The “soul” is defined as a non-material, eternal spiritual entity present within a living being.
The nature of the soul can be understood by considering an example of a car. A car can be compared to a human body as follows:
|Wheels to move||Legs to move|
|Horn to produce sound||Mouth to speak|
|Headlight to see||Eyes to see|
|Radiator to provide water||Heart to pump blood|
Without a driver a car cannot move, produce sound (horn) etc. Similarly the human body necessitates the presence of the soul for it to perform its activities.
Logical and Scientific Proofs
We can understand that we are always existing in this body. We were existing when we had a baby’s body, we have been existing in a youth’s body and we will continue to exist in elderly bodies. Although the body is different at different stages of our life, still we know that we are the same person. That person within our body is the soul.
We all say and think “this is my hand”, “this is my hand”, “this is my teeth”, etc. We have an intuitive understanding that we are distinct from the body and the different parts of our body belongs to us, the person within, that is, the soul.
We can understand that the soul is present within a body when the body has consciousness. Just like the sun, although physically located at one place, it spreads its heat and light everywhere. Similarly, the soul spreads consciousness all over one’s body. This consciousness enables one to think, feel, be aware, etc.
Near Death Experience (NDE)
Near Death Experience (NDE) refers to a situation where a person recalls his/her experience during a moment when he/she was close to death. In such situations, many persons have also out-of-body experiences (OBE) whereby they could observe themselves and everything around as if they were outside their own bodies.
Scientists have carried out various research works on NDE and OBE. An example is provided here of a research carried out by Dr. Michael B. Sabom, a cardiologist and professor at the Emory University Medical School.
His latest book, Light and Death, includes a detailed medical and scientific analysis of an amazing near-death experience of a woman named Pam Reynolds. She underwent a rare operation to remove a giant basilar artery aneurysm in her brain that threatened her life. The size and location of the aneurysm, however, precluded its safe removal using the standard neuro-surgical techniques. She was referred to a doctor who had pioneered a daring surgical procedure known as hypothermic cardiac arrest. It allowed Pam’s aneurysm to be excised with a reasonable chance of success. This operation required that Pam’s body temperature be lowered to 60 degrees, her heartbeat and breathing stopped, her brain waves flattened, and the blood drained from her head. In everyday terms, she was put to death. After removing the aneurysm, she was restored to life. During the time that Pam was in standstill, she experienced a NDE. Her remarkably detailed veridical out-of-body observations during her surgery were later verified to be very accurate. This case is considered to be one of the strongest cases of veridical evidence in NDE research because of her ability to describe the unique surgical instruments and procedures used and her ability to describe in detail these events while she was clinically and brain dead.
When all of Pam’s vital signs were stopped, the doctor turned on a surgical saw and began to cut through Pam’s skull. While this was going on, Pam reported that she felt herself “pop” outside her body and hover above the operating table. Then she watched the doctors working on her lifeless body for awhile. From her out-of-body position, she observed the doctor sawing into her skull with what looked to her like an electric toothbrush. Pam heard and reported later what the nurses in the operating room had said and exactly what was happening during the operation. At this time, every monitor attached to Pam’s body registered “no life” whatsoever.
Past Life Memories
Over the past years, there have been various serious researchers on past-life memories. One such researcher is Dr. Ian Stevenson, Carlson Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia who has extensively investigated spontaneous reincarnation memories recounted by children. An extract of the findings posted on the website of Ian Stevenson is as follows:
“Children usually begin to talk about their memories between the ages of two and four. Such infantile memories gradually dwindle when the child is between four and seven years old. There are of course always some exceptions, such as a child continuing to remember its previous life but not speaking about it for various reasons.
Most of the children talk about their previous identity with great intensity and feeling. Often they cannot decide for themselves which world is real and which one is not. They often experience a kind of double existence where at times one life is more prominent, and at times the other life takes over. This is why they usually speak of their past life in the present tense saying things like, “I have a husband and two children who live in Jaipur.” Almost all of them are able to tell us about the events leading up to their death.
Such children tend to consider their previous parents to be their real parents rather than their present ones, and usually express a wish to return to them. When the previous family has been found and details about the person in that past life have come to light, then the origin of the fifth common denominator – the conspicuous or unusual behavior of the child – is becoming obvious.
For instance, if the child is born in India to a very low-class family and was a member of a higher caste in its previous life, it may feel uncomfortable in its new family. The child may ask to be served or waited on hand and foot and may refuse to wear cheap clothes.’
Question: Is there any scientific proof for the soul’s existence?
Answer: There’s plenty.
One of the most striking proofs is documented by the renowned father of modern neurosurgery, Dr Wilder Penfield, in his book The Mystery of the Mind. Let’s consider one of his many experiments, paraphrased here without the technical jargon for easy understanding.
Dr Penfield set up a high-tech system to observe the brain activity of a subject, who was told to do simple activities like raising his hand. When he raised his arm, a certain part of the brain was activated and the subject described the event as: “I raised my arm.” When he brought his arm down, that part of the brain was seen to be deactivated and the subject described the event as: “I put my arm down.”
Then Dr Penfield, using state-of-the-art technology, artificially activated that part of the brain and the arm rose up. The subject described the event as: “My arm went up.” Dr Penfield specifically asked: “Did you raise your arm?” The subject replied with full certainty: “I didn’t raise my hand. My arm rose up by itself.” When Dr Penfield deactivated the brain and the arm went down, the patient described: “My arm fell down; I did not bring it down.”
This simple experiment had profound implications: in both cases, the brain was activated to raise and lower the arm. But in the second case, Dr Penfield, an external agent, was activating the brain. Who was the agent activating it in the first case? In both cases, the brain was serving as a machine to transmit the intention of an agent. In the second case, it transmitted Dr Penfield’s intention. In the first case, whose intention did it transmit? Could the mysterious agent be the soul? Dr Penfield had started his brain research with the explicit intention of disproving the existence of the soul, but after conducting experiments like the above one for forty years, he came to an unambiguous conclusion: “The brain is a computer, but it is programmed by something outside of itself.”
The Bhagavad-gita explains what that “something outside of itself” is: the soul, or, more specifically, the consciousness, which is the intrinsic energy of the soul temporarily projected into the body. Modern science offers us strong proof for the existence of the soul. And if we want to personally experience ourselves as souls distinct from our bodies, the Gita offers us the higher-dimensional science of bhakti-yoga. This science, by tapping the power of divine sound, uncovers our latent spiritual consciousness, gives us direct perception of the soul and ultimately helps us reclaim our spiritual birthright to an eternal life of knowledge and bliss.
Source: The Spiritual Scientist, http://www.thespiritualscientist.com/2011/10/proof-of-soul%e2%80%99s-existence/
The vedic literatures provide detailed information on the nature of the soul. Some of the characteristics of the soul are outlined below:
The soul is indestructible
nainam chindanti sastrani
nainam dahati pavakah
na cainam kledayanty apo
na sosayati marutah
“The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.” Bhagavad Gita 2.23
The soul is an individual
na tv evaham jatu nasam
na tvam neme janadhipah
na caiva na bhavisyamah
sarve vayam atah param
“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” Bhagavad Gita 2.12
The soul is eternal
na jayate mriyate va kadacin
nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah sasvato ‘yam purano
na hanyate hanyamane sarire
“For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” Bhagavad Gita 2.20
The soul changes bodies
dehino ‘smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
dhiras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” Bhagavad Gita 2.13
The soul’s size is infinitesimal
çatadhä kalpitasya ca
bhägo jévaù sa vijïeyaù
sa cänantyäya kalpate
“When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul.” Çvetäçvatara Upaniñad (5.9)
The soul is inconceivable
avyakto ‘yam acintyo ‘yam
avikaryo ‘yam ucyate
tasmad evam viditvainam
“It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.” Bhagavad Gita 2.25