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Very interesting post Michael; and I'm really looking forward to the ensuing comments/discussions from those who regularly post here.

You mentioned Jenny Wade's Changes of Mind when Nancy Danison was being discussed here; and I think much of what JW says in that book chimes with what you say above. And I don't just mean Unity Consciousness, but what she says about all the levels of consciousness and how they operate together as part of a functioning whole. In other words, how the 'lower' levels of consciousness are not merely there as steps on the way to be worked through asap on the way to achieving Unity Consciousness, but are also there to fulfil a wider, creative purpose in their own right.

I can see how lower levels serve a purpose. Earth, in it's own way, is a lower level and think about all of the stories and experiences that come from Earthly existence.

Anyway, about the ego. This is not something easily understood. I'm not sure that there's two organisms, a "soul" and a "human". Our ego is interwoven with our individuality and sense of who we are in *contrast* to other people. To fully eliminate the ego would actually eliminate your own sense of identity.

For this reason, I'd argue the ego itself is divine in nature and would NOT disappear after death... UNLESS a soul completely rejoins with 'God' and ultimately disperses itself of identity.

You could even argue the POINT of living as a human is to actually develop that ego to some extent.

An ego is really just recognizing oneself as an identity separate from the formless consciousness of the 'Witness'. When an ego is out of control, a person completely disconnects from any type of connection with the rest of consciousness. Then, you get Donald Trump.

But is the ego, by this definition, possible to completely extinguish?

NDErs sometimes speak metaphorically that they were a drop of rainwater inside the entire, vast ocean. They were still that same droplet of water, they part of an endless sea of consciousness.

If this is true, then I would say... it's quite possible "You" as the "Witness" is forever entangled with some type of essence that represents your 'individuality' on some level that goes far beyond whatever you're experiencing right now. And while it can be part of a much greater ocean, that essence may never disappear, so long as the 'Witness' continues to contrast itself.

In this way, perhaps the ego is actually rather eternal.

Regarding the mind/body relationship, or body/soul, Seth and Elias channeled sources say that the two are intertwined, indeed variations on a theme.

Elias refers to out 'physical expression', and says that our bodies are physical expressions of ourselves, manifested on a material level.

If that's the case then then body and soul are a lot more closely connected than many assume: the body is the soul's physical expression.

The physical expression is however carefully programmed via what we call DNA but also the location and timeline for the birth, and who our parents are - these are all factored in when doing the 'prep' work for our physical expression.

"More important, what did the soul mean when it said that things had worked out well both for itself and for the human being involved?"

Maybe too much is being read into that statement?

When she said that things had worked out pretty well "Both for me and for her" is it possible that the "her" was used as if a reference to a character, like in a movie or novel. Because that is one way a dispassionate detatched observer could see the earthly personality of a former life. And we do often refer to characters in novels and films as he or she.

In fact, Rastfarians have buzzword phrases like , "I and I survive"; which recognize the ego self and the higher soul self.

I can easily imagine looking back, as a disincarnate or a reincarnate, on this life I am currently living and refering to myself as "that guy" or "him". It's like James Leinninger saying, "Plane on fire...little man can't get out" He doesn't say "I can't get out", yet he identifies with and recognizes the man as himself.

".....If that's the case then then body and soul are a lot more closely connected than many assume: the body is the soul's physical expression."

I agree with this. There are no souless people. Not even souless animals. The soul being first and foremost an energy based being (or field) that gives shape and life to the physical body.

Without a soul we would have a pile of rotting meat.

Actually, there is a whole complex ancient science built around the topic of soul/energy/body/mind connection. There really isn't a need to speculate to much or to reinvent the wheel.

I use the term "science" because in the experience of many certain practices/exercises involving the chakras and subtle energy lead to predictable and repeatable results; including improved health, OBEs and psychic abilities.....

Off-topic but.......

Another NDE Experience:

After all, we don't necessarily assume that every living being has a soul. An amoeba is a living being, but it may not have a soul. And we can work our way up the chain of life, even as high as horses, dogs, cats, monkeys, and at least make a case that they don't have souls, either."

This has something to do with what you all are talking about. What has consciousness? What is sentient? An Elk rescued a marmot that was trapped in it's water trough. It's an amazing video and makes me wonder just how intelligent animals are?

Elk Stuns Zookeepers

excerpt from Michelle M's NDE:
"I remember understanding the others here.. as if the others here were a part of me too. As if all of it was just a vast expression of me. But it wasn't just me, it was .. gosh this is so hard to explain.. it was as if we were all the same. As if consciousness were like a huge being. The easiest way to explain it would be like all things are all different parts of the same body."'s_nde.htm

Yes, Art, If one spends sufficient quality time with animals, one learns that they are often highly intelligent, thoughtful and very individualistic in many ways.

Thinking they are stupid and without souls is a position peculiar to the judeo/christian ethos and Europeans in particular.

It is all too easy to assume that beings - even humans - who are on a different wave length and/or have different set of ambitions, languages/communications or even skin color are less than those most like ourselves. It helps the ego feel superior and helps sooth the conscience when going about the business of dominating the earth.

The soul is what's real, the body is like clothing or box we inhabit for a time which enables us to interact with the world at this earthly vibrational level. Outside the body, i .e during sleep we are as William James implies, waveforms. We signal and reply to each other constantly. All is made known to us/nothing is hidden, when we dream, two people for instance, dreaming of each other their particular waveforms are brought into phase, this is achieved by the intent of their superconsious/or souls. When they awaken, they only remember flsshes of what went before, but it is real, realler than real. Ih the body, 'awake'/we are shut off from the thoughts and feelings of others, trapped in linnear space time. Well (smiling), that is my theory anyway/regards - to you Michael Prescott. Elle.

Interesting thoughts, which remind me of Seth's concept of the oversoul. Like no one, I do think animals have souls. For instance, they do definitely grieve when losing an animal companion or human. I do lean toward the idea that the ego is created, the soul is eternal, and that ego is diminished in the afterlife and that soul takes over.

BTW, it just occurred to me that some of what I'm suggesting dovetails with Ian Lawton's writings -- for instance, his "Big Book of the Soul." On the basis of hypnotic regression sessions, Lawton suggests that souls tried to incarnate in early proto-humans, but the brain's architecture wasn't sufficiently advanced. After several false starts of this type, they were finally able to incarnate in Homo sapiens. Of course, the earlier humanoid beings still lived, hunted, reproduced, and perhaps grieved and yearned, as animals do. But, according to Lawton, they were not ensouled.

Perhaps one could also address the problem of evil in this way. How can humans do evil when their souls come from God? A possible answer is that evil is done by the human organism's ego-mind, which is tightly bound up with biological drives, fight-or-flight mechanisms, disease (including mental illness), mistreatment during one's formative years, etc. Some good is also done by the ego-mind, as in the altruistic behavior explored by sociobiology, the instinct of child-rearing, the cooperative behaviors explained by game theory, and so on. But the highest level of moral understanding can only be attained by going outside the ego-mind and accessing the purity and wisdom of the soul. In this rarefied air there is no hate, no vengeance, no willingness to commit violence even in self-defense, not even a willingness to fight evil. "But I say unto ye, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."

Your thoughts are interesting, because it is clear that the self is not a simple reality, but complex, while maintaining a certain unity. Yes, it seems that we have an animal side, selfish, not self-conscious, and another divine side, altruistic, self-conscious, as Aristotle would say, man is in the middle, we are not beasts nor angels, but shares features of both . But I think that it is not that each person has two selves, or that the soul is a kind of symbiont of the animal, but both animal self as the self-conscious is the same self, but in different states.

It's funny but your conception of the soul is like what appears in the series Supernatural, when a character loses his soul. He is still alive, still conscious, retains his memories, so the soul is not the life principle or vehicle of consciousness, but this man lacks empathy, altruism, treat others only as means to an aim, never as aims in themselves, so he has lost his humanity. Is it still the same person as before? Philosophical question that neither an angel that comes out in such a series to answer. How could we answer this question?

Also I prefer use soul term to refer to the vehicle of our consciousness after biological death.

Edgar Cayce also said that, basically, human souls could not effectivel incarnate on earth until biological structures suitable to their bands of awareness or perceptual capabilities could be obtained. Though elsewhere he also says that human souls did inhabit animal bodies, but is was a bad fit and that, therefore, the souls sort of drove the evolution of animals to better fitting bodies.

He further states that animals do have souls; albeit of a different and less expansive perceptual potential and that animals reincarnate; sometimes as different species (e.g. lion to dog).

Here is a pretty good summation of the Cayce perspective on souls and their origin and their relationship to the physical body (one that makes sense to me):

I think three key questions are these:

1. Are souls created?
2. Are souls objects?
3. Are souls indestructible?

I have a problem with souls being objects that can be destroyed, since, in the course of eternity, it stands to reason that anything that can happen will happen, and our very souls will cease to be eventually. The way around that is to say, "Well, God will protect us and make sure that doesn't happen."

I also have a problem with souls being indestructible objects, since we really don't have any experience of such an object. Again, we have to say something ad hoc like, "God just made them so that they are indestructible."

In fact, I have a problem with the soul being an object at all. That's why I lean toward thinking of the soul (same thing as the spirit) as the information content of the body, as I have been blathering about in another comment section of this blog. In other words, the "spirit body," which is the information content/form/"fact of the matter" of the entire human body/mind. The whole system.

I think this concept solves a lot of issues:

1. No mind/body problem (the problem of dualism, though I never felt this was much of a problem).

2. The problem of whether animals have souls or not. Like humans, their "souls" are their total information content.

3. No "soulless people." Some people may have bad or limited information content, but they are not lacking a soul. In fact, to lack a soul would be logically impossible.

4. If we see information as being indestructible ("The writing finger having writ"...), then souls are also indestructible. I do mean information in a slightly metaphorical sense. This is not information that requires a medium of any sort (no pun intended. I mean that it is not stored on a computer disk, the ether, anything. It just *is*).

I am not trying to come up with anything radically original. This is a riff on Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Averroes, Cayce, etc. I think it also jibes with what we hear from mediums, NDEs, and channelers.

I don't like the idea of souls coming down and "infecting," "possessing," or otherwise inhabiting human animals. AKA, Nanci Danison's view. I think it's revolting on many levels. Moreover, I don't think it jibes with what we've heard from mediums, NDEs, and channelers. Also, I don't think it matches our interior experiences or our experiences of other people. It is a position full of problems and holes, and there really is no foundation for it in any spiritual tradition.

As in all things, YMMV.



Right, Matt. Agree with your well stated points. I would add to those points that some people claim to be able to see the "aura" of living things. I know this ability is in vogue among New Age practioners. I am not sure if I believe everyone who makes the claim; in fact I don't. However, some I do. One guy in particular, who I have mentioned elsewhere in previous discussions, who was an Native American medicine man spoke to me occassionally about the aura. In describing it, he said that it is the vehicle of the soul and is what leaves us upon death. It is made up of energy. All living things have it.

I am wondering what a soul would be elsewise. Indeed something like Art's view of a parasite. Having a soul would be like having a tapeworm, in the Dannison perspective. What good would it be?

I also object to the insinuation that some of us are uber menschen with souls and the rest are soulless animals. The implications are scary because, well, you know how we treat cars, cages, slaughterhouses.....

I think a more reasonable - and rational - stance is that we all have souls, but some souls are more advanced and/or more powerful than others. The soul has free will and some souls chose to do good works and to build and to reflect The Creator, while others misguidedly choose to glorify their own ego (the soul can fall prey to the seven deadly sins). Others just get buried beneath the daily grind.

Contrary to Dannison's parasite souls and soulless animals are all of the NDEs. Remarkable that all of those people had souls and that their deceased relatives, who they met on the other side (and some pets too!) had souls.

The idea of soulless people is radical and peculariar to Dannison and Prescott. It appears no where in any of the ancient texts, eastern or western as far as I am aware.

I put my trust in traditions that a) have passed the test of time and b) can show me some real effect (i.e. if you practice this meditation or tantra you will achieve mystical experiences a, b or c). There are well developed sciences of the soul and, as far as I am concerned, they have been proven. All it takes is a little devotion and practice.

"I have a problem with souls being objects that can be destroyed, since, in the course of eternity, it stands to reason that anything that can happen will happen, and our very souls will cease to be eventually. The way around that is to say, "Well, God will protect us and make sure that doesn't happen."

I can't help but be struck by the distance you place between us and God, Matt. For me, it's not a question of God protecting us, but a matter of God loving himself.

Because as I (and many others) see it, we are fragments of God who chose to come to the physical plane for a certain kind of adventure/trial/education, at the end of which we'll return Home to re-experience the thrill of oneness.

But you don't buy that, huh?


I don't really disagree with what you said. The difference is that I don't believe in a top-down God who willed every single aspect of the Universe into existence.

I believe that God, or Spirit as I prefer, is an emergent property/being/presence/etc. of the Universe. It is a conscious and creative and positive force, but it does not behave like the God of the Bible.



"it does not behave like the God of the Bible"

You won't get an argument from me on that point! Maybe we should say MIS-behave?

So true, Bruce!


Can I just point out, re Nanci Danison, that the condition she mentions, of humans with no souls, is described as being *exceedingly rare*.

I think Bruce's, "we are fragments of God who chose to come to the physical plane for a certain kind of adventure/trial/education, at the end of which we'll return Home to re-experience the thrill of oneness." Is ultimately correct.

However, along the path home, Matt's, "The difference is that I don't believe in a top-down God who willed every single aspect of the Universe into existence." applies.

We have free will and that free will allows us to create many twists and turns in our road back to the creator. It also supplants a top down management. We can even choose that which causes us to fall from grace (but forgiveness and redemption are always possible).

Just my humble opinion.

Wow! How refreshing it is to see not only the article by Michael but the discussion afterward! I was expecting many comments disparaging Michael's writings as anti-God, "the soul comes from God and nowhere else and God loves you" etc., etc. I, too, do not believe in God as an entity who is "above" us in the atmosphere, watching what we do and constantly judging. I believe more in the "oversoul" idea. I understand that Michael is mostly musing, not making definitive statements, but I think every human has a soul, and that after this life my ego/I would become absorbed into the totality of my soul, in order to absorb and integrate this life's lessons into my soul, the real "being" that continues.

Thanks for the discussion, everyone!

I hate the idea of the soul being the product of higher order consciousness (self-reflection, creativity, self examination) and lower order consciousness the reserve of soulless animata. This seems too poetic and metaphorical for my liking and doesn't fit with current debate that can be found on the non-reductionist blogosphere. For me, mind is mind, and reducing any component (even animal consciousness) to the electrical activity of a 3 pound slab of meat is a fools errand.

....and yes even an amoeba could be conscious (at some low level) but that consciousness is still accessed as a property of the universe rather than emergent from it's primitive nervous system.

Michael D, I'm pretty much inline with your position - that concsciousness is a property of matter. I'm however much more sceptic about the 'self' being seperate from the body. What is your position on this?

"Soul" permeates the Universe. The Universe is a great thought. The idea that there are separate souls is incorrect. We are each like a ray of sun shining off the Sun, connected yet separate. Sort of like the individual characters on the Holodeck of the Starship Enterprise. They didn't realize that they were being generated by the ship's computer.

“…the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.”
- Sir James Jeans

"So, for a moment, you see. Relax. Don't take yourself so seriously! All is well. We are forever one." - excerpt from Riding the Dragon, mystical experiences of Scientists,

"I" was the awareness I was experiencing and that is the part that I find frustrating to communicate. I had the realization that I was everywhere at the same time...and I mean everywhere." - excerpt from Carl Turner's experience,

"And it became very clear to me that all the Higher Selves are connected as one being, all humans are connected as one being, we are actually the same being, different aspects of the same being."
- excerpt from Mellen Benedict's NDE,

"I remember understanding the others here.. as if the others here were a part of me too. As if all of it was just a vast expression of me. But it wasn't just me, it was .. gosh this is so hard to explain.. it was as if we were all the same. As if consciousness were like a huge being. The easiest way to explain it would be like all things are all different parts of the same body." - excerpt from Michelle M's NDE,'s_nde.htm

I don't think the idea of two separate souls is silly.

Earth may produce one and "Heaven" another.

I'm not at all in tune with the idea of "lumps of meat". The body is a wonderful thing, and I feel very grateful for mine and how it has looked after me for so many years (despite illnesses etc). It's done an absolutely amazing job, much of it without my conscious help. Mostly, I really can't imagine how it manages. If you think about it, it's truly astonishing.

Interesting post but I disagree with Michaels premise that you can have a living being completely independent from soul carrying on its biological function. Without the animating force - life vital you would be dead!.My take is that consciousness is the primary reality from which all else stems. We are all sub units of a greater consciousness. Consciousness is manifested through living systems from an amoeba up to a human. The biological complexity of the human brain obviously gives us greater conscious awareness, sense of self & ego. The complexity or simplicity of the biological sytem acts as a constrainer of consciousness. Thus one can surmise that all life is continually evolving, even the consciousness of cats, dogs, mice, insects. Brain does not create consciousness but merely filters & restricts it, the complexity of the structure gives you mind.

Sbu, my position is very close to Anthony's above. I feel consciousness is an emergent process in the universe and is present at the Planck scale. Life, somehow taps into this, and when humans manage this feat we get the kaleidoscope of experience ranging from egoistic behaviour all the way to transcendence when we actually glimpse this all pervasive consciousness field. I have read a lot of Hameroff's work and also Robert Lanza's biocentrism (which MP has covered before). I certainly don't see the requirement for splitting consciousness into separate parts. This seems rather romantic and metaphorical for my scientifically trained brain to accommodate!

Great post and discussion.

I don't have any special insight into the question of whether Homo sapiens must possess a soul and have wondered about this at times. I feel that every human being must have a soul to survive outside the womb but I wonder why I should think like that.

Do we think that only Homo sapiens can have a soul? I wonder why we think that animals do not have souls? Or what about machines? Can you imagine a planet where the life forms are so different that we would call them animals when they are, in fact, soul-bearing entities? I can imagine that rather easily. I can imagine only slightly less easily, a world where the predominant life form is a manufactured entity that nonetheless is the host to a soul the same as we would speculate about here on this planet. I feel a great privilege to have been provided this body that I know is host for me but I wonder if I wouldn't feel the same way if this host were some sort of android-like creation that was as suitable in its environment as this one is for this environment.

I have this gut feeling that we need to understand that our thinking about ourselves and what we are should be tempered with the knowledge that we are biased in our approach to defining what is sentient and "soulful". In a universe or multiverse that should contain all possibilities we are probably limiting our thinking about what the soul is and is capable of being. Does that make any sense to others?

(I don't think the soul is entirely contained within the host and that the reality is much richer than we might suppose.)


You wrote,

I don't think the soul is entirely contained within the host and that the reality is much richer than we might suppose.

I agree. I don't think the soul is "contained" in a host at all. I would say the connection is non-spatial.

I also agree about reality being richer. For example, one morning when I was waking up, I visited a reality of orange spheres floating in a black void that was completely different from our own. I have no idea how it happened, but for a very brief moment the window was open. And I've got a couple more experiences like that.



I'm currently reading Claude Lecouteux's 'Witches, werewolves and fairies, shapeshifters and astral doubles in the middle ages'. His claim is that before Christianity people of Europe generally believed that humans had three spirits or souls, one of which was something like a tutelary spirit, or later the guardian angel, one which could travel outside of the body and was what people saw when they saw something like a werewolf (although a wolf was only one of the animal forms this soul could take) and which would sometimes manifest without the owner's conscious will but which shamans and some other people could use at will, and the third soul which was bound to the bones and existed after death as long as the bones lasted. And that these pagan beliefs lasted well into medieval times, and in some forms and areas even later, even though Christian clergy did their best to eradicate them, mostly by usually interpreting what before was thought to be one or other of the souls of some human as either angels or demons - most often demons.

By the way, are any of you familiar with Colin Wilson's theory of a ladder of selves? It's been years since I read a couple of his books, but as far as I can remember he thinks (or thought, a decade or two ago) that our souls kind of have, at the same time, several levels, the lower levels being something like an animal soul (or maybe even a demon) while the highest levels are something like a highly developed guardian angel or tutelary spirit, and that our 'self' can both slip to a lower level and to ascend to higher level during our lifetime, depending on how we train or don't train our minds.

Just saw this on Huffington post and wanted to share:

Can the Dead communicate with us?

Thought ya'll might enjoy this article.

Steve, "I have this gut feeling that we need to understand that our thinking about ourselves and what we are should be tempered with the knowledge that we are biased in our approach to defining what is sentient and "soulful".

I agree completely.

I have been thinking about this post and resulting thread in the context of the many other good discussion we have here. Alot of important questions are asked on this blog and a lot of insightful and intelligent discussion follows. That being said, there is a distinct western/European - even American bias that is prevalent.

To some extent, I think the bias is due to the emphasis on tangible "evidence" which, in our case, would be mostly English speaking reports and documentation.

However, and I have mentioned this already, there is a huge body of ancient well developed theories pertaining to the body, soul and awareness and the inter-relation in eastern philosophy.

I am thinking of, for example, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Sutras (particularly the Yogi Sutra), the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Tantric writings.

I spent maybe ten years reading these (from approx. 20 to 30 years old). What they say makes a lot of sense. There are practices which, if followed religiously, produce repeatable and verifieable results. They are, IMHO, The Authoritative Sources concerning much of what we discuss, but we rarely, if ever, mention them or draw from them. I know some of the material is incorporated into new age beliefs sometimes loosly interpreted, sometimes for to the letter of the original (e.g. chakras and energy body), yet still overlooked here.

Just an observation.

Thanks for your comments, Marja. The info about ancient European beliefs is very interesting and relates to something I'm looking into now - the persistent belief in dual (or multiple) souls in one body.

Here's the truth on this matter:

What happens after "death" is a mystery.

It will remain a mystery.

This whole "thing" would not work if it wasn't a mystery.

Don't confuse the puppet with the puppeteer.

When you ponder whether or not other organisms or animals have "souls," you might reflect on a quote from Allan Kardec's Spirit's Book, linked from your other blog post:

"God concerns Himself about all the beings He has created, however small they may be; nothing is too minute for His goodness."

I don't mean this in the religious sense, but thinking more along the lines of consciousness being a continuum. To me, this always seems to intuitively make more sense that some sort of "fine line" like humans have souls but horses don't.

Several years ago I bought a book of photographs of the interior of the body taken with electron microscopes and other advanced imaging devices. Many of the photographs were stunningly beautiful in addition to surprising in their intricate detail. Browsing through, at one point I came to a full-page image showing the structure of a kidney stone. Kidney stones are made of what appear to be billions of thin, paper-like sheets stacked irregularly with points jutting forward. I was taken aback by the image, which looked oddly architectural with its straight lines and corners, unlike anything I expected to see in a body. Suddenly it struck me how intelligent and autonomous the body is. Tiny cells and parts with their very particular shapes and structures, all of them operating purposefully without my knowledge, competently executing the many complex missions required to create the moment-to-moment reality of the body I live in. I realized I don’t know what this body is, or what I am, and I was seized with a very deep fear. It was like looking out at the stars at night and realizing you don’t know what the universe is or what you are in it, but in reverse, looking inward. Was my fear an ego reaction, its response to a tear in the illusion of this world?

I thought of that experience when I read what Nanci Danison had to say about soul-less bodies. Unlike some of the others commenting here, I did not react negatively to her book, but I did find her assertion about soul-less bodies surprising.

I appreciate what no one had to say about eastern philosophies/religions…

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