Lately it seems to me the only thing that makes sense is that we are not any different to ants.
Do you believe that an ant has a soul?
Or are they just little bitty robots?
Maybe there is a dim little light on in there somewhere.
I keep seeing ants in my mind’s eye, scrambling along some scent-path on a vast expanse of asphalt or concrete or dirt, stopping now and then to wave antennae at an ant going in the other direction, toward the piece of candy melting in the sun or back to the nest…maybe stressed out about their production level last month, not hitting their numbers, gotta beat that asshole from sector nine this quarter for sure…and then I step on him, or a car runs him over, or his little machine just quits and he keels over.
How many ants die a day?
Run that number for a few million years. And remember that the biomass of ants outweighs our biomass by, what, a factor of nine or ten?
Anyway, it seems that ant colonies get along perfectly well without the need for an individual ant to have a soul, or even a personality. What makes us different? Well, we have a more complex neural network, a much bigger brain. Our bodies are bigger, too, and more complex, but it seems a good bet that in terms of complexity the primary difference is upstairs.
So if we look to anatomy and biology and evolutionary biology especially, we can see that the mechanism driving both ants and man is DNA on the inside and the planetary, physical setting on the outside. I can see a mechanism for increasing complexity there, and there is a step-by-step route to get from ant to man biologically that makes some sense. We are related, at least we are, you know, made up of cells full of DNA and various combinations of cells into tissues and organs and systems. We are born, reproduce sexually, work, live, fight, build, eat, shit, kill, attack, defend, nurture, farm, explore…I mean, you could argue that the primary difference is simply scale.
So why do I need a soul if the ant does not? And what does it mean, anyway? Let’s say for the sake of argument that the ant does have a soul. I think that from our standard conception of a soul, that is, let’s face it, my soul is really me, the important part anyway, that is immortal and forever and can never die; that concept of a soul would say that ant number 3,112,456, lets call him Billy, well, Billy gets born and does his little dance and then he dies and then what? He goes to ant heaven where there is dropped candy everywhere, and no cars, no birds, no people to smash them or eat them, where he lives with his little golden halo and his tiny feathered wings and eats sticky candy and hangs out with the Ant God forever and ever and ever?
Or goes to ant hell if he was bad?
Or gets reincarnated a billion, billion times?
What the fuck for?
Why doesn’t he just, well, die? I mean, in a sense he gets reincarnated, sure. His little body died, his little heart and his little bitty brain and his stick legs and hairy abdomen and his antennae died, but his atoms didn’t die. They just get scattered and then they go be a part of something else for a while.
So is that where his soul is? In each atom? Or subatomic particle?
Is there anything we could call awareness in there?
It gets to be a meaningless idea, it seems to me.
Even the buddhist idea of reincarnation, if you read the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Sogyal Rinpoche’s version anyway, he’ll tell you that your soul, the part of you that gets reborn, doesn’t really equate to your ego, your sense of self at all. So when Billy dies in Buddhist thought, and gets reincarnated along with the Karmic debt he incurred as a little ant, what gets reborn as another ant, or a yeast cell, or a professional basketball player, is not really at all the same as whatever was animating dead Billy while he was alive.
There isn’t a Billy that connects dead Billy the ant with new, live Billy the yeast cell.
Something moves through, something connects, but it’s something ethereal and not related to the idea of self.
It becomes so dilute as to be meaningless, at least as concerns the idea of a me that gets to keep on living after my meat suit dies.
Just what I’ve been thinking about lately. In a kind of messy, retarded way.
I just don’t think right now that there is a mechanism for a soul to even exist in any way that could be meaningful to the ego at all. If there is something eternal, it’s so divorced from my concept of me that it’s like saying that there is a weak electrical force that binds electrons to the nucleus of an atom…it don’t mean nothing to me personally.
Which is all a way of saying that I feel like I have maybe outgrown the concept of a paternalistic, all-seeing, personal GOD in white robes and beard who sees each sparrow fall and doesn’t like it when I masturbate and curse and is keeping score of all my many sins, and maybe I am now in the process of outgrowing the more esoteric and slightly more mature idea of a depersonalized god or spiritual force, even the idea of my own soul, my own precious self that gets to stick around forever.
Maybe this physical world is it. How can it be otherwise?
But isn’t it magical? Isn’t it limitless? Vastly huge and impossibly tiny, and mysterious, and wonderful, and enough?
Isn’t this multitude, this orgiastic glory, enough?
It’s an embarrassment of riches.