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Advaita philosophy says that this soul that exists in human body in the size of a thumb is a part of Brahman, the Supreme Soul. It has the courage to say that Brahman is real and the material world is only an illusion. Christianity, Islam and a few other religions also subscribe to such a theology without using the same words and images. Those who uphold the existence of a soul within human body must acknowledge a latent capacity in them to see the unseen. It will imply that besides the soul there is also something else that can see the unseeable. Or is it the soul that sees itself as being part of the Supreme soul. One must also then acknowledge that when god created the world he created only an illusion. This is true of all religions that propagate that the Cosmos is only a creation, the caused. There is a different cause that caused the Cosmos. If soul is the extension of the supreme soul it is inconceivable why the cause has to find a place for itself it the caused. After death, according to religious theology this soul goes either to heaven or to hell and it does not seem to melt into the cause. Another pertinent exploration is that if the Supreme Soul is the cause and is eternal when did its reflection enter into the human body. Obviously it should be when the cause created the caused. The contradiction is either irreconcilable or too naïve. We shall do well not to dwell too much on this question of what is real and what is an illusion. But then we need to conclude that the material cosmos with all its waves and movements was not caused by a cause. Cosmos is.

The contradiction of Brahman being the supreme soul and material world being an illusion did not go unchallenged. If one looks back at the growth of philosophy as a discipline of human intelligence one would come across schools of thought that firmly asserted the essential truth of matter and body. All indigenous philosophies have focused on the centrality of the body and the elements of the cosmos. It is once again a human travesty to give numbers to cosmic elements. But let us be humble and accept our limitation in understanding the unfathomable mystery of the cosmos. The element of mystery comes only because we are just yet another matter in the cosmos that assumes different forms in the cosmic movement and change.

In Ramayana there is a very interesting character called Jabaali. He and his followers keep on singing: “creation is real and Brahman is illusion.” What they mean by creation is the material world. This is a school of thought that evolved among many similar schools in different parts of the world. We understand that many Greek schools of thought placed before the world the centrality of the ‘spirit’ as juxtaposed to matter. Much before the Greek schools emerged there were many Shamans in indigenous communities who believed in the human body as the primary unit of human existence. They did not have even an idea of the spirit. There is a process in the cells of human body to think and feel. Such a capacity to think and feel is not an exclusive priority of the human body. Thinking and feeling are the qualities deeply embedded in all organic beings in the cosmos. This will include grass, plants, trees and all animal species. They exist in their own space without being conditioned by the recognition of human intelligence. All these forms of life have intelligence differently. It is the perversity of human intelligence to have arrived at a gradation of superiority and inferiority basing itself on differences in different forms of life. The imperceptibility of the harmony between thinking and feeling compelled the human intelligence to make a sharp division of functions of spirit and body. Whatever human intelligence was unable to perceive and understand was pushed to the arena of the spirit.

The cells in the body of beings are composed of different functions. Just as every form of living beings is different there are also differences in the body cells of living organisms. For lack of capacity to understand the differences within the body cells and their operational modalities, Greek Philosophers made existence dichotic by discriminating feeling and thinking functions as superior and other bodily functions as inferior. They further discriminated feeling functions and thinking functions as superior and inferior. This is a clear manifestation of the yet changing human intelligence.

As opposed to the Greek philosophy there were other schools of thought that placed human body at the centre of cosmic existence. There is not point in going into the question of which school was right. In all such schools of philosophy there is nothing called right and wrong. We need to just understand and if possible accept the differences that exist.

We can identify the existence of the body school of thought in the New Testament and in Ramayana, the Indian epic. Four hundred years before Jesus the Jews came under the heavy influence of Greek philosophy. A remnant school of Aramaic thought, I guess, retained their body school of thought as against the soul school of thought of the Greeks. Many Jewish thinkers came under the influence of Hellenistic thinking. We can see the existence of both these schools of thought in the New Testament. It was further accentuated strongly by Saul who is said to have become Paul. We shall try to understand this transformation in the course of time. Let me now only say that it is a reflection of the transition from one school of thought to another.

The most glaring example in the New Testament is the saying the god’s word assumed flesh and that was Jesus. Once again we shall enter into a world of contradictions if we raise the question as to how a word can become flesh. Those who do not want others to understand it will push it to the realm of faith. However, if understand how different schools of thought tried to establish themselves then, it is not going to be very difficult to understand. We can immediately perceive the conflict between the word and the flesh. The body of Jesus, that is his flesh, is given an eminent place in the divine order of things. ‘In the beginning was the word and the word was god.’ So says the New Testament and it continues to assert that the word became flesh in Jesus. It seems to be a direct challenge to the Greek schools of thought. In all probability some Aramaic schools of thought were at loggerhead with the Hellenistic ‘spirit’ school of thought. We need to see whether the ‘word became flesh’ is a compromise formula or a conflict formula between the two schools of thought. (To be continued)