During REM sleep we all dream, but I very rarely remember them. I wake up and the last thing I remember is right before I fell asleep. I am very much alive while sleeping. Breathing, moving, snoring, maybe even talking some. But I am not aware of myself. I may become aware if some input wakes me, but otherwise I have no idea what I am up to.

A soul is supposed to be a person's essence, or mind, that presents as some sort of formless energy. They say a person dies and their soul 'floats away' to do other stuff (most all religions do). All the while this soul is aware of everything going on around it. According to them, I will still be me, and I will know it.

So, if my soul is self sufficient and sentient and formless, when I go to sleep it would be like this. "Alright, body is going into sleep mode. Asleep now, I can fly out of here and go check out Alaska. This place is pretty. Better get back before body has to get up for work." But it doesn't work that way. Because we don't have a disconnected soul residing in our bodies. We only have our brain to think and process what we get.

So I think that if I am not aware  when I am asleep and obviously alive, there is absolutely no possibility that I will be able to think and have self awareness in any form when I have no respiration, pulse, or brain activity. Obviously dead. My thought processes will end. I will not know it.

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Correct. You will not know it. When the brain activity stops you are dead! You have no soul. You were not "given" a soul. Instead, you were born and you became a living soul. If you die you are a dead soul. End of consciousness here.

As for your dreams though, you can remember them. Keep a notebook around and try within 10 minutes of awakening to remember dreams and write them down. It works but may take some practice. The longer you are awake the less likely you will be to remember the dream.

The concept of a soul has been around for quite a while.  According to this report, the oldest report of human belief in a soul is on a stone slab from 800BC.  The livescience site further speculates the concept of soul going back 200,000 years.  The author makes some speculations, then states " every culture, even today, has some concept that separates the spirit from the body, confirming that...humans seem compelled to think of themselves as something more than the sum of our biological parts, even if that belief makes us do foolish earthly things."

I wonder if that's true that 'every culture' has the concept of soul.  Maybe so.

Of course, even if all cultures have a belief in the supernatural, that doesn't make it true.  I imagine all cultures had a belief about the causes of disease, and that did not include bacteria or viruses until fairly modern times.  Many people continue to have concepts regarding good and bad "energies" that cause disease.  And in really modern times, lay-people, politicians, and pundits proposed that AIDS was caused by the "foul vapors of homosexuality" so to speak, until an actual virus was discovered.  I remember one epidemiologist speculating it was due to sperm overdose, and others stating it was because of the "unnatural lifestyle"   The belief in "bad energies" doesn't make it true.  Diseases have causes, and those causes have scientific explanations.

Similarly, until fairly recent times I image most cultures had explanations for weather events, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods, and why good and bad things happen to people.  Science gives better explanations.

Back to dreamless sleep and the soul, I wonder why some people have remembered dreams, and some don't.  I almost never remember my dreams.  It's like I die for a while, then awaken.  Two aspects of my surgery last year impact my thoughts on that.  The first, is anesthesia really left me feeling dead.  Awake one minute then absolute, total nothingness.  Instantaneous.  Then, awake again.  The second aspect was the narcotic.  While on that, I did dream.  Didn't like it at all.

Is the "soul" off doing something else while the body is sleeping, under anesthesia, or dead?  Unanswerable question.  Maybe it takes some courage to acknowledge death as death, and not everyone can handle that.  Courage, or practicality, or Spock-like rationality.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with Dr. Rick Strassman's work, Sentient Biped, but he speculates that N,N-DMT may be the endogenous neurotransmitter that is responsible for our dreams. It is produced in the pineal gland, and this gland is larger when you're a child and grows smaller as you age into an adult. It might explain why we have quite vivid dreams as a kid that most of us can usually recall.

If you're living in the U.S. and drink the local water supply, then you're probably without a doubt exposed to fluoride which was recently banned in the U.K. Fluoride calcifies the pineal gland and suppresses this naturally occurring neurotransmitter N-N-Dimethyltryptamine which Strassman is claiming is responsible for inducing the REM state (when the heavy dream state is occurring). Perhaps exposure to this chemical has some affect on our ability to recall our dreams.

Melatonin is the only hormone produced in the pineal gland and serves to regulate your circadian rhythm. This can also be bought as a hormonal supplement on the counters at your local Wal-Mart, a side effect is vivid dreaming.

I agree! Sometimes I know I'm dreaming while I'm in the dream state, and I can have such vivid, almost Technicolor, dreams of wondrous things and places. But death is the end of all that, and people who report "near death" experiences seem to forget that they are NOT dead and then "come back". We are one package, not "mind"  or "soul" as opposed to "matter" or "body", and science is showing us more and more just how this whole "consciousness" thing works.

You are right, Fran. Also, the experts want to remind us that we do not dream in Technicolor, but I always did.

Well, these states, such as REM, dreamless sleep, etc., are quite trivial in our culture today, but these states were once of great value and insight in ancient India. For instance, if you look into Hindu philosophy, you will find a vast cornucopia of these states of mind that were described in detail in the ancient scripture, take Turiya, for example. Turiya is said to be a pure consciousness that transcends that of waking consciousness, the dream state, and dreamless sleep state.

However, do not be confused, Turiya is, in fact, interchangeable with such other terms in Hindu philosophy as samadhi, moksha, or even sunyata in Buddhism.

The way I've sort of come to think about this is through interpretations of M-Theory intertwined with theories about consciousness as in the Bohm's quantum mind, etc, and you're welcome to think whatever you'd like about myself and my take on it. The 'soul' is often depicted in our culture as a formless entity, however it means quite something else in eastern philosophy. If you consider the 11-dimensional hyperspace of M-Theory, you could sort of think of this as a "place where all possibilities are contained," sort of like a higher plane of reality which possesses every possible outcome. This is equated to what is called in Hinduism the "Atman," which can be translated to "soul," however it isn't seen as something personal or somehow spiritually attached to your bodily entity, but rather something that is impersonal or transpersonal that universally is interconnected throughout all "sentient beings" as is often said in eastern traditions. Our universe, in a sense, can be seen as a cross-sectioning of this higher reality in the same way that a plane is a cross-sectioning of a cone when it transects it, but what you must realize is that all possibilities are, in some sense, 'already there' in a higher dimension, it's simply that our reality is one pathway through the infinite myriad of possibilities which can unfold.

The point is that in these eastern traditions, the soul is not a concept, it is not something that is conjured, but instead is something that is experienced, and Atman (or soul) is simply the utterance or articulation of this experience, so then experience is then transposed into a conceptual form where it then becomes a shadow, an indirect reference to itself. So, when one hears the word "soul" without having the experience, then the understanding of the "soul" becomes befuddled  by the concept to the individual who lacks the experience. When this happens, then you have confusion, misconception, and misapprehension.

You see, eastern traditions do not espouse such concepts to be muddled, misinterpreted, misconstrued, handed down from generation to generation to be twisted, misremembered and so forth and so on. This is precisely why the experience is emphasized. So, instead, the brain can be seen as a kind of transceiver of a signal, a dipstick into a field of infinite potentiality in which the mind can entertain, and this "infinite field of potentiality" is equated in a conceptual form to Atman or the soul or Brahman, God, nirvana, sunyata, shekhina, Beatific vision, 11-dimensional hyperspace, what-have-you, but it must be remembered that the name is not the experience, it is only a symbol, a notion, a concept that is transposed over the experience that stands as a kind of indirect reference point. I'll leave a link below if you're interested in the eastern perspective:

Graham Hancock on "Death"

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