Part II – Can the Soul be Proved?

The following continues the Part I extract previously given. They are taken from a paper appearing in Esoteric Psychology I by Alice Bailey and attributed to the Tibetan disciple known as D.K.

“The soul can be regarded as a beautiful vision or as an hallucination, for all that tends to prove its existence is the testimony of the many mystics down the ages to a contact and an experience which can be accounted for in terms of dream life, of brain lesions or of escape reactions, but which rests on no sure foundation.  So say the materialists and the upholders of proven scientific facts.  Belief, verbal testimony, hope, curious and inexplicable psychic happenings, the mass of untrained opinion and the findings of visionary people (who were probably psychopathic cases) are not enough to prove the fact of the soul.  They prove only man’s power to imagine, to build images and pictures, and to lose himself and his dreadful present in a dream world of a possible and ardently desired future in which frustration will end, in which full expression will be achieved, and in which each man will enter into an impossible heritage which he has himself constructed out of the unrealised hopes and dim unuttered longings of his deeply hidden thought life. 

Belief in God and Heaven and in an immortal future have grown out of the ancient awe and ignorant terror of infant humanity.  They saw in all the phenomena of nature (incomprehensible and terrifying) the activity of a gigantic man, built on lines which were the projection of their own consciousness, and who could be propitiated or angered by the behaviour of a human being.  The result of a man’s effect upon this deity provided man’s destiny, which was either good or bad according to the reactions of this God to his deeds.  Thus we have the origin of the heaven or hell complexes of the present religious faiths.  From this grew, automatically, the idea of a persistent entity called the soul, which could enjoy heaven or suffer hell at the will of God and as the result of actions done whilst in the human form.  As the forms of man grew in sensitivity; as they became more and more refined under the influence of the law of selection and of adaptation; as the group life grew closer and the group integration was improved; as the heritage of history, of tradition and of the arts grew richer and made its impress, so that ideas of God grew, and likewise ideas of the soul and of the world, man’s concepts of reality grew richer and deeper, so that today we are faced with the problem of a thought inheritance which testifies to a world of concepts, ideas and intuitions which deal with the immaterial and the intangible, and which testify to an age-long belief in a soul and its immortality for which there is no true justification.  At the same time we have demonstrated to us by science that all we can really know with certainty is the tangible world of phenomena, with its forms, its mechanisms, its test tubes and its laboratories, and the bodies of men “fearfully and wonderfully made,” diverse and different. 

These in some mysterious way produce thoughts and dreams and imaginings, and which, in their turn, find expression in the formulated schemes of the past, the present and the future, or in the fields of literature, art and of science itself, or in the simple everyday life of the ordinary human being who lives and loves and works and plays and bears children and eats food and earns money and sleeps.

“And then what?  Does man disappear into nothingness, or does, somewhere, a part of him (hitherto unseen) live on? Does this aspect survive for a time and then in its turn disappear, or is there an immortal principle, a subtle intangible entity which has an existence either in the body or out of the body, and which is the undying immutable Being, belief in Whom has sustained countless millions down the ages?  Is the soul a fiction of the imagination and has science satisfactorily disproved its existence?  Is consciousness a function of the brain and of the allied nervous system, or shall we accept the idea of a conscious dweller in the form?  Does our power to become aware of and to react to our surroundings find its source in the body-nature, or is there an entity who beholds and takes action?  Is this entity different to and separable from the body, or is it the result of the body type and life, and so either persists after the body disappears, or disappears with it and is lost?  Is there nothing but matter or energies in constant movement which produce the appearances of men who react in their turn and express the energy that is pouring through them blindly and unconsciously, having no individual existence?  Or are all these theories partially true, and shall we really comprehend the nature and being of man only in the synthesis of all of them and in the acceptance of the general premises?  Is it not possible that the mechanically minded and scientific investigators are right in their conclusion anent the mechanism and the form nature, and that the spiritually minded thinkers who posit an immortal entity are also right? 

As yet perhaps something is lacking which would bridge the gap between the two positions.  Is it possible that we may discover a something which will link the intangible world of true being with the tangible world (so-called) of form life?”

Alice A. Bailey, Esoteric Psychology I, pp 92-94

To be continued in Part III


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