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Topic: Self, see also Soul, Atma, Spirit

Reading Complexity: Easy
The distinquished British scientist Michael Polanyi speaks of something he finds “unbelievable.” What is that? For three hundred years, he says, writers who contested the idea that life can be explained by physics and chemistry “argued by affirming that living things are not, or not wholly, machinelike.” What’s wrong with that? Instead, Polanyi says, those writers should have been “pointing out...
Reading Complexity: Easy
“There is no ‘real’ me—a tiny homunculus hidden beneath layers of frozen feelings. … It is not an isolated ‘object,’ a ghost locked in a machine or a mere consciousness located within the body. … You are inextricably enmeshed in the web of meanings shaped by the psychoculture that you helped to form and that, in turn, helps to form you.” (Daniel Yankelovich, in New Rules: Searching for Self-...
Reading Complexity: Medium
The deeper scientists probe into the nature of perception, the farther away their subject recedes. The idea that now dominates the life sciences is that life can be completely understood within the framework of chemistry and physics. Those who subscribe to this viewpoint say that we can explain all features of life—from the metabolic functioning of cells up to the mental phenomena of thinking,...
Reading Complexity: Medium
My essay “On Conceiving the Inconceivable,” addressed the conceptually vexing question How did the conditioned soul—the jiva—get that way? Upon this topic—“the jiva issue”—a small but prolix band of people in and about ISKCON have piled up a great number of words. I was loathe to add to them. For to expend time and energy on this issue goes counter to the instructions of Srila Prabhupada. “What...
Reading Complexity: Medium
In her book Mightier Than the Sword, Kathleen Adams has a chapter called “Authenticity.” She writes, “The discrepancy between image/being, external/internal, acculturated self/authentic self—the maintenance of the lie—reverberates in the journals of men like an echo bouncing off canyon walls. The search for authenticity is a modern-day grail quest. It is the beating heart of many men’s writings...