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Discussion 2 to Talk Back 64
It is, essentially, a doctrinal statement.

Maarten van den Driest

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Kanai Lal Das' Talk Back is another example of an essay that will, sadly, not work.

Kanai Lal Das makes two main errors in thinking and mode of writing:

  1. confused concepts; and
  2. wrong style for the intended public

It seems incredibly difficult for people, especially for people of faith, to get and keep the concepts they use in order. In order for anyone to make sense, scientifically or not, he or she must be conscious of the exact meaning of the words he uses, including the sometimes numerous shades of meaning. Only then can meaningful discussion and, indeed, thought occur.

One of the worst problems around is the 'reification' of concepts. This is the idea that everything we happen to have a word for is therefor a thing, or at least a constant. A good example is death, sometimes, at little more accurately, called the state of death. Death is not a thing, nor a state. What we describe as death is merely the continuing of other processes after the bundle of processes we commonly call life has transformed into them. The rest is dress-up, wishful thinking.

I find it strange that people can ask me, incredulous, 'but surely something must continue?' Note the word 'something', some thing must continue. First of all, must doesn't come into it. We 'want' something to continue and that is an important difference. Secondly, the place hereafter (should it be a place?) is subject to so much bickering, even within narrowly defined doctrinal spheres, that we end up with only speculation, stemming again from emotional human needs.

The soul is a very good example. The soul seems to be a thing that is detached on brain death, then makes a journey, in some traditions, to another place. This place is commonly claimed to be outside the material universe and is therefore not a place at all. Then what? I don't know.

Why can't the soul be a process? That's what it looks like, at the very least. That way it can arise from matter and science can easily study emergent phenomena. Scientists have made progress in leaps and bounds, actually, in this field.

Science itself, now I am on about it anyway, is another good example. The concept of science seems to be a free-for-all. I find it odd that only people from a select, highly educated group can call themselves Ph.D. but, for some reason, everyone can pitch in and give his two cents regarding science. I am not going to describe, again, what the scientific method entails but 'spiritual science' is not - repeat, not! - science. It belongs to the Arts, as invariably one or more books are studied. This book-studying can even be done scientifically if you really want to. The important distinction here is that the subject of study is a written text, never real-world phenomena.

What we end up with after reading Kanai Lal Das' Talk Back and having sorted through the confused concepts is, essentially, a doctrinal statement. All living beings... possess consciousness.., We are the conscious spiritual soul within the body..., Consciousness does not arise from matter... doctrine.

At no point does Kanai Lal Das even try to explain what he says up until, and this is very telling, his appeal to the authority of the Vedas. Basically we are to believe his version of what the Vedas have to tell us. Why we shouldn't choose the Qu'ran over the Vedas or the Bible, the Book of Mormon or any other book remains entirely unexplored.

This brings me to my second point: the wrong style for the intended public.

This website is agnostic, was set up by an agnostic and is, largely, written by agnostics. If you want to snare agnostics, a simple appeal to authority is such a laughable trick that they will probably simply stop reading immediately.

If you write to a bunch of people who only accept the scientific method as universal way of truth-finding then you should somehow use this fact in shaping your essay. A whole series of rather woolly factual statements just vanishes between the hundreds of others we have had the misfortune of reading in the Talk Back-section.

Preaching to a congregation, one could use these concepts without any problems whatsoever. People listening would understand what you mean, run with the ideas anyway and, usually, would manage to be supported in their personal beliefs whatever you say. This is the public you would write such an essay for.

When you write for scientists, at least have the courtesy of using their language and using it well.

Also, don't lie or, worse, show your ignorance. It is quite untrue that science cannot study consciousness. Without science we wouldn't have a clear concept of consciousness in the first place.

Also, out-of-body experiences and past-life memories were never proven.

Interestingly, they are anathema for a lot of religions... It is true that science cannot study the spirit but this is because no one really knows where to find one or what a spirit actually is. Science can also not study God (Goddess, Gods, Goddesses?) but at least has the modesty of admitting that. If you choose to study God then at least have the modesty of saying that you don't use scientific methods and therefore could basically say anything you want.

One or the other, have your cake or eat it. Never both.

Also, your title was wrong. It should have been something like 'Speculations on what I call the soul' or maybe 'Doctrine on the soul I have to post somewhere so why not here'.