The Essence of Life and Man
BY Chris Wilson
This might sound a slightly pompous chapter heading, and by investigating what drives our lives and all life around us, it would be easy to get lost in a quagmire from which no escape might be found. Such a force, or forces still need a little examination, for though we might know what drives all life mechanically, and, to a degree any mental forces within, do we not claim to have an additional power within us called the soul? How often do we claim this asset distinguishes us from the rest of life around us, how often do we claim that it is unique to every single on of us, and therefore not for sale, and for no one else to own?
To begin with what do we mean by such a term as the soul, has its form always been the same, and how long has such an entity been around? Its conceptual emergence is buried in the midst of time, but when it first came into view it had a slightly different meaning to what is has now. Primitive ideology stated the soul had a dualistic entity, where we humans had a body soul during life, and then a free soul that was released upon death. Nothing really changed very much for many years except the balance of relative importance altered from time to time, but then Pythagoras came on the scene.
He is deemed to have invented the notion of both the immortal soul, as well as the notion of reincarnation, and as so it is that, from humble beginnings, and many supplementary updates over the years, we have the of the soul as we know it today. We have a problem though, for though we often call it the vital essence of man, it no form, no sensory or definable identity tags, and no visible power, so may be we should not be surprised when many doubt it’s presence to this day. However let us assume we may have a soul, and that it lies, during life, somewhere within our body or frame. Upon our death where might it go to and how might it reappear?
The precise answer to such a question is entirely dependent on which belief system we adhere to and, at times, the evolutionary stages within such a system, that we think might be deployed, but whatever we believe in, a great number of religions have promoted the idea that the soul transfers to a new location, after which reincarnation may or may not occur. If it does occur such a process may result in either human or non-human reincarnation, dependent on personal belief, but if it doesn’t occur, some believe the soul is kept in storage up until a final judgement or assessment day occurs. Outside of such systems opinions vary, ranging from complete belief to complete disbelief, and in fairness, it is only right that the views of disbelievers are given due weight and attention. For such individuals a different explanation emerges.
They believe that the soul, should it exist, is no more than a non cognitive mass or energy which, once released from the body simply returns to the melting pot of life from whence it originally came. If the soul is measured against the laws of classical physics, then mass and energy can be neither created nor destroyed , and assessed by its lack of sensory or physical dimension it is easy to see why such an opinion is formed. Despite such apparently damning assertions, belief in some form of natural essence is still very common, so what if we looked at the evidence before us, what might we see.
If we look with our physical senses it is perfectly possible that we may see nothing, but if we allow in evidence of, let us say, a more intangible nature, a clearer picture potentially begins to emerge. Let us look first at reincarnation, what evidence do we see here. At best the evidence that is promoted in support of this occurrence is at best circumstantial, and at it’s worst downright flawed. As regards my own opinion the jury, as with all such matters, is still out and I am not too sure what their judgement will be, but can all such testaments be lies or delusions, and is it possible that all such believers are fooled by a army of fakes and charlatans who see them as fools, income generators, or simple delusional? In addition can such a weight of evidence be so easily dismissed, especially, as we have seen, so much of our own foundations are open to question?
Next in the line for investigation is the world of the paranormal, does such a world show any greater clarity or form? Maybe yes, and maybe no, as some evidence is highly intangible by nature, and even if such powers are demonstrated through physical objects or life form, non-believers may well offer other explanations. To begin with though, what do we mean by the term of paranormal activity?
There are many definitions of such activity but it may be defined as any phenomenon or experience that is beyond or unexplained by theories of science, but by any standards this is an all-encompassing definition, so what if we were to look at such an area in greater detail. The theory of potential activity, in everyday terms might run as follows. Matter is deemed to be made of constantly moving energy that may or may not be detectable by the senses we are given naturally or by scientific measurement. In addition the potential for multi dimensional or parallel universe systems has now been given scientific credence, and it is logical to state that energy forms within such systems may exist in a form current unknown to us. If all such factors are put together the following possibility arises. Known or unknown energy, or energy forms, may move through unseen or undetectable universe systems, and such forms may be all around us in a form, that that may pass us by unawares, or be in a form that we cannot automatically recognise. If this is true then the definition of paranormal activities begins to make more sense.
It is a huge area and includes activities or interests such as clairvoyance, telekinesis, extra sensory perception, reincarnation, ghosts, levitation, prophesy, remote viewing precognition, and a host of other activities. This may seem an unjustifiably long list, but it is included so that we might see just wide an area of such activities we are talking about. In keeping with the rest of the book, the effect such activity has on us, and our variable response will be examined, rather than specific details or one or more such areas. However, for those who desire to seek a greater insight into such matters, a wealth of information and possible evidence in this, and previously outlined areas is readily available. Without giving any bias or credence for any or all such areas, I suggest we at least give them some credibility so that their potential effect on us all might be analysed and observed.
If we see a child apprehensively looking under his bed for monsters, or an adult nervously looking out over a moonless landscape, do we not see a classic fear of the dark or of the unknown, and have not such fears potentially been with us since the dawn of time. Some fears we can dispose of rationally, or physically, let alone by our other senses, but what of the fears that cannot be resolved by any such method, or by any other method known to man, what do we do then? Do we not attempt to assign a recognisable shape, form, or name to such fears, thereby relieving such powers as they might have had before? If this so, might not belief in the paranormal equate to belief or adherence to any one of the previously indicated systems of faith? As such, some might argue that there is very little difference between the two, in fact paranormal evidence may be, at times, slightly more verifiable. If such a statement is deemed admissible, it seems somewhat curious that so many faiths dismiss, or even attack, believers of the paranormal, when both have so many fundamentals in common.
At this point however, a scientist walks in and immediately complains of a lack of evidential proof and scientific methodology. Furthermore he may state that any evidence presented is a potential mix of delusion, second hand fraud or trickery, reinforcement of personal belief systems, or a question of sheer convenience by which the unknown might be explained away. In many ways he may have a good case, as little real evidence might be at hand, but as we shall see in the next chapter, his scientific methodology might be in question, and additionally, does he have the necessary knowledge or equipment to see what may or may not lie before him?
Even now, with our advanced scientific apparatus array or alternative field of investigation, are we not still discovering objects which have hitherto been guesswork or simply unknown? Additionally what of scientific analysis and discoveries over the years to come? For all we know our scientific knowledge may still be in its infancy, so, to draw the scientist and faith believer together, can either categorically state that there is nothing there?
In the next paragraph we will assess the benefits, and dangers, of such ideas being utilised with our everyday communities, but before we do so, we need to look at one other essence or power that some claim lies both all around, and all within, us. Such a power has many names, but in summary it may be described as probable non-cognitive powers emanating from unknown region in, or on, our planet, or from unknown bodies much further away. There are many examples where such power is said to be definable, but such examples might be standing stones, lay lines, and a host of new age spiritual awareness and healing techniques or services. Such powers are as intangible and potentially non-evidential as those that have gone before, and the arguments, both for and against such powers have been addressed before so, without any delay, I think we may move on and see how all such beliefs or practices might fit into our modern world
So far in this chapter we have established that it would be difficult for both the scientist and the faith believer to deny the potential for paranormal activity all around us so, on the assumption that it may be there, how might it best be handled? Should we grant its use with absolute freedom, or should we regulate its usage within society, and build in sensible safe guards so that that damage through accidental or deliberate misuse may be avoided? Finally should such powers be given equal credence with other accepted forms of belief or power? If we accept such a power is present, it would make sense to treat such powers in accordance with any other power source that we know of. If we were to do so, we would recognise that if it has certain strengths then it may definable characteristics, the power to cure or kill, and the potential, if it is an unknown power, to enhance our understanding of the world around us. We have a problem though, for by the very definition of the paranormal it is very hard to apply such rules as, so very often, nothing actually seems to be there. Additionally if it is beyond scientific measurement or understanding, we cannot with any real accuracy of confidence define it’s strength of power, it’s source, or, if it is tapped into, any activity or consequence that may follow.
In all areas of our life we often state that, in regards of the unknown, it is the case that better the devil you know than the in you don’t, and in doing so we often try to sidestep difficult issues, or bury them deep within our mind, but can we really do so in this particular instance? Might we not be unavoidably interacting with a force, or with forces, that cannot be ignored, and if so is it not incumbent on us to try and understand what is going on? This may or may not be possible, but even if we cannot understand such powers should we not try and live our lives in acknowledgement that such a power might be there, and in doing so try to regulate it’s power, or it’s effect, on us all? I would say we have no choice but to do so, and that if we were to embrace rather than deny such a power, under controlled conditions, then tremendous potential benefits might accrue. This might sound strange but if we look at a more familiar object then such an approach may become a little clearer.
In 1829 a very strange lump of metal, water, coal and steam, rumbled along two parallel pieces of iron in a fashion that, many at the time, deemed hard to comprehend. It was off course the steam engine, and though the principle of steam power was well-established, as well as the principles of rail transportation, it shocked many bystanders at the time, as well, of course, as the poor devil that was caught, then killed by it’s wheels. It was however there, and it was quite definitely moving, so almost immediately the questions of potential usage, measurable control, and regulation, came up for discussion, So it is that the railway age really came into being, and it is a form of transport or locomotion which has developed beyond the originators wildest dreams.
If we look at such a transportation system as a broader power system, rather than the collection of objects that is has become, then clear parallels may be drawn. A power source was sourced, recognised, and utilised, albeit in a relatively simple way. Almost immediately such a power was recognised as being potentially useful but still dangerous, therefore safeguards had to be emplaced so as to minimise death or injury to all those who came into contact with such a power. Even initially only trained personnel were allowed to operate such a transport system, and as new and variable forms of engines were produced, new interlinking systems were introduced behind them. Far more training occurred, leading, ultimately to where we are now, let alone what may lie in the future. If we can do this with such relatively simple concepts, and with physical objects that we can very often touch, see or hear, then just think of how paranormal powers might be used.
What is clear is that greater understanding of such powers is desirable, and that until this occurs such powers cannot be given free reign. Maybe, in time, we may be able to let such powers go where they will, but we simply do not have the knowledge to let this happen at present, as we cannot guarantee containment should such powers run out of control. The first thing to recognise is that we may have to regulate our access or usage, rather than trying to regulate the flow of the power itself. Such a power may have directional or non-directional strength that is beyond our regulation, so only the first option may be desirable or applicable. The second thing to asses is how it impacts on all of us i.e. does it have an external or internal impact, and how should such impacts be regulated? Such a question is, in part, unresolved through our current understanding, but even allowing for this, it would seem that certain sectors within our society should be at least shielded, if possible, from such powers, or that if access is permitted certain precautionary safe guards might be deployed.
Such powers may well have an effect on the body, certainly faith or new age healers, would have us believe so, but more commonly should we not recognise the effect that such power can have on the mind, even more so when you consider the symbiotic relationship of the two. The more detailed question of integration of both real and perceived mental illness or instability will be dealt with in greater detail in a later chapter but, at this stage, it seems wise to state that such instances do actually occur, as we understand them now. What we need to address is should those with diagnosed mental imbalances be given direct access to such areas, or might such a process exacerbate an already unbalanced mind?
The answer may seem obvious, and if paranormal powers are present in sufficient strength, then a cautious approach might well be applicable, but though this might be the right course of action we should always remember two things. If we do not fully understand such a power, and if we do not fully understand how such individuals operate within their minds, then we cannot assume with any acceptable degree of certainty that such access is automatically incorrect. What we can do though is to recognise that certain dangers may apply, so try to regulate their usage or application, and in doing so try and discover where such a power has come from, where it might be going, and the nature of the beast as it passes us by.
Finally we come to credence, and to the seemingly simple question of whether or not the belief in the paranormal has a place in mainstream belief or general society? I cast doubt as to the simplicity of such a question, but both logically and rationally, it seems a very simple question indeed. If we desire to hold our own faith systems dear, whatever they may be, and if science, allows the possibility of such a power, then what right, apart from personal prejudice or preference, does either camp have to deny the presence of such a power? If such a power is not there, no harm can come from acceptance as, quite obviously, nothing can come from nothing, not even the conception of our known universe, let alone some great cognitive deity. If such a power is there however, and if it might help us both now and in ways that we do not yet know, then might it be both dangerous and stupid to blindly suppress or deny it’s power?
Of course we have to be sensible, and to be wary of any possible threat during usage, but if we move with caution, we have the intelligence to investigate what is there. We might of course release a monster or monsters outside of our control, but think of the mental and scientific insights we would have lost over the centuries if we snubbed what we then viewed as challenging and new?
Think of how some of those concepts have been actually been accepted but now lie, in whole or part by the wayside? Some have been replaced by newer and potentially better ideas, some have drifted quietly away into the backwaters of recorded history, and some concepts we may never understand. What of the older beliefs though that refuse to die, and which are practised to this day, might some of these beliefs still have a place in our ever increasingly complicated world that swirls endlessly around us? The role of such beliefs seems dependent on personal allegiance to either believer or non-believer groups, and in support of their beliefs it is fair to say that both camps vociferously bang their respective drums as loudly as they possibly can. History shows us that this is not an uncommon trick, but by doing so both groups seem to be missing a valuable opportunity for individual and communal growth and enrichment. Might it not be the case that there may be elements of truth in most, or at least in many, ideologies, and that such truth’s, if understood, harmonised, and used wisely, may be of benefit to us all?
This does not mean I am advocating a return to all ancient beliefs or customs, for some beliefs, let alone customs, within such disciplines, are seemingly best well left alone. What I am promoting though is that all disciplines could and should actively work together for the betterment of not only ourselves, but for the betterment of all life around us, and I cannot see why such a resolution cannot be achieved. Of course it would mean compromise and pragmatism, by all parties, and of course we, as service users, would have to change how we think about medical and social support services, but is our present system working that well, can we really claim to have the answers to all our ills?
We all want to be well, we all want peace of mind, and it benefits us all to live in a peaceful, secure and harmonious world, so why are we constantly fighting against and belittling such sensible aims and resolutions. It may be that, in doing so, we will uncover one or two uncomfortable truths, and disturb some long held beliefs that so many of us hold dear, but now we have modern lighting to guide us, so might it be time to go further into the dark, and see what is there? I think so, but them maybe we are already there. From the moment we first walked on two legs to where we are now, we have always challenged our accepted boundaries. Thank heavens that this is so; otherwise we would still be blindly crawling, confused and fearful, in the mire.
Possibly we look out to far though, and maybe we need to return to what we think we already know. What of science, what of the anti faith, let alone anti paranormal movements, what of those individuals or groups who, through physical reality, would strip us of our dreams? Do they hold the key, can they solve the problems around us, surely logic and scientific reasoning has the answer for us all