|06-28-2012, 10:44 PM||#1|
Joined: Dec 2009
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
A Question about Ch 60. of "Some Answered Questions"
I was looking at this chapter recently and became a bit puzzled about the logical proof that is explained towards the end of it. Here is the quote:
"The logical proof of the immortality of the spirit is this, that no sign can come from a nonexisting thing—that is to say, it is impossible that from absolute nonexistence signs should appear—for the signs are the consequence of an existence, and the consequence depends upon the existence of the principle. So from a nonexisting sun no light can radiate; from a nonexisting sea no waves appear; from a nonexisting cloud no rain falls; a nonexisting tree yields no fruit; a nonexisting man neither manifests nor produces anything. Therefore, as long as signs of existence appear, they are a proof that the possessor of the sign is existent.
Consider that today the Kingdom of Christ exists. From a nonexisting king how could such a great kingdom be manifested? How, from a nonexisting sea, can the waves mount so high? From a nonexisting garden, how can such fragrant breezes be wafted? Reflect that no effect, no trace, no influence remains of any being after its members are dispersed and its elements are decomposed, whether it be a mineral, a vegetable or an animal. There is only the human reality and the spirit of man which, after the disintegration of the members, dispersing of the particles, and the destruction of the composition, persists and continues to act and to have power.
This question is extremely subtle: consider it attentively. This is a rational proof which we are giving, so that the wise may weigh it in the balance of reason and justice. But if the human spirit will rejoice and be attracted to the Kingdom of God, if the inner sight becomes opened, and the spiritual hearing strengthened, and the spiritual feelings predominant, he will see the immortality of the spirit as clearly as he sees the sun, and the glad tidings and signs of God will encompass him."
-Abdu'l-Baha , Some Answered Questions p. 225-226
A similar proof is explained in Abdu'l-Baha in Canada p. 7:
"Consider another proof: Every cause is followed by an effect and vise versa; there could be no effect without a cause preceding it. Sight is an effect; there is no doubt that behind that effect there is a cause. When we hear a discourse, there is a speaker. Motion without a mover or cause of motion is inconceivable. Jesus Christ lived two thousand years ago. Today we behold His manifest signs; His light is shining; His sovereignty is established; His traces are apparent; His bounties are effulgent. Can we say that Christ did not exist? We can absolutely conclude that Christ existed and that from Him these traces proceeded.
Clearly as a Baha'i and someone who believes in both the soul and the immortality of the soul, it makes perfect sense that the influence of the Manifestation of God in this realm after His physical death is a very clear proof that the soul lives on after physical death. However, what puzzled me was how this proof demonstrates the immortality of the soul to those who do not hold these beliefs. For instance, someone could argue that this influence is from a memory and traditions passed down through generations or the influence of the Writings He left behind (I think a lot of us may have had these conversations before!). Of course, Abdu'l-Baha points out that "This question is extremely subtle: consider it attentively" . So, maybe there is more to this than meets the eye. Any thoughts would be great!
Also, another interesting argument that is from the same section as quoted above from Abdu'l-Baha in Canada is:
"Third, the human body has one form. In its composition it has been transferred from one form to another but never possesses two forms at the same time. For example, it has existed in the element substances of the mineral kingdom. From the minter kingdom it has traversed the vegetable kingdom and its constituent substances; from the vegetable kingdom it has risen by evolution into the kingdom of the animal and from thence attained the kingdom of man. After its disintegration and decomposition it will return again to the mineral kingdom, leaving its human form and taking a new form unto itself. During these progressions one from succeeds another, but at no time does the body possess more than one.
The spirit of man, however, can manifest itself in all forms at the same time. For example, we can say that a material body is either square or spherical, triangular or hexagonal. While it is triangular, it cannot be square; and while it is square, it is not triangular. Similarly, it cannot be spherical and hexagonal at the same time. These various forms or shapes cannot be manifest at the same instant in one material object. Therefore, the form of the physical body of man must be destroyed and abandoned before it can assume or take unto itself another. Mortality, therefore, means the transference from one form to another - that is, transference from the human kingdom to the kingdom of the mineral. When the physical man is dead, he will return to dust; and this transference is equivalent to nonexistence. But the human spirit in itself contains all these forms, shapes and figures. It is not possible to break or destroy one form so that it may transfer itself into another. As an evidence of this, at the present moment in the human spirit you have the shape of a square and the figure of a triangle. Simultaneously also you can conceive a hexagonal form. All these can be conceived at the same moment in the human spirit, and not one of them needs to be destroyed or broken in order that the spirit of man may be transferred to another. There is no annihilation, no destruction; therefore, the human spirit is immortal before it is not transferred from one body into another body."
Any thoughts on this one would be interesting to hear as well!
Last edited by Greg Newing; 06-28-2012 at 10:56 PM.
|06-29-2012, 02:36 AM||#2|
Joined: Mar 2011
From: san diego
Regarding the first proof of the immortality of human soul, the proof speaks for itself. It's as clear as it can possibly get as you yourself have pointed out. I will however say that speaking of such proofs to a disbeliever in most cases will fall on deaf ears as you have experienced, much like most of us. In my experience speaking of all that points out to the existence of God, namely pointing out to the immortality of our soul to disbelievers in God is for the most part pointless. How can one expect one who denies the existence of God Himself who is the source of our immortal soul to believe in an immortal soul in the first place! How can one expect an eye that denies the existence of ocean to perceive it's waves! How can an eye that denies the existence of the sun in any wise perceive it's rays!
The second quote speaks of the process of evolution through which all forms of life have come into being. In it's second part Abdu'l-Baha points out the freedom of man's soul from the limitations of this material world.
|06-29-2012, 03:08 AM||#3|
Joined: Jun 2006
Also probably relates to the Spirit...that emanates from the Spiritual world is associated with the body and "returns" to the spiritual world.
Therefore a spirit has emanated from the reality of divinity, and its effulgences have become visible in human entities or realities. This ray and this heat are permanent. There is no cessation in the effulgence
(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 261)
The temple of man is like unto a mirror, his soul is as the sun, and his mental faculties even as the rays that emanate from that source of light. The ray may cease to fall upon the mirror, but it can in no wise be dissociated from the sun.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 346)
|06-29-2012, 09:41 AM||#4|
Joined: Dec 2009
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Thank you for your replies -those are some interesting quotes Artha. It is certainly difficult to explain spiritual concepts to people who do not yet recognize the spiritual world. And of course there are some people who are completely deaf and blind to the spirit; who are just not interested in even considering spiritual reality. However, it is especially the case in secular nations that a large amount of people do not hold these beliefs, but are open to considering rational arguments which could support them. So, they are not necessarily blind to spirituality - maybe they just haven't opened their eyes yet...
So it is because Abdu'l-Baha mentioned, "This is a rational proof which we are giving, so that the wise may weigh it in the balance of reason and justice." that I started this thread. After mentioning that it's a rational proof, He goes on to say, "But if the human spirit will rejoice and be attracted to the Kingdom of God, if the inner sight becomes opened, and the spiritual hearing strengthened, and the spiritual feelings predominant, he will see the immortality of the spirit as clearly as he sees the sun, and the glad tidings and signs of God will encompass him.". So, of course, with spiritual perception, the immortality of the soul is self evident. However, since the above argument is a rational proof, I feel there might be a way to explain it in a way which would help people recognize the spiritual truth behind it. As He says, "This question is extremely subtle: consider it attentively.". Which is what got me thinking about it a bit more.
|06-29-2012, 10:58 AM||#5|
Joined: Aug 2010
From: Leiden, the Netherlands
As for the Some Answered Questions proof, there's a clue to what sort of "traces" he means in this: "From a nonexisting garden, how can such fragrant breezes be wafted?"
I think he is saying that if we study attentively, we see that Christ is still an active agent in the life of men and women. Naturally there are also words in the bible and traditions in the church, but if we look attentively we see -- according to this argument -- that there is a living active agent at work in the lives of his followers:
|06-29-2012, 06:03 PM||#6|
Joined: Jun 2009
I think Sen's comment last comment is very valid. - the unbiased observer may be the key. I know a number of atheists who's belief that there is no God is very strong and they are only able to accept the arguments for their belief. Sometimes it becomes a very entrenched belief.