The Binary Soul Hypothesis
Oct 28, 1998 06:20 PM
by Peter Novak
Matthew Lamoreux wrote:
> ...this "dualistic nature of consciousness" thing...has...a lot to do
> with dividing something that you're trying to understand the
> complexity of the whole of.
Exactly. When one wishes to understand something that has
complexity, something which is "complex", or multi-parted,
rather than "simple", or single-parted, one must examine
each of those parts with hopes of perceiving how those
different parts interact with each other, how they function
together to form the whole they constitute. Similarly, when
I want to comprehend how an automobile engine works,
I must first identify and distinguish between the carburetor
and the spark plugs. In the same way, if one wishes to comprehend
the human psyche, one must recognize all the different parts
constituting that psyche. Even though the psyche does comprise
a unique and autonomous whole, it is nonetheless possible to
distinguish, within it, its component parts. These separate parts,
and how they interact, can be distinguished, and indeed this is
what the science of psychology has been working on for the
last 100 years.
I find it impossible to overlook the implications of the fact that
ancient cultures all over the globe once subscribed to a belief in a
binary soul; even the West's own JudeoChristian heritage reflects
this in its two different, almost-but-not-quite identical terms
soul" and "spirit". From ancient Egypt, Greece, Persia, India,
and China, to Hawaii to Alaska to Australia to Central America,
cultures all over the world, time and time again, somehow
arrived at virtually identical conclusions, finding reason to
believe that people possess not one, but two souls, always
describing those two souls in strikingly similar ways.
I find it so much more than stunning to consider the
implications of the fact that our own modern science is
now preaching virtually the same story, even down to
describing the two halves of the psyche the same way
those ancient cultures did their two souls.
> ...Peter says it's possible that
> "consciousness" is so divided that at some point in the
> biological process it splits into two things?
Not exactly, but close. I am suggesting (1) that consciousness is
already partially divided in most people, and (2) that the degree of
between the two halves of the psyche can change. It can get worse.
It can also get better. I am suggesting that if the division between the
two halves of one's psyche is allowed to get worse and worse, one
might find that, after death, there is nothing left to hold them
together. Not to say exactly that they physically divide from one
in fact after death there is by definition nothing physical to speak of
at all. But I am suggesting that after death the two halves may, if no
connecting them has been forged during life, thereafter function
entirely independently of one another. Right Brain/Left Brain research
already provided something of a precedent for this - when the bit
of matter connected the two hemispheres is lost, the two corresponding
halves of the psyche do appear to operate as separate, independent,
and autonomous consciousnesses.
> Whenever I am
> confronted with this kind Zoroastrian duality model the first
> thing that comes to mind is, "how can we ever really understand
> our own consciousness as long as our models insist on dividing
> it into factions?"
Would you try to understand a car engine without first distinguishing
between the carburetor and the spark plugs? Or try to understand sex
without first getting a handle on the natures of and differences between
and interaction between male and female?
> Can a house divided against itself solve the
> riddle of the Universe? I wonder.
You're right. It can't, Matthew. You've got it exactly.
Only by overcoming the division, by reuniting the two halves, can the
original state of the mind be regained, at which point the riddles of
the universe can finally be understood and solved.
Reuniting this division, I believe, is what virtually all religions
originally tried to achieve.
I suggest that the divided, binary state of the psyche is, was, a
mistake (the FIRST mistake), and ultimately it is an illusion (Freud
with this; he did not believe that the two-leveled, binary- parted
that he uncovered was natural. He believed that its existence was
evidence of improper functioning. To Freud, the human mind looked
fractured. Damaged. Ill. A mistake.)
I believe this division to ultimately be pure illusion. Ultimately the
psyche is "one". But it can delude itself into experiencing itself as
and a powerful and enduring illusion it is, one I believe to be fully
capable of keeping humanity in its grasp both during life and in the
DivisionTheory thus merely suggests that death is no panacea, that
however divided we are in life, death will not instantly cure us of
that condition. On the contrary, if there is anything we can observe
about death, it is that death tends to disintegrate a thing into its
separate component parts. If one is, in life, partially divided into
two parts, if there is anything we know about what death does,
it's that death will cause any weak connections to deteriorate further.
Many people spend much of their lives widening the gaps between
their conscious and unconscious minds. The unconscious is that
part of the psyche that holds our moral awareness, our sense of
right and wrong. When we say to others, "I just knew in my
heart that it was the right (or wrong) thing to do", it was the quiet
voice of one's own unconscious that one referred to. But all too
often, when that inner voice speaks, we ignore it, or argue with it,
or rationalize away its judgments. Thus we push away the voice
of our own souls, our own inner unconscious minds. And the more
we dismiss and reject the voice of the unconscious soul, the more
alienated we become from it, and the wider the gap becomes (to
the point that modern man, such as this group, often resort to
seeking out extraordinary spiritual practices just to learn how to
listen to his own soul again.
By reconnecting the two halves (or, if you will, by overcoming the
illusion of division) DivisionTheory suggests, one would regain,
rediscover his original divine state as one of the "sons of God,
achieving "enlightenment" or ‘salvation' or what-have-you
(as per "The Lord is One"). But so long as we remain divided, even
if only from our own perspective, that divine perspective, and
the power that goes with it, would remain lost to us.
The premise of DivisionTheory is based on two hypotheses:
(1) the binary soul hypothesis, and
(2) the immortality hypothesis.
DivisionTheory suggests that both hypotheses are correct. When you add
these two hypotheses together, you come up with a psyche that splits
apart at death, with one half reincarnating, and the other half becoming
trapped in a fixed, self-created dreamworld reality.
There are, as near as I can figure, only three paths to challenge
(1) challenging the binary soul hypothesis
(2) challenging the immortality hypothesis, or
(3) challenging the idea that adding these two would result in
conscious experiencing a reincarnation-like afterlife, and the
unconscious would experience a dreamworld-like afterlife.
I find, to my continuous amazement, that the first challenge is the most
My research taught me that there was once something of a consensus
around the world regarding life-after-death beliefs. Many people on many
continents, islands, and nations believed essentially the same thing -
that human beings possessed a binary soul that could and often did
divide apart at death.
About a century ago, Freud and Jung rocked the world with a similar
report - that human beings have not one, but two levels to their
psyches. This teaching, of a binary psyche, was taught for a long time,
but then, decades ago, fell into academic disfavor. But new research has
recently breathed new life into this ancient concept that returns time
and again to knock on science's door. In the 80's, neurological research
revealed the Right Brain/Left Brain dichotomy of the brain, suggesting a
true binary construction of the human psyche. More recently still, a new
book by Fredric Schiffer, MD, a psychiatrist on the faculty of Harvard
Medical School, suggests that the scientific unpopularity of the binary
mind theory may be dissolving.
Schiffer's book is titled "Of Two Minds: The Revolutionary Science of
Dual-Brain Psychology". The jacket of his book reads:
"Dr. Schiffer rivals Freud in his revolutionary theories on
understanding the human psyche. He convincingly portrays the workings of
two autonomous minds in one consciousness."
And from there to DivisionTheory, the only step is the question "What
would happen to those two sides of the mind if they both survived
physical death, but could no longer work in unison after leaving the
body. In such a scenario, the innate characteristics of one half of the
psyche would doom it to become trapped in a self-created dreamworld very
much like the classic visions of the netherworld, while the other half
of the psyche would lose its memory but otherwise remain free to go on
to new experiences, much like the tradition of reincarnation.
- Peter Novak
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