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quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
Why would a soul choose to leave Heaven and come to Earth? Not only is Earth, no doubt, a rather sordid place compared to Paradise, they can also screw up and get sent to hell for eternity. Eek

Confused


IMHO heaven, hell, and earth are the same place. What, after all, is paradise? What knowledge do we have of it? In fact, when we try to imagine it don't we just extrapolate from our earthly experiences? I mean we imagine seeing loved ones, maybe we'll relive our best memories, love, happiness, etc. Ditto for hell.
I don't believe in eternal souls, I believe that souls are impermanent essences. My view of the soul is similar to that of a Buddhist, or Aristotle's view on the soul:

http://www.answers.com/topic/soul

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.

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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.
quote:
Originally posted by Empty Purnata:

I like this Tantric Buddhist explanation of "souls", "spirits" and afterlives:


Yes - it makes perfect sense in Buddhism - the souls come back to continue on their path to enlightenment. I've just never heard an explanation on it from the Christian tradition where the disincentive seem so overwhelming to NOT come back to Earth.
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:

MBM,
Do you have a referent for this teaching within the Christian tradition about souls coming from heaven. I must confess that I have never heard of it.


I'm asking the question - not making a statement. Your insight is what I'm looking for here.

Where do souls come from? They go to Heaven but are conjured from . . .? God is in Heaven. Wouldn't it seem reasonable to think that He creates new souls there?

In thinking about it, I guess the question in and of itself is probably contrary to Christianity - since reincarnation is probably not embraced in the Christian tradition (is it?).

Your thoughts?

P.S. The concept of souls coming down to Earth is not unique and new in Western culture. In fact, IMO, it is fairly common. I'm just trying to understand what Christianity says about that and if the souls themselves have any say in it.
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by Empty Purnata:

I like this Tantric Buddhist explanation of "souls", "spirits" and afterlives:


Yes - it makes perfect sense in Buddhism - the souls come back to continue on their path to enlightenment. I've just never heard an explanation on it from the Christian tradition where the disincentive seem so overwhelming to NOT come back to Earth.


Hmmm...that's probably due to Augustinian influence in Christian thought. Modern Christianity took Augustine's philosophy that the material world is something of a "curse", and that physical bodies are crass and disgusting. Many Christian basically view the body as little more than a prison for an idealized fluffy, wraith-like soul.


That's why I find Tantric Buddhist philosophy on the soul so refreshing. It goes beyond this Cartesian Dualism of "body" and "soul", and it describes the body and soul in more realistic terms (it doesn't make the body a "hylic prison" and it doesn't make the soul an "unchanging wraith-like super being").


Did you know there is also a long tradition of Christian reincarnation? It's true! Many members of the Church of Syria believe in reincarnation. So do many other Christians:

http://reluctant-messenger.com/origen1.html

http://members.tripod.com/cryskernan/christian_reincarnation.htm

http://www.healpastlives.com/aboutus/links/caserein.htm
Quote:
Why would a soul choose to leave Heaven and come to Earth? Not only is Earth, no doubt, a rather sordid place compared to Paradise, they can also screw up and get sent to hell for eternity.
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First MBM, the soul cannot choose to do anything whether it want to or no. This is so because the human soul is the infinite State, and the infinite State is our entire universe. Since this is now admitted as true by the learned, how can a soul choose? Moreover, there is no individual soul, there is only the infinite State, it being relative, the finite State is what is unique.

You are assuming there is such a thing or place as heaven or paradise, I deny that such a place exists.

In my thread, the Metaphysics of Shango and the Philosophy of Olodumare I have shown, by clear and certain examples, that eternal existence and eternal non-existence is the metaphysics that forms the universe! This law cannot be broken at all.

What this means in terms of the soul is that it is alive forever, it being the infinite State, while the body, it being in the finite State, naturally perishes.

And, will never be bought back to life.

The human body is a perfection but it is illusory since it does not last forever!

There are only these two States to the universe, a finite State and an infinite State. The finite State is the infinite State whereas the finite is illusory and the infinite is real, consequently, man is two States in one! The two States are one being whom I've called Shango!

Again, you can have no proof that hell exists or that paradise exists!


What proof do you have that such places exists but to rely on the bible and I have often said there is nothing mystic or truthfaul about that bible. Everything in it is false. For it makes the claim that God created the universe.

How could God created the universe when he ain't got no mystic power!

Shango has the mystical power because Olodumare is the first cause!

Again, this universe was made by Shango not by God.

So souls cannot choose! They cannot think, only the infinite State can think, and I have shown that the infinite State is the human mind.
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by umbrarchist:

Because it is the only way to have any chance of escaping the second death. cool


Oh boy! What is this and where does it come from? Eek


LOL, that's Evangelical teaching on the nature of why the soul incarnates. They believe that souls need to be "proven loyal to God", so they come to earth in physical bodies "tainted with Original Sin", and if they fail to "believe" (follow Christianity), they go to the Second Death after death (Eternal Hell).


IMHO, a very simplistic, silly and immoral belief. td6
quote:
They believe that souls need to be "proven loyal to God", so they come to earth in physical bodies "tainted with Original Sin", and if they fail to "believe" (follow Christianity), they go to the Second Death after death (Eternal Hell).


I am not evangelical. Never was. There is no original sin. I'm a heretic.

If the purpose of living is to attain human perfection, is there anything beyond human perfection?

What are angels, archangels? Are there more levels to the game? What happens to souls that fail to attain the required level by the time the game ends?

What is the second death?

And is it accurate to say that souls in SHEOL are in heaven?

umbrarchist
The "second death" is a phrase in the Revelation of John describing spiritual death and one's choice of and consignment to hell. It's not considered a good thing.

The western Church for a long time took the Stoic/Neoplatonist idea that the flesh is "bad" and evil, but ever since the Reformation that has not been a serious concept. Now ansd then someone would revive the idea, but it never found much currency. When the Bible became cheap and readily available, the description of the world being made "good" became much more well known, and that changed the view of the body-as-bad fairly rapidly (as these thigns go).

But in the main, there is no concept of the soul returning to earth in Christianity because of the Biblical statements such as "it is appointed...once to die and after this the judgement," "this day you will be with me in paradise," "he died and lifted up his eyes in hell and saw the poor man in heaven with Abraham," (a parable,and thus to be taken loosely, but based on the common understanding) and the assumptions and teachings from both testaments that we have only one life.

In Chrisianity, souls are a creation of God and thus while everlasting, not eternal. Therefore they do not "come from heaven." As Adam was made of the stuff of the earth, so are we. We begin here, live here, and end up in a life separate from here not having returned here. There is no teaching in the Bible to the contrary, all the evidence pointing to a one-way life.

Thus, there is no disincentive to come here from heaven, since we were not in heaven to begin with. We started here. Hence my question at the first of this thread. In talking of souls coming from heaven, one probably must mean souls viewed in some other religion from Christianity, for we don't have that idea.
EP,

Evangelicals, I think, don't need to prove themselves loyal to God. You might have a more Catholic theology there. Where Catholics and Orthodox pray about "being made worthy to be heard in the presence of your divine majesty," and such, evangelicals would never choose to pray like that. The Reformation idea of "sola fides, sola gratia, sola scriptura" ("by faith alone, by grace alone, by Scripture alone") is very strong. It's not always thought through among us, logic not always being one of our strong points, but it is a stand that we take seriously, and thus we would never, ever say that we must prove ourselves to God. "Jesus did it all" would be more of our thinking.

Now, you are right about "original sin." We generally feel (literally--we don't always think about this very well) that we inherit a standing before God by virtue of our birth as humans.

However, not all of us evangelicals do so. Some of us (me, for instance) see "original sin" as inheriting a tendency instead of a standing. Without Christ I will choose sinful ways, so I need Christ in me ("Christ in you, the hope of glory," "If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation") to live the life of right, the life of God, here on this earth where I am obviously fallen, and that by choice.

So some--an increasing number, too, I believe, though I do not have the numbers to know that for sure--believe that "original sin" is a moral condition in which I will most of the time choose myself and my self-centered advantage over someone else's good. Once I do that, I have chosen sin and rejected God, and that is when I become one who chooses hell. Hell is chosen, by the way, it is not something that we are sent to by God willy-nilly.

Not so immoral. It takes seriously our own moral freedom and responsibility.

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