Do you know that southern European Christians believed in transmigration until the Council of Nice banned such beliefs in 553 A. D? Have you ever heard that Drupe sect from Lebanon entertains a notion of a succession of lives with improvement in each?Are you introduced with the statistics which show that people who do not belong to any religion, in essence, believe in soul’s transmigration? Why do people tend to believe in an existence of the soul and its transmigration?
It is deeply carved in people’s mental structure an urge to reconcile themselves with some obvious facts and to try to find consolation in other not so obvious facts! We have families, friends and colleagues, we often spend decades together with our fellows deeply bonded with each other, when at some point some of our close persons get ill or dies whatever the reason is. Thousands of years ago people witnessed that dead body had decomposed and had disappeared. That was an obvious fact and people found a satisfactory way to deal with this shocking situation. They reconcile themselves with the fact that disappearance of physical body and matter is a normal and inevitable fact, and yet they could not resign themselves to something extremely difficult for them to comprehend, which is stoppage of something that cannot be stopped(based on people’s opinion), caused by illusion of eternal life.
Namely, even today people find it difficult to reconcile with the fact that some dear person of theirs have died and that they will never see them again. People often reason that there is no sense in the natural fact of making close relationships with someone, bonding with them in order a few years later to lose them. Therefore, they try to find consolation by means of the illusion that there is an afterlife where the lost bond will be re-established and people will be living happily ever after.
People created a term “soul” in order to provide themselves with the consolation that after their material death a soul as a whole will continue and will migrate (according to Drupe sect and some other Indian sects) into a new body. People believe that their essence is their “soul” as a permanent unchangeable entity which never dies. It is good enough for people to explain something they could not bear, is not it?
Even today when I debate with some of my acquaintances or friends, they still claim that there must be a distinguished soul in any individual because they cannot find an explanation to: “How come that I am alive for so many years to disappear a few years later? There must be another, the deeper meaning of life, than just a simple birth and death! If there is just a simple birth and death, then what is the purpose and meaning of our selves?” All these questions that it is hard to find an answer result from one very complex concept named Ego.
The word Ego comes from a Greek word Ego which means “Me” or “I”. An Ego is formed by a unique and complex network of connections between our body, sensations, conceptualizations, ideas, beliefs, and consciousness. How does an Ego form?
When a child is born the first thing that he/she will hear is: “Mummy loves you very much”. The entire family is gathering around the baby petting him/her, talking sweet things to him/her, playing with him/her all the time, kissing his/her head, hands. These are the first indications in baby’s mind of his/her existence as a separate being, even though the complete sense of self-consciousness will develop a bit later, in fact at the age of around 2.5.
At a very early age child begins to examine themselves, analyzing their arms, their hands, feet, and toes, initially without being aware that those arms belong to them because the idea of self-consciousness is not developed yet, hence there is no Him/Her. Slowly, children realize that all limbs are physically connected with the body, they realize that they use eyes as a sense of sight, ears as a sense of hearing and nose as a sense of smell, then they realize that whenever they want they can move their arms and they can literally control every muscle movement in their body even though they do not know what a muscle is. A few years later they begin to wonder what that object is which they see when they look in the mirror. They realize that when they move their left arm their reflection in the mirror is also moving its left arm and when they move their mouth, the reflection is also moving its mouth and therefore they are starting to learn i.e. to draw conclusions that the object seen in the mirror is actually Them.
(Do you know that some primates, elephants, dolphins are conscious of their own body? A quite simple experiment was conducted when a forehead of a primate was painted with a red color different from his natural color. When a mirror was brought in front of the animal, it started to scratch its forehead exactly at the painted patch trying to eliminate it. It even smelled its nails to find out what the color smelled like as it was not its own!).
These are the first indications of self-consciousness. Children are beginning to learn how to become conscious of their physical appearance. Later whilst the first days at school they learn to read, to do the math, to introduce themselves to nature and society and depending on their talent and inclinations they are stimulated to pick a certain branch to carry on with their education. At their teenage some of them stand out with their attractive physical appearance, the others with their intelligence and talents and some of them are a mixture. Egos are becoming more and more distinctive and unique as the years pass.
Everything is all right; at least, it seems to be. Unfortunately, we live in a very competitive world where everyone guns for the best at the highest position in his/her field. The world of competition develops at a very early age, when a teacher praises and encourages good pupils and tells off bad students. Scholarships are given to the best students and those with worse grades have to pay for their school. Again better jobs will be given to those who acquired higher grades and not to those who paid for their school. The education system is structured in a fashion that bright students benefit at the expense of those slower to learn. The social system is organized in a way that highly educated people are more respected than the others and they enjoy better positions. Young people are stimulated to compete and that fact only reinforces their ego because if someone is unsuccessful in that competition then jealousy can be triggered and it can undermine our psyche.
Instead of connection and unity, people disconnect, individualize and Ego transforms into Egoist. On the other hand, Ego can be altered positively if we exploit some other tools. Some of these tools can be meditation, self-analysis, deep thinking, objective criticism, self-criticism etc, which can lead to the concept of self-awareness. There is no totally self-aware person, anyway, the closer we are to 100% of self-awareness, the chances are larger to find a solution to the primal issue: “How come that I am alive for so many years and then to disappear forever? There must be another, the deeper meaning of life, then just a simple birth and death! If there is just a simple birth and death, then what is the purpose, what is the point of our being?” In order to achieve self-awareness we first need to understand our mind. We all live in 2 different worlds, in fact, there is an external real world related to our factual activities as well as a world of imagination related to our mind.
If you are seeking to create greater fulfillment in your life most sources will point to making changes in your external world. However, a change in the virtual reality of your mind will make a lasting impact on your fulfillment. All that matters is to find a path to understanding what we love and what we believe in with passion. We need to find a way how our mind influences these emotions; otherwise, even if we feel passion or belief that will last for some time, afterward we may feel empty again. Our mind is an entity that has power over our emotions and it urges that we should seek fulfillment in the change of the external world. For example, our mind proposes that making money, success and career is all that we need in order to achieve happiness and fulfillment. It is concerned with his own material body’s survival and it is a rational part of our being and this is why its plan is to provide us with a rational decision. In the world based on material things, our mind exhibits intelligence, which, in turn, is achieving maximum effect in any situation either difficult or pleasant.
When we pay attention to the reality of our mind’s existence it is going to lose control over our thoughts and emotions which will result in an increase of our self-awareness, awareness of our self-being separate from our mind, thus increase of our emotional intelligence. Fulfillment does not rely on success, failure or any external factor; instead, it is determined by our beliefs. Depending on your desire and internal need to be happy, you can decide your priorities to be your emotions and beliefs as general attitudes towards life instead of achieving external goals. People led by their mind accomplish their external goals and in every next step, they tend to set a higher goal as a challenge. With every external goal accomplished, people feel temporary excitement or euphoria which after a while gradually turns into dissatisfaction and they need to set another higher goal. This vicious chain ends up in stress or other mental disorder. The solution is to commit yourself to looking into yourself, to increase your self-awareness and, therefore, to reinforce your ego positively. When I say “to reinforce your positively” that means to find a way to examine ourselves through meditation and to connect ourselves with the Universe. Buddha once said:
Truth cannot be explained with words
Such profound words can only come out from a mouth of an enlightened person absolutely aware of himself and his nature. There is no book which can tell you the truth. Instead, there are a lot of spiritual books which will pave your way to realizing where the truth lies, books which will teach you how to think and not what to think because any book that edifies you what to think actually contains doctrines which try to explain complex issues in simple ways. Complex things can be explained only by deep thinking and meditation as opposed to teachings based on doctrines. Experiment, probe and try to find your own way in discovering what your attitude will be.
I personally tend to think that there is no “Me”, there is no “You”. I think:
Do we die? Does “we” exist? Is “me” an illusion? Every extremely tiny moment we are changing, there is an illusion of every new “me” in every new endlessly small moment. When our material body cease to function and decays it does not mean that “we” have died(it means that the functional energy loses its “lively” properties) and when a baby or an insect or a planet is born it does not mean that “another” life is created. All the energy is mutual, it belongs to the universe, it belongs to all of us, it flows and changes continuously, it splits, it connects if favorable conditions are met, it disconnects if favorable conditions are met as well, it is not happy if it connects and creates something new and fresh, it does not despair if it disconnects and some organic or inorganic formation ceases to exist. Everything is normal, everything is fine, everything is worth admiring; everything makes our jaw drops when we realize that we are not “we”, that there is no “me”, that we all are just a part of something larger, more complex. Everything is constantly moving in order to renew itself into something different and healthier!