Talk on Immortality of the Spirit

Aug 2014
1,399
Blue Planet
Thank you everyone for the very good links and quotes. I like to mention some points here.

1- thank you Camachoe for reminding me the difference between spirit and soul it is very useful to remember it. I looked at the part of the scripture I first referred to; in it, Abdul Baha talks about the "soul" and not the spirit.

we may be able to give "spirit" another name, and that is "energy". so, energy is not created and won't die. It only goes from one form to another; just like our definition of the spirit.

2- Walrus, I too have read that Animals do not go to heaven or hell after they die. So, the dreams are the signs of the existence of a spirit, not a soul (maybe).
and again, I guess by Plant, Animal, and human soul, Aristotle in fact has meant "spirit", Plants do not have a "soul" even if Aristotle say they do.

This is an interesting discussion in my view. I would be glad to read more from you :)
 
Jun 2014
1,102
Wisconsin
Walrus, I too have read that Animals do not go to heaven or hell after they die. So, the dreams are the signs of the existence of a spirit, not a soul (maybe).
I had a similar thought, but it seems this is not the case. 'Abdu'l-Baha's full quote on the subject (I'll repeat it below) specifically states that the state of dreaming is a proof that there is something about the dreamer that will survive after the body has been destroyed.

"In the world of dreams the body becomes absolutely passive, but the spirit still functions actively, possessed of all susceptibilities. This leads to the conclusion that the life of the spirit is neither conditional nor dependent upon the life of the body. At most it can be said that the body is a mere garment utilized by the spirit. If that garment be destroyed, the wearer is not affected but is, in fact, protected."

So while the word used here by the translator is "spirit", it would seem 'Abdu'l-Baha is talking about the "soul" here, at least in the definition of spirit/soul that we are using in this thread. :p

I'm still trying to figure in how this fits in with the quote where 'Abdu'l-Baha says that a dog (which science tells us is a dreaming being) does not have "the immortal soul of a man".

Perhaps a dog possesses a soul that is not immortal (in that it will not exist forever) but a soul that will survive past the death of the dog's body?? That's one current thought I had, and it would make both quotes valid, but the solution seems kind of silly to me. :p So back to thinking.

and again, I guess by Plant, Animal, and human soul, Aristotle in fact has meant "spirit", Plants do not have a "soul" even if Aristotle say they do.

This is an interesting discussion in my view. I would be glad to read more from you :)
I agree. Using the definitions we've established in this thread, what Aristotle calls a "soul" we'd more likely call a "spirit", except perhaps Aristotle's "human soul", which is more in line with what we'd call "soul".

It is just important to remember Aristotle's system when analyzing Baha'i writings, because 'Abdu'l-Baha speaks in those precisely those terms. Whenever 'Abdu'l-Baha is talking about "soul" or "spirit", and mentions "human", "animal", and "plant" in that discourse, it is safe to assume that the "human" portion is the "true soul" as we Baha'is understand it, whereas when he is talking about the "animal" or "plant" portion, he is speaking of things more akin to "spirit", or perhaps maybe even more generally as simply "properties of living creatures".
 
Aug 2014
1,399
Blue Planet
Perhaps a dog possesses a soul that is not immortal (in that it will not exist forever) but a soul that will survive past the death of the dog's body?? That's one current thought I had, and it would make both quotes valid, but the solution seems kind of silly to me. :p So back to thinking.
I spoke about this topic with my spiritual teacher who is a very learned man. He gave me a very good answer, which I am going to try to explain here. I may not be able to explain it as clearly as he did. But I will try anyway:

1-the Light of God shines on ALL creatures, and each creature reflects it to its own degree. In the mineral realm, it is reflected the least and in the human realm (that of Manifestation) it is reflected the most.

2- The soul is the instrument in each creature (not actually IN, tho) that reflects the light; just like a mirror. and this is that which will remain even after the creature is destroyed.

3-There is this mirror like instrument in all creatures because all creatures reflect the Light of God in their own degree. that is why in mysticism it is said that the whole universe carries the Attributes of God.

4- The highest and most advanced form of it is in humans, as I mentioned. why? because the human being has "awareness" and "consciousness".

5-After any created being is destroyed, the mirror like faculty is freed. there is no awareness in it, thus even its existence is equal to destruction. it Just (symbolically) "turns into dust" because it is not conscious of itself.

6-In human being tho, it is aware of its existence and aware of every other thing. It continues to be aware even after the destruction of the body. This same awareness is what makes it the object of the "judgment, punishment, reward".

7- All created things dream their own dreams; in their own degree. even a stone dreams. Look at the writings in scripture where for example it is said that "The very earth hates the infidels that walk on it". There is also the prophesy of the next stage in each lower stage. so there is the prophesy of the plant realm in mineral realm. how? the mineral can "grow" in its way, when forming other minerals. there is also the prophesy of animal stage in plant stage. how? that is where for example plants show reactions towards kindness or fear. Thus, there is the prophesy of the human stage in animal realm. how? The animals' dream is most near to humans' dream. but as I mentioned before, the turning point is the "awareness" of dreaming. without awareness, the existence is equal to non-existence.

Ok, that is all. I hope I have been successful, at least to a little degree to re-explain what I learnt.
 
Apr 2017
196
Mexico
I agree with maryamr.

Dear Walrus: I think Abdul'Bahá was not presenting dreaming, the biological process, as a proof of the existence of a spirit.
He was just illustrating the fact that "self awareness" persists even when senses not working, as during sleep.... and he was using widespread beliefs that made sense for his audiences, as you have indicated in the thread on "Can Prophets be Wrong?"

In reality, the body is active (and not "absolutely passive", as per the quote) during sleep. And the brain in particular is very active. There is no moment during sleeping where you can say that the body is "turned off" and leaves the soul working on its own.

I believe that during his existence in this life, the human soul is so integrated with the body, that we can surely state the human person is ONE. The division between "soul" and "flesh", as a way to teach realities, is practical in many contexts, but not practical in others.

So, in the end, we can say that God is One, Religion is One, Mankind is One, and I am One.
 
Jun 2014
1,102
Wisconsin
Meaning, my beloved dog, that particular dog of mine, dead some years ago, will not be there wating for me after I die.
I have not yet found any new information on specifically souls, but the realization came for me that this statement, Camachoe, is technically incorrect, regardless of whether or not your dog has an immortal component to his or her existence.

I recalled the following verse:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:
For the Kingdom of God is sanctified (or free) from time and place; it is another world and another universe.
This implies that our souls are no longer bound by the constraint of space or even time past our death. This has many very interesting implications, or, at least, implications interesting to a person like myself, but limiting my interest in the subject to simply your statement here: if we will no longer be bound by the spectrum of time past death, this means that you will be united with your dog, with the entirety of your dog's physical existence after you are dead, even if nothing about that dog is immortal.

We're told we are both free from time after death and able to freely interact with the world of the living. Thus, any beloved animal, plant, rock, or even inanimate object is something we will be reunited with after death.

Of course, I cannot possibly imagine what this reunion will be like, since I am a being constrained currently by time, but the reunion will occur.

(Now me being me what I'm looking forward too is, purely out of curiosity, finding out to what extent I can interact with my living self after I am dead. :D Because that sounds like a really weird thing to try to do!!)
 
Oct 2014
1,823
Stockholm
(Now me being me what I'm looking forward too is, purely out of curiosity, finding out to what extent I can interact with my living self after I am dead. :D Because that sounds like a really weird thing to try to do!!)
That's the (walrus) spirit! :)


gnat
 
May 2013
1,786
forest falls california
Symbiotic relationships

If we view the whole of creation, the world composed of minerals, plants, animals, as parts of an entire system upon which man sits at the apex, then all of these creatures, whether microbes and bacteria within our guts, which we depend upon, or the outer creatures which maintain the ecosystem, the unity of this megasystem exists for, and is part of, the human system.

My fingernails do not have a soul, nor do the blood cells, fat cells, microbes, etc. They are physical portions of my anatomy which serve to function harmoniously to serve the existence of one soul - me... or you...

So the outer creatures, whether lions, tigers, or bears... Oh my!! are like my fingernails, blood cells, bones, etc. They are part of me, whether in my gut or arms, or external to the biological framework. They are the nails and beams of a structure which houses a soul, until that soul departs from its temple.