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How Do We Know? - "Who Am I?"

How do we know what is the soul? Is it described by the mysteries of ancient religion, the "ka" of ancient Egypt, the Holy Spirit of the
Christians, or the re-incarnational soul of the Hindu? Or, perhaps, the soul is more like the "mind" of the ancient Greeks; or a daemon,
every man's soul a guardian over his life; or is it more like the essence of "being" of Tao, or the meditational state of enlightenment of
Buddhahood? Perhaps the soul is described by all of these, they all being facets of mankind's efforts at identifying purselves in this great
universe. The soul may be nearly material, like the near matter of an ectoplasm at a seance; or it may be pure being in its most abstract.
Each of these are our efforts to contribute to our knowledge of the mystery we call Life, that which enables us to need, to yearn, to seek,
to do, and to dream; to Love. Who are we? Who am I? What is that that we have that we would call a Soul?

The search for being that is called the soul has preoccupied humankind throughout our existence. Our ancient forebears, in a still
primitive state, already were careful to bury their dead, leaving behind tokens of their existence to be used in their later life, consecrated
with ritual and belief in some deep seated magic to ease passage into that other world. Mankind had groped through the ages for a
glimpse of self as a being greater than merely an animation that would span a few generations, a finite number of years as existence, only
to perish forever. It was not easy for the conscious mind to accept such total defeat, and the mind created itself a greater reality. We
would not die and slip away into a certainty of oblivion; we would somehow survive, gamble that we still existed and thus would not be
cheated of our existence by death. The vehicle chosen for this victory was the creation of the soul. Through the soul, we could pass on
into the next dimension of our existence, whether this be a totally different being in a world beyond or as a return to this life in another
body. It is a compelling idea, one that would survive the eons to the present. Even today, in our modern world of sophisticated
agnosticism, even in atheism, the idea of continued existence survives. There is something durable to the idea of a human soul,
something rooted deep in our consciousness that does not allow us the peace of ultimate certainty. We do not know about the soul, are
forever anxious over its existence, but we would not die. We are persistently posed with the question: Who are we? What am I? Who am

We are now in what to us is the modern world. Tremendous strides have taken place in our socio-technical development within the past
centuries. We can move about with relative ease and great speed, though we may not be free to go where we wish. We can
communicate immense information at great distances within seconds, yet, in many parts of the world, we may not be free to use this
information as we will, nor even listen to it. We can produce, trade, live in affluence that ages ago would have been ordained for only the
most privileged, but many in the world are forced to live in abject poverty and without human dignity by laws that prevent them from
being themselves. Much of the world is still characterized by corruption, oppression, and other criminal expressions where one individual
will seek to gain from another at the other's expense. Brought to its acceptance on a world wide scale, the world is faced with world wide
misery threatening its modern achievements.

We have fallen in a way that was inconceivable to our more naive past. We are insecure in our new achievements. The world had once
advanced tremendously in its spiritual ideas, only to fall back upon the fact of its real, material poverty. The ancients felt secure in their
ideas of their universe, they were often wrong in their conception of it, but they were secure in what it was they believed about
themselves. This confidence in the order of things gave them a certain strength and dignity that carried them through their other
shortcomings. Today, we have a reversal that has given strength to our material achievements but that has left our visions of ourselves
sadly begging. We are insecure. We spend time psycho-analyzing ourselves but we do not know ourselves. We have overcome those
ideas of our past that are odious to us: Torture, exploitation of the weak, the young, women, races; yet we live in a world of chronic fear.
One would have supposed that with the elimination of those ills that have in the past plagued society, with more of these social injustices
removed, society would rid itself of its errant behavior. Yet, in spite of our admirable achievements, we are plagued with terrible social
and personal disruptions.

In our vast material achievements lies a terrible void. There is a need to progress in a way that is somehow spiritual. Our modern
scientific sophistication has allowed us to scoff at the idea of a soul, or of a heaven in the clouds, or of a hell, or even of the existence of
God. These are obvious vestiges of our more ignorant past when men were superstitious and naive. To revert back to those days in our
thinking appalls us, understandably. Some have turned back and found comfort in their religion, or in the religion of other cultures, as in
the mysticism of the Far East, or in rediscovering a spiritual simplicity in a born-again movement, such as a new Christianity. But these
are not the main force of our current development of progress. It is possible that a fringe ideology will eventually triumph and lend new
direction to the world, but it is unlikely that we will revert in time willingly. Progress is a willed positive force of development that is
chosen and exercised in a way that constructively moves reality. It needs a firm concentration of effort on our progressive course so as to
not revert back to our ignorant, primitive past. The past was cruel; the present strives for enlightenment. The past had wars, tyranny,
slavery, famines, disease. The present is still plagued by these, though to a large degree social acceptance of slavery has been eliminated
and we have made great progress in combating communicable diseases. But we still live in fear, in the shadow of near instant destruction
by our formidable new weapons, or of slow death by their byproducts. Social and political terrorism are rampant. We cannot even feel
safe in what should be our monuments to our conquest over the wilderness, our cities. We live in chronic fear of sudden attack or rape
or robbery by our fellow citizens. Within this existence of material wealth and spiritual poverty arises a certain hedonism that urges us to
enjoy and spend and pursue our physical pleasures, to emulate the happy smiles on advertising posters or television, or to find fulfillment
in their implied sensuousness. We are flogged mercilessly because we are lost. In all our wealth, we are poor. It is no wonder that the
perfectly rational mind, given these options, would select to believe in nothing and seek satisfaction in the material pleasures of the
modern world that for a price are made so easily available.

Why do we strive so? We are forced to ask questions about ourselves, to seek our identity: Who are we? In Book I of Habeas Mentem,
"To Have The Mind," we have seen how "being in the mind" is a definition of our human identity. But this was only a metaphysical
definition. What does it really mean to be in the mind, in one's identity? We can know that through the mechanics of interrelationship we
have a greater being in the universe that connects us with the rest of our existence and that characterizes the conditions of our physical
being. We can know that to be in agreement with oneself and with one another defines that greater being in our environment and
connects our personal mind with the mind of our infinity. We have also seen that when we are free to be in the mind, in our identity, we
are more creative in how the universe communicates into our existence. But to be free is a conscious act, one that needs to be chosen
through agreement to gain that precious foothold on becoming oneself in one's reality. Once chosen, the mind is then free to seek the
meaning of its greater identity. We are at that threshold now. We can know what is meant in the Habeas Mentem metaphysically, but we
still do not know it in ourselves, intimately. If we have chosen freedom, then we may seek identity. That was the condition encountered
in Book I: To reach this level one had to choose freedom, for the answer to "Who am I?" would be meaningless without it. Now, we can
be free to resume our quest where Book I was forced to leave off in pursuit of social requirements for identity. We can now transcend
social inquiry and seek personal consequences of our new identity. Thus, we are free now to entertain the existence of our soul. Socially
free, in our mind, at the center of our existence, we can seek the Soul.

"Who am I?" is a question asked of necessity by a personality. Other things in the universe can answer to "what" or "how", but no
physical thing can answer to "who". Identity is a question of personality, of being greater than itself physical. "Who" needs to be asked
by a mind conscious, to us a mind human. Each man or woman, even in a still primitive state, the mind not much risen above that of
fellow animals, already formed a sense of "who". When they buried their dead rather than let them be ravaged by nature or scavengers,
when they painted on cave walls, or carved images in wood and bone, they sought to preserve identity. Their careful burial hid from
destruction a body representing a being that had already formed the question. The person probably had a name and perhaps was referred
to with affection. They may have loved one another and the passing of one was mourned with grief by the other. A sophisticated, cynical
mind might say that this love was but an expression of one's personal, selfish and sexual desire and that such grief was but regret for the
loss of this self indulgence. Perhaps it is true, but only a personality is capable of it. However, more likely, the person deceased was also
capable of this self indulgence and they could mutually enjoy each other in this love. Love may or may not be greater than a selfish
desire, but the body was already more than a collection of flesh and bones, to us moderns of atoms and molecules and energy, and was
treated with a certain respect, even in death. It was a being, a personality, a "who" capable of giving and receiving with affection the
being of another. To a person able with identity, to a personality, the body of a man or woman represented a being also spiritual.

In time, the who of personality became religion. Early we began to personify our existence with images of our being. The gods of the
ancients were powers with human traits, endowed with the same personality traits of nobleness or mischief allowed us lesser mortals.
Mountains, woods, streams, meadows all took on characteristics of human personalities; spirits and faeries inhabited even our homes to
work good or mischief depending upon how we treated them in return. We were naive in so easily personifying our universe, perhaps,
but we found comfort in interacting with physical representatives of personality. We even personified the planets and stars into what we
know as astrology. In this vast network of magical forces and beings we found an early framework of universal supports for our
individual existence. Our personality, our "I am", was not alone, for it existed within a vast network of beings around us. There is a sense
of magic in this kind of existence where everything, including ourselves, is populated by spirits. But it is a magic that can easily be
misused. When this wondrous world of the spirit became used for personal ambition, for satisfying a blind selfishness, the world began to
change. By calling on spirits to serve our self interests, by denigrating forces of existences into forces of evil and destruction, the magic of
life became employed in a worship of sorcery and superstition. Lazy, greedy, ignorant, we had fallen. We strove to influence reality in
spiritual ways unclean, to alter the natural path of things as the universe expressed them for us in our everyday, natural existence for the
sake of material gain, to enslave. Sorcery became base, self-seeking, cruel. Until the advent of more modern religions, we were lost.
With the coming of more gentle teachings of compassion, meditation, and love, the Church of the world, in its many denominational
names throughout the peoples of the world, began its attack on such fallen use of the spirit. The world was taught to be cleansed. The
Church effaced our past, erased it from our spiritual memory, and once again gave us the freedom to pursue the path of our true being.
We are here now. Yet, through all this, the idea of the soul survived.

Now, in our modern world, we are again posed with the question of our identity. We know that in our subconscious is the repository of
much that lends support to what it is that each of us is. From that vast pool of both the rational and the irrational flows to the surface
facets of our personality. If it were not for the conscious mind, these facets would be our personality, but the universe is more complex
now. We have the ability to choose, to influence both the rational and the irrational, the material and, in time, the immaterial. The new
mind will of necessity learn to manipulate these, they already being a part of our identity. It will be of no surprise to find in these pages
ideas that transcend the rational and enter the domain of the irrational. They are our human dreams.

Also, to a large degree, in our modern world we have been cleansed in our minds of the superstitions that past spiritualism prejudiced us
with. We no longer see goblins or faeries or fear the evil-eye. Thus we may approach the idea of personality simply, free of debasing
beliefs. Instead, we are free to gaze upon a person and see the personality there freely, like on the face of a child, or in the eyes of
lovers. Personality, personified creation, the "who" of reality, tends to arise oftentimes in places unsuspected. One would expect to find it
in a congenial setting, healthful and nourishing to the soul, yet it can appear where there is misfortune or pain. It may appear on the faces
of the destitute, in the hopes of the ill, or in the faith of the oppressed. Where reality is harsh and cruel one would expect brutality, only
to be surprised to discover hospitality and friendship. Such is the puzzle of personality, that which we will seek to identify, and that
which is the reason we are human in a world of matter. The soul is beautiful, yet it is also powerful. It is what radiates on the bright faces
of children, hides behind the worried faces of adults, only to resurface on the creased, kindly faces of the old. Yet, it is what makes
people martyrs or heroes or leaders or healers. It is what rises up against clearly overwhelming odds and succeeds. It is that which is
gentle and yet terrible, lovely and yet strong. It is courage, kindness, sensitivity, creation. It is also the only thing in this universe of being
in matter, of "what" that answers to the question of "who?"

Thus, free, let us seek the soul. Let us take some liberties and allow our mind to paint for us the images it wishes to present. It is human
in exactly the way we are human and what will flow from it will be rational and irrational in the same way we are. Will what will present
itself be the truth? It will be exactly as we create it. Individual, a thing of creation, our mind is what ties us each to our personal infinity.
Let us see what this personal infinity is, created in the way we had been created, a personality capable of a Soul.


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