Search Results for soul
The idea of the soul has innumerable meanings around the world and throughout history.
A distinction is often made between an individual soul and a world soul. Some regard the soul as a multiple entity, as in ancient Egyptian religion or the contemporary views of the trance channeler Jane Roberts/Seth.
Others insist the soul is single.
Some say the soul is the conceptual “I” that apparently remains constant throughout life.
Plato viewed the soul as single but containing multiple functions.
Aristotle saw the soul as a partly rational and partly irrational function governing bodily needs, desires and actions that disappears at death. Soul is also envisioned as a spiritual, self-motivating and eternal agent or substance.
St. Thomas Aquinas insists it is united to the body but not of the body. For Aquinas it “operates through corporeal organs” with its “proper function” being “in the understanding.”
In much of Hinduism the soul reincarnates, ultimately to merge with God, as a drop of water returns to the ocean from whence it came. In this sense, individuality is temporary at best. Ramanuja‘s Visistadvaita school of Hinduism is an important exception to this idea. For Ramanuja individual souls (jivas) emerge from and ultimately rest within God (Brahman), retaining some aspect of their individuality, existence and, therefore, reality.
The anatman doctrine of Buddhism contends that the idea of a soul is just a conceptual illusion and, in reality, does not exist.
Catholics believe that the soul is created by God at the moment of human conception, a view that has sparked intense debate among pro-life and pro-choice groups. Concerning death and the afterlife, Catholic believers say the soul rises to heaven or is purified in purgatory in preparation for heaven or descends to eternal hell.
In music “soul” refers to a form of music originating in America that blends gospel music with rhythm and blues. Although soul music was created by black Americans, its contemporary offshoots are composed and performed by anyone, anywhere.
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In shamanic traditions, this is the notion that psychological or physical illness is caused by the loss or spiritual abduction of the soul from the physical body.
Through rituals, dancing or entry into a trance (sometimes induced by hallucinogenic drugs such as mushrooms or peyote), an experienced shaman allegedly undergoes a mystical voyage to return a lost, wandering or abducted soul to its body.
Reasons for leaving the body could be severe trauma, such as those associated with accidents or sexual abuse.
While the shamanic view of soul loss is an intriguing idea not too difficult to imagine in our age of digital graphics, video games and films like The Matrix, critics of Shamanism believe that shamans are lost in a world of fantasy or possibly astral, even demonic realms.
Along these lines, Sri Ramakrishna once said that all religious and spiritual paths lead to the same place and involve the same type of numinosity; but not everyone agrees with this view. For some, Ramakrishna’s claim is facile and throws his entire project and status as a ‘holy man’ into question.
» Illness, Laing (R. D.), Possession, Spiritual Attack
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Deceased persons believed to be clinging to the material world, often to some particular locality and possibly holding a grudge against someone whom they believed wronged them in life.
Alternately, tramp souls are regarded as the victims of an accidental death who don’t understand why or haven’t accepted the fact that they’ve passed.
Tramp souls are said to be responsible for hauntings, obsessions and possessions.
An unofficial branch of Catholic thinking expressed by author Michael Brown (Prayer of the Warrior) attributes to homosexuality the psychological influence of tramp souls. According to Brown, a deceased woman’s spirit influences a man’s sexual preference or a male spirit influences a woman’s.
From this belief the opposite-sex spiritual influence apparently permeates the personality and the living individual comes to identify with it over time. » Demons, Obsession, Possession, Transmigration
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World Soul » Plotinus
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Blessed Isles, or Isles of the Blessed – According to Hesiod, this is the afterlife paradise for the dead favored by the Greek gods.
Some believe the idea was influenced by optimistic Minoan beliefs. Previously in Greece the next world had been predominantly conceived of as Hades, a sort of gloomy underworld.
In Homer‘s epic verse the Elysian Plain is filled with supreme joy, located at the end of the world, aside the River Oceanus. In early times, only heroes blessed by the gods gained the immortality of Elysium. But for Hesiod, Elysium is for all blessed dead—as opposed to the cursed.
Pindar too believes that all the righteous on earth achieve this happy abode, while Plutarch clearly links the Blessed Isles to the Elysian Fields.
Where the air was never extreme, which for rain had a little silver dew, which of itself and without labour, bore all pleasant fruits to their happy dwellers, till it seemed to him that these could be no other than the Fortunate Islands, the Elysian Fields.¹
Plato sees it as a region where the good soul awaits its next incarnation. In the general poetic sense, Elysium or the Elysian fields refers to a place or mindset filled with wonder, lasting contentment and bliss.
Ptolemy mentions the Blessed Isles as reference points in his discussion about longitude. And right up to the Middle Ages they continued to figure in texts concerning the Prime Meridian.
Wikipedia lists related Isles, in several mythic frameworks, where the dead may live for an extended period or for eternity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortunate_Isles
¹ Plutarch, Life of Sertorius, ch. viii., cited at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortunate_Isles.
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The Bhagavad-Gita [Sanskrit: The song of the Lord] is a central scripture holy to Hindus that belongs to book VI of the epic Mahabharata. Believed by many scholars to be a more recent insert within the Mahabharata, the Gita synthesizes different, previously existing forms of yoga.
The main plot line revolves around Krishna urging Arjuna to fulfil the dharma (sacred duty) appropriate to his warrior caste (kshatrya). Taken literally, in the Gita this means Arjuna must slay kith and kin in the battlefield.
Krishna outlines additional dharmas appropriate for other castes, but Arjuna’s sacred task is to kill. Krishna further instructs Arjuna that his relatives will not really perish because the soul (atman) is eternal.
A gentler, psychological interpretation of the Gita sees the ‘killing’ in terms of the destruction of bad karma accumulated over past lives. These attributes manifest as outward aspects of the personality in the present life, not unlike that which Carl Jung terms the persona. Thus the ‘killing’ could be seen as the elimination or, perhaps, redirection of superficial and negative personality components that obscure awareness of the immortal soul (atman)
Because God’s grace is said to be central in overcoming negative past karma, some scholars believe that the Gita was written as late as 2nd-century CE, influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ. Regardless of the precise date, Arjuna’s dharma seems to lie somewhere between Old Testament ideas concerning the problem of social justice (“an eye for an eye”) and the New Testament emphasis on spiritual salvation (“turn the other cheek”).
While some Christians may argue that the Gita’s message is clearly inferior to the New Testament’s prescription to love one’s enemies, this claim is complicated by the additional teaching of the so-called “Just War,” a teaching which is explicit or, perhaps, implicit to many Christian belief systems.
Having said that, it seems that a valid distinction may be made between what Jesus of the New Testament says we ought to do vs. what will happen.
Jesus of the New Testament says his followers ought not to be violent, nor to even think violently, even though conflict and war will inevitably break out among some members of the population. By way of contrast, the Krishna of the Gita essentially says killing is okay in certain circumstances. And this is something that Christ never advocates in the New Testament.
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Chuck Berry (1926-) is one of the first great American Rock and Roll performers. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, as Charles Edward Anderson Berry, in his early life he sang Baptist hymns, swing and the blues. He later adapted these styles to songwriting.
In 1962 Berry was sentenced to three years in prison for transporting a young 14 year-old native American woman, Janice Escalanti, across state lines. He was freed on bail by his friend and record producer, Guy Stevens, who then introduced Berry to the UK.
Berry’s 50s hit “Roll over Beethoven” was recorded less successfully by the Beatles. But his “Sweet Little Sixteen” was a runaway hit with the Beach Boys. His songs “Maybelline,” “School Days,” “Nadine,” “Rock and Roll Music” and “Johnny B. Goode” were also crucial to the development of early Rock, as was his oft copied style of playing the electric guitar.
Little Richard often claimed to be the originator of Rock and Roll. But Berry’s equally important role in the formation of this pervasive musical genre is rarely contested.
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Behaviorism is a psychological theory that sees mankind as operating more like a machine than as a free agent. Its modern form arose in reaction to so-called armchair philosophers, depth psychologists and alleged mystics who tried to understand human motivation in terms of what went on inside the mind or soul. For behaviorists, what really counts is what we can directly observe—in a word, behavior.
This approach is traceable to thinkers like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke David Hume, George Berkeley and David Hartley. Hobbes viewed man as a natural and social creature, while the others stressed the importance of the association of ideas.
In 1739, the so-called British empiricist philosopher David Hume wrote in A Treatise of Human Nature:
The qualities, from which…association arises, and by which the mind is after this manner conveyed from one idea to another, are three, viz. resemblance, contiguity in time or place, and cause and effect.¹
Most will say that the scientific study of behaviorism begins with the Russian, Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), who conditioned dogs to salivate not just at the sight of food but also at the sound of a bell that preceded feeding.
The American psychologist J. B. Watson (1878-1958) generalized these findings to human beings, emphasizing the importance of recency and frequency. This means that if we’ve smiled every time we’ve seen a child for the past ten years, we’re very likely to smile if we see a child today. The American B. F. Skinner (1904-1990) extended this system to include the idea of positive and negative reinforcement.
Pavlov’s type of learning is usually called classical conditioning, while Skinner’s is called operant conditioning. Skinner soon became the most popular advocate of behaviorism. He argues that past reinforcements determine behavior. We learn to repeat or decline behaviors based on their consequences. This is called the Stimulus-Response-Reinforcement (S-R-R) model.
Skinner also formulated the idea of shaping. By controlling the environmental rewards and punishments for behaviors, one is able to shape behavior. Psychologist also call this behavior modification.
Critics of behaviorism say it depicts a soulless, mechanistic view of mankind. Instead of resembling a pleasure-seeking machine, critics say that human beings are uniquely free, replete with emotional, intuitive, intellectual and spiritual concerns extending well beyond the narrow confines of reward and punishment.
Daniel Dennett contends that human beings are Skinnerian, Popperian and also Darwinian creatures. This means that we learn from stimulus, response and reinforcement but we also have the inner ability to test our hypotheses prior to enacting them in the real world.
This challenges Skinner’s anti-mentalism, as does Dennett’s Darwinian component. According to Dennett we act partially in accord with ancestrally acquired knowledge. A good example of this can be found in our capacity for language. Because of our language skills, many believe that human beings are hard-wired to learn languages. And we do, in fact, learn language if we’re raised in the right kind of environment, whereas a child parented by wolves in the wild won’t learn how to speak a language.²
¹ David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature London: Collins, 1962 , p. 54.
² Wittgenstein’s notion of a private language might seem to challenge this idea. But Wittgenstein, himself, argues that any kind of representation that isn’t socially shared cannot truly be language. More recently, the postmodern notion of connotation complicates this claim. Some postmoderns ask: If everyone understands signs differently, are we really communicating?
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The Beatles were a British pop group founded in Liverpool in 1960. The original members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best, replaced by Ringo Starr in 1962 (originally Richard Starkey).
“Love Me Do” was their first UK hit. This was followed by a string of hits, creating the international phenomenon of Beatlemania in 1964.
Most of the Beatles’ repertoire was officially penned by Lennon and McCartney, although their respective influence on individual songs varied considerably.
The band stopped giving public performances in 1966, turning its energy to the studio–specifically to the rock and roll classic, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Their producer at the time, George Martin, says he had a significant impact on the outcome of this record.
The group split, bitterly, around 1970. Their last studio album, Abbey Road, was recorded with separate sessions being held for each member of the band. This was unprecedented and, to fans, seemed to indicate growing tensions among band members. George Harrison once said that McCartney told him how to play his guitar, which the guitarist resented. And issues over the growing presence of Yoko Ono were splashed over the tabloids and rock media, as was Lennon and McCartney’s growing acrimony.
The Beatles were no doubt fantastic musicians. But was there more to their success? The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung developed a psychological classification system based on four main types. For Jung, the whole and healthy mind strove to integrate the four types of thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition. Could part of the Beatles’ unparalleled popularity be a result their collectively representing Jung’s four archetypal types? Following this idea, Lennon would be the thinking type, Paul McCartney the feeling type, George Harrison the intuition type and Ringo Starr the sensation type.
The Beatles’ contribution to music will be forever etched in the history of mankind. The so-called Fab Four combined Rock and Roll, simple blues and complex jazz, as well as ‘lounge lizard,’ orchestral and international music forms. Even begrudging or, perhaps, sarcastically tinged respect is implied, for instance, in “Afraid” from David Bowie’s record Heathen (2002):
I believe in Beatles
I believe my little soul has grown
And I’m still so afraid…
After the Beatles’ breakup, Lennon released several records while residing in New York with his wife Yoko Ono. He continued to enjoy commercial success with songs like “Imagine,” “Mind Games,” “Whatever Gets you Through the Night,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “So this is Christmas,” and “Just Like Starting Over.” But Lennon became more than a mere rock star; he became an icon representing worldwide harmony and peace.
McCartney released a critically acclaimed solo album (where he played all the instruments) and formed the highly successful band Wings, continuing to be a prominent musical force in the 1970′s.
Harrison released the commercially successful All Things Must Pass in 1970 (including “My Sweet Lord” and “Isn’t it a Pity”) followed by several other albums. “Isn’t it a Pity” epitomizes the sense of loss over Beatles’ breakup and laments the end of an era. Sadly, pity turned into acrimony, as witnessed in Harrison’s 1973 tune, “Sue Me, Sue You Blues.” Starr has been in films and recorded singles and albums. His 1974 cover of the Sherman Brothers’ “You’re Sixteen” hit number one in the charts.
In 1995 the single “Free as a Bird” was released. This song was written and hastily recorded by Lennon in 1977. After Lennon’s passing McCartney asked Ono if the remaining Beatles could collectively add to any of Lennon’s unreleased material. Ono gave permission for this single but it arguably isn’t a true Beatles song because Lennon, himself, didn’t agree to its release.
More recently, many Beatles songs have been remixed and re-released, with debatable results. Myself, I prefer the original analog mixes sent to CD (AAD), although others might prefer the digital remixes (ADD).
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In the ancient Egyptian religion of the New Kingdom the ba represents, generally speaking, the individual characteristics of a person, roughly analogous to the personality.
The ba was often understood in terms of the effect it had on others, not entirely unlike the New Age idea of the ‘past life review’ (where the recently departed soul allegedly sees how its good and bad actions in life impacted others).
In the vision of the afterlife described in the Pyramid Texts, the ba is said to return to the mummified body at night, essentially going to Osiris (as the god of the dead). Then it returns to the land of the living during the daytime, free to roam as a spiritual presence.¹
S. G. F. Brandon says that the ba originally connoted spiritual power.²
Depictions of the ba might be present in Old Kingdom funerary statues, although scholars debate this point. More commonly the ba is said to be represented in the New Kingdom as a bird with a human head.³
Related Posts » Ka
¹ Donald B. Redford ed., The Oxford Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology, 2003.
² S. G. F. Brandon ed., A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, New York: Scribner, 1970.
³ Redford, 2003.
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