thread so as not to completely derail the original one.

The following got me thinking. What, according to our diverse world-views, are we, really?

I don't believe that God created this world. I believe he created our souls, and that they have been imprisoned in the bodies of material animals.

So the Gnostic view as I understand it, we really are souls of divine origin, "wearing" a body which is not really part of us?

Theravada Buddhists, as I understand their teachings, have the doctrine of the "five khandhas" (body, feelings, perceptions, cognitions, awareness) which interact in a process to form a human being, but there is no "core being" that is apart form this temporal process. In any case, there is a belief in rebirth, which implies some sort of continuity of this process across bodies. @seattlegal how about Vajrayana, I expect they have more intricate teachings?

As I understand @Thomas, Catholic Christians believe the body and soul to belong together to form the human being, hence the teaching on bodily resurrection?

How about Islam? @muhammad_isa ?

What is the Jewish view, @RabbiO ?

Hinduism, @Aupmanyav ?

What is the Baha'i view, @Tone Bristow-Stagg?

Theosophy, @Nicholas Weeks ?

whom did I miss? Please tag them

Please correct me where I'm not correctly characterizing your faith's understanding of what is a human being.
 

Ella S.

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So the Gnostic view as I understand it, we really are souls of divine origin, "wearing" a body which is not really part of us?

I believe so, and the body has its own "hylic" (i.e., material) or "animal" mind that the soul overlays. This animal mind anchors the soul to the material world, forcing us to undergo reincarnation. The soul is a fragment of God that has to be reunited with him, and bodies are designed like prisons by the Demiurge to entrap these shards of light.

Some Gnostics, like the Ophites and the Valentinians, believed that there were some people who have no souls, kind of like a philosophical zombie, and they were called hylics. These hylics only have the minds of animals, and neither care about nor understand spiritual pursuits, being purely carnal beings driven by worldly desires. Whether hylics were believed to literally exist or if they were meant more as a cautionary tale about neglecting spiritual duties is unknown, but it's a relevant concept.

Later Gnostics, or Neo-Gnostics, like the Bogomils and Cathars, believed that many animals can have souls, too, and they were vegans. Well, they still ate fish, because they believed fish were the product of spontaneous generation, but they abstained from meat, eggs, milk, cream, butter, etc.
 

muhammad_isa

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I believe so, and the body has its own "hylic" (i.e., material) or "animal" mind that the soul overlays. This animal mind anchors the soul to the material world, forcing us to undergo reincarnation.

Yes, while we are alive, the body and soul are united.
When we die the soul comes out of the body, and God knows best what exactly happens to it.

The soul is a fragment of God that has to be reunited with him, and bodies are designed like prisons by the Demiurge to entrap these shards of light..

Yes, the soul belongs to God [ of God, from God ] and it is "breathed" into the fetus.
No, our bodies weren't created or designed by another god / demiurge.
The universe [ space-time] was created by the God as a"test" for our souls.

We can follow evil, or we can follow righteousness.
Our souls are capable of recognising the basic difference, albeit not in great detail.
 
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Aupmanyav

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You missed Zoroastrianism, Shinto, Taoism and Sikhism. :D

For most Hindus, it is - "Ekah Aham Bahusyami" (the first two words are combined in Sanskrit as "Ekoham Bahusyami", "I am one, I will be many").

But then Hinduism has a hundred and one theories about how God/Goddess (Which one? The major ones are Vishnu, Shiva and Mother Goddess Durga) created the world, souls and humans. Since humans and animals have soul (soul in vegetation may not be accepted by all, though in "Vyadha Gita", a part of Bhagawat Purana, the Pious Butcher emphatically declares that vegetation too has soul), so the views may differ.

Then there are crazy atheist Hindus like me (though only few) who do not accept the existence of Gods and souls. I believe it is all a play of 'physical energy' appearing as atoms and then molecules, and then humans, animals, vegetation and non-living substances. The base for all that exists in the universe is 'physical energy'. That is strict / absolute 'non-duality'.
 
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RJM

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know @RJM Corbet knows a thing or two about Taoism.
At the core I believe it's an immortality yoga of inner alchemy, giving birth to a new inner being which can weave and discard physical form at will, able to manifest in many places at the same time, visible or invisible, across time and space ... in a nutshell, but a lot more complicated -- and my knowledge is very thin

More here:
https://www.interfaith.org/community/threads/11355/

Other threads in the Tao forums:
https://www.interfaith.org/community/forums/tao/
 
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Thomas

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Catholic Christians believe the body and soul to belong together to form the human being, hence the teaching on bodily resurrection?
The traditional Christian position, So Catholic, Orthodox, Reformation, etc. Probably all Christians until the emergence of American denominations.

General all living beings have souls: "For the life (nefesh) of the flesh is in the blood ... for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul (nefesh)" (Leviticus 17:11).

The view of the world is that of something essentially good, each day of the creation God saw what He had made and that it was good, that 'good' is necessarily qualified, the world is subject to finitude and contingency, whereas the human is not, in that the soul is 'open' to the Infinite, the Absolute and the Eternal.
 

wil

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The traditional Christian position, So Catholic, Orthodox, Reformation, etc. Probably all Christians until the emergence of American denominations.
DUDE!! I'm right here!

So you are saying English episcopalians but not Spong episcopalians? The old Methodists but not those with the new method? The protestants but not those that protest?

But I see your point and prolly largely correct.

I firmly fall into.the don't know category...and my conjecture is sort of what i would like to believe but simply don't know.

I see us more as a lease, we didn't purchase.the vehicle, heck we never even own all the atoms and cells for the duration we are on earth. We use this body, brain, physical matter and our fellow travelers.as a.training ground for our next experience. Now whether this is preschool, primary or secondary Idk, but I think compassion.and working together to take care of a planet.and fellow beings is not a graduate level course.
 

muhammad_isa

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..We use this body, brain, physical matter and our fellow travelers.as a.training ground for our next experience. Now whether this is preschool, primary or secondary Idk, but I think compassion.and working together to take care of a planet.and fellow beings is not a graduate level course.

well said, aye :)
 

Thomas

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DUDE!! I'm right here!
I know, bro!

So you are saying English episcopalians but not Spong episcopalians?
Well there's Scottish episcopalians, but not English – unless you mean Anglican ... but generally, the Anglican communion is divided over Spong.

What I meant was those denominations who allow that the man might not have existed are most probably American in origin.

I see us more as a lease ...
Well pretty much everything in creation is transient, in that sense.

as a training ground for our next experience.
That's a view, not sure I buy into it. There's no evidence for that.

(I don't buy into the any idea that God learns or experiences via creation.)
 

Ella S.

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No, our bodies weren't created or designed by another god / demiurge.
The universe [ space-time] was created by the God as a"test" for our souls.

We can follow evil, or we can follow righteousness.
Our souls are capable of recognising the basic difference, albeit not in great detail.

Why worship God if you believe he was cruel enough to create a world of evil and suffering?

I believe that God is too loving to set us up for such an abusive test, or to give us the option of evil or create a world with suffering as a natural phenomenon.

As such, I can't see that God would be the designer of our bodies, which were developed through the pains of evolution, shackled to animalistic desire, and whose natural state frequently finds its way into so many maladies. God is not cruel. He would never prioritize something as meaningless as "free will" over our well-being.

Edit: But if you would like to discuss the Problem of Evil in further detail, we should probably start a separate thread for that.
 
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muhammad_isa

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Why worship God if you believe he was cruel enough to create a world of evil and suffering?

It is true that I believe that Almighty God allows suffering.
However, you are no different, unless you think that God is not as powerful as "the demiurge"..

As such, I can't see that God would be the designer of our bodies, which were developed through the pains of evolution..

I believe that Almighty God is the "Evolver from Naught".
i.e. He is responsible for how life has evolved, in as much as nothing would evolve without Him

God is not cruel.

I would agree, although humans can be..

He would never prioritize something as meaningless as "free will" over our well-being.

It's not meaningless.
It is one of the main differences between humans and other creatures.
Animals all have their own natures and follow them, whereas humans can behave differently,
according to their "beliefs"

Humans are accountable for their actions, while other creatures are not.

I'm sure that I don't have to tell you that "the planet of the apes" is only fiction :D
 
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Thomas

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It seems to me that if we understand God in term of the transcendent categories – Absolute, Infinite, All-Possible; Uncreate, Unchanging, Eternal, etc, then:

1: Creation is a gratuitous act; God does not act out of any deficiency or necessity, the best one can say is Good creates because He can and so He does what He is.

2: A finite ream or domain or order, or what have you, is an aspect of the Infinite; it cannot be the infinite and the finite, because then the finite would be other, and the infinite not infinite.

3: So our creation, a finite creation subject to contingency, is no better nor worse than any other with regard to its Creator, it is a good thing, as all other modes of being are equally a good thing. It's all of a oneness as far as God is concerned.

4: For us, governed by finitude and contingency, we are intimately aware of duality, of better or worse, and we apply those categories in domains where they do not strictly apply. To say the angelic state is better than human is correct in terms of an angel's mode of being and knowing, but if angels can fall, then ours is better because that condition is irreversible.

5: We can converse with angels and animals. We can pray to God and roll a stone, angels can't do that.

6: One might say that the work of the sixth day, which was 'very good' was the creation of us who, in God's image, were endowed with self-knowledge and divine grace, but who traded that grace for a sense of self-possession, not fully realising, even though warned, that this self-possession would prove 'fatal' because we are not self-subsisting, as God is, and as the Deceiver said we would be ...

7: I can agree in a certain sense with the Gnostic that we are exiles, fallen from the Pleroma. I would say we were in the Pleroma and yet right here all along – the Pleroma is everywhere without centre, without periphery. (I think every fairy tale of journey and return points at that – the symbology is redolent of it – the 'yellow brick road' takes us right back to where we were, but we are changed).

8: Paul realised it. He acknowledged the Cretan poet who said it: "In Him we live and breathe and have our being" – the Pleroma is right here, right now, so immanent it takes the breathe away ... but we just don't see it, because we're too focussed on ourselves.

9: Oh bl**dy hell! I think I'm turning :eek: Gnostic!

(Corollary to 7: If we watch that 'The Cosmic Horizon' link then that's a physical model of the Pleroma. Like the Pleroma, the viewpoint is the centre; everywhere, every point, every soul is the centre, there is no periphery)
 

Cino

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the Pleroma is right here, right now, so immanent it takes the breathe away ... but we just don't see it, because we're too focussed on ourselves.

Cue the Heart Sutra: "Shariputra, Form is no different from Emptiness, and Emptiness is no different from Form".

9: Oh bl**dy hell! I think I'm turning :eek: Gnostic!

You elitist snob, you. And welcome to the fold, Bonhomme ;)
 

wil

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That's a view, not sure I buy into it. There's no evidence for that.
Thats just it....there is no unreasonable belief in the unknown....as there is no evidence for whatever conjecture has been developed.
What I meant was those denominations who allow that the man might not have existed are most probably American in origin.
I dont know of any Christian denominations that dont believe Jesus existed...do you?

I think whatever percentage of folks that dont believe he ever existed is miniscule in any group that has read the history we have.

Now which words were his, what he did or didnt do or say...that will continue to be debated...Godman or inspirational motivational philosopher that will be debated.

For me I look at him as a good, caring, compassionate elder brother showing us the way to be and the way to connect with our allness.

Ive said before I was lucky enough to see Ehrman and Spong debate/discuss at lyceum in unity village and then casually chat with Bart and Jack on couches in the lobby of the motel... Mad respect for both.
 
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RJM

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Cue the Heart Sutra: "Shariputra, Form is no different from Emptiness, and Emptiness is no different from Form".
E=MC2
But does the bank manager understand, lol?
 

Thomas

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Thats just it....there is no unreasonable belief in the unknown....as there is no evidence for whatever conjecture has been developed.
I'd say there are degrees of reason, or unreason, if you like.

On what basis would someone assume training for some future existence?

I dont know of any Christian denominations that dont believe Jesus existed...do you?
LOL, I thought you'd expressed doubts in the past! I assumed that it was not a Unity Church requirement.

Ive said before I was lucky enough to see Ehrman and Spong debate/discuss at lyceum in unity village and then casually chat with Bart and Jack on couches in the lobby of the motel... Mad respect for both.
Lucky indeed.
 

wil

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On what basis would someone assume training for some future existence?
Well some would say the bible.

I hear of people who believe that if they follow certain rules here and do the proper song and dance they will meet their relatives in heaven.

I understand your incredulity though.

Do I believe that there is a possibility that Jesus never existed....sure....but that possibility is miniscule....about the same as the moonlanding being faked
 

Ella S.

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It is true that I believe that Almighty God allows suffering.
However, you are no different, unless you think that God is not as powerful as "the demiurge"

I am a theological dualist, or a duotheist, similar to the Manichaeans, Mandaens, and Zoroastrians. Suffering is entirely the fault of the Demiurge, God would never allow such a thing if he could help it. That's what it means to be omnibenevolent.

Indeed, I believe that God, through Christ, seeks to actively remedy our estrangement from him and the suffering it causes.
 
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