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2012年3月7日 星期三

From Soul to Self to Annihilation of Self.11

Cont'd

The mainstream Christian view of what the "soul" is represents however only one amongst tens of other kinds of views on the same subject. There are different views of what the distinguishing feature(s) of  the "soul" or its equivalent may be, on whence the "soul" comes and whither it may go after our bodily death. But what I have found is that no matter what religious or non-religious (psychological or philosophic) tradition it is that is talking about the human "soul", or its modern equivalent the "self", the "psyche",  the "brain" or "body and mind", the "personality" it seems clear that the human "soul" or its modern day equivalent is that which gives life to the human body, that which gives it a "will", that which provides it with an ability to decide what to do and what not, i.e. the capacity for "moral" choices, that which is the motivating power behind our behavior although they differ on whether it is mortal or immortal and whether it may have an existence independent from that of the body and whither it may continue to exist after our bodily death and if it can continue, where it may go. Some of such views follow.

1. The Ancient Egyptian view

The ancient Egyptians thought that the human "soul" had 5 different parts with certain supplementary functions or capacities viz.
(a) the Ib  which is the metaphysical heart, believed to be formed from one drop of blood from the child's mother's heart at conception, the seat of all emotion, thought, will and intention, surviving
death in the nether world, where it would give evidence for or against its
possessor in the Weighing of Heart Ceremony where it would be examined by Anubis and other deities such that if it weighed
more than the feather of Maat, it would be immediately consumed by the
monster Ammit.)
(b) the sheut (or shadow, usually painted black), with whom a person is inseparably joined. For this reason, the statues of people and deities were sometimes referred to as their
shadows)
(c) the Ren , the name given to a person at birth and continuing to exist only as long as such name is spoken which explains why people's names are constantly repeated by their family members even after their death and why their names are inscribed in numerous writing e.g  part of
the Book of Breathings, a derivative of the Book of the Dead, was a
means to ensure the survival of the name and why a cartouche (magical rope)
is often used to surround the name and protect it and why the
names of deceased enemies of the state, such as Akhenaten, were hacked
out of monuments in a form of damnatio memoriae such that the
greater the number of places a name was used, the greater the
possibility it would survive to be read and spoken)
(d)  the Ba or roughly a man's personality or everything that makes an
individual unique, something believed to continue after death, sometimes depicted as
a human-headed bird flying out of the tomb to join with the 'Ka' in the
afterlife. In the Coffin Texts one form of the Ba that comes into existence after
death is corporeal, eating, drinking and copulating but some e.g. Louis Zabkar argued
that the Ba is not part of the person but is the person himself, unlike
the soul in Greek, or late Judaic, Christian or Muslim thought. The
idea of a purely immaterial existence was so foreign to Egyptian thought
that when Christianity spread in Egypt they borrowed the Greek word
psyche
to describe the concept of soul and not the term Ba.So particular was the concept of Ba to ancient Egyptian
thought that it ought not to be translated because there is simply no equivalent and iIn another mode of existence the Ba of the deceased is depicted in the
Book of Going Forth by Day returning to the mummy and participating in
life outside the tomb in non-corporeal form, echoing the solar theology
of Re (or Ra) uniting with Osiris each night.),
(e) the Ka (or a person's vital essence or the vital spark or spirit or roughly the equivalent of the Chinese "chi", something which distinguishes a living from a dead person, something which leaves the body at death. The Egyptians believed that Khnum created the
bodies of children on a potter's wheel and inserted them into their
mothers' bodies and some believed that Heket
or Meskhenet was the creator of each person's Ka, breathing it into them
at the instant of their birth as the part of their soul that made them
be alive, something which resembles the concept of spirit in other religions.They also believed that the ka was sustained through food and
drink and for this reason, like the Chinese, food and drink were offered to the
dead, although it was the kau (k3w) within the offerings that was
consumed, not the physical aspect. The ka was often represented in
Egyptian iconography as a second image of the king, leading earlier
works to attempt to translate ka as double and finally
(f) the Akh (meaning the magically effective one, associated with thought, but not as an action of the mind;
rather, it was intellect as a living entity..It was believed that following the death of the Khat, the Ba and Ka would be reunited to reanimate the Akh but such reanimation of the Akh was only
possible if the proper funeral rites including the
"opening of the mouth (wp r)"(, aimed not only to restore a person's
physical abilities in death, but also to release a Ba's attachment to
the body).were performed, followed by
constant offerings. The ritual was termed: se-akh 'to make (a dead
person) into an (living) akh.' In this sense, it even developed into a
sort of ghost or roaming 'dead being' (when the tomb was not in order
any more) during the Ramesside Period. An Akh could do either harm or
good to persons still living, depending on the circumstances, causing
e.g., nightmares, feelings of guilt, sickness, etc. It could be evoked
by prayers or written letters left in the tomb's offering chapel also in
order to help living family members, e.g., by intervening in disputes,
by making an appeal to other dead persons or deities with any authority
to influence things on earth for the better, but also to inflict
punishments.)The separation of Akh and the unification of Ka and Ba were brought
about after death by having the proper offerings made and knowing the
proper, efficacious spell, but there was an attendant risk of dying
again. Egyptian funerary literature (such as the Coffin Texts and the
Book of the Dead) were intended to aid the deceased in "not dying a
second time" and becoming an akh. Ancient Egyptians believed that death occurs when a person's ka leaves
the body. Ceremonies conducted by priests after death, This allowed the Ba to be united with the Ka in the afterlife,
creating an entity known as an "Akh"

Ancient Egyptians
conceived of an afterlife as quite similar to normal physical existence
— but with a difference. The model for this new existence was the
journey of the Sun. At night the Sun descended into the Duat (the
underworld). Eventually the Sun meets the body of the mummified Osiris.
Osiris
and the Sun, re-energized by each other, rise to new life for
another day. For the deceased, their body and their tomb were their
personal Osiris and a personal Duat. For this reason they are often
addressed as "Osiris". For this process to work, some sort of bodily
preservation was required to allow the Ba to return during the night
and to rise to new life in the morning. However, the complete Akh was
also thought to appear as stars. Until the Late Period, non-royal
Egyptians did not expect to unite with the Sun deity, it being reserved
for the royalty only.

The "Book of the Dead", the collection of spells
which aided a person in the afterlife, had the Egyptian name of "The
Book of Going forth by Day". They helped people avoid the perils of the
afterlife and also aided their existence, containing spells to assure
"not dying a second time in the underworld", and to "grant memory
always" to a person. In ancient Egyptian religion, it was possible to die even in one's afterlife and if so, such death was thought to be permanent.

(To be Cont'd)