Brahman And The Oversoul

Discussion in 'Hinduism' started by Silverbackman, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    The 19th Centaury Romance writers often wrote about the existence of an Oversoul or Universal Soul. The Oversoul is described as a universal soul that where all souls came from, a sort of God. All living things have souls.

    Many of these Romance writers started out as Christians but after spending time in Nature for a while their religious views became more Eastern;).

    Could this universal soul called the Oversoul be considered to be the same as the Upanishadic concept of the Brahman? If not, is there any other concept on Hindu scriptures similar to the concept of the Oversoul?
     
  2. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Yes. Hindu theology uses the terms Paramatman (Supreme Soul) and Jivatman (individual soul) to describe these concepts. In monism, the Jivatmans are conceived as "compartmentalized" Paramatman. So, jivatmans come from the Paramatman and eventually return into oneness with Paramatman after liberation. Monistic schools use Paramatman as an epithet for Brahman.

    In non-monistic schools, the jivatmans never come from Paramatman and are have eternal individual existences, they are only pervaded by Paramatman. Therefore, non-monistic schools describe Paramatman to be the all-pervasive Spirit aspect of Brahman.

    In common Hindu usage, Paramatman (or Paramatma) is simply a term for God.

    Hope that helps. :)
     
  3. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    So who has souls in hindu philosophy? Because you can reincarnate into animals I assume all animals have a soul as well. My belief is that all lving organisms (humans animals, plants, bacteria, ect.) have souls, but of course some souls have more value based on their conscience awareness (ie humans have more value than a dog because its conscience awareness is greater). Is this the same in Hinduism or are all souls created equal? I am assuming all souls are created equal because if souls can become cows for example then all souls are the same. But then this raises questions on whether human life is more valueable than a lower conscience aware animal like a cow, but most people do believe human life is more important because of this intelligence difference.
     
  4. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    All sentient beings have a soul in Hinduism. Soul is just the permanent part of one’s being, and can transmigrate from one species to another. All souls are equal and the same, but all bodies are not. Human existence is the highest form in the phenomenal world, but there may be even greater existences in higher planes.

    Whether human life is more valuable than animal life, it depends on who you ask. In general, animals are considered a lower form of existence than humans because they are driven mostly by instinct and not as much by intelligence (although today we know there are some pretty smart animals like chimps, elephants, dolphins, etc.);). However, some consider animal life as sacred as human life. This is particularly true of the proponents of the ahimsa (principle of least injury), who will tell you animal life is worth the same as human life, and animals should not be hurt or killed unless absolutely necessary. Needless to say, people who strongly believe in ahimsa are strict vegetarians.
     
  5. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    When you say sentient beings does that really only include animals with at least some sort of brain, considering they are viewed as organisms with Having sense perception or conscious. It makes sense, but in that case the plants have souls? What about bacteria, fungi, or protista? Although them may not have a conscious mind, I am sure they are capable of some thought at the most primitive of all thinking levels. Of course there life is not has high up as an animals, then again I would not consider a fly to have the same value as a chimp;).
     
  6. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Sentient, as used here, means anything that is conscious, not necessarily things that have a brain and the five senses … anything that is born, lives, dies and responds to external stimuli. So according to that definition, monera, protista, fungi, plants and animals would all count. Don’t ask about viruses and prions though ;). Some people say that in lower kingdoms there is one soul per group of organisms – like a whole field of plants may have one soul. If I’m not mistaken, though, each tree has its own soul. In any case, the point is that each living thing is made conscious by the presence of a soul.
     
  7. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Yes I agree, but I do think moneras, plants, ect. have a lower soul value than a higher up organism such as a ant or spider. Of course an ant or spider would not have a higher soul value than a dog or a horse, but then again even these souls lack the sould value as a chimp or gorilla. And of course humans have the highest soul value of them all;). Or body value, whatever you like to call it. What do you think? Do you think all souls or bodies are created equal or are some lifeforms with souls contain higher soul or body power than others?
     
  8. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    I think that all souls are of the same essence and there’s no difference between the souls of animals, plants and humans. But I do believe there is a difference between different bodies (organisms), and per human law, humans and other organisms are not equal (although they may be per divine law :)). In Hinduism, we believe in sort of an evolution of the soul going from lower organisms to higher ones. The soul is considered to have matured to the certain degree already if it has taken on a human body. So, from the standpoint of the soul's maturity, all souls may not be “equal”. Is this what you mean by higher and lower souls, or do you believe the souls of different organisms are of a different essence than that of humans?
     
  9. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    I believe I guess sort of what you believe. We are all animals, but of course humans are a higher up animal. What I am not sure about is whether a human soul is the same as, for example, an ant's soul. Obviously if you kill an ant its nothing compared to even killing a dog. But what doesn't make sense is that if our life is more important than an ant's, you would expect our soul to be equally as more important. Although it does make sense that each soul has a value based on what was done in their previous life, how would an animal be expected to act in order for it to reach a higher stage in life? Non-human animals obviously cannot grasp concepts such as a dharma or code of conduct to follow, I at least can't imagine one in their simple life. Perhaps each soul is created differently, a human soul may not have the same shape for example as a dog's soul, nor the same value. On top of that souls are linked to ther conscious awareness, it doesn't make sense that a soul would be created equal if for example a human has for more conscious awareness, therefore more soul;). What do you think?
     
  10. I am free

    I am free And anything is possible

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    All souls are the same pure essence of the divine. As Agnideva said all jivatmas are a part of the paramatma and will again return and become one with the paramatma. An appropriate analogy that comes to my mind is of all rivers flowing into the ocean. Once united there is no "seperateness" between the river water and the ocean water.

    I have read that the atma is covered by 5 sheaths or koshas and these sheaths seperate the atma from the paramatma. As the atma "evolves" spritually it sheds these koshas and realises its true self.

    The nature of the physical body has no effect on the atma which means that whether the physical body is an ant, a dog, a chimp or a human this does not in any way affect the atma. The atma remains pure always. But there is probably some effect on the koshas which cover the atma.

    Maybe Agnideva knows about this and could elaborate?
     
  11. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    I believe that the souls of all organisms are of the same essence; otherwise transmigration into other organisms is impossible. Now, the Catholic Church has recently introduced a doctrine saying that animals have souls too, but their souls are different than that of humans (someone please correct me if I am wrong about this). As far as the Hindu concept of soul goes, there is no difference in any soul, each one is identical in every way. Souls only differ in their evolutionary or maturity status.

    What we humans have done is we have placed different intrinsic values on different organisms based on their utility and likeability to us. So, that is why we believe it is a worse offense to kill your neighbor’s cat or dog, and not so bad to squash a mosquito or an ant. It has nothing to do with their soul or soul value. Obviously, from a human perspective, humans are the most important creature on Earth, and we consider ourselves the pinnacle of Earthly existence because we have more intelligence and ability to tap into the superconscious mind.

    An animal has to do nothing more than to live out its natural life. The animal’s progression upwards is guaranteed (at least to my understanding). Their dharma is to live according to their instinctive nature and to raise their young. We really don’t really know if animals can think like us or not. We don’t know how well animals know of their own mortality. Science is finding out that some higher animals do think, display emotions and remember events from long ago. In Hindu literature, you will find stories of animals also praying to God, crying for their loved ones, displaying remorse, and many other things we usually associate with human existence. :)
     
  12. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Excellent point I am Free ;). Hindu philosophy says there is more than just the physical body and the soul. The soul is sort of encased (although the soul is not a physical thing :)) in 5 sheaths or koshas. The Atman is of the same essence as the Paramatman, except it is compartmentalized within the 5 sheaths and therefore called the Jivatman. To use a trite analogy, the Paramatman is like open space, and the Jivatman is like the space enclosed in a room.

    The five sheaths are:
    1. Sheath of Food (Annamaya Kosha) – outer body
    2. Sheath of Vitality (Pranamaya Kosha) – inner physiology
    3. Sheath of the Mind (Manomaya Kosha) – sense faculties
    4. Sheath of the Intellect (Vijnanamaya Kosha) – mental and cognitive powers
    5. Sheath of Bliss (Anandamaya Kosha) - superconsciousness

    Sheath 1 and 2 are called the physical/gross body
    Sheath 3 and 4 are called the subtle/astral body
    Sheath 5 is called the causal/soul body

    In the physical world, the Atman is encased in all five sheaths. After death, the Atman sheds sheath 1 and 2, and lives in the subtle plane (heavenly or hellish worlds). At rebirth, it picks up a new physical body (sheath 1 and 2). This process goes on and on, and is called the evolution or maturation of the soul. As the maturation continues, the Atman embodies in higher beings. Eventually, when liberation is achieved, the Atman sheds the first 4 sheaths and progresses spiritually within the causal plane. After the process of maturation is complete, sheath 5 is also dropped and there’s complete oneness between Atman and Paramatman, like a drop of water into the ocean.
     
  13. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Some animals such as higher up mammals definatley do seem to have some grasp of right or wrong. Chimpanzees have even killed other chimps for a reason similar to murder, so I can see some sort of human-like perception and awareness, although it is not nearly as advanced as a human. Of course it is much harder to imagine what a tick, flea, or mosquito having any type of grasp of what a mammal can feel;).

    And what about the lower forms of life such as plants, moneras, fungis or protistass? They have absolutley no intelligent thought so how would they advance to a higher form of life? Do they have a conscios mind (at least something super primitive)? They might, but there is really little a tree can do to generate good karma or bad karma;).
     
  14. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Very interesting post, makes a lot of sense as well. Although this list mostly applies to animals (including humans), considering sheath 3 and 4 seem less likelly in plant, moneras, ect. Can you explain Sheath 5 a bit more though?

    So you actually get to choose your next body huh? Is there a set law on what a soul can pick? For example a mass murderer from a past life wouldn't be able to pick the life of a billionare because of how much karma was generated. Or does all the karma get used up in the heavenly or hellish worlds? Will we be able to enter bodies based only on our unique personality and what about gender when it comes to souls?

    Also when we are in these heavenly and hellish worlds will we be able to look upon the Earth and watch over (if we want to see what happens)?
     
  15. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Yes. In fact, chimps are the only example we have yet to show that species other than humans are capable of premeditation and murder of one of their own. Before this, it was thought animals were incapable of malice. In the feline family, adult males kill newborn young of another male so that the female would come back into heat, but we don’t know if they preplan it or not.
    Again, lower organisms have to do nothing more than live out their lives and do what they do best … this is their dharma. Plants, for example, may not have senses like we do, but they do respond to external stimuli … think geotropism, phototropism, heliotropism etc. Other organisms also respond to stimulus, and are conscious of their environment and adapt, but they can't be said to have intelligence like higher animals and humans do. Good and bad karma are there only for those organisms which make conscious decisions and know of the concept of right and wrong, a tree does not make such decisions, so it doesn’t need it ;).
     
  16. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    The five sheaths are realized fully only in humans, although all atmans have them. In lower organisms, the inner sheaths lay latent and are not realized, until birth into higher organisms. As for sheath 5, superconsciousness is sort of beyond the conscious mind, it is one of the many states realized and experienced only in deep meditation. Here’s something I found about the Anandamaya Kosha:
    No, you don’t consciously choose a body, unless you mean by being conscious about your karmas in this lifetime. You transmigrate automatically into another body based on your karmas. It is not random, but systematic. Only certain amount of karma is dissipated in the subtle plane (heavenly and hellish worlds). In essence, karma is "softened" in the subtle plane before you take another birth in the physical world. Most humans in this life may take birth as humans again because most human actions result in human consequences, but some do take animal births. Your personality and memory do not go with you into the next birth, only the essence of your being. And, as for gender it is a characteristic of the physical body and not of the atman.
    Interesting question! :p I don’t know, perhaps you will be able to see it, but people in the physical world probably can’t see you. See, I imagine the subtle plane to be like a different dimension within the fabric of space-time. As I mentioned before, for the Devas who live in the subtle plane, their every unit of time is said to be 360 times longer than ours. Perhaps in that dimension, they are traveling closer to the speed of light than we are, so time is slowed down for them from our reference point! :D
     
  17. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Yea, not only in chimpanzees but also gorillas comit infantacide as well. Almost every time they find the children of another male, but sometimes the male does not kill the alien infants, which maybe a sign of good karma in gorilla society;).

    So if plants, monera, ect. do not have any karma to follow doesn't make sense for them to reincarnate to anything more than a fellow oraganism with no awareness. And does a particular text actually confirm that organisms that cannot think have no karma?
     
  18. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    But when you die and are in the afterlife won't you know about your past lives and remember? And do you really loose your personality and stuff:(? Oh damn I really don't want to loose my state of mind to something random and never remember it again. Then again there is a possibility I said the exact same thing to myself in my past life:D.

    What exactly is the essence of your being? Just the physical soul body or something linked more to your personality? I hope to see the world when I die so that I can see the fruits produce in our life. I also hope to see dead loved ones one last time before I forget everything;).

    So I might be born a woman in my next life:eek:. It's a litte hard to imagine.

    By the way, is it possible to reincarnate as an alien soul from another planet or would you only reincarnate back on Earth?
     
  19. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    They do have dharma, and do have a purpose. Remember that reincarnation is based both on dharma and karma, all three are intimately linked. Following one's dharma properly essentially means gaining positive karma. When Acidophilus turns milk into yoghurt, it is following its dharma. When a tree provides shade for weary travelers or a home for birds, it is following its dharma. When a wheat plant makes wheat for animals and humans, it is following its dharma. And no, there is no text that actually says other organisms don't have karma, but the concept of good and bad karma are only there for those who make conscious decisions and know right from wrong. So, do you think that maybe the cats, gorillas and chimps do know right from wrong? Do you think when they kill one of their own species, they are making a conscious decision against their "better judgment"?
     
  20. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    You may remember your last life after you die, but when you're reborn you will have forgotten. But then again, haven't you heard stories of people who remember their past lives and go searching for their relatives? If we all remembered our past lives, we'd be attached to the people and things we knew before.

    We may have had this same conversation over and over in different lifetimes :p.

    The true essence of your being is the atman only; but in the physical body, the essence of your being is the atman, the sheaths that transmigrate from one physical body to another, and the sum totality of your karmas that haven't yet been resolved.

    Perhaps simply hoping for this may make it come true!

    Perhaps you were a woman in your last life ;).

    I don't see any reason why not. If the doctrines of dharma, karma and reincarnation are universal, as we believe they are, they should apply equally all beings on this Earth and other worlds.
     

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