5/30/2015 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S. ~
A fascinating offer came in the mail yesterday. The Trust Insurance Company, whose motto is: "Trust works both ways," offers a policy that really is different. (They claim to have 6.72 million satisﬁed subscribers.) Here's the contract: For the sum of twenty dollars per month and as long as my payments are made monthly, they will assure me of complete happiness for the remainder of my life. "Complete happiness" is deﬁned in the contract as: "freedom from physical and emotional stress and all suffering, including pain, worry, and anxiety as resulting from or pertaining to natural causes." This contract would become effective "the first of the month following receipt of the initial payment." In the included brochure, this policy is described by personal endorsers as "heavenly." Question. In What way do you think I should handle this offer? What should be my next step?
There is something familiar about The Trust Insurance Company: I am already approached by organization representatives who are competing for my "soul," offering their contracts, so "it" must mean some kind of sales advantage to them, signing me up.
"Soul." What does it mean? You'd think that deﬁning a word constantly used from the pulpits and stages, with such powerful emotional responses, would be so... obvious. We could say that the word soul has more power than the name God, for without a deﬁnition of soul, God, gods, spirits, and spiritual, likewise will fall under the category of... "Well, you know what I mean, okay?" Soul is a big money-maker. Consider soul food, soul music, soul mate, soul-stirring entertainment, soul saving self-help books, and the coffers of the soul saving hawkers, aka, clergy.
How do you go about proving a soul "really" exists, when "explanations" don't prove anything? Well, one man invented an apparatus to measure the weight of a soul. He connected a scale to a deathbed. When people died, he compared each person's weight before and after death. It turned out that the loss of weight due to the "departure" of the soul was essentially the same as a human fart. (This experiment has not been used to determine the soul-weight of a chimp, gorilla, nor the (believed by some) "eternal" soul of a pet.) And now that that’s settled...
The habitat of the soul? Where does the soul of an animal or vegetable, germ, bacteria, etc., live? Every human claims it's in a body, except for Thomas Aquinas, who claimed that the human body actually lived in the soul, and he knew that, right? Is it everywhere in a body? What if one loses a toe, appendix, or gall bladder; does one lose part of one's soul each time? Some say the soul/self is in the heart or brain. Ancient scripture writers spoke of the bowels of God, and of the human soul being located in the gonads. (I wonder where they got that from. Does the soul produce both sperm and egg?)
When I asked, "What do you mean by soul?" one believer said, "Essence." I think Essence is an Afro-American magazine, speaking black soul rhetoric. Could it be a perfume containing the "odor of sanctity" smelled by Catholics near one of their many saints? Maybe she believed her own unique “essence" existed before her birth, from eternity (yes, some people do have that belief), before she became a conscious person, and she's hoping to get back to that state again?
Now this is where I have a problem with soul. What good is entity without consciousness? Doesn’t “essence" describe a rock or iceberg or vapor, using that description? Let's be honest. We are talking babble, as when Hindu scriptures deﬁne the godhead as "isness" or "suchness," or as the wafer-into-Christ as "transubstantiation." But the self has never been proven to be separate from the brain and the body; the evidence is there. Back to the beginning. So what's a soul?
Doesn't "essence" mean something devoid of personality, character, incapable of change, without intelligence - that is, without attributes requiring a physical body? It makes sense, which is one reason why no true believer would agree with it. The abilities of seeing, hearing, choosing, and changing, understanding, character, and especially memories, are all attributed, by believers, to souls without bodies to experience or remember them!
You can conﬁrm this unthinking belief for yourself. Go into any funeral parlor and listen to the believers in attendance. They will be talking about their experiences with the deceased in life as he/she lived coherently and aware. No one mentions the time when they first noticed that the person's soul began to leave, in an Alzheimer's or dementia state. Instead, true believers will say, "We will greet each other in Heaven," when in reality they, a.k.a., the "we," will be in the same state as the deceased!
On that subject, this reminds me of something Woody Allen said, "I don't mind dying. I just don't want to be there when it happens." I think of all the time I spent with people I've known who became victims of dementia or Alzheimer’s diseases. Or of the neighbor who died recently, in his 50's. In the hospital, his nurse spoke to him, turned her back, and turned around to ﬁnd he had died. Were any of them, "there” when they died?
Perhaps primitive humans had to believe in or cling to the hope of a soul lasting beyond death, and found solace in that belief. After all, the need for self-preservation is in all sentient beings, not just humans. But humans, via their imaginations, think themselves exempt from an obvious law of nature. They desperately fear non-existence, and came to make their "souls," via their self-projected gods, equally immortal by osmosis with them. Why - there must be spirits controlling things, disembodied and knowing the unknowable, in control of the universe, just like our minds have learned to control our selves and surroundings, right?
In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the mighty spirit belief is still with us. There is still "God and gods, ancestor spirits, and ghosts." There are still the primitive body/soul, good/evil, temporal/eternal dichotomies hanging around. In spite of the fact that humans have been "playing God” for centuries now, people still believe in a god-essence, and believe in the god experts selling that hope of an eternal life of bliss. But aren't those believers buying a placebo against returning to the non-existence from which we all come? Isn't "redemptional saving" just another word for "selling?"
We have arrived at a place in our history where survival and a short life are not our primary concerns. Kings never lived as well as we do, with hundreds of years of accumulated music, arts, and the acquired wisdom available at our ﬁngertips we take for granted. We also take for granted sanitation, inoculations, indoor plumbing, central heating, air conditioning, disease- free food, etc. There are pension plans and elder care available to us. Obviously, these life benefits are not enough for believers. They amass stuff on Earth; some buy into to the prosperity gospel movement. They want the good stuff now as well as after they die.
When I consider belief in an eternal soul with an eternal future, I am joyful to have a mortal soul. I enjoy the contradiction which is, "Oh! it hurts so good!" Who wants to live an existence without that, without grief, without continual discoveries, or anger over injustice, ignorance, stupidity? Without disappointments? One really needs to experience reconciliations, have the freedom to make mistakes, and the body/mind/conscious awareness, i.e., to be oneself. Existence without them; forever? Far from hopeful, that's depressing.
By the way, another interesting offer came in the mail today. This company's president assures me that if I sign a contract with him, anything I ask for in his name will be given to me! Anything. I've not read the small print in the contract, but, if I were a true believer, I would have the faith to know that if it's much too good to be true,... it's true.