EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK: Secrets Behind the Veil - what you don't know can hurt you, by P. D. Moore. 
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                    Chapter 26

        Is there Life Beyond the grave?

                        The only power the dead can exercise over the living is in their last Will and Testament.”

- P. D. Moore

For years now reincarnation has been gaining acceptance among intellectuals and the general public alike. Films like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Angel only reinforce this belief. According to Professor Dumbledore, of Hogwart, “Death is the next great adventure”. And so millions of us in the West now have the same spiritual beliefs as over 3 billion Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists and, other esoteric  faiths. All of which teach that man has an immortal soul .

The reality is however that the closest that we can ever get to immortality is through organ donations, and the powers of the gifts we bequeath in our Wills. So why do so many of us have confused such ideas in regard to life after death?

The question of what happens to us at death  is of course a profound one. If as many believe there is a soul  within man, what is it made of, and where does it live? What happens to the soul at death? Does it go to paradise, nirvana, undergo rebirth, suffer purgation or just annihilation? Or is the soul something within us that just flies away when we breathe our last breath?

And what about a resurrection? Christians hold to this belief, yet many of them still believe in an immortal soul that flies off to heaven or descending into hell.  According to the Bhagavad-gita, those who do not have any interest in their soul’s destiny, or who make no inquiry about their ‘non-physical’ nature are compelled by the laws of karma to repeat the cycle of birth death and rebirth until they learn to value the soul.

Let us then explore this concept of the soul. To do this we must consider what is the soul (if there is indeed such a thing as the soul). We will also have to ask how did the concept of a soul originate in the first place and whether its meaning has changed over time.

The history of the soul

I will not repeat here in any detail the Hindu/Buddhist views about the soul or spirit. We have covered these in sufficient depth already. We must now explore some other beliefs about the soul or spirit that is said to reside within man. For the Greek philosopher Plato the soul was the ‘immortal seat of reason’. For Aristotle it could be found in animals as well as in plants, and was the ‘essence’ of every being, but it died when the body died. For other philosophers it was the spark of God in man or the fountain of creativity; for others it was a chimera, or boggy, or duppy.

What is clear from the literature is that unlike Plato, Aristotle does not attribute consciousness  to the soul . In other words for Aristotle the only difference between the ‘souls’ of animals and that of man is the ability to reason. This Aristotelian view is the nearest to the Abrahamic beliefs of the soul. This belief was first expressed in the book of Genesis 2:17, and 3:3: “Ye shall surely die”

My research revealed three or four main views of the soul. By main I mean most common. There is the Vedic view – based on reincarnation - that the soul is a part from a larger, or Universal Soul. It is thought that the soul has to migrate through a series of lower life forms or bodies before it can rejoin the Super Soul. A figure like the Buddha, for example is believed to be the product of many such countless reincarnations, and hence possessed of great wisdom. We already explored this view in earlier chapters.

Then there is the Abrahamic approach, from which the early Christians got their belief. Vedic and other spiritualistic teaching on the soul have since contaminated this view of the soul. Consequently, the Christian churches, with a few exceptions, all teach a mixture of Abrahamic and Vedic, or ‘pagan’ views on the soul. My reasons for saying this will soon become apparent. But for now the Funk & Wagnall Dictionary is authority on the point: Among the ancient Hebrews ‘soul’ was the equivalent of the principle of life as embodied in living creatures, and this meaning is continued throughout the Bible .      

The Greek philosopher, Homer, on the other hand thought that the individual, or soul was little more than the play things of the gods, who sought to enact their will and drama through human agents – hence the idea of the god-kings or emperors.

The early Jewish, or Abrahamic view was quite different from the Greek tradition on this point. Even in Hellenistic times, Jews believed that the friends of God would live forever, but by a very different means: God would bring his friends back to life in new bodies - The New Age Encyclopedia, page 385.

The Fallacy of Immortality

Two well-intentioned men, Michael Roll and Ronald Pearson gave a series of talks around Britain to prove that there is survival of the ‘soul’ after death. On Friday 12th May, the audience at The Star of the East hall was privileged to hear a preview of the following day's lecture at Canterbury University. At Canterbury University? Who would have thought such a thing imaginable? But such are the times in which we live.

Clearly the belief in an immortal soul is no longer unique to Hinduism and other so-called ‘pagan’ religions. Christians too have come to accept this most fundamental of beliefs of the occultism and New Age Spiritualism – the belief in the immortality of the soul. Dr Norman Vincent Peale, a leading Christian minister in the USA, in the 1953 October issue of The Reader’s Digest, under the Article titled “There is no Death” confirmed this when he said:

I firmly believe in the continuation of life  after what we call death …. I believe there are two sides to the phenomenon known as death: this side where we now live and the other side where we shall continue to live.

Now why do so Christian minister believe so firmly what his own Holy book so firmly rejects? Such prominent views are one reason for the perpetuation and widespread acceptance of the belief, that when a man or woman dies the body is vacated by an “immortal spirit” or “soul”, which never really dies, but departs to its place of reward or punishment. This belief however stems from a profound misunderstanding of what constitutes ‘the soul’.

So what is the soul ?

The soul is not some conscious entity within man; rather it is the seat of the emotion, the intellect - your will. It is not some separate entity within the body. The Greek word for soul psuche, gives us the English word psychology, which means the study of the self. The soul is your Self. It is that which makes you different from others (that is to same your mind and emotions). If this were not the case, it would mean that were we ever to clone a human being there would be two people with the same soul. So what would become of that soul on the death  of both those individuals? And if one of them turned out to be ‘good’ and the other a psychopathic killer, what would be the destiny and future of that soul which resided in them both when they were alive? It’s a nonsense.

With your soul you are self-conscious; and without the soul there is no consciousness. This alone should convince us that the soul is the individual mind and emotions. What you think of yourself is therefore a reflection of your soul’s condition. Conversely, with your body you are sense conscious – you relate to the world around you with your touch, sight and smell. On the other hand with your ‘spirit’ you are God-Conscious. By ‘spirit’ I do not mean what is generally understood.

Most Christians confuse the ‘spirit’ with the soul and use the terms interchangeably. This is an error. This is not what the early Apostles believe and taught. You will see from my treatment of the subject in this chapter and the next, that I make a case to the contrary.

The belief of the immortality of the soul (often incorrectly termed spirit) is derived from the ‘pagan’ world, first adopted by the Roman Church during the time the Church of Rome sought to align herself with the powers of the Empire and the mystical religion of its people. I say the Church of Rome, as it is important to emphasise that this teaching was not universally accepted in Christendom. Neither Martin Luther, nor Tertullian for example held this view. Even today not all Christians espouse the mystical belief in life after death.

So what did the early non-Roman Christians, and Apostles believe about the ‘spirit’ (sometimes incorrectly referred to as the soul)? We have already seen what the Bible, in both New and Old Testament says on this. The early Christians maintained that position up to the 1500s. Early Christian writers understood that there are three dimensions, or life-functions within man. Tertullian for example, who lived just a couple of hundred years after Christ (circa 150-220 A.D.), wrote that the body was the area of “world-consciousness,” the soul was the area of “personal-consciousness,” and the spirit was the area of “God-consciousness.”

The great British Reformer William Tyndale wrote concerning the dead :

“I confess openly, that I am not persuaded that they [i.e. the dead] be already in .. glory …. Nor is it any article of my faith; for if it were so, I see not but then the preaching of the resurrection of the flesh were a thing in vain.” - Preface to New Testament (ed. 1534). Reprinted in British Reformers – Tindale, Frith, Barnes, page 349.

The reformer Martin Luther classed this doctrine as one of the “monstrous fables that form part of the dunghill of Roman decretals [or papal decrees].” – see E. Patavel, The Problem of Immortality, page 255. In one place Luther says, commenting on Eccl. 9:5,6:

“There is … no duty, no science , no knowledge , no wisdom there. Solomon judgeth that the dead  are asleep, and feel noting at all. For the dead lie there, accounting neither days nor years …. ” - Exposition of Solomon’s Booke [sic] Called Ecclesiastes, page 152).

And yet 400 years on and the Christian churches that were born from the Reformation still believe in this “monstrous fable”.

John Milton, the renowned author of Paradise Lost, wrote correctly, in his “Treatise on Christian Doctrine,” Vol. I, pages 250, 251:

“Man is a living being, intrinsically and properly one individual, not compound and separable, not, according to the common opinion, made up and framed of two distinct and different natures, as of body and soul, but the whole man is soul, and the soul, man; that is to say, a body or substance, individual, animated, sensitive, and rational.”

It is strange indeed why so many of the traditional, orthodox Christian denominations hold so tightly to this darling error.

What you are about to read next will explode all the beliefs you have ever held about life  after death. It certainly did that to mine. It’s not easy to discard views we have taken for granted or held sacred for years in just one moment. Yet it is pivotal to an understanding of the powerful secrets that lie behind the New Age and all the various phenomina described earlier in this book. I will attempt to structure the information in bite-size bits so that it is easier to follow. I should say here that for me it was an intriguing and amazing discovery.

What do the dead  really know?

The widely held belief among Christian religions is that there is consciousness in death and immortality of the soul .....

..... The belief that the dead have awareness is premised on the teaching of the immortality  of the soul . Yet it is interesting to note that although the Bible contains 66 books, 1,189 chapters, and 38,232 verses containing 874,746 words (and no, I didn't count them), it uses the word ‘immortal’ just once (that’s found in 1 Tim. 1:17). One would have thought that if immortality was such an important characteristic of man’s soul it would have been mentioned a lot more often than that. After all the term ‘soul’ is mentioned some many times in the Bible. Further, the term is used in reference to God, not man. 1 Tim. 6:15, 16 confirm that this term has no relevance to man, that only God has immortality. So why do so many Christians still believe that there is an immortal soul (or spirit ) within man? Why do they contradict their own Bible – their own thus saith the Lord? And no I am not trying to be facetious.

What then is the ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ in man?

Despite the popularity  in the belief in the immortality of the soul or ‘spirit’ in the Christian world there is no real support for it in their Scriptures. So what is the ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’ in man? ....

....  Webster's Dictionary shows the source of this contamination:

“The [modern] Christian conception of the soul derives from the Greek, especially as modified by the mystery cults, as well as from the Bible ...

It was Augustine who taught who first gave credence to the belief that the soul was some immaterial and spiritual entity  - a pagan view that has been held on to by most Christian theologians down to the present time.

But Hasting's Bible Dictionary concurs with Webster’s:

Soul is throughout a great part of the Bible simply the equivalent of ‘life’ embodied in living creature. In the earlier usage of the Old Testament it has no reference to the later philosophical meaning - the animating principle - still less to the idea of an ‘immaterial nature’ which will survive the body.

......

What is the cause of all this confusion?

It probably stems from a misunderstanding of the Greek and Hebrew. The word translated “spirit ” in the New Testament is the Greek word “pneuma” (pnyoo'-mah) which means “a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or breeze”. The word translated “soul ” is different. It is the Greek word “psuche” psoo-khay' which means the capacity for reasoning, responding with emotion, and making complex decisions (“personal-consciousness”).

The Greek translators of the Septuagint rendered the Hebrew word, “nephesh” into the Greek word “psuche” (i.e. a sensory being). The Greek word psuche was employed six hundred times to translate the Hebrew word nephesh, which referred to the behavioural capacity of “soul.” The very first usage of the Hebrew word nephesh appears in Gen. 1:20,21. The verses read, “And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarmers having living soul (nephesh) ... And God created the great sea-monsters and all having a living soul (nephesh) ...” Later in the same chapter, God says, “Let the earth bring forth living soul (nephesh) after its kind, cattle and creepers, and the beasts of the earth after its kind” (Gen. 1:24).

Reference is made again to “every beast of the earth, to every bird of the heavens, and to every creeper on the earth in which is a living soul (nephesh)” (Gen. 1:30). Again, in the second chapter of Genesis we read that "God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living soul (nephesh), that was its name” (Gen. 2:19). The same usage for soul (nephesh) is found in Genesis 9: 10,15,16.

From these verses alone it is clear that the Hebrew word nephesh, translated into the Greek as psuche and from Greek to English as “soul,” is applied to animals as well as to mankind. It refers to the living organism and its particular behavioural qualities. All living creatures have behavioural qualities unique to their specie, by instinct. For example lions are ravenous hunters, while sheep are docile herbivores. Both have a different soul (psuche, or nephesh) – a different nature.

On the other hand the spirit, “pneuma” (current of air, i.e. breath or gases) is found in all life . This is not immortal. On the contrary it is transient. Just stop breathing for 10 minutes and see if it returns? You will be dead . So where does that breath go? It goes back to the body of air that exists all around us. Not to heaven, hell or purgatory. Nor does it remain to haunt or instruct those still living. Immortality belongs only to God. At death  the soul  or personality (psuche, or nephesh) is preserved by God for the executive judgment of the wicked or for the resurrection of the just.  This soul is what gives each man his identity or personality. Man’s spirit (pneuma) returns to the air or atmosphere. It has no consciousness of its own.

Is the soul of man and animals the same?

No. The ‘spirit’ or, breath (i.e. the air we breathe) is the same, but soul of man is not the same as the soul of the beasts.  What, then, makes man’s soul different from the animals? Man has greater capacity for reasoning, responding with emotion, and making complex decisions than does any animal. Human beings not only have the capacity for physical life -function in a “body,” and the capacity for behavioural life-function in a “soul”, but also to these are added the capacity to respond to spiritual life - that is to the supernatural or worship .

The “soul” (nephesh in the Hebrew) is used to denote the immaterial life principle within mankind and animals, and is translated “physical life”. .....

..... Mankind has the capacity for life -function at three levels: body and soul and spirit. We are able to function at a physical, psychological and spiritual level.  These are not three separate “parts” of man, which are partitioned or compartmentalised. They are nothing more than the three levels of capacity for life-function, rather than entities , which comprise mankind’s nature. Any other description is misleading, and should be avoided. ....

Counter Arguments - In search of the ‘soul

Now I know that many Spiritualists and an even larger number of Christians who know their Bible will probably counter by referring to 1 Peter 3:19, which says, speaking of Christ, “By which also he [Christ] went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” This they say show the dead are conscious.

But such an assumption is contrary to what we have already read in .....

Well I have already explained the position from Greek and Hebrew words like pneuma, psuche, and nephesh. If you still have doubts, or questions I deal with all the possible objections in my book Another Loook at Death – in search of the soul. I also look at several other texts of Scripture used by many, within and without the Christian faith, to support the belief in the immortality of the soul. For example, Hebrews 12: 23; Luke 10:20; Matthew 10: 28 which says, ‘Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul’. 1 Samuel 28 (King Saul’s visit to the Witch of Endor) is also explored.

© copyright P.D. Moore and Lux-Verbi Books 2002. All rights reserved.

 

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