quote:In Eastern religions, which do not stress individual salvation, the emphasis is placed on transcendent principles embodied in a multiplicity of gods (see world soul). The Hindu and Buddhist doctrines of reincarnation do not posit the existence of an individual soul, but rather stress the closeness of the human person, in successive transformations, to an overriding principle of virtue, piety, and peace.
Aristotle, following Plato, defined the soul as the core essence of a being, but argued against it having a separate existence. For instance, if a knife had a soul, the act of cutting would be that soul, because 'cutting' is the essence of what it is to be a knife. Unlike Plato and the religious traditions, Aristotle did not consider the soul as some kind of separate, ghostly occupant of the body (just as we cannot separate the activity of cutting from the knife). As the soul, in Aristotle's view, is an activity of the body it cannot be immortal (when a knife is destroyed, the cutting stops). More precisely, the soul is the "first activity" of a living body. This is a state, or a potential for actual, or 'second', activity. "The axe has an edge for cutting" was, for Aristotle, analogous to "humans have bodies for rational activity," and the potential for rational activity thus constituted the essence of a human soul.Aristotle used his concept of the soul in many of his works; the Nicomachean Ethics provides a good place to start to gain more understanding of his views.
Jesus did not teach that souls are immortal, seperate, wraithly persons either:
quote:The idea of heaven (as viewed from a traditional Christian point of view) stands far removed from what Christ taught. He viewed heaven, not as a place where all righteous mankind (within a spiritual context) would reside, but as the capital city of God's kingdom. An Old Testament quotation (which adds nothing directly to the discussion of souls) states: "The heavens are my throne, and the earth is my footstool." (Isaiah 66:1)
Jesus taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is not "here or there", but that is "within you". I believe that Jesus' "Kingdome of Heaven" may have been a metaphor stressing something along the lines of Nirvana/Moksha/Dao/En Sof.
I believe that at birth, people receive energy recycled from past beings in an psycho-spiritual/physical continuum. People develop their raw essences throughout life into a soul, and once they die, their souls diminish and dissolve back into the psycho-spiritual continuum, and eventually their essence splits and goes into different newborn beings.
A person's soul, mind and spirit reincarnate/rebirth, similar to a recycling process of a knife. The "soul" of the knife can be conceived of as the essence of the knife's existence. The "spirit" of the knife can be conceived of as the possibility of the essence of the knife's existence. The "mind" of the knife can be conceived of as the shape of the knife for its purpose, and the "body" of the knife can be conceived of as the knife's blade to carry out the purpose of its essence and shape. The knife's "soul" is its cutting, its purpose in existence is to cut. The knife's spirit or the potential of essence is the metal is made out of to constitute an essence or purpose. When the knife eventually breaks ("dies") its soul, spirit and mind die along with its body.
In a way, its life does not continue. The knife, like all things, is impermanent and its personal existence will never be restored quite like it was before it ever broke in the first place, even if it is melded back together it will never be exactly the same. In a way, its life does continue. The shape and the blade are gone, but the need for cutting remains, and the metal that it is made of remiains in a fractured form. Eventually the metal will be melted down and then later reformed into another type of knife. The knife's personal life is over, but all its parts have gone on to make another, different type of knife. In that aspect, its spirit, soul, mind and body DO live on.
The best way I can explain my view of the soul and body is a metaphor. The universe is a river stream of essence and consciousness, every now and then, a bubble forms in this stream (form). The bubble holds for a while, then eventually bursts. The remnants of the bubble turn back into water, and eventually form new bubbles. I guess this steam could be viewed as a Universal Soul, or "Collective Unconscious" as Carl Jung called it.
Of course, I believe there could be heavens and hells, other realms beside our physical realm, or higher and lower states of existence. Maybe people can be reborn into them depending on what kind of existence they led (acquiring too much negative energy can result in a negative state after death). Of course, like our world, I believe life in heavens and hells are temporary.