I would not dare call this post a Theory, much more claim that it emanates from deep and knowledgeable thought. This blog is nothing more than going out on a limb and exposing my personal (and far from scientific) thoughts to people which I consider to be my friends, alas in a rather vague and generalized meaning of the term.
All my life I have been questioning most of the religious dogmatism that thrives within the official Christian denominations. Unfortunately, ever since I was a little boy I was never blessed to fully accept a matter of belief, “just because that's the way it is”. Such an acceptance would definitely make my life easier.
However, as time passes by, I have become a true believer of the existence of a Divine Mind behind the evolutionary process of our Universe. I shall not examine whether it was that Mind that created the Universe, or the Universe found a way to express itself through the gradual development of such a Mind. I shall not tire you with religious beliefs and theories and I would never dare question your personal views on the subject, whichever these may be.
I will, however, attempt to direct your attention towards an awe-inspiring process. Out of a theoretical point, 13.5 billion years ago, an unthinkable quantity of energy explodes outwards, creating the known space and time continuum we call our Universe. And this colossal energy is organized, through a number of processes, still examined and theorized by the scientists of our time, into Matter, gaining the mysterious property of Mass along the way.
And this Matter, in its turn, organizes itself into Life, a process completely insolent to the powerful and constant action of the ever-increasing loss of physical Order, which we call Entropy. The Universe is so vast, that it allows this local reversal of the arrow of this entropy on the surface of our planet (at least), since its increase elsewhere, more than compensates for that local phenomenon.
The final developmental stages on our planet include the domination of Homo Sapiens-Sapiens on its surface. Should the path of that giant asteroid had not crossed that of our Earth, 65 million years ago, it is very possible that the dominant intelligent species of today would be a warm-blooded descendant of the dinosaurs, which roamed our planet for more than 200 million years. Therefore, my statement that Intelligence is something just waiting to occur at some evolutionary point is not too far from the truth and it should constitute a lesson in humility for our entire species. We have been very fortunate, so far, to be allowed to wonder where we came from and for what reason.
The vastly superior intelligence of our human race, as compared to that of the other inhabitants of our planet has provoked, over the centuries, a number of anthropocentric religious views. It is only natural for the superstitious people of antiquity and the middle ages to conceive Man as an exact image of the Supreme Being and claim domination on all living and non-living things on Earth, but it is time for us to abandon this ludicrous view, to the benefit of the search for our true Nature.
You see, my dearest and sole Reader, I find it very hard to deny the existence of the Soul to any other living organism on Earth, just because we happen to be smarter than those creatures. Indeed, the inhumanity and cruelty exhibited by many of our species leads us to believe that certain animals not only are smarter but much more “humane” than certain human beings. It has been scientifically proven, over the last decades, that animals have all capacity for compassion, grief, solidarity, love, devotion, art appreciation, even humor, so who are we to put a dividing wall between us and them, just because we happen to have a higher quotient (most of the times) for the above feelings and have a better analyzing capability?
Up until today, we have accepted Religion to be the only Authority on matters of the Soul, because we have connected it with our religious beliefs and have never conceived it as just another physical property of our existence. I am certain that, had this text ever been read by a “hard core” scientist or engineer, it would provoke a sneer or a kind of rebuttal, at best. On the other hand, this is exactly the reaction that would be expected by a “hard core” religious person, as well. The scientist would reject this notion on the basis that any physical property should be measurable, while a religious person would recite a bunch of passages from his Holy Books, in order to claim exclusive Divine property of the Soul.
And of course, everybody in-between those two opposing points would repeat to me that the existence of the Soul is entirely a matter of Faith. What a convenient way to say that we have no crappy idea about the issue at hand and therefore we put it on the metaphysical realm of our collective experience until further notice...
The existence of the Soul is not an issue argued only by Christianity. It was expressed much earlier by the ancient Egyptian priests and Greek philosophers and Mysts, while all ancient religions described in detail everything that was expected to happen to the soul as it was separated from the body, at the time of death.
The Christian Dogma used the same term (Ψυχή-Psyche); however, the Holy Fathers posed a number of “rules” before they include it into their glossary, regarding its nature. The most important ones where that our psyche (please allow me to use the Greek term, as more accurate) is not pre-existing to our physical existence (thus separating the Christian theory from that of the Hindu and Buddhist religions) and that the human psyche is not like those of the animals, because, further to its nature as a life force, it has also received the Divine Grace that has rendered it immortal (speaking of separating walls). In addition to that, the Christian faith claims that our soul is not a part of God, but it is created by Him at the time of our conception, therefore it has the liberty to select, in the course of our lives, between the Good or the Evil. It is immortal, not by nature, but through the Grace of Jesus Christ, otherwise it is destroyed as our dead bodies do and those who have not followed Christ’s Holy Word should not expect resurrection on the coming Judgment Day (no mention of Paradise and Hell is being done, at least in the serious theological texts).
The bottom line is that all big religions on our planet have set a number of specific rules, with regard to the fate of our soul, while they all agree that this soul is immortal, one way or another. Some of these theories regard our living body as the inseparable kingdom of our soul, while others see it as just a prison holding our soul captive, while certain cryptic religious philosophies, such as the Jewish Kabbalah believe in a multiple nature of the soul, each one responsible for a different level of existence (Life Force, Mental and Spiritual).
I bet, my dearest and sole Reader, that you expect me to come up with a theory or a belief, regarding the human soul, which would better reflect the Masonic view on the subject. After all, Freemasons are known for their religious devotion, all over the world, while certain Rites, such as the York Rite have an intense religious orientation, giving its members the rank of the Knight Templar.
However, what I am really attempting here is to justify a contradicting notion, that of the belief to the immortality of our soul and our dedication to Reason. My thesis, therefore, is that the indestructibility of the human soul does not have to be a religious belief. It can very well be a belief coming from physical laws, observation and Reason.
If we accept that our Soul is the organized Energy that turns a non-living matter into a living organism, which, along the way is enriched by the resonance of our experiences, thoughts, teachings and interaction with the environment, we can go one step further and believe that this part of our existence, from the time we acquire a sense of our own self, cannot be dissipated or destroyed.
From the moment that matter is organized into life, it crosses a threshold that cannot be crossed back. Existence cannot turn into non-existence, pretty much in the same manner that we may not have a sense of time on the operating table, however, there comes the moment we come back from anesthesia and regain consciousness. No matter if the time we have lost that sense of existence is 2 minutes or 50 million millennia, we eventually have to come back. And, pretty much like the particle that finally manages to escape the black hole has no memory of the spin, charge or mass of the particles that entered the event horizon of that hole, some billions of years ago, we may expect the same to happen to what we call our soul.
I KNOW VERY WELL, that the above view may be simplistic, devoid of every religious or philosophical ornamentation and reminding you of all these New Age theories flying around, these days. Even my metaphors seem crappy to me, now that I am reading them on my screen.
However, what I am trying to underline, is that we, as Freemasons, DO NOT have to bring Religion into our Temples, simply because Freemasonry is, by nature and scope, a path to make us better men, to help us know ourselves through Reason and Observation, and to give us the tools to work towards a better world. All these are stages which will have to take place BEFORE our ultimate Initiation of our death, for which we can only prepare but not see behind the curtains. We may have our theories and beliefs, regarding the fate of our immortal soul, and still keep Religion on our personal agenda, separate from our Fraternity.
However, more and more every day, we see dogmatism, religion and absurd metaphysical theories infiltrating our Brotherhood, under the pretext of philosophical research. In certain countries (mine included), this happens because there is an inborn distrust, exhibited by the official Christian Dogma towards Freemasonry and, as a result, some of our Brothers are eager to prove that a Freemason may also be a devoted and learned Christian. In other places, Freemasonry has acted as a large shopping bag into which many brothers try to keep all their philosophical and metaphysical issues in one place, without being able (or willing) to separate them.
My humble opinion is that we should perceive the myths and stories of our Brethren for what they really are, symbolic methods of helping us understand ourselves and our position in the World and make us better human beings. We should not attempt to give to these myths any metaphysical dimensions which were not included in the founding scope of our Brotherhood, otherwise, the coming generations of Freemasons will have no way of separating our Rite from “Hare Krishna”!!
Let’s keep it simple… It is beautiful as it is…