In Search of Heaven

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD” (Pr 16:1~NASB)

Suppose you are the average modern day Christian, who has gone to their family doctor after having some tests completed and you now find yourself sitting in the Oncologists office. He/she sits across from you, crosses his leg (I have a male doctor), and begins to make a little light chit-chat as they all seem to do today, before they lay the bomb on you.

“Grayeagle, your biopsy indicates that you have a rapidly growing malignant mass for the second time. This time it is the opposite lung. This is a nasty small cell cancer, and to be honest with you, it doesn’t look good. The ladies out front will set up a few more tests just to clarify everything.” I can tell he truly wants this to conclude. Not being the brightest bulb in the pack I lightly say, “So what does all that mean, Doc?” “To be rather straight-forward, it means that I’m of the opinion that you need to set your house in order.”

“So you’re saying I’m dying?” He sits there and kind of stares at me as if he must be talking to his collie, and I can see him thinking, what’s wrong with this idiot? (I’m playing with his head, and he’s the one who doesn’t get it. What did he expect me to do- weep, wail, and howl? I mean, come on, I finally said, “Yeah, I get it, Doc. Don’t worry,”

I get out of the office and into my car and then it truly hits me – I guess all my years of theology” that I’ve been teaching is now going to be proved or negated – huh?. My first though was that I am going to see Heaven soon. My second thought was what do I know about Heaven? Do you want to know the truth? I know next to nothing about the real heaven. I know many hymns about streets of gold and all that stuff, but theology should never come from hymns, it should come from the Word of God.

The Unknown Paradise

When I die, my absolute plan is to go to Heaven, if for no other reason than it beats the alternative. To the best of my knowledge, all confessing Christians plan on going to heaven. However, if you ask a Christian what heaven is like all you will get is 1) nothing more than a bunch of old Gospel song lyrics, or 2) jokes. I think faced with the immediate adventure, I want something more substantial that a song lyric or joke. Now, you would think a theologian would know all about this subject, but guess what – I don’t. I’m sure I’ve heard a hundred sermons on heaven and read dozens of papers that were nothing more than a bunch of gibberish. Let me ask you – what do you actually know about heaven? And don’t give me some fantasized stuff you created in your own mind. Things like living in a mansion. Now, stop and think about it. If we were in our glorified body, supposedly like the body of Christ, then why in the world would we even need a house, let alone some kind of mansion? Are you expecting snow, or rain? Houses (mansion of not) are for the sake of protection. What need do we have to be protected in Heaven?

Why do we lose all common sense when it comes to things Divine, the Bible, and our religion? What about all those streets of gold? The fact is the book of Revelation does talk about a Capital city that God is going to erect in the second heaven, where the King of Kings is going to set His Throne. Yes, the streets are pure gold, and the items like walls, etcetera are made of precious stones. That is only a city. I’m talking about Heaven in its entirety. What are we actually going to do for all infinity. I think standing in a choir singing will get old after the first couple of years, don’t you? Some think we’ll become angels. Now, that’s because you haven’t read my book yet, because we are human and they are not. Are you beginning to get the picture of – duh, what is Heaven really like?

I want to know – what do we Scripturally know about Heaven? The truth is Scripture says just about nothing concerning the details of Heaven. It’s vague, indistinct, almost a secret. It challenges us to search and to learn what we can relate to that anticipated place of glory. This then is our search for Heaven.

Heaven comes in threes

Let’s get away from hymns and silliness and let’s simply talk about what we honestly know – like there are three heavens mentioned in Scripture.

I’m not kidding about that. Christian Scripture speaks of three heavens, which apparently seems to be sufficient versus some religions who want to believe in seven of them. The first biblical heaven consists of the region above us. It is where the clouds float by, and the birds fly around. The second heaven has to do with infinite space – that beyond that we call the universe where the sun, moon and all the beautiful masses those scientific telescopes show us. The third heaven has to do with that new heaven and earth that God has promised to this world once He has finally had His fill with Satan and his followers.

However, in this article, the heaven that I’m interested in is the third heaven. The one that the Apostle Paul seems to have visited, which is consistently referred to as the abode of God. Paul said, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows-such a man was caught up to the third heaven” 2Co 12:3~NASB In the next sentence he calls this “third heaven” Paradise – which is an important designation. At this point in our article, let’s assume that the third heaven indeed is Paradise. Paul does not call it the dwelling place of God, but he does say that this is where he received all his revelations – his schooling that made him the Great Apostle to the Gentiles.

Jesus also mentioned this place as Paradise in His earthly ministry. To the thief on the cross who confessed Him at the last minute, Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43, 2 Cr 12:4, Rev 2:7~ NASB). From these three references, we must gather that Heaven and Paradise are one in the same. It is the place where God Himself dwells.

Please, I’m all but begging you to mark this next statement: ALL Scripture truth must be set by a minimum of two (preferably three) confirming scriptures. That is to say, we are never permitted (as some do) to set doctrine on one statement that is made by a writers of Scripture. God Himself set this rule, when He said, “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed” (De 19:15, Mt 18:16, 2Cr 13:1 ~NASB).

The Reality of Heaven

By that subtitle, I mean, this is not something some priest or television pastor dreamed up so he/she can ask for more donations. Heaven is a place taught in the Bible, and by Jesus himself. I would hate to have spent my entire life hoping and believing in an eternal home only to find out Scripturally there is no such place even mentioned. Have no fear – it’s there.

Actually, all religions that I know of have some belief in a heaven, in a verity of forms. I must confess that Christianity has some differing views of Paradise. One may wonder why, but it all has to do with things like Protestantism, Catholicism, this ism, and that ism. You understand I’m sure. Christianity is agreeable with the fundamentals of Heaven, it’s the fine points that Scripture doesn’t even talk about that we love to argue and disagree. I have found disagreements (in a godly spirit) to be extremely enlightening.

It Ain’t Easy

Honestly searching Scripture to find out the details – and that’s what we want here – simple details like, will I be greeted by my dad and mom, when I get there? that is not an easy thing to discover. To make matters more difficult, there are two other phrases used throughout the New Testament the Kingdom of God and or Heaven. Jesus taught the crowd one day, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Mt 5:3~NASB, and in that same discourse He said, ” Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great” Mt 3:12~NASB. As He used that term in that discourse, one would assume He is referring to Paradise, or Heaven. In fact, as I began to search it appeared as thought the statement Kingdom of heaven always referred to Heaven, while the statement Kingdom of God spoke to a relationship. However, that assumption was destroyed as I went deeper into the Epistles. They are, used interchangeably. Sometimes, it is obvious they are referring to heaven, but other times it becomes apparent it is referring to a relational position.

Heaven is Promised

What little we do know about Paradise, or Heaven, is that it is promised to those who have put their faith in the fact that Jesus is the Christ, and that He is their Lord and Savior. It is that concept of bowing one’s proud knee and confessing that He is the Master of our life, and not we. Because we have done this act of faith in Him, Scripture has promised that when that time comes (and it comes to all of us sooner or later), that our eternal abode will be with God in this place. According to the Apostle Paul, we are to consider ourselves as citizens of paradise at this time. He said, “For our citizenship is in heaven,” (Php 3:20~NASB), and it is a place we are to eagerly look forward to. We must also assume that we are ushered into this place immediately upon departing from this earth. Again, Paul stated, “to be absent from the body and to be home with the Lord” (2Co 5:8~NASB).

If we take Scripture as being accurate, then we declare that Heaven is a promise in our future.

The Heavenly Move

For some of us who have not taken a lot of care of this body we’re living in, and others who have carried around a body of pain, I have some good news. By all that we know, the present body that you and I are living in is not going to make it to heaven. Scripture tells us that God “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Php 3:21~NASB). I honestly don’t think I want to spend all of eternity in this physical suit I’ve messed up anyway – I don’t know about you. Again, it is written, “for we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” 2Co 5:1-2~NASB).

The idea is that we are living in a suit designed to house and protect our spirit and soul on this earth. When we enter that eternal place called heaven, God is going to give us another house for our spirit and soul to live in. The greatest difference is that it will be like His, and it will never wear out. For people like me, that’s good news.

What It’s Like

Before we get into this next piece, I want to preface it with the fact that this illustration is pre-New Testament. By that, I mean Christ has not died on the Cross-for our sins, nor has He riser from the dead having the seal of the Father that His death covers the sins of those who confess Him as Savior. That is a vital piece of information because most theologians believe things in Paradise changed at that point in time.

With that disclaimer, we have this one extremely small piece of information concerning Paradise given to us by Jesus in this parable. Two men had died, and one was a rich, arrogant, nasty kind of person, while the other man was just a poor beggar – a homeless beggar. The beggar went to Paradise and was being comforted by Abraham. The rich man was in torment (a whole other subject) who thought he deserved a favor from Abraham. Notice Abraham did not berate the rich man, but he did use the beggar as an illustration, saying, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here” (Lk 16:25~NASB).

About the only thing we can conclude from this is that, there is comfort and equality in Paradise from all the ills that have befallen us while living on this earth. It is part of our reward. We also know that we will not be alone, as this beggar is seen with and being comforted by the famous Abraham of Old Testament fame. We also know that inside of us, while we rightfully fight and cling to life for as long as we can, we long to go to heaven, because our spirit testifies that it is a far greater place than this.

Conclusion

There is no conclusion to this subject, because there is not enough information given to us to make a solid conclusion. I feel terribly about this, as the assumption is that someone in my position should simply know these kinds of things, but I don’t.

I must leave this subject by saying, we will all find the answer to our quest sooner of later. For me, it will be sooner, but that is okay with me. I have to say that while I’m in pain for those I will leave behind; I am looking to mount my spiritual horse, and ride once again, into a completely new adventure. I do hope with all that is within me that I will be able to ride with in a full gallop with the heavenly wind in our faces.

God’s Complaint Department for Unanswered Prayers

Do you feel your prayer wishes are going to the “dead letter office” with all the wish letters mailed to Santa Claus? Everybody thinks that their problems are the worst.
Thinking prayers will be answered belief turns to doubt, because of false reasoning. In a state of uncertainty, to believe in and unceasingly praying is not enough.

It is important to know what a legitimate prayer is because if you pray with all your might and with all your heart to own this world, your prayer will not be answered. When we have prayers connected to material gain they are limited; there must be because God will not mend or break his laws to satisfy fanciful desires. Why pray foolishly or illogically for possessions that you could not have in your period of development at this time. There is a proper way to pray. Once you have changed your status from a beggar to God’s child; when you appeal to God from that awareness your prayer will have wisdom and power. Prayers are a demand of the soul. But what good is praying when God will not answer? Difficult as it is to get a response, it can be done.

The majority of people in anguish search for God with the self-centered desire of expelling mental or physical troubles or ills. God can easily be forgotten when you pray for money or healing for dear ones or for personal gain. The bible says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” How many of you know that verse and how many of you actually put that into practice? You can classify yourself; and I am afraid most of you never read the fine print in the footnotes; you should not be expectant in the back of your mind for the granting of a favor. When you pray your mind should not be focused on gifts but concentrating on the Giver; as a result all the gifts from the Giver will be added unto you.

All financial goals have to be earned. A man who is weak may plan many wonderful things but he finds that he has been a victim of circumstances at the end of the day because of his bad habits, and usually blames everyone else but himself.

What is the secret law to activate universal forces to come to your aid and lead you to the place of prosperity that is rightfully yours? Stop seeking prosperity for yourself alone and include others in your own prosperity. This will prevent you from becoming poor. That means not just including your family and yourself but a larger group of people that surround you. This is serious matter; do not take it lightly. By using this secret universal law: unselfishness, and by distributing prosperity to everyone equally with no exceptions will activate the universal law of karma to come to your aid.

The two ways our needs have to be satisfied are for material gain and for ill health. When you’re sick you run to the doctor, but what happens when the limited power of the doctor or human aid no longer helps. We then look to the unlimited Power of the Maker of our body for assistance and solace. Likewise we do the same with our financial problems; when we have tried our best and it is still insufficient, again we turn to that higher power.

When your prayers have gone unanswered you have chosen to pray like a beggar.
First you need to build a relationship with God and once a relationship is established, your prayers will be answered. A praying beggar will be given what he deserves, a paupers trifle. Never beg when you pray as beggary reduces your prayers to that of a poverty stricken vagrant.

When you pray, demand as a divine child talking to a parent asking for what is rightfully yours as a divine son. Do this with conviction and see what happens then when you pray correctly. You can pray to God in the aspect of a forgiving mother instead of a father aspect who expects you to follow his laws. A mother aspect of God will always forgive her erring son; but, make sure you follow the rules of prayer by approaching God with legitimate needs.

Let’s say you are late on your mortgage payment and you can not meet your future payments or you want a certain job. Go into silence and after deeply meditating, focus your willpower on your need without expecting results at the same time. Nothing will happen if you look for a sign every time you pray. Just bring your needs to the attention of God and do your best to help God bring your prayer desire to completion. In no way try to test God. You must believe in the possibility of what you are asking for. If you pray for a house and your mind says, “You idiot, you can’t afford a home” make your willpower stronger and take the “cant’s” out of your mind so the Divine Force may flow without interruptions.

If you have a chronic disease, take the thought that ultimately only God will help you in meditation every evening. Pray with all your determination and you will find one day you are suddenly healed and your disease has vanished. Initially, our mind is given the idea and after that the divine permeates the mind with strength and last, the mind releases the power to cure. When the inherent forces laying in the mind are released you will realize you have the power of God in your brain which controls all physical functions of the body.

God is your best security that is why the masters are emphasizing for us to seek out God through meditation. Most of all get busy in finding God because procrastination is pure laziness when the procrastinator speaks and says “I will do that tomorrow, today I am busy with other things.” You can be like that for the rest of your life. People who are always putting off things will never achieve their goals. What’s the use in reading or listening to lectures and when you go home you fall asleep spiritually. That is not applying what you read or heard. If you do not make a sincere effort it will be impossible to get ascension in a moment. It does take years and it cannot be known by weak-minded people. Laziness must be overcome; the masters say that the physically lazy man can be forgiven, but not the mentally lazy. The physically lazy could have health problems, but the lack of enthusiasm from the uninterested dull mind has no excuse.

Search out the company of people who can strengthen your faith and take the “cant’s” out of your brain. You will find God within yourself if you are a member of the fourth class of people who will not be fulfilled with merely reading or listening to a lecture or sermon about God. Who will persist until He answers?

The science of yoga is exactly that, a science. Yoga, yoga meditation, praying it is all scientific in nature. You must have a proper guide when you are in the forest of theology. If you want to know about science or medicine you need a creditable teacher. But when it comes to the science of religion and you want to understand the mysteries of God the mentor you have must be qualified and one who himself has attained realization.

When the first yearning for truth comes, somebody offers you a book or recommends a teacher to awaken you. Then when your desire is strong enough God will send you a guru, not just an ordinary teacher. If the person you follow has not realized God he is only a school teacher. There is a difference between a Guru who has realized God and a teacher. The technique in finding your true spiritual guru not a self appointed one is explained in the book “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda, a spiritual classic, which explains this in detail.

If you have prayed correctly and have not received the desired result, He may have something better planned for you. Talk with God sensibly and he will help you in accomplishing your dreams.

Meditate to calm the heart and quite the mind. The mind cannot control the mind. The calm neutralized mind will prevent paralysis of your willpower and nerves. It is impossible for fear to enter a quiet heart. For further information read my other articles, You Don’t Have To Believe This – You Don’t Have To Read This and Eastern Versus Western Karma.

There is a shortcut approach in prayer that the masters talk about, and that is devotion. They say when you pray, pray from your heart and imagine your heart has a mouth and is talking to God. For if you pray from your mind and your prayers are not heartfelt, you are doing a little better than wasting your time. Getting back to science again, your mind is like a radio and if the antenna of your mind is weak your radio frequency will never reach God, but the heart is a different story because the heart has no boundaries or limitations. When the microphone of your mind has been muffled or broken down by the sledge-hammer of the boisterous passions of restlessness, it takes deep silence to repair your broadcasting instrument. When the human mental microphone is out of order it will not work the wonder of telepathy. Calm yourself with deep meditation and when your mental microphone is repaired, rebroadcast your loving prayer. If you feel a joyous expanding thrill in your heart and entire body after each day of meditation you will have received the proof that God has heard the radio microphone of your heart and mind.

In today’s’ fast paced society everyone wants instant satisfaction or their money back. It is even hard for the average person to pick up a book and read more that twelve pages before they lose interest. One of the most important things to learn is that God is never in a hurry and impatience or a lack of patience is a character flaw. A person who cannot exercise patience under stressful conditions is normal, we all are guilty of this from time to time. But this characteristic can be a real hurdle to overcome because the spiritual path is like the razors edge. How could you expect to obtain the most priceless treasure without making the utmost sacrifices?

Mystery of the Soul Part 2

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

When we speak of religious beliefs we mean its theological tenets. Christianity and Islam share common ideas and beliefs having their roots in a common source–Judaism. This religion in turn derived many of its doctrines and beliefs from the Persians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, and the Sumerians. Perhaps it would be true to say that almost every religion is syncretic, though they may try very hard to cover this up.

Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism are more mystical in nature and differ greatly from the Semitic religions in many basic principles; Hinduism comprising of many philosophical schools of thought, embraces various theological ideas. Some schools of Buddhism teaches that there is no permanent entity called the soul; that what is thought to be the soul is simply a collection of karmic tendencies transmittable from one incarnation to another. Their extreme views are nilhilistic in nature; however, it is doubtful whether this was implied in the teachings of the Buddha. For instance, if there is no Self, then there is also no Gautama Buddha in existence; and yet, prayers are still being directed by the faithful to this exalted being. Fundamentally, although these religions have diverse concepts regarding the soul they all point or refer to the One where all sentient beings originate. All have their own particular name or names for this Source, and all have their personal ideas regarding this Divine Essence.

Theological precepts are often tainted with the frailties of the human ego and intellect and thus offer a poor basis for the study of true religion and its revelations concerning the soul. Nevertheless, we will strive to present its beliefs with as little bias on our part as possible. This section will be brief, for to do justice to the subject would require many pages and go beyond the scope of this work.

In Christian theology it is believed that the soul prior to birth is devoid of any individuality or personality. It is only when God breathes through the nostrils of man that the soul acquires self-consciousness, and is a “living” being–and this condition of being alive is believed to remain with the soul after death. In the Book of Genesis it is recorded that,

“God made man out of the dust of the earth, breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and made man a living soul.” (Gen 2:7)

The phrase “living soul” is equated to the state of being self-conscious. According to this notion unless there is an awareness of the existence of an ego, or a self, a person or being does not truly have a soul. Such a creature is “soulless.” A person may be alive imbued with the soul-essence, the life-force, and yet remain soulless, in the sense that it is not self-aware. Some states of insanity may represent beings who are “soulless.” While the living soul is associated with the awareness of the ego, immortality is associated with the awareness of the superego, the Higher Self. This idea, though, falls in the province of metaphysical thought.

Basically, theology consider the soul to be a substance implanted in man. It is believed to be an entity divinely created and bestowed upon man when man takes his first breath. Christian theology formulated the idea that man is a divine creation, the highest of all beings, and that the whole universe was created for man alone in support of his existence.

In Christianity the terms “lost souls” or “degraded souls” are often expressed. The moral quality of a person’s life is believed to be able to affect the soul. However, from the metaphysical point of view soul-essence is immaculate, perfect, immutable and divine. What may be affected is not its essence but its conscious expression. The consciousness arising from soul essence is that which evolves and strives to reflect the image, archetype or blueprint that God created for man. This is stated emphatically in Genesis; however the statement is often interpreted literally. This blueprint is the image or divine qualities of God. It does not refer to form but to the inner nature of the life-essence.

The Hindus, generally speaking, believe the soul to be an entity that resides in the physical body and is subjected to reincarnation in accord with its karma. The Upanishads says that, “The Supreme Person, of the size of the thumb, dwells forever in the heart of all human beings.” Its esoteric wisdom, moreover, tells us that the immaterial man is constituted of various principles each having their own particular function. The highest principle within the microcosm of man is the Atma, or according to others, the Paratman.

In the Bhagavad Gita, the microcosm is represented by Krishna, Arjuna, the carriage, and the horses. Krishna is the Spirit, the highest aspect of man; Arjuna the evolving soul; the carriage the mind; and the horses the senses. Graphically five horses are often represented. They represent the senses of man through which the vital force escapes and runs uncontrolled. In yoga and esoteric practices the senses are subdued so that the vital force may be directed within to awaken the sluggish Arjuna. Krishna is the guide that assists Arjuna in this project.

ANCIENT BELIEFS

As we mentioned before, the belief in the survival of the soul after death goes way back to the earliest development of humankind. Primitive Neanderthal tribes, for instance, would bury food, tools, and weapons along with the corpses of their departed in order to provide them with the bare necessities in the afterlife. This custom still survive in some cultures and is a clear indication that not only is soul survival believed in but that the afterlife as a continuation of the sort of life lived in the physical world is likewise presumed.

Animism was the prevailing belief among prehistoric man. Everything was considered alive and pervaded with a soul-force that even gave inanimate objects a consciousness and an intelligence of some kind. Stars in particular were believed to be souls long dead and living in heaven. To the primitive mind, the sky or firmaments were considered to be heaven, just as hell was thought to lie beneath the earth.

That the soul “resided” and functioned in the physical body, a location was sought for its residence. Some believed the heart to be the organ of the soul, others pointed to the head. Some primitive cultures thought that the blood was the vehicle of the soul–that the blood carried soul-substances to every part of the body. The demon Mephistopheles in a play written by Goethe (1749-1832) declares the blood to be a “curious thing.” The belief that the blood is the vehicle of the soul is not without foundation, however. If the soul in this context is considered to be the life-force, prana, chi, or even oxygen, one can only surmise how the primitive mind intuited this scientific fact. Scientifically, it has been noticed that blood-transfusion often causes a temporary change in character in the person receiving the donor’s blood. Could it be that blood is impregnated with one’s soul-characteristics? As the blood was associated with the soul, many primitive tribes such as the Scythians evolved the custom of drinking the blood of their enemies or victims in order to absorb their courage, strength, power, and abilities. The custom of forming blood-brothers is also based upon the belief in the importance of the blood as related to the soul, and its transcendence over fleshly ties. Members forming blood-brothers would drink the blood of fellow members thus forming a soul-bond overriding the normal flesh-and-blood relationships.

The ancients often depicted the soul as a bird often human headed, perhaps referring to its ability to fly. The Aztecs, ancient Greeks and Egyptians among the many ancient races, for instance, often portrayed the souls of their dead in murals and pottery as a winged bird taking flight from its lifeless corpse. Eagles, hawks, doves, peacocks and phoenixes were often used to represent the soul.

Not only the head, heart, and blood were believed to be the seat of the soul, but likewise the breath. Believing that the breath is associated with the soul and life, the aborigines of Papua New Guinea would breathe through tubes into effigies of their forefathers in order to confer a certain vitality to their departed souls. This is a magical practice based on the law of similarity. Many tribal cultures practiced the placement of obstructions in the nostrils of their dying ones as a last effort to saving their lives. This they believe would effectively prevent the soul from escaping and causing the death of the body.

It is believed among ancient and savage people that the soul being associated with the life force, illnesses or feebleness of the physical body are caused by the escape of the soul from the gross form. In extreme cases the soul force was “captured” by some evil spirit and it was the task of the shaman, the tribal witch-doctor to recapture the soul and restore it to the corporeal body. The ability of the shaman to dissociate his incorporeal aspect from the gross form supposedly facilitated this sort of work.

The Ancients’ concept of the soul has evolved throughout the ages, and even now our scientific understanding is constantly in a state of change. Our conceptions regarding the soul is associated with our various notions regarding God. As man evolves so does his awareness of the soul and his Source. Man has formed many ideas regarding the nature of his creator. In this context it can be seen that the phrase, “God creates man, and man creates God” has a basis in truth.

Among the ancient cultures, the Egyptians and Hindus were the most advanced in their understanding of the soul. We in particular refer to their mystics, hierophants, and sages. They regarded man as a microcosm with many aspects, both material and incorporeal, with each aspect having its own function to play in the life and destiny of the soul. Their many teachings live on today in contemporary metaphysico-occult philosophy. The ancient Greek philosophers and sages such as Thales, Plato and Pythagoras derived much of their occult knowledge from these wise priests of the Orient.

SCIENTIFIC VIEWS

Along the scientific vein, certain schools of thought believe the self or ego to be a by-product of a brain function, and yet what gives rise to this function is not known, and only given an educational guess. The section of the brain that “causes” a sense of self is likewise not yet discovered. This concept of the “brain causes consciousness” is fundamentally the viewpoint of the mechanists that sees man as merely a machine. The above concept is flawed, however, because portions of the brain have been known to be destroyed and yet the presence of a sense of self still remained. In the condition known as hydrocephalus, for instance, large sections of the cerebral cortex may be destroyed or missing, being filled instead with cerebro-spinal fluid, and yet individuals suffering from such a condition may lead normal lives without suspecting their blight. They may even have an I.Q. above average.

The mechanists, Freud (1856-1939) among them, claim that our behavioral actions are automatic responses to external stimuli, and that life is a result of the right combination of chemicals derived from food and oxygen. That an animating force exists to vitalize the organism they may concede but this force is looked upon as a physical energy akin to electricity. The mechanistic theory describes how perception takes place through the stimulation of the senses that creates nerve impulses, and how these nerve impulses travel to the sections of the brain related to the senses, and how they form sensations; but the theory does not consider the real perceiver that tries to make sense of the sensations. To mechanists, the perceiver is thought to be one of the functions of the cerebral cortex. In short, the mechanistic concept leaves no room for the existence of the soul. To a mechanist the purported existence of the soul is considered as an absurdity.

If the eminent neuropsychologist Karl Lashley (1890-1958), author of Brain Mechanisms and Intelligence, after years of research could not discover the seat of memory in the brain, how much more difficult would it be to discover the seat of the self or soul–not withstanding Descartes’ (1596-1650) assertion that the pineal gland is its locus. This French philosopher and mathematician also declared, “cogito, ergo sum,” or “I think, therefore I am” thus implying that the Self arises into existence as a result of thought, or as a function of the mind. Nevertheless, mystics have proved to themselves the possibility of transcending thoughts and yet remaining in existence, and possessing an exalted sense of Self, unified with the Cosmos. The mystic’s standpoint is supported by Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), French philosopher and writer. To Sartre, existence does not depend on the functions of the mind, that a being does not exist simply because it thinks. According to Sartre, existence precedes the mind–or thinking.

Rene Descartes’ statement is therefore erroneous, or perhaps our interpretation of his statement is wrong. “I think, because I am” would be closer to the truth. In spite of this, Descartes was somewhat accurate in believing that the pineal gland plays an important role in man’s occult physiology as we shall see later when we discuss the metaphysical purview.

Mainstream science may disavow the existence of the soul on the pretext of its immateriality, undetected by their instruments; and yet, matter in its actual state in similarly immaterial. This was the proposition of Leibniz (1646-1716), the German philosopher, who considered matter as a manifestation of Mind–“a stupid variety of mind.” To explain this graphically, for instance, what we call concrete matter is actually made up of moving molecules. Molecules in turn are made up of whirling atoms, and these are composed of even smaller particles. Should these sub-atomic particles be magnified “nothing” would be found. Matter, is therefore, made up of “emptiness.” We may call this void “energy,” “mind,” or “spirit,” but whatever we call it, the fact remains that matter is actually as insubstantial as the soul. If the reality of one is accepted why not the other? The many particles composing matter are filled with this “nothing,” or space. Another curious fact is that if we were to remove the space inherent within a human body, for instance, and all the “particles” united, the total compaction would result in a piece of matter no larger than a mite of dust. Leibniz’s theory is also paralleled by the thoughts of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), the American Trancendentalist. According to Emerson matter is “a phenomenon, not a substance.” He also considered the material world to be,

“a divine dream, from which we may presently awake to the glories and certainties of day.”

Science informs us that nothing is destroyed. That matter is just energy possessing a certain structure and magnetic-field. It is acknowledged that everything in existence is made up of energy. Now as the existence of consciousness and a sense of self are undeniable, they should be thought of as indestructible as well, for Science has already implied the idea in its equations. So why then does Science not accept the possible existence of disembodied consciousness–the soul?–because it cannot be perceived? Quiet an absurdity, really–even while embodied the Self cannot be seen. Can you see your Self?

From whence does the sense of self-identity come? It seems that mainstream science is still a long way in finding this one out. However, new paradigms are being formulated by open-minded scientists who are now considering the world-view of eastern mystics in conjunction with the new developments and discoveries in the field of physics and psychology. The theories of quantum physics and transpersonal psychology are closing the gap between essential religion and conventional science. Regarding the mystery of the Self in relation to the brain we are reminded of the words of the researcher and scientist George Buletza who said in the Rosicrucian Digest (Sept. 1983) that,

“Rather than the brain producing Self, it is the other way around. The brain is a product of Self, of Being ever striving to be. The brain is the incredibly fine instrument created by Self in the process of expressing its own nature . . .”

It has been observed in many laboratory experiments all over the world that human consciousness reveals an ability to extend itself beyond the boundaries of the brain and body, that somehow it may perceive or influence events at distant places. Such mental activities suggests to some scientific observers that consciousness may exist independent of the corporeal form.

Many branches of science such as physics, psychology, astrophysics, and biology, are investigating the soul, and each has their own particular methods of inquiry. Perhaps the most important branch of science that has been developed in recent times, relatively speaking, is parapsychology.

Parapsychology

Parapsychology is that branch of science that studies the nature of psychic or paranormal phenomena. Its scope of investigation covers a wide range of subjects: for instance, ESP, hauntings, poltergeist activity, Near-Death Experience, Out-of-the-Body Experience, UFOs, Strange Creatures, Weird Phenomena, etc. There are now many institutes investigating, studying, and teaching this branch of science. The word “parapsychologist” is often misunderstood. Many people seem to think that being a parapsychologist is synonymous to being psychic. This is erroneous. A psychic may not be a parapsychologist, and vice versa. A psychic is someone who perceives impressions through higher senses not ordinarily registered by the physical senses. Psychics may not generally understand the impressions that they register, and may simply believe and be fooled by illusions and appearances. A parapsychologist seeks to understand unusual phenomena through scientific analysis, and by using empirical methods with the aid of carefully devised instruments. A mystically inclined metaphysician, on the other-hand, basically strives to understand phenomena with the aid of his intellect, intuition, and other higher faculties. The parapsychologist’s basic methods are three-dimensional, the psychic’s four-dimensional, and the mystic-metaphysician’s, five-dimensional, or even higher.

To illustrate the difference between a paranormal and a metaphysician’s understanding of phenomena, we will just illustrate one out of many. As an example, supposing a psychic were to receive impressions of an impending disaster, he would consider it to be truth and proclaim it to others. He would make all sorts of predictions anent the impressions that was registered in his mind. He would consider it as a revelation of God.

The metaphysician on the other hand, knowing Cosmic and natural laws, understands the impressions received to possibly be thought-forms-mind creations of fearful beings. Man radiates thoughts, and these thoughts, perhaps without a basis of truth, are received by psychics. The unfortunate thing in all of this is that thoughts are creative. What we habitually think about with intense emotion have a tendency to materialize. So dire predictions often come true; however it does not have to be. We have to learn to eliminate fear. When psychics make predictions they are instilling and intensifying fear among the masses. Now this is a vicious cycle. When people are made fearful by psychics they begin to imagine more catastrophic horrors and these thoughts radiate out again to susceptible psychics who repeat the whole procedure over again. The momentum eventually grows until it manifests physically.

However, let us not digress too far and return to our subject: Parapsychology has established various avenues of research for determining the reality of the soul and the survival of personal consciousness. Although the results of their research are inconclusive by the standards of mainstream science, parapsychologists have been successful in acquiring evidence and vital knowledge that when analyzed seemingly validates the age-old belief in the existence of the soul and its survival of bodily death. Nevertheless, parapsychologists have formulated various theories as to their findings, not all of which aligns with the traditional view of the soul. It is also important to note that the term “soul” is rarely used in mainstream science or parapsychology. The terms “mind,” “consciousness,” and “personality” are often used instead.

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