Body, Mind, or Soul?

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    Oct 22, 2008 6:21 PM GMT
    I’ve often got into a conversation with people trying to get different perspective on exactly who we are. I’ve talked to people who believe that we are nothing more than our bodies and that when we die, our body’s nutrients will return to earth. I disagree with this. We are no more our bodies, than we are our toes, or at least, in my opinion. Where this argument gets really interesting is when people say that we are our souls. People start to explain the soul but what they’re really explaining is our personalities. Which I believe come from our minds. I think that we are who we are because of the things we’ve gone through, and haven’t gone through in our lives. We are what our memories make us. I’ve known someone who developed a mental illness, and after each of his episodes he completely changed. His favorite color changed, he really didn’t like to play sports anymore, his opinions and views changes, his morals changed, and just so many other little, and big, things changed that he’s simply not the same person anymore. Even his basic personality traits were altered. So then I pop the question, though he’s a completely different person now, does he have the same soul, and how can two personalities share the same soul?

    But then some religious people say that I don’t know that if a different soul was born in my place, with the same body, same environment and life experiences, and same everything that they would be a different person, or the same person. They say that who we are, is how our souls perceive our life experiences. At first I thought it was bull, but then I thought about how two people can see the same thing but be affected in different ways. But our perceptions change as we get older. So I don’t know, I just wanted to hear some other ideas or views on it.
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    Oct 22, 2008 6:42 PM GMT
    I think there are many possibilities that will one day be made known.....

    Are you getting ready to join a faith? I mean you do live in the heart of Mormon Ville...
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    Oct 22, 2008 6:43 PM GMT
    Well I spent 4 years studying Psychology so these questions have always fascinated me. Although I don't use the word "soul" since I find it to vague, I do believe that the body and mind are integrated and constantly in communication with each other, impacting on each other, either in a conscious or unconscious way.

    I personally believe it is pointless to differentiate between nurture (life experiences if you will) and nature (genetics) when explaining human behaviour. They are constantly impacting on the development of each human being, especially in the early years. I also firmly believe that each person is unique and will never be exactly duplicated. Literally it is impossible, even if cloning is perfected, to get two human beings exactly the same. To do that you would have to have them go through exactly the same experiences in exactly the same sequence, including who they interacted with.

    Furthermore, all though I think I know myself pretty well in terms of WHO I am (personality traits, abilities, etc.), and WHY I am that way, I also know that future life experiences could very well show me a side that I did not know I had. Let us say that I see a couple of teenagers beating up a gay man. I would like to think that I would intercede. But maybe I wouldn't. Maybe I would try and find help thinking that was the wise thing to do, but then realize later it was because I was afraid of physical injury (I am honest with myself if nothing else). That realization that I had acted cowardly would give further insight into who I am.

    Well I could type for hours about this topic, but I think I will stop now, I am sure you are getting the drift.
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    Oct 22, 2008 7:14 PM GMT
    SurrealLife -

    Lol I agree that each person is unique. If we ever got to the point where we could clone humans, it would only be a physical replica and nothing more. Even if the impossible were possible and we could put that clone through the exact life experiences of the person he was cloned after, you could argue that because he had a different soul, I use the word soul for lack of a better term, the way he perceived those experiences would be completely different, thus they would affect him in different ways, making him a different person. Those are the kind of questions that have no answer, and that’s why I find them the most interesting.

    I also agree that the mind and body are two completely different things that communicate with each other constantly. For instance I think it’s interesting that the body has power over the mind. Of course the mind is usually in control, like when people decide to cut themselves. It’s harmful to the body but the mind is more powerful. But on the other side the body’s basic instincts sometimes completely drown out rational thought.

    I know what you mean by gaining insight into who you are. I’m kind of young so I’m going through the whole understanding who I am, and why I am the way that I am thing right now. I look at how I understood myself even a year ago in comparison to how I understand myself now and it surprises me to see how much I’ve found. And I’m sure that over the years I’ll never stop learning about myself, just like everyone else.

    Azstreaker –

    Yeah dude I’m directly in the middle of Mormon Ville, but I’ll never in my life be apart of any organized religion.
  • dpjr

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    Oct 22, 2008 7:14 PM GMT
    Whoa...very serious questions and since these issues have been debated for thousands of years, there is no definitive answer for them.

    Is "soul" the word which describes what it is that makes our bodies alive and which leaves when we die? I think so. In fact, I think the brain is the connection between the body and the soul. If changes occur in the brain, its connection with the soul changes. In short, the limitations or abilities of the physical to connect with the "soul" or life force brings changes in the personality. That's also why medications which improve brain function improves a person's connection to his soul and he can be happier. That describes my own experience.

    Does the "soul" live on after our bodies die? I believe so. I did not believe in ghosts until a few years ago even though I did believe in an after life. Some recent experiences of mine and of some friends leads me to think that these life forces do exist beyond the life of the physical and, for some reason, some are still amoungst us, perhaps to give us support.

    Finally, we are limited in our abilities to know and understand all. That should not discourage us from asking but it should keep us from becoming frustrated when we cannot determine the answer.

    Good topic post!
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    Oct 22, 2008 7:19 PM GMT
    Tyler SF –

    You’re definition on the soul was a little vague, could you explain a little more?
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    Oct 22, 2008 7:20 PM GMT
    Marc_Four saidI’ve talked to people who believe that we are nothing more than our bodies and that when we die, our body’s nutrients will return to earth. I disagree with this.


    These people would be called "monists" and you would be considered a "dualist," in that you see a distinction between matter and mind. We're possibly predisposed to dualism due to natural selection, as there are times when thinking this way (assigning meaning and purpose to the meaningless and purposeless) helps us more quickly solve problems and, as a result, survive. But there is no such thing as the soul; it's just a helpful conceit used by our brains to define the nature of that floaty voice that seems only loosely tied to our body.

    I know people who have endured serious mental illnesses as well. They also showed dramatic personality changes. It has nothing to do with their "soul" - far more likely due to changes in their brain chemistry, operation of synapses, etc.
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    Oct 22, 2008 7:47 PM GMT
    Hobronto –

    Yeah I actually love talking to monists, I’m a very rational thinker and their opinions make much more sense. And I agree with what you said, that assigning meaning and purpose to something that has neither does help us survive. That’s actually one way that I think religion may have started. We are animals, and as such we have our three basic instincts, the strongest of which is to survive. But as human beings we have the knowledge that no matter what we do, one day we will die, something that humanity shares with no other creature. But as animals, our instincts battle against the idea. But how can something survive death? By creating life after death. And the soul is the catalyst to that. And yes I know it had nothing to do with a soul when the guy I know changed so much, most likely the dude I grew up with is dead, and in the worst way possible, where even if there was an afterlife there is no certainty if he would be the person I knew or the person he is today. But the fact is that I don’t know, I honestly do think that you’re right, some days, but on others days I see things and think you’re wrong.

    So do you believe in evolution?

    What would you think would happen if all the animals on the planet understood that one day they would die?

    And do you hope that there is something after life? I know you don’t think there is, but would you want there to be one?
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    Oct 22, 2008 7:50 PM GMT
    TylerSF said
    Marc_Four saidTyler SF –

    You’re definition on the soul was a little vague, could you explain a little more?


    Well, the soul is made up of everything else ! your body, health, spirit ... etc Without a good/kind soul ! then basically you're kind of Evil ! The Soul is a mirror - your own reflection in the mirror ! it allows you to smile, laugh at yourself over everything you've done in the past, present and maybe future! Your soul is pretty much your spirit, the definition of who you are!
    I, as most Buddhists believe, all humans are born good ! thus they all have good souls ! icon_biggrin.gif


    Not being a religious person I don't believe there is an actual entity called a soul. However, I do believe that we leave an impact on this earth for both good and bad. The more conscious we live in terms of how we impact others (including how we impact the physical environment) the less likely we will leave a destructive legacy behind.

    I have always been puzzled by people's belief that by saying we are sorry, or by confessing our "sins" that somehow the impact of our actions disappears. A father who molests his child can tearfully say he is sorry for his past transgressions and ask for forgiveness, and the child can forgive him, but the child's behaviour will be impacted by the molestation for the rest of his or her life. The conscious cerebral cortex might forgive, but the limbic system (which is more primitive) does not. If you have ever intereacted with people who have been badly scarred by early life experiences you will appreciate what I mean.

    To wrap up I don't believe in an afterlife, I really don't think it is important one way or another, but I don't want to be at the end of my life and suddenly realize all the damage I left behind. That would be a terrible legacy.
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    Oct 22, 2008 8:12 PM GMT
    Marc_Four saidSo do you believe in evolution?

    What would you think would happen if all the animals on the planet understood that one day they would die?

    And do you hope that there is something after life? I know you don’t think there is, but would you want there to be one?

    Well, "belief" isn't really what I'd call it. I believe in evolution the same way that I believe in...I dunno...electrons. When you have evidence, belief isn't necessary. icon_smile.gif

    Do I hope that there's some sort of afterlife? No. We've constructed this weird notion of Heaven, which is a paradise - infinite bliss, infinite peace, streets paved with gold - that lacks free will and risk. But bliss, peace, and wealth only retain meaning in the presence of their opposites. Streets paved in gold isn't an indication that everyone is wealthy in Heaven - it just indicates that gold is worth no more than asphalt. Etc, etc. It's just illogical and ridiculous.

    Look, I'm bad enough at living for the future instead of enjoying the present. Mixing in the promise of an afterlife would do nothing to make my life more meaningful or help me accomplish more. Our time here is often too short, but rather than hoping for a deity to extend it for us, we should focus on enjoying what we have to the fullest.

    And that's why I'm going to go eat some chocolate.
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    Oct 22, 2008 8:29 PM GMT
    samerphxaz saidMy aunt husband (uncle) is into spiritual and believe that the body will turn into dirt... He believe the Cycle of Human Creation... He believe there are 7 levels in heaven.

    CHC_Reincarnation.jpg

    I will be using this image as wallpaper on my desktop, as it is indescribably awesome.
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    Oct 22, 2008 8:35 PM GMT
    Wow...this is a very theological and philisophical topic that has always challenged my ability to transcribe my opinions/beliefs into words.

    I will say that I believe that we all posess the three most important tools of life: body, mind and soul. I also believe that all people are meant to find their own personal meaning and definitions of each and the connection between the three which is our sole-purpose of existance.

    I am intrigued by the variations of beliefs that man-kind has created thoughout time and the importance of that historically. According to chaos theory your seemingly innocent inquiry has potential of stirring the waves of war.

    If you are interested in an extremist variation of atheism do a search for information on Raelism. That should stir some contraversy.
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    Oct 22, 2008 9:20 PM GMT
    luc21_83 saidIf you are interested in an extremist variation of atheism do a search for information on Raelism. That should stir some contraversy.

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raëlism[/url]

    Nontheism != atheism.
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    Oct 22, 2008 9:32 PM GMT
    The human tragedy is that we have evolved a physical brain that has some concept of the Infinite, but without the ability to join with it.

    All my intellect is contained in the electro-chemical processes within my brain, and when they cease, so will I.

    My only consolation is that when this happens, I will have no ability to regret that it has happened. There is no retrospective on one's own death; when you die nothing follows, no second thoughts, no looking back, but at least no pain or sorrow. You just end.
  • Delivis

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    Oct 22, 2008 10:05 PM GMT
    If by soul you mean something supernatural, then as with all other unfalsifiable hypothesis, i consider it to be a useless concept. You can explain everything you want in terms of souls, monads, the magic psychic energy, chi, and thousands of different mutually exclusive metaphysical concepts which are on equal footing in terms of their evidence, that being zero.

    Now i dont think you neccesarily mean something supernatural or metaphysical and even but you do seem to be asking if there is something else besides genes and brain function and personality and whatnot that is consistant between the various sorts of states you described like having a mental illness which effects your personality. In other words you seem to be asking if there is a static 'essence' of a person, a fingerprint that makes them them even when other things about them change.

    And i think the answer is no. We are the sum of our parts. Our genes, our bodies, the envirmental factors which helped shape our bodies, our brains, the environmental factors which shaped our brains, our thoughts, our memories, our experiences, our values, our behavoirs, etc. I somewhat understand the impetus to want there to be something unchangable amongst all of that but i can not really relate to it. I do not see how having some sort of metaphysical soul or non metaphysical permanent part to define us by as individuals is any more comforting or better in some way than being a sum of changable components.
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    Oct 22, 2008 10:17 PM GMT
    Delivis: Are you agnostic?

    What are you thoughts on unexplainable phenomena such as recollection of astral projection during near death experience?
  • Barricade

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    Oct 22, 2008 10:29 PM GMT
    You only have one soul. Regardless of what happens to you in your life it's still the same soul you always had. Your soul is the breath of life. It is your life. When you die the soul ceases to be in your body. This is a rather hard question to answer, it totally depends on whether you are looking at it from an intellectual point of view or from a religious one. It is up to you to define what it is for you.

    Funny sidebar. At one point in history, blacks were thought to have no souls.
  • Delivis

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    Oct 22, 2008 10:33 PM GMT
    luc21_83 saidDelivis: Are you agnostic?

    What are you thoughts on unexplainable phenomena such as recollection of astral projection during near death experience?


    That is not unexplainable, in fact it is explained quite well. But i'll have to write about that later as i am on my way out.
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    Oct 22, 2008 10:51 PM GMT

    my gosh....this question.....no body and I'm not looking at you, no mind and you aren't typing on your keyboard, no spirit and you didn't have the will to get out of bed this morning.
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    Oct 22, 2008 11:33 PM GMT
    luc21_83 saidDelivis: Are you agnostic?

    What are you thoughts on unexplainable phenomena such as recollection of astral projection during near death experience?


    I think you put it well when you said near death, not death. There are experiences of people saying they saw a white light (s), and this was after their heart had stop, and then they "came back to life". Well life does not end until your brain activity ends as well as your heart.
  • GQjock

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    Oct 23, 2008 12:49 AM GMT
    I kind of view each one of them as a realm onto themselves that overlap
    in the middle
    Where you can propagate each one separately but it's best when you work from that center where you get each of them at the sametime

    Taking care of yourself and realizing how important it is to stay clear and healthy is very spiritual
    It links you to the physical world
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    Oct 23, 2008 6:40 AM GMT
    Hobronto –

    I don’t know much about evolution, so I can’t argue for, or against it. But I’ve got to point out that yes, your idea of what other’s think heaven is, is ridiculous. I think the heaven that you described would only be hoped for by materialistic idiots. That’s not even close to what I would hope for, though I can only speak for myself, I would put money on that there are not many people out there who hope for something like that, at least not intelligent people.

    I agree with you that life can be way to short, and if there is no life after death then it makes the one we have now so much more important. I also think people that completely base their life on the idea of there being an afterlife are making mistakes. But I’ll never understand people like you that don’t even hope for a life after.
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    Oct 23, 2008 7:00 AM GMT
    I have not read all the discussion just general ideas and I just thought that, though I cannot add much to the conversation, I will add my two cents on a couple things. (please excuse my spelling)

    First, I believe that being human in its entirity is based on keeping balance between the three essences of our being.
    In the matter of mind, being mentally awake is of utmost importance to our survival as a person. Not being able to discern what is a smart or wise situation to be in leads to one's demise in a physical, spiritual, or emotional way. In this way all three are linked in my opinion.
    Someone who is not sound of soul has a difficult time keeping their life in order, eventually serious side effects an occur. I believe some people honestly lose their minds (literally) because of the lack of spiritual maintenance. Finding that peace and center is crutial to our mind's existence.
    And our bodies? They are the case for the other two parts. Through it we exercise our soul and minds to a degree never quite fully understood to those who do not use this outlet. People talk about exercise being their therapy, I believe this to be quite literal. Without our bodies, the mind cannot sustain itself, and the soul has no place to call home. We eventually shed our bodies, but what happens then is not completely known.

    That leads me to my next thought on the afterlife. I believe that after we die we go through a sort of transformation of soul and mind that cannot be explained, just ideas in my head to be honest icon_razz.gif Basically our intelligence and our soul's essence become infused to a perfect being that continues on in some other world without the trifles of mortal life.

    I believe Marc that your friend has the same soul, but it is transitory. Souls to me are maleable substance that change as we ourselves change through various experiences in our lives. I would say that even a soul that starts in a child is the same soul even after the years of change and development that they go through. Though I use this term, I do not mean to be callous mind you, your friend is changing and in a sense growing, though the growth may be uncontrolled or sharp and frightening.
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    Oct 23, 2008 7:54 AM GMT
    Marc, your friend has the same soul...always had the same since the begining..and always will..until reunion with the "source"...his "transition" is very frightening because he(and soul, conciousness) have dealt with the same issues in other lives, dimensions etc...wich have not been resolved..so the problems/trials/tribulations/tests that he faces are still plaguing him, and will continue to do so until he has "dealt" with them....his "past" and "present" have interlapped, wich may cause great distress to his physical body...but i am sure he is strong and he will prevail eventually(as we all do) in his test....just be there for him and if not anything else, please listen to him and keep an open mind...help him guide himself....his soul is longing for answers to his own truth...he is a student, just like all of us....in a perpetual state of confusion...amnesia....and as somone has said in the past.."when the student is ready...the teacher will come"icon_smile.gif
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    Oct 23, 2008 7:59 AM GMT
    luc21_83 saidDelivis: Are you agnostic?

    What are you thoughts on unexplainable phenomena such as recollection of astral projection during near death experience?


    I read somewhere something about how the brain emits chemicals that give you those illusions to help cope with the fact that the body is dying... I think that was from my psychology textbooks.