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The case for the soul

Consciousness, often described as the subjective experience of being aware, encompasses a vast array of mental phenomena, including thoughts, emotions, sensations, and the sense of self. It is the fabric that shapes our perception, cognition, and interactions with the world. Our ability to be in a state of awakening, cognition, alertness, thinking, and many other […]

Consciousness, often described as the subjective experience of being aware, encompasses a vast array of mental phenomena, including thoughts, emotions, sensations, and the sense of self. It is the fabric that shapes our perception, cognition, and interactions with the world.

Our ability to be in a state of awakening, cognition, alertness, thinking, and many other phenomena are attributed to consciousness. Two of the main characteristics of consciousness are thoughts and experiences.
There are different explanations of what we mean by consciousness. Then there is the debate about whether consciousness is a quality of the brain or an aspect of a separate metaphysical, non-material entity that operates the brain.
There are two broad categories of thought in the world in this regard. One is that the brain somehow creates consciousness, and nothing is immaterial in this world. The other is that consciousness is metaphysical and subjective.

Research in neuroscience has been unable to accurately explain what we intuitively know as the mind, the thinking faculty. One perspective suggests that a lot needs to be understood about the nature of thoughts, consciousness, and the mind. Precisely how thoughts are created is unclear, and how consciousness arises in the brain remains unknown.

Some neuroscientists, however, hold that neuronal firing – the process by which neurons, or nerve cells in the brain, generate and transmit electrical impulses, allowing them to communicate with each other and perform various brain functions – generates thoughts. The collective activity of billions of neurons somehow gives rise to the experience of consciousness, and the mind is a product of the brain, they say.

There is an intricate relationship between neuronal firing and thoughts, but it has not been definitively established through experiments that neuronal firing generates thoughts. Several aspects of neuronal firing are not clear, such as what initiates neuronal firing, where and how it originates, and why or where it concludes.
No instrument has directly measured or sensed a thought. Electroencephalography (EEG) only picks up the electrical activity in the brain. Thoughts have only been directly experienced by the person creating them.

When a person creates specific thoughts, the corresponding electrical signals are detected by EEG and transmitted through the nervous system, which can also be monitored. But the converse has to work if neuronal firing results in thoughts. There has been no evidence of a person reporting, “I had such a specific thought,” when the brain was stimulated.
Neuronal firing involves electrochemical activity that results in electrical impulses moving from one nerve cell to another. The electrical impulse is generated by the coordinated activity of various ion channels, including sodium channels, potassium channels, and calcium channels. The ions or molecules “jump” from one neuron to another. These processes are unimaginably well-coordinated, involving electrons, atoms, and ions.

Inanimate things such as potassium, calcium, amino acids, and glucose are neither living nor can they generate thoughts. They are made up of atoms and molecules, the same insentient particles that make up neurons and other cells in the body. These fundamental building blocks that lack inherent living characteristics do not transform into living entities simply by huddling together, even though they work in harmony.
These observations provide empirical evidence suggesting that neuronal firing is not the cause of thoughts or consciousness. Instead, it is thoughts that lead to neuronal firing. This line of reasoning leads us to conclude that there is an entity independent of the brain that generates thoughts and produces consciousness. That entity is the soul.

B.K. Girish, an engineer by profession, has been a student of Rajyoga with the Brahma Kumaris for 40 years. After working in various IT companies, he now devotes his time to spiritual service, including scripting short films on spiritual subjects. His research paper, ‘Understanding Consciousness’, can be found here: https://www.brahmakumaris.com/blog/spirituality/understanding-consciousness.

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