Friday, 10 June 2016

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Soul

   In this article, I will politely ask my readers to have their minds open to new possibilities and ideas, and to not let what they already know inhibit them from learning something new. That is because I will try to explore some new ideas and philosophies that are counter intuitive and hard to understand, but will eventually lead to the knowledge about the purpose of humanity in this world and fill your lives with hope.
  From the moment we are born in this world, we develop a physical intuition about how the environment behaves and how matter interacts. But in this article, we need to leave this intuition behind us and step into a new realm, the world of ideas. That is because ideas are not physical, nor do they have a material form, and so they do not behave like everything else that we see, touch or feel in this world. Of course, the first argument or thought one might have is the fact that since they have no physical existence, are ideas even real? Since they are a product of our thoughts and do not possess a material form, do they really exist? The answer is yes. First, think about science. Math does not exist, in the sense that one will never encounter the number -2.3 in nature. But math does lead us in real results. For example, as it comes to the imaginary numbers (where the imaginary number ''i'' is equal to the square root of minus 1) even though they are not real, they can be used to compute real results and beyond that, they have physical applications in geometry. Mathematician J. Hadamard stated, ''The shortest path between two truths in the real domain passes through the complex domain.'' So even though they do not physically exist, they exist as ideas that can be used in order to produce physical results. A great example of this is the sum of all integers numbers, which is equal to -1/12. In order for someone to understand that, he should watch the appropriate video here, and if he has no mathematical background, he should watch it after the 16:03 minute mark. An infinite sum is not something that can physically happen; if I started to add numbers from the beginning of the universe until its end, even then, I would not be close to infinity. But their result, instead of being infinite as someone would expect, converges to -1/12, a negative number. That is a result that a classical mind, that isexplaining the world using classical physics, cannot accept and understand. But, classical physics falls short when it comes to comprehending reality and this is the point where quantum mechanics step in. And as a physics student, I can tell you that this is a completely valid quantum mechanical result, that even though it does not agree with our physical intuition and logic, it has been validated as true. It is called the Casimir effect and more information about it can be found here. The experiment is simple. Scientists placed two uncharged conductive plates next to each other in a vacuum. In the absence of an electric field, someone would expect the energy between them to equal zero. However quantum mechanics tells us that there can be no zero energy as in the vacuum particles spontaneously are ''created and destroyed'' (Heisenberg uncertainty principle and more information about it can be found here). So when the scientists did the math, in order to try to predict the result they would get, they ended up with the sum of all integer numbers for one dimension and in cube for three dimensions. Of course, the classical result would suggest this sum to be infinite, which would mean infinite energy between the two plates, which is obviously wrong. But when they performed the experiment, they measured the energy in one dimension to be -1/12 and in three dimensions the corresponding result! From ideas that have no physical representation, we ended up with applicable real results! That must mean that ideas are actually real and not just fictional.
 Furthermore, one can do extraordinary things with the power of his mind. For example, he can heal himself via the use of what is widely known as placebo effect or can cause damage to his health via long term anxiety. Placebo effect is the phenomenon where a patient can experience positive, or more rarely, negative effects in his health by believing that he is under medical treatment, even though in reality he is not, such as being given sugar pills instead of the actual medication. Such is the power of mind that Doctors Walach Harald of the European University of Frankfurt, Germany and Kirsch Irving of the University of Hull, United Kingdom stated in the abstract of their book ''Herbal treatments and antidepressant medication'' that, ''Depression is one of the most widespread psychological disorders. According to statistics reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 8% of adults and adolescents reported being depressed during any 2-week period between 2006 and 2008. The most common treatment for depression is antidepressant medication. From 2005 to 2008, about 1 in 10 Americans aged 12 and over took antidepressants, an increase of 400% over estimates made a decade earlier. During this same period, a controversy developed regarding the efficacy of these treatments. Although a strong positive response to anti depressive medication is undeniable, clinical trials indicate that most of this response is duplicated by inert placebos. This finding has led some authors to question whether antidepressants are much more than active placebos.'' Another amazing story that demonstrates the power of our ideas is the one by Henry Beecher, who while treating soldiers during World War II, ran out of morphine. As a result, he decided to tell his patients that he was still giving them morphine, while in reality he was infusing them with a saline solution. Surprisingly, 40% of the soldiers said that the given medicine had eased their pain. Moreover, the psychologist Guy Sapirstein determined after 39 studies on the effectiveness of antidepressant medicines that 50% of the therapeutic benefits were derived from the placebo effect, while only 27% was caused due to the given drugs! Three years later, with the help of the psychologist Irving Kirsch, he conducted 19 double-blind studies regarding depression, and he concluded that the benefits of the placebo were causing 75% of the total benefits! Even a whole book would not be enough in order to site all the amazing benefits form placebos, so I will leave the reader with the question: how could thoughts possibly have such a big effect if they are not real? Doctor Jean-Pierre Garnier Malet claims (double time theory and the relative video can be found here) that thoughts can not only affect ourselves, but also our environment, where positive thoughts can prevent problems while negative thoughts can create them. Pythagoras and other ancient philosophers used to claim the same thing. Why do all self-improvement books say to believe in yourself? Because ideas and thoughts are real and by believing you can do something, you can actually do it.
 Of course, we humans produce thoughts. So let's define our character, emotions and memories with the word ''soul'', and our intellect, meaning our ability to think with the word ''spirit'', like Pythagoras did. Here comes the big question. Are our thoughts and ideas a product of our brain alone and so when we die, our spirit and soul (thoughts) cease to exist as well? Or does intellect, a product of our spirit that is manifested in this world via the brain, live on after our death and so, like every religion and spiritual organization claims, we continue to exist? Are our souls and spirits immortal, or is it just a fancy word I used to define our emotions and intellect? To get a defining answer, one should read Phaedrus by Plato, where Socrates proves via logical arguments that our soul (because, unlike me Socrates defined as our soul both our emotion and our intellect) is immortal. I will try to superficially convey his arguments here. In the beginning Socrates, as a teaser, argues that ''opposite'' things happen from ''opposite'', meaning that when one of them is being reduced, the other one is being increased. For example the more beautiful someone is, the less ugly he is, the more good he is, the less evil he is. Also, one thing or ''state'' is being derived from its opposite, like being awake, or being cold. You go from sleep to awake and then back to sleep again, or from hot to cold and back to hot again. But death is obviously being derived from life. So, according to our previous train of thought, life must also being derived from death. Here a true philosopher would ask, ''What is life''? Life is defined as our existence, while death as the non-existence. If something can think, it has intellect, so it ''exists'', and so it is alive. Descartes said, '' as long as I can think, I know that I exist.'' Therefore, life, having here the meaning of intellect, must have existed before we were born, and must continue to exist after our death so that is may come back to life again. For more proof recall my article about reincarnation, which you may read here. So of course, in order for our intellect to exist before our body was created, it must result in the existence of what I have defined as spirit. These thoughts might appear weird and counter intuitive because we are not dealing with physical objects here, but with ideas. You cannot have the opposite of a piece of wood, but you can have the opposite of justice to be injustice, because justice is an idea and it does not behave like matter, but it also extremely real. Obviously, this ''proof'' from Socrates about the existence of our soul after our death is based on a generalization, and it is questionable. That is the reason I called it a teaser before. Thankfully Socrates did not stop his arguments here.
 Additionally, Socrates developed his theory of reminiscence, which logically leads into the immortality of soul. More specifically, if for example someone sees an apple, what he might remember is that moment when he was eating an apple with his significant other. This is called recollection, meaning to remember something from something else, that has no obvious connection with it except in your mind. Of course, in order to recollect something, it is obvious that you must already know it, and furthermore, it does not matter if the thing that caused the recollection of another thing is similar or completely different from it. But then Socrates asked how one learned the idea of equality? Since no physical objects can be equal. A piece of wood or a rock cannot be equal to another wood or rock. They can be similar, but not equal. Two ideas can be equal, like two numbers, but physical objects can only be similar, always falling short of the idea of the perfect equality. Same think goes for justice, beauty, good, and other ideas. Even though we do not see them, because they are not physical, we know about them, by seeing something else, similar to it or different. Therefore, what we are doing is recollection! But, as stated, in order to recollect something we must already know it! As a result, we do not really learn these ideas, like what is nice and beautiful, but we recollect them, from a time before we were born, since apparently we cannot do that inside this world! Therefore, our soul and spirit must have existed before we were born in order for us to have these ideas inside us. So our thoughts and emotions are not produced by the brain, but rather our soul and spirit, and are manifested in this world via the brain. In addition, people have unjustified phobias. For example, someone can be claustrophobic even though he has never had any bad experiences with them. That means that his soul, his character, already had this idea inputted into his mind. How is that possible though if he had never experienced anything like it before? Could it be that he had a bad experience in a previous life that could result in such a phobia? Doctor Ian Stevenson devoted his life to finding evidence that memories and physical injuries can be transferred from one life to another by examining more than 3000 children over 40 years. His researcher became internationally recognized and more information about it can be found here.
 Finally, Socrates developed another theory where he claims that not only ideas exist, but they are also,as the word denotes, ideal. For example, there is such a thing as the ideal beauty, and in order for something to be beautiful, it must ''participate'' in the idea of beauty. Even though this idea initially might appear counter intuitive, it makes sense because if one stops thinking in term of matter, he will see that beauty, harmony and other such ideas, are unique. Take as an example the temperature. We cannot have something becoming a different cold than another, neither can it reach a different absolute zero temperature. Similarly, if there were two ideas that described the ideal beauty, then these ideas would be the same and therefore it would be illogical to speak of them as being separate. It is easier to visualize with numbers. We can have one pie in one table and one pie in another table and the two pies would be different no matter what, even if we have to search for these differences at the microscopic level. But, as it comes to ideas, the number one will always be the same number one, and therefore, we cannot talk about two number ones, because it is illogical. Consequently, there can be only one idea of beauty etc., and the more something ''participates'' inside that idea, the more beautiful it is. Of course, the more beautiful something is, the less ugly it is, the more good something is, the less evil it is. These ideas Socrates called opposite and unlike physical objects, ideas always have an opposite. Additionally, he stated that something cannot cause opposite results. For example, an action, an object, or generally anything cannot cause different results at the same time, meaning nothing can influence an object in a way so that it can make it both hot and cold at the same time. It is illogical for X to coexist with its opposite Y together such as something cannot be good and bad together. That is because the more we have of one, the less we have of another. Lets say there are three people, A, B, and C, each one taller than the other. Socrates assumes that B is taller than C, but shorter than A, because of their height. According to our previous developed logic, something can not cause both opposites (the idea of short and tall) at the same time. Therefore, B is not taller than C and shorter than A because of their height, but due to how much they participate in the idea of size! It is not their physical height that makes one taller than the other, but how much their height participates in the idea of size! This is a new and strange way of thinking that is challenging to understand, but it goes accordingly with logic and reason, and so it must be followed. Socrates then stated that some things must participate by their nature in one idea and if they ''leave'' this idea, they stop existing. For example, Socrates says that ice must be part of the idea of cold, for if it is not cold, then it is water. Additionally, if someone is a saint then he must participate in the idea of good, and if he is no longer good, then he ceases to be a saint. If a number is even, then it can never stop participating in the idea of even and become odd. Basically, if a thing by its nature participates in one idea, then it cannot participate in its opposite. Therefore, things that, by their nature, participates in opposite ideas do not ''belong'' and ''go'' together, like numbers, which are divided in odd and even and these two categories cannot be mixed up. Therefore opposite ideas not only exclude each other, but also exclude the things that participate inside them! Socrates gave a practical example of this. Ice participates in the idea of cold, and fire participates in the idea of hot. Therefore, they exclude each other because if we throw ice in the fire, the fire will be extinguished and ice will turn to water. Finally, Socrates asked one of his students to tell him something that participates in each idea. For example, he asked what thing raises temperature? It is what participates in the idea of ''hot'', e.g. fire. Then he said, what produces sickness? The answer is obviously what participates in the opposite of the idea of health, for example fever. Afterwards, he asked what thing makes a number odd. Apparently it is what participates in the idea of odd numbers, for example the number one. But finally he said, what brings life? A great question indeed. According to our previous logic, it is the thing that participates in the idea of life, which is none other than our soul! Because life is existence and thought or consciousnesses is what makes us exists. Rocks do not have consciousness, nor can they think, thus they are dead, meaning a rock as a person, an entity a being, does not exist. Once again, Descartes said as long as I think, I exist. As long as you can think, you exist as an individual, as an entity, and as a person. But, if after you die, everything ends and your thoughts, ideas, and character die with your brain then you do not exist anymore. Simple as that. But you do not need to worry about that because the opposite idea of life is death. And as we just saw, our soul participates in the idea of life and so it cannot participate the idea of death! As a result, our soul is immortal and can never die!
 Even further, in my article about the nature of reality, that can be found here, I state that reality is unique and we cannot have more than one thing to exist at the same time. Therefore, God must be unique in the sense that Zeus, Odin and Allah cannot all be true. As a result, all religions and spiritual organizations, since they are claiming to be bringing God's will towards humans, must say the same thing, since God, like reality, is unique. Obviously they don't, but God is an infinite being, unlimited and perfect, in the sense that he is all good, all loving, just etc. So how can humans, who are limited, finite, and not perfect, understand God and also His word? How could they preserve through various generations His word unchanged? We haven't. In another article, that can be found here, I explain how the church corrupted the preachings of Christ throughout the centuries, and why what the church teaches now is very far away from what Jesus said. That did not happen only to Christians, but also to almost every other major religion. Therefore, if one studies every religion and serious spiritual organization and manages to see beyond this human factor of corruption that varies due to the difference between eras, cultures and civilizations, he will discover they are all saying the same things. He will discover the same truths behind the teachings of Christ, Buddha, Plato and Gandhi! But, the most well-known and obvious thing is that every religion talked about the existence of the soul and life after death.
 I prompt you to think something beautiful for example a nice painting. The painting, as we stated before, participates in the idea of beauty. But if the painting is destroyed does the ideal beauty also die with it? No. That is the reason ideas are immortal. They are not affected by matter. How many times I stab or torn apart the painting, I will not affect the idea of beauty, because, simply enough, it is not physical. Even if all beauty in Earth ceased to exist, the ideal beauty would be unaffected. As a result, ideas cannot be affected by matter. I cannot hurt justice, neither can I kill the number one. Note that as we saw before though, ideas can affect matter (e.g. placebo effect). Therefore, something material cannot produce ideas since it cannot even affect them. So, it is not our brain that produces our thoughts, but rather our spirit. But beyond that, since matter does not affect ideas, then our physical death should not affect at all our intellect, our character, and our thoughts! That is the reason I defined in the beginning our intellect as our spirit and our character as our soul because they are immortal and continue to exist after our death! And even further, if our soul (character and emotions) and our spirit (intellect) dies with our body, how could something mortal give birth to something immortal, like ideas? Finally, the spacetime continuum that encloses our universe affects only material things, even if they have no mass (e.g. photons of light). But, as I have stated before, ideas are not physical. Therefore, they exist beyond the limits of time and space. And so, stepping inside the boundary of quantum mechanics once again, something that exists beyond time does not age, change, or fade away. Matter changes by its nature, but ideas and therefore also souls are not physical. Therefore their nature does not dictate them to change and eventually die.
 As a result, we must accept the existence of our immortal soul, not because we want to believe in it, but because logic forces us to believe in it. This way, we can reevaluate our priorities in life and chose the right path for us. Our life is short, minimal in comparison with our soul, which is forever, and so instead of giving into lesser desires like anger and hate, we must do our best to love the people around us and help them, so that we may take care of our soul this way. We must abolish our previous ways of thinking and devote our life in the search for good, kindness, and enlightenment so that we may live forever with the good actions we have done and not the bad. Finally, before we take up any action, we should pause to think if our action will to benefit our soul or our purse. Our soul is eternal and we are going to live with it forever, so it is simply not worth it to corrupt our immortal soul in order to fulfill some fleeting desire we have. Everything in this life falls short to immortality, and so we must tend to the everlasting part of us, not our ephemeral life in this world, by being kind, helpful, and a positive influence in this cosmos.


                                                                                                                  Andreas Sarchosis

Monday, 6 June 2016

Apothegm

When you are speaking, you just repeat what you already know.

But when you are listening, you may learn something new.

-Dalai Lama

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Parables

In this article I wish to examine the meaning of a few of Christ's parables. Even if you don't believe in his divine nature, the fact remains that he was a great historical figure given that he created one of the largest religions and so the wisdom of his words cannot be ignored. Therefore, one should try to understand the meaning of his teachings.
  He said in Matthew 7:6 "Do not give dogs what is holy; do not throw your pearls before swine. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces." The meaning of this is to not give the ''divine'' knowledge to people who can't appreciate it or are not ready for it. That is because the ''dogs will tear you to pieces'', that is, these people that will try to hurt you and become aggressive. A prime example of that are fanatics, who will become mad due to the fact that they can only accept their faith as true and everything else makes them angry, because they cannot justify what they believe via logic. Also, the ''pigs that may trample it under their feet'' stands for the humans that are very attracted to materialism and fulfillment of their carnal desires and therefore will not be able to appreciate the spiritual truth. But what exactly is this ''divine'' knowledge? This, according to Jesus, is the knowledge of how one can live his life in a way that will allow him, after he dies, to enter the ''kingdom of God''. The way one can do this is very simple. It requires nothing more than loving your neighbours as you love yourself, forgive your enemies and generally be kind and fair towards other people. Why is this knowledge then hidden in parabolas, especially when Christ openly talks about it, in other parts of the New Testament? As a result, there must be another part of this ''divine'' knowledge that we don't know and it is also not suitable for everyone. But again, Christ talks openly only about love and forgiveness etc. He does not say anything else. That is because by doing these actions and staying in the path of God, one will inevitably seek this further knowledge. If one fills his soul with love and kindness then by his nature he will seek this further ''hidden'' wisdom. This explains what Christ says exactly after, in 7:7-12, ''Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets'.' This parabola means that if you wish to walk the path towards God and kindness, then God being kindness and love Himself, will help you reach Him. So, if you look for this hidden knowledge, God feeling compassion for all humans, will make sure that you will find it, in one way or the other. As a result, Christ says that one has to struggle and fight in order to stay to the path of kindness and find this ''hidden'' knowledge that leads to salvation, because if he do not search for it, he will not receive it. And even further, if for example someone has a friend that is willing to give it to him, but the person does not seek for it, then the friend must remain silent and should not push further. But one might wonder who are the people who are searching for this truth? They are the people who have a bright soul, filled with kindness and light. That is because these ''hidden'' teachings are after all teaching based on good, love and hope and only the people who have light inside them would be interested in learning them. That is why Christ openly talked only about love, kindness and forgiveness. Because if one complies to all this preachings, then inside his soul there must be only light and therefore that will lead him into the difficult search for the truth that God will ultimately provide him with.
 So supposing that since you are still reading my article you are actually looking for this knowledge, I will explain superficially one final parabola. Christ said in Matthew 25:1-13 ''At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him! Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' 'No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!' But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.''' In this parabola the 10 virgin brides represent the pure human souls while the groom stands for the human spirit. The wedding between them symbolized the sovereignty of the spirit over the soul, meaning the mind taking control of our negatives emotions and focusing on the positive ones. That is, our spirit is our intellect that must control our soul that is our emotions, and therefore elevate our character and inhibit us from giving into to anger, hate and other negative emotions, that lead us to poor choices like violence. That is the purpose of the human life on earth: to transcend, by becoming better persons, and as a result, being kind, fair and good. The number ten stands for this ''system'' of elevation. The lamps represent the spiritual knowledge that leads to salvation and the good deeds one must do in order to be saved and ''enter heaven''. Then, sleeping at night represents the incarnation in this world, where one should struggle to preserve the purity of his soul by not committing any evil actions. So when the groom returned, the ones that were good and fair joined him, meaning elevated and went into the wedding banquet, that stands for ''Heaven''. Finally, the foolish ones that where not in place when the groom arrived where not accepted into the banquet, and the Lord did not recognize them as His followers.
 Summarizing, if one seeks to be kind, fair and good, he will elevate himself and ''fill his soul with light''. Then, driven by his kind nature he will seek this further divine apocryphal knowledge that will lead into his salvation, and God, as promised, will eventually help him find it. Then, a person may truly transcend and become a ''lamp'' for all other people, in order to help them find the path out of the darkness into the light.

                                                                                                           Andreas Sarchosis