By Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj
The search to either or disprove the soul’s immortal nature has been an ongoing quest for humanity through the ages. Evidence in support of the soul’s immortality has appeared in two forms: The first consists of statements and accounts given by saints, prophets, and mystics who claimed to have passed through the gates of the Beyond in their mystic travels; the second consists of the accounts of people who have gone through near-death experiences.
The world’s main religions all recognize the immortality of the soul. The descriptions in the scriptures of the soul’s journey after life differ from religion to religion, but one common thread runs throughout them: the soul survives the death of the physical body. Some people view this aspect of religion that deals with soul’s immortality as a hopeful wish, a fairy tale, or a pipe dream. Atheists may not believe in the soul or its immortality, agnostics may be unsure, and skeptics may question its validity, but all search for proof one way or the other.
How do various traditions describe the soul’s immortality?
Ancient Egyptians believed that after death the soul lived on in an underworld region close to the earth. From this belief arose the rituals of burying the dead with their worldly possessions in case the dead needed them in the beyond. Some early African societies also believed in the soul immortality. In ancient Greece, people believed that the soul of a dead person was ferried across the dark waters of the river Styx. The Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato also believed in the immortality of the soul. As Socrates told those around him before drinking the poison given to him by the authorities. “[When] I have drunk the poison I shall remain with you no longer, but depart to a state of heavenly happiness…” Hindus also believe in the immortality of the soul, which transmigrates from one life to another. The soul returns to life to work through its karmas, a collection of the thoughts, words, and deeds it experienced in its current and previous lives.
Kabir Sahib of India gave a detailed account of the various planes of existence to which a soul goes after death. The three lower regions include the physical, astral, and casual regions that are made of mixtures of matters and consciousness and are subject to dissolution; the higher spiritual regions, which are eternal, include the supercausal plane and a spiritual plane known as Sach Khand or True Realm, from where God emanates. The soul transmigrates through a series of lives until it escapes the cycle. Guru Nanak and the Sikh Gurus also believed in the same journey of the soul after physical life. The Buddhist Tibetan Book of the Deed, describes the immortality of the soul and its journey after death. Christian and Jewish mystics also speak of the soul’s immortality and regions beyond this world. These accounts of the soul’s immortality are not coincidental.
There is a truth behind the revelations of all the saints, mystics, prophets, and enlightened ones who have come through the ages. The question now is whether there is any evidence that can be confirmed today by modern science to validate the findings of the religious founders of the past. (www.sos.org)