Dear Readers,

Posted: June 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

I am taking a short leave of absence. Summer courses are ahead of me and I’m afraid it’s imperative that I focus on my studies. I’ll do my best to write a post every now and again. Also, it gives me some time to gather my thoughts.

Have a great summer everybody. Congratulations to those who graduated this year, especially ISC graduates. Hope to see you all in AUB in the fall.

– The Sandman


Readers (assuming there are any left at the moment), I don’t know about you but I am DONE with finals and may I say, HELL YEAH! The one troubling thing about reincarnation is the idea that someday, if my soul is reincarnated into the body of a robust young boy or girl, I’d have to re-endure all the years of schooling and when finals roll about, my future self will stop for a second and say, “hmm, yes, this seemingly endless torture is not entirely unfamiliar to me.”
For all you football fans, I’d like to make leave a comment on yesterday’s match between Italy and Paraguay:

I WISH I HAD F@!#ING RECORDED IT. My God, that game was VIOLENT. Legs flying here and there, people jumping so high, the altitude must have given them killer headaches, not to mention the Fates decided to make it rain (possibly for dramatic effect)! With all of that in mind, it looked like this should have been playing the entire game:

Anyway, let’s get back to the real topic today and that is precisely what the title suggests it is. I’ve been very interested in morality and why people choose a “good life” to be rewarded in the next. This thought actually came about today when in the middle of my philosophy final exam. Out of four topic questions, I chose one to write a short essay about. The question was: “is there any point in being moral?” For most of you out there, convention has taught you that there is a very big point in being moral but the major part of that reason happens to be religion. It teaches us that every person has the free will to determine how he/she will live his/her life…but at the same time, it tells us that God has determined all of our fates. Interesting little paradox, huh?
To answer the essay question, I had to put both religion and tradition aside and think about the true nature of the human being. As mentioned in an earlier post, human infants are born selfish; that’s a psychological fact. Humans have no idea what “morality” is when they first enter the world. Through extensive schooling and subjection to society, we learn what is proper from what is improper and yet as we grow up, we find ourselves going back to our basic instinctual desires: to kill those who offend us, to steal things that we want, to mate and have several mates, to deceive when we don’t want to share, for example. The list can go on forever. But because we are emotional creatures (due to “blind evolutionary drift” as John Gray, author of Straw Dogs, puts is) we must live with illusions. The illusion that the “truth will set us free”, the illusion of “morality” and the reward we will receive for acting morally in the allegedly-existing spiritual realm. Humans don’t want to believe that death is the end because it would be too terrifying to think of life without an after-life to follow it.
Some of you might read this and wonder if I’m encouraging you to be “immoral” because morality makes no sense. No, that’s not what I’m doing. I don’t believe in “morality” or “immorality”. To me, there’s only what benefits you and what doesn’t. In society today, acting more socially acceptable is what is expected of you and therefore, it is what benefits you. But let’s say you pass by a homeless person asking for money. You give the person money and feel good about yourself the rest of the day. That’s great but the key word here? “Yourself”. Come on, let’s face it, how many times have you given money to the poor without thinking “yes, that will grant me a few more points in the eyes of God”? It’s inevitable for humans to have a moment of selfish gratification for doing “good deeds”.
So now that we have some idea of the illusion of “morality”, can we really apply it to reincarnation? How does this work? If you’re good in this life, you live a better life next time around? There’s still the illusion that we will be rewarded for being “moral”. There are traces of selfishness, minute or not. This brings up another one of religion’s paradoxes:

Being selfish is “immoral”…but act “morally” to save your own ass come doomsday? Hmm. Why doesn’t that register with me very well? Oh but lest you forget that the “Lord works in mysterious ways”. *Sighs*

I can’t say for sure how the universe works and if there is a God or not. This is just my point of view. I would rather do what my nature demands of me than have to suppress it for selfish reasons supporting a faith I don’t even know is rational. It’s a lifestyle I have chosen for myself and as always I respect the chosen lives of others, religious or not. So in return, I’d like others to respect my point of view and debate like MATURE adults i.e. no calling me “pathetic”. You know who you are.

Hope finals are going well for you! Don’t forget to take a peek at the first chapter of my novel, The Newborn. Let me know what you think.

– The Sandman

P.S. Gonna need some more questions, guys. Need to know what you all want to read about. A writer’s muse is the reader. 😉

Oh, Noes! Another Blank!

Posted: June 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

No post, guys. I’m sorry but I have a Geology test on Thursday! Wish me luck! Also, a Philosophy final on Friday. I know I’m gonna die. =]

– The Sandman

Ihsan, this post is mostly for you!

For those who are curious as to who Ihsan is, he is the awesome person that inspired the nickname with which I conclude each and every one of my blog posts: the “Sandman”. He is also a frequent reader and that makes him even awesomer in my eyes.

So, Mr. Awesome, let’s see what you had to say:

“Well, personally, “random person” and I were having this pretty interesting debate online not too long ago, about the existence of right and wrong and how “random person” thinks that they’re just barriers put up by societies to keep humanity in check. Where as I think that they’re pretty reasonable boundaries that we would have set up whether society had already put them there or not.”

Hmm, I’m not too sure if this can be related to reincarnation but I suppose it does strike up one compelling question, and that is if it’s in people’s nature to do “wrong” — as though it is almost expected of them — then how does that justify their punishment in the next life?
Obviously, the response to this would vary based on perspective. If you’re into religious laws of incarnation then you would adhere to Ihsan’s point of view; that rules regarding what is “right” and what is “wrong” have existed even before society emphasized them a great deal more. People who believe this are often fans of Libertarianism which states that every individual is governed solely by his/her free will and this ideology would justify any kind of after-death punishment for wrong-doing.
The opposing opinion would usually take on a less religious viewpoint, arguing in favor of Determinism:”…the philosophical view that every event, including human cognition, behavior, decision, and action, is casually determined by the environment. It is, in essence, the view that one’s life is predetermined before one is even born.”

This is where religion and free will clash. Now, determinism shouldn’t be associated with God’s Plan because it isn’t a constituent but let me give you a little example of the clash I’m talking about:
Okay, a car accident has just struck. You were an acquaintance of the person who was run over by a drunk driver (hopefully that will never happen to any of you). In order to console you, your relatives/friends will tell you that “it was God’s plan that he/she dies; there was nothing you could do to stop it.” Okay, familiar so far, right? Wrong. The thing they don’t explain is this: if it were God’s plan for your friend to die then what gives us the right to punish the “offender”? He was just a tool in the plan which means that it wasn’t his free decision to have one too many beers! Heh, take a while to chew on that one, all of you God’s Plan fans.

Okay, keeping up? So far we have libertarianism and determinism…

Then there’s the Human Nature argument (Random Person’s argument). As just another species of animals, maybe in it’s just in our nature to kill those who invade our territory or have sexual desires or steal from others when we are hungry or desperate for survival. It’s sort of like we are doing things based on our free will but we can’t really be punished for actions that take place for basic instinctual reasons, you know? It wouldn’t make sense. Religion puts us on a high pedestal, telling us that we are better than other animals because of our vast mental capabilities but if you take a minute to think about it, you’ll see that we really do act like animals and if society and religion hadn’t created all of these rules and regulations, we would have definitely succumbed to our animalistic tendencies in order to achieve comfortable survival and continuity of the species.

So do I agree with Ihsan or Random Person? I have to say I definitely lean more towards Random Person’s point of view but only because I have some understanding of the sociological aspect of life. If a child lives alone for years without anyone teaching him “right” from “wrong”, he would do as his nature dictates and resort to any measure to ensure his survival, no matter how “wrong” we think it is.
Society’s and most of religion’s rules are just a way to preserve moral consensus so that the human race can coexist peacefully but is that working AT ALL?! They are essential only because we have survived for this long withing their establishment. Punishment for crimes is just a way to keep others in their place; to continue preserving the moral consensus. It is not necessarily fair to do so as I believe that some people are forced into a particular way of living regardless of their “free will” but we justify their punishment because we are full of emotions and revenge is a human concept applied everyday to thousands of “criminals” who violate the moral consensus and threaten to destroy our familiar way of life. We are a change-fearing species, no doubt about that.

This, in my opinion, is the logical argument. That is why I argue in favor of practical reincarnation and not religious reincarnation. There are too many obstacles in the way of the latter, too many gaps that seem almost impossible to fill. God’s plan and free will simply cannot mix and yet somehow we found a way to make it work…which really terrifies me of my own species. =S

Ihsan, Random Person, if you have any questions just let me know! I’d be happy to answer them any time! =]

Readers, let me know: which argument are you in favor of? Libertarianism, Determinism, or just plain human nature?

Leave your reply!

– The Sandman

It’s actually interesting to take aliens into account when discussing reincarnation. We don’t know and/or cannot prove they exist but I’ll ask you all to humor me anyway.

This is a response to a question that Tofy had asked in “I Can’t Take it Anymore!”, which was the following:

“Does the presence of aliens affect re-incarnation? example: maybe the world is becoming more populated, and not all people are showing signs of past lives is because they were aliens in a past life!”
Hm. Well, Tofy there’s more than one way to answer that and because I’m willing to explore this issue as much as you, I’ll take each sensible possibility into account:

1) “Does the presence of aliens affect reincarnation?”
I guess so because, as physics would have it, all life-forms possess energy that is transfered from one body to the next (as explained two posts ago). If aliens exist, then surely they too must possess energy that is capable of traveling from one host to another, given the former host can no longer support the energy.
But if you’re looking at it from a more religious angle then I would say it would still affect reincarnation to an extent in the sense that aliens would still be considered life-forms with a capacity to do good or bad (provided they are advanced life-forms as high on the incarnation ladder as humans) or it’s possible they might be considered more of a punishment species for sinners on the highest point of said ladder.

2) “example: maybe the world is becoming more populated, and not all people are showing signs of past lives is because they were aliens in a past life!”
If aliens did not have souls/energy then that could be possible but it doesn’t really make sense, does it? It would make more sense to say that perhaps people who take extreme interest in UFO sightings have some reason to support their fixation; like maybe they were an alien in their past life but are afraid to suspect it. Society plays a major role in the suppression of one’s opinions regarding a controversial topic. For example, who would you think was “crazier”? A girl who claimed to be a man in her past life or a man who claimed he was not from Earth in his? We put so many limitations on things that we begin to believe everything is almost impossible. How do you think “God” and all these different religions have been established for so long? It’s because the majority people were raised around the notion that the existence of God is very possible while it’s ridiculous to believe in the existence of other alien life-forms. It sticks after a while, you know?

And let me just say one thing: if you see reincarnation in the physical light (IRRELIGIOUS VIEWPOINT)  and that it is not just limited to humans then the “increasing population” argument can be countered easily. We all know that trees/plants in general are now scarce in some parts of the world and that some animals are nearing extinction. We’re aware of the increase in our population but we can’t put 2 and 2 together and make that connection between a decrease in plants and animals and an increase in humans?
Energy from extinct animals/cut-down trees/dead plants = removed. More humans are being born = more vessels for that energy ==> people are born with that energy. Wouldn’t it explain why some people actually TALK to their flowers while gardening??? Apparently they believe that it would ensure their happiness and in turn, help them grow…

"I just had the most intellectual conversation with the botanist!"

Hope this helped you some, Miss Bitch (that’s Tofy, for those of you who aren’t familiar with his elegant nickname).

– The Sandman

A Soul Can Smile.

Posted: June 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

Now, dear readers, this post might seem irrelevant but I assure you, what I’m about to tell you is of extreme significance. Tofy, I haven’t forgotten your question but I’m going to have to delay my response until after I write this. This is something I haven’t shared with many people but it’s a story I want to share with all of you.

Let me tell you how I first fell in love with the classical genre. I was young, about 12 to 13 years-old and by that age, I had reluctantly given away my toys and turned to literature for not only entertainment but companionship as well. My books were all that I knew at that point and all that I had needed, I thought…and yet I always had this nagging sensation; this constant pang for something I was missing. Hardly are people aware of a gap until they stumble through it but no, I knew. There was music in the countless poems I consumed every bright morning and dull evening but I was deaf to it as far as I was concerned. I could feel it reverberate through every rhyme but where was it? And then something happened. One night while I sat under my wide open window trying my luck at understanding a complicated poem — its title I can’t even recall — I heard the most wonderful sound coming from outside, from a neighboring apartment. It was hushed, muffled, faint but so inviting and so powerful. I removed myself my bed as fast as my body would allow and I began to wander through the corridor, searching for some way to get closer to that beautiful noise, planting my ear against every wall until there it was. The echo in the bathroom. A pipe that ran throughout the entire building had brought me that sensational melody and I was so desperate to hear it clearly that I pushed my face against the cold tile and I was so silent, I could have sworn that I had forgotten to breathe. It was still unclear and the vibrations had distorted most of music but I couldn’t get myself to stop listening. It was slow and so delicate, as if every note had been touched, caressed by the hand of Magnificence and every voice that cried for mercy cried for it in perfect, harmonious unison. Once it stopped, I remember standing there with my cold cheek against the now warm slab of smooth stone, hoping that there would be more. But there wasn’t…not for days, weeks, or months after that.
Years had passed and I had already discovered classical music but to no avail that one composition that moved me so deeply, so profoundly. I knew there would be nothing like it, as though it silenced all other pieces and genres that preceded and followed. It had made everything else dull and lifeless…and obsolete.
After some time, I gave up the idea that I would find it and just made do with other compositions written by great composers: Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Chopin and so on. I had even learned to play a few on my humble little keyboard.
And then, a miracle. Last October, at the age of 17, I heard it again. The television in the living room had been forgotten and the music came to me so suddenly that I hadn’t recognized it until I felt that familiar pang in my chest and throat. There it was…Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had come into my life and changed it thereafter. Lacrimosa was all I breathed day and night and every time I heard that climatic finish, the final “Amen” that erupted so beautifully, I wept. And as those tears rolled down my cheeks and spilled over my trembling lips, I felt the most terrifying and wonderful thing; my soul from deep within me had smiled.

Some people say it’s silly to feel such things because even if the soul exists, it cannot smile. Perhaps those people have yet to encounter what I had encountered at such a young age. A miracle; a coincidence; a happy turn of chance, whatever you want to call it. What’s important is that it happened to me and though it may seem so insignificant to you, it meant the world to me and still does.
If reincarnation is true then I can only hope that Mozart’s soul, wherever it may be, is smiling back at me.

– The Sandman

Thanks a lot for giving me a few ideas, guys. I’m going to move forward in order of those who replied, starting with Wajeb!

For those who did not read Wajeb’s question in the last post, here it is:
“I was asking my friend this question the other day:
“If reincarnation is true, then the same souls are getting the chance to experience this world over and over, and no new souls are getting that chance. So what makes these souls so special that they get that right?”
(and im talking about the trillion or so souls of people, animals, (aliens and plants??) and whatever else has a soul)”

Since you’re fond of physics, Wajeb, and since Mr. Amin is not around for questioning at the moment, I’m going to go ahead and attempt to give you a possible reason for this by adopting a physical perspective. Please forgive me if I get anything wrong; I don’t really like physics…or it just doesn’t like me.
So, we already know that energy can neither be created nor destroyed and therefore there would have to be a certain amount of energy (human souls, in this case) in the universe. So are new souls being created? I can’t say for sure but according to reincarnation in this light, we’re assuming no new souls are being created. It would pretty much be the same energy now as it was a century ago, for instance.
When I discussed the Law of Conservation of Energy in “What’s Next? Reincarnation in Physics, That’s What”, Mr. Amin and I made it clear that energy needs a functional material body to reside in and that once this body deteriorates, the energy/soul/spirit moves on to another unoccupied body (newborn infant). Whether this energy has the capacity to change during the time it spent in the absence of a body is not something I can be certain of but hypothetically speaking, if it did then that would explain why most people have trouble remembering their past lives. I don’t mean to oversimplify this very complex process but for the sake of clear understanding, let’s demonstrate the cycle of possible remembrance of one’s past life with a plausible illustration:

Energy (from a previous body; not subjected to change) incarnates into a newborn host ==> child/teen retains memories from past life ==> adult is capable of reconciling past life memories from present life experiences ==> the body expires and dies; the energy (soul) removes itself from the dead host ==> energy is now in between bodies and during this time, undergoes change ==> energy (from previous body; subjected to change) incarnates into a newborn host ==> child/teen does not remember past life well/at all ==> et cetera.

That’s one theory to explain why the vast majority of people do not remember past experiences but other people believe that a horrible death (violent car accidents, victims of war, and so on) is what is responsible for leaving an impression on the soul which it carries to the next body. We can never be sure but you can decide which one bodes well with you.

So it’s not a matter of one or a group of souls being special, it’s just a matter of nature and the laws of physics.

Hope this was helpful to you, Wajeb! If there’s anything else you wish to know, don’t hesitate to ask.

My next post will be dedicated to Tofy’s question. =]

– The Sandman

P.S. If you wish to read further into different theories of reincarnation in physics, here is the link to a site I found rather intriguing. Should be helpful.