Sunday, January 5, 2014

Arguments for the immortality of the soul

What are you? Yes, on the surface you are a specific human being. That is also what I observe. The act of observation implies that there are two - I am the observer, you are the observed. So you are distinct from me. But the same applies to yourself internally - you observe that you are someone - so there is an internal observer and the identity which is observed.

One distinction is between your body and your thoughts about your body - the thoughts are more internal than the body. But there is a deeper distinction still - between the thinker and the thoughts. So many thoughts come and go, even thoughts about thinking, thoughts about being aware, thoughts about who you are, but in the center you stay unmoving and observe them. At your core you are the act of observation itself, everything else is external - something to be observed.

In my previous article I argued that awareness (the observer) cannot arise from matter. In terms of philosophy, matter is always that which is being observed, not the observer, those are two different categories. But what happens when the body you are observing cannot live anymore, will there be any observer left? And was there any observer before your observable body existed?

The only thing I know for certain here is that matter and observation are two different worlds meeting. There are so many rules governing the world of matter, but observation is above all rules - after all, rules are being observed by us, they do not observe anything. No such rules apply to the act of observation - observation is one and unchanging, all change belongs to the category of observed things. So even birth and death are objects for observation, rather than rules governing the observation itself. Therefore I am open for the possibility that before birth, we were simply observing something else, and after death, we will be observing something else still.

Another way to put it is to define birth and death, I would define them as assembly and disassembly. A hydrogen atom is born when a proton and electron meet, and dies when they part. Your body is born out of elements from your parents' bodies, and after death the elements will scatter into the environment again. Similarly a thought is born when two other thoughts are combined - today you may think "the sky is blue", so you combine the thought "the sky" with the thought "blue" and a new thought is born. But tomorrow the sky may be cloudy, so the thought will break up and die. But how could the act of observation ever be assembled or disassembled? It has no internal parts. If it had any parts, those would be objects for observation, and we would have to go deeper still, to find the atomic, unborn, unbreakable pure act of observation. The center of everything that you are.

oṁ ajñāna-timirāndhasya jñānāñjana-śalākayā
cakṣur unmīlitaṁ yena tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ

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