Salaam and Greetings of Peace:
What is it about us that ultimately make us who we are? Our genetic nature, upbringing, culture, religion? If it is a combination of all of them that defines the way we think and feel about things, the way we treat family and friends, the way we think about ourselves, then what is left when all of that is changed or dissipated or lost?
The human mind is a wondrous and fragile thing, a spongy mass protected by a hard shell of bone, and I have known bright, articulate men who, after head injuries, became sad, babbling idiots. I have known dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, including my father, who could barely recognize his own children. What conclusion can be made other than that the mind, the so called seat of consciousness, that central sense of self and ego that imagines the world and visualizes thoughts in 3 dimensions, depends on nothing more than the proper workings of the electro-chemical transmitters in the grey matter of the brain.
And if that is so, what is this “soul” then, this spark, this essential presence said to be within us that is a speck of the Divine Mind, a mote of the Godhead? Is it this undetectable soul that causes us to breathe in reverence the name of God when we glance upward toward the heavens? Is it this mote without locus that is the better angel of our natures, the mirror that when polished reflects God’s light?
It may indeed be so, and even if we come to a state of confusion and memory loss due to age or disease or injury, that place is inviolate; the higher self of consciousness and awareness.
But when consciousness dissipates after death, does awareness remain? My own out of body experience, that I have written about here, suggests that it does in some form. This question was also once put to Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, late Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order. He said in answer, “A drop falls into the ocean and becomes one with the ocean, but it does not lose its wetness.”
God knows the truth!