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The soul and the conscious self: excerpt 1 of a lecture by Bahram Elahi, MD (and other excerpts)

Ostad Elahi used to define his teachings as a new medicine of the soul: one that is adapted to the true nature of human beings and adheres to the law of causality governing both their spiritual and material lives. The spirituality he practiced was natural spirituality, and he considered the process of spiritual perfection to resemble an academic curriculum.

The excerpts presented here are drawn from a lecture given at the Sorbonne in March 2011, in which Professor Bahram Elahi revisits various aspects of Ostad Elahi’s philosophy. Rephrasing them in a simple and direct manner, he relates these points to fundamental questions and examines them from a rational standpoint.

To begin with, who are we? What is this self that we identify with? And what prevents us, in practice, from connecting to it? These questions relate to the issue of the soul and the fight against the imperious self. Next, why are we here? What is the meaning of this earthly life? These questions relate to the idea of spiritual development as a cognitive process: the process of perfecting our ordinary reason into sound reason.

As the discussion unfolds, an original definition of spirituality begins to take shape and the exact role of connecting to the divine, of faith and emotions, becomes clear.

Further readings:

The purpose of our existence Excerpt No. 2 – The purpose of our existence

Why are we here? What is the meaning of this earthly life? These questions relate to the idea of spiritual development as a cognitive process: the process of perfecting our ordinary reason into sound reason. [read more]

Sound reason Excerpt No. 3 – Sound reason

We are like pupils: our life on earth should be used to obtain the “certificates of primary and secondary education” that will then allow us to go through the higher stages of our process of perfection. [read more]

A few fundamental principles Excerpt No. 4 – A few fundamental principles

Is it enough to have faith and become acquainted with the fundamental principles of spirituality to secure one’s spiritual future? That is the question addressed in the following excerpt by Prof. Bahram Elahi… [read more]

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  1. David Jun 29, 2011 7:00 pm 1

    I knew we had an unconscious part of our self but never realized how incredibly small our conscious part is! My first reaction was how little we must know of ourselves and the world around us if our everyday consciousness is so limited. What made our unconscious really tangible was imagining seeing the world through opaque glasses with only two pinholes to see through, and what made it so interesting was the knowledge that this opaqueness is generated by our unconscious, negative, psychic forces – the imperious self.

    But by the end of the lecture Prof. Elahi made a remark that both worried and motivated me: … whether we want it or not, we are constantly ruled by our imperious self, unless we fight against it. It felt like a wake-up call since I have always imagined that my imperious self is only active in a few small areas of my life and that I am confronted with it maybe once or twice a day. But it seems that I’ve been mistaken and that it is actually active 24/7. So I guess I should fight against it the when I do see it and look for its traces whenever I don’t… if I want to be able to see through these limiting glasses!

  2. smn Jun 29, 2011 10:09 pm 2

    Thank you so much for sharing this fantastic video. It really motivated me to fight harder against my imperious self.

  3. Ebi Jun 30, 2011 3:56 am 3

    Thank you this soul nurturing video. Not only does it remind us humans of one the main spiritual objectives (fighting the Imperious self), but it also provides us with an explanation of the results gained from constantly performing it. Also it was nice to be reminded by Prof Elahi’s explanation on how fighting the Imperious Self directly affects the use of our faculty of Consciousness in the other world, especially once we fully realize the extent of our faculty of consciousness. I can’t help to think that due to lack of ability to use our faculty of Consciousness, which results from lack of improvement in our understanding during our earthly life, will also cause some sort of suffering for our soul in the other world. Perhaps in form of regret, which I would definitely like to avoid.

  4. star Jun 30, 2011 3:59 am 4

    The analogy used by Dr Elahi in which he compares human beings to a child wearing opaque glasses was very illustrative to me… in this example, how would you describe the world to such a child? How would you explain that the sky is blue or that the grass is green when he cannot even comprehend such concepts? In a similar way, how would we human beings ever come to understand such profound questions as who we are, where we come from, who God is if we are always hindered by our own “opaque glasses”, or as Dr Elahi explains, our imperious self? This truly emphasizes what Ostad Elahi says, that in order to know God, we must first know ourselves…

    Similar to his previous lecture, Dr. Elahi also brings up the notion of the powers that govern our Self and how small the scope of our consciousness regarding these powers. I have thought about this for the past few months, and have realized that the only way that I personally am able to recognize the powers of the imperious self is during prayer and natural meditation. It is like God grants me access to a small window so that I can peak through the pinhole and realize that indeed my imperious self is at work.

  5. k Jun 30, 2011 1:31 pm 5

    Here are some words that I have looked up in the dictionary. I hope some who don’t have English as their mother tongue (like me) will benefit from it. Of course, some of the words have more than one meaning, so I have chosen the definition that makes sense to me. Also some of the words are not so difficult, but I think it never hurts to look up a word in the dictionary.

    – Conglomerate (noun): 1) a number of things put together. 2) a group of different things or people gathered together. Example: a new ensemble was a conglomerate of three different brands.
    – Pinhead (noun): something very small or insignificant.
    – Privy (adjective) (Privy to something): 1) sharing in the knowledge of facts that are secret. 2) sharing in the secret of something.
    – Opaque (adjective): not allowing light to pass through; not transparent.
    – Veil (noun): 1) a thing that hides or disguises something. 2) a covering of fine net or other usually transparent material worn, especially by women, to protect or hide the face, or a part of a hat, etc.
    – Quasi- (prefix) (forming adjectives and nouns): partly; almost.
    – Pinhole (noun): a small hole made by, for, or as if by a pin.
    – Immense (adj): extremely large or great.
    – Opacity (noun): The quality of being opaque [see above for opaque].

  6. AB Jun 30, 2011 8:51 pm 6

    Thank you so much for posting this video. It has further clarified how the imperious self operate. This video has also generated another question in my mind. How can one use one’s consciousness?

  7. nahjaf Jul 01, 2011 11:52 am 7

    Prof. Elahi’s lecture, and his vivid and tangible descriptions of the components and mechanics of the Self, penetrates through one’s being, creating an immediate and immense sense of motivation to remove the opaque glasses caused by one’s psychological veil; a veil that is produced by the imperious self, confining the vastness of one’s consciousness to a mere pinhead. Whilst listening to this lecture, I could feel this confinement, and I could visualise the frightening and overwhelming feeling of seeing the enormity of my consciousness upon my death, yet being unable to comprehend it; much as a child does when placed in an environment unbeknown to him. I felt a strong urge that I should try to remove this veil if I don’t want to be that lost, frightened and ignorant child when I leave this earthly body, and instead be that of an adult who can understand, delight in, and identify with the reality of my Self and the environment I am destined to go to. Thank you so much for all your efforts in trying to awaken us to the reality of who we are and where we are going.

  8. Juneone Jul 02, 2011 12:11 am 8

    I am always wondering what I might do to increase my faith/reliance. This excerpt helps me so much with that question. Much like you @David… understanding that I am seeing life through 2 pinholes is a motivating image. I already know how hard it is to confront—or even recognize—my imperious self and this reminder of how little I am actually able to see should push me to ask for help, to strengthen my communication and connection to the Source and rely on this divine system. If I keep trying, at least I know that I can get help to stay on the right course.

  9. AB Jul 02, 2011 12:49 pm 9

    It is truly amazing that, just like his books, the more you review Dr. Elahi’s lectures the more information comes to light. I wish I knew what Dr. Elahi means by quasi totality of consciousness. I am grateful beyond words that he continues to energize my thirst for spiritual knowledge.

  10. NN Jul 02, 2011 5:35 pm 10

    Thank You for this video, it was a great explanation of our Self. Dr. Elahi explains things in a clearer light of where we stand with our consciousness. Does anyone know what Dr. Elahi meant by quasi-total consciousness?

  11. 724 Jul 02, 2011 8:48 pm 11

    My oh my… is this a treasure or what? I am trying to think of an example in physical science that resembles the definition of the power (puissance)… something that exerts an effect, a force, which can be modified, decreased, or increased. I am sure there is an example out there…!

  12. star Jul 03, 2011 9:53 pm 12


    Thanks for the definitions!! While I understand these words in terms of daily use, having these definitions has really helped me understand why Dr. Elahi chose them to describe the nature of our consciousness in his lecture… I will try to do this myself as well!

  13. Stephen Jul 04, 2011 9:34 pm 13

    Interesting question @724! I thought a little about what type of forces that could be (that can be modified, increased, and decreased) and the best thing I could come to think was electromagnetic forces/waves. They can be used to scan bodies for medical purposes (MRI), to communicate messages (satellites, cellphones), or as high intensity lasers for precision surgery, or large-scale lasers for defense systems, and of course, maybe their most common use of all, light. What’s also interesting is their causality, Electromagnetism is governed by four fundamental equations, the Maxwell equations. If I remember Prof. Elahi’s previous lecture right, in the other world, we don’t actually need tools to exert our will; since all our forces are governed by our metabrain, which we develop here on Earth, if we put the ethical principles we have learned in practice.

  14. zmt Jul 07, 2011 10:36 am 14

    Thank you very much for this highly motivating and inspirational lecture. In particular, that part regarding how our level of our understanding remains the same in the other world was a real wake-up call to me. The analogy of the “child with the opaque eyeglasses” made me reflect more on how we need to take a serious action plan and cultivate as much self knowledge as we can here on Earth, to be able to develop more our “metabrain” and therefore understand more of the realities in the other world. Obviously, we constantly have to try our best to detect, trace and fight against impulses of our imperious self through a systematic and consistent spiritual program but at the same time we need to remind ourselves that we are not alone in this battle and if we truly and sincerely seek the divine help, he will definitely assist us move in the right direction.

  15. k Jul 07, 2011 11:50 pm 15

    Last time I forgot to say thanks for posting this video. Thanks for posting this video!
    Thanks for your comment. I can especially relate to the end of your comment where you write about not recognizing the imperious self at work all the time. I am actually a lot worse; that is if I only recognize my imperious self one time, during most of my days, I would call it a successful day.
    Anyway, after I read your comment I made a bit of research. I actually think some of the problems regarding that we cannot recognize the imperious self is due to lack of grasp of the theory. For example, chapter 37 in The Path of Perfection was very helpful for me to review.
    I also just reread the last chapter in Foundation of Natural Spirituality (about the spiritual immune system).

    I am happy you could use the definitions. After I watched the lecture I did not know how to fight my imperious self, so I thought that I at least could write some definitions and make some kind of good deed 🙂 But like I wrote above I think some of the problem is lack of good grasp of the theory; one can never review (re-read) Dr. Elahi’s books enough—at least until one reaches perfection.

  16. maxfarsh Jul 08, 2011 9:48 pm 16

    For me it also ties with the previous video. That was a vivid explanation of what occurs after physical death. The main point of video which consistently needs to be re-emphasized is what we should do on earth so we are not blind in the next world.

  17. 724 Jul 09, 2011 12:45 am 17

    @Stephen, thanks for bringing the example back to spotlight! I am hopeless when it comes to science, so I really liked the simplified definition you provided for electromagnetic waves. I will try to read some more about it, meanwhile when we talk about “a power that can be modified,” are we talking about amount, direction, substance, or something else?

  18. k Jul 11, 2011 9:04 pm 18

    I think one of the messages of this lecture is also that we should identify our selves with our souls and not our bodies.

  19. star Jul 13, 2011 3:16 pm 19

    I just thought that one of the reasons that our imperious self is so incredibly strong is due to the shear size of our unconscious self (that which produces the imperious self)! It is easy to understand how that would come to dominate our pin-size conscious self…

  20. blake Jul 14, 2011 2:09 am 20

    “Our soul is an entity of pure consciousness”

    Regarding the soul, does anyone think we can consider an impure consciousness entity as an example of ‘What is impossible by virtue of itself’* ?

    * – the term as defined in the book ‘Knowing the Spirit’ page 44.


  21. chat31 Jul 14, 2011 9:41 am 21

    This is a very interesting comparison, however I am not sure I understood how it is related to what you say about the metabrain afterwards?

    Also, I am not entirely sure I grasped what Professor Elahi ment by a “conglomerate of powers” when he describes the soul. Any suggestions?

    And I completely agree with @AB, Professor Elahi’s teachings are like an onion, by watching this video more and more we get a deeper understanding of all the notions he exposes, just like when you are peeling an onion to get to the ‘fruit’.

  22. k Jul 14, 2011 10:02 pm 22

    Personally I don’t want to read about electromagnetic waves. It is physics that has to look at The Science of (Natural) spirituality to learn something! That is, I don’t think by studying physics one will understand Spirituality better, but if one learns Spirituality, then one will understand physics better…
    I also have a reference for this: Introduction to Foundation of Natural Spirituality.

    In my opinion, Stephen’s comment – and the comments alike – is enough about these issues (=other “sciences”).

    Wanna be Spiritual fanatic

    Note: I call myself wanna be Spiritual fanatic, because actually I don’t think I deserve to be called a true Spiritual fanatic.

  23. J Asadizadeh Jul 15, 2011 10:57 am 23

    Thank you for sharing this video. I think the important message in this video is “learn how to spend your earthly life with God’s satisfaction in mind.”

  24. Jake Jul 17, 2011 11:08 am 24

    You may not want to read about electromagnetic waves and physics but you don’t seem to realize that the term “electromagnetic wave” used in this lecture belongs to physics in the first place! The fact that the electric and magnetic effects are two facets of the same phenomenon (hence the term “electromagnetic”), the fact that these effects are “waves” i.e. that they propagate with a finite speed (light is an electromagnetic wave), etc. etc. all these facts are realities that have been established by the experimental science called physics, no?

    More generally, the very notion of modern science to which Prof. Elahi refers when he claims that spirituality should be approached as a science includes physics, as physics is the mother of modern experimental science. I suppose that when Pr. Elahi borrows from physics the concept of electromagnetic waves to describe the powers of the soul, he wants to convey some specific meaning that the more classical images of traditional spirituality are unable to express. So trying to see what physics says about electromagnetic waves is not only natural but more probably necessary to be able to have some understanding of the soul’s reality.

    You also claim that by understanding spirituality you can understand physics: now that is an interesting claim! Can you tell me of at least one example of discovery in physics that has been achieved by some kind of “spiritual understanding”? You say you wanna be a “Spiritual fanatic” but you’re not sure you deserve to be called that… Well, IMHO, don’t worry too much about it, I think everybody here will agree that you definitely are a “Fanatic” (capital ‘F’) if not a “Spiritual” one: have faith, that makes already 50%.

    The problem is (or is it a problem?) that adopting a “fanatic” attitude causes one’s intelligence to get atrophied, preventing one from developing any kind of understanding, scientific or other. So “in my opinion”, as you say, fanaticism and cognition contradict each other: you therefore need to choose between the two. I have made my choice.

  25. k Jul 18, 2011 5:32 pm 25

    @Jake (comment 24):
    First of all, the word ”electromagnetic wave” was not used in this (add emphasis please) lecture and used by Stephen in his comment. And I did not write about “scientific discoveries”, which is another discussion, but about understanding (add emphasis please). The point is: don’t change my words.

    Either accept the axioms of Spirituality and get starting to learn something or go study more physics, so the things you “learn”, will “touch your heart” (I am referring to your comment in the article: On Proving God –Part I). “[Y]ou therefore need to choose… I have made my choice.”(citation from your comment). And stop distracting our discussions with your provoking comments. I personally prefer to write to, for example, Blake, Star and David than having these discussions with you.

    These “wanna be (fanatically) rational” are the most irrational people that exist. They always contradict themselves … Any other scientist (in any branch of science) who is fanatic will be considered serious (at least by the majority of people). Now if it truly positive to be fanatic in the material sciences is another discussion. But when it comes to the Science of Spirituality(=Medicine of the Soul) then we have to hear nonsensical things from these “wanna be (fanatically) rational” and notodogma-type of people all the time.
    So when I use the word “fanatic” I am, among other things, referring to being extreme serious. So what I try to say is if one wants to learn the Science of Spirituality then one has to study Spirituality; and if one wants to learn physics then one has to study physics; and if one wants learn medicine then…Now if some people have good understanding of physics then good for them. But I don’t think (at all) it is necessary to learn physics to progress in Spirituality. And my argument is this: What will help the Metabrain grow?

  26. blake Jul 21, 2011 4:37 pm 26

    While reading Jake and ks back and forth comments, even though they each started with interesting points, I was getting very disappointed about the bickering that took over. Then something lit up in my head. I realized that I do a good deal of bickering at work and at home myself.

    I was looking for a practical issue to work against for the next month and half and this gave me a fantastic idea.

    I have to thank the two of you for that.

  27. k Jul 24, 2011 1:17 pm 27

    Of course, using the term “fanatic” is my own homemade terminology and I must admit that it “begs” for criticism since it usually is used in a negative way. But I still think my comment (number 22) is correct.

    You are welcome… So how do you think was the correct way to respond to Jake’s comment?

    Also at the time when this video was made available I was in a state of confusion and I was like “what is the imperious self?!”. But now I think I am almost “a pure imperious self!”. And I think the main problem was that I was not enough in society. Anyway now I better understand why one needs to live a normal life among other people, because if one lives in “isolation” then fighting the imperious self does not make sense. Actually I don’t think it is possible.

    Now if one spends a lot of time alone then of course fewer opportunities arise to fight the imperious self. Now acting correct in society is truly difficult: on the one hand one has to not “take it too easy” and not be “soft” and not submit to the negative tendencies in society and on the other hand one needs to obey the social norms, as long as they are not harmful spiritually. This is The Science of Life!

  28. blake Jul 26, 2011 8:36 pm 28


    I personally try to follow the Netiquette Guidelines (http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1855) referenced under the Terms of Use of this website.

  29. k Jul 27, 2011 11:51 pm 29

    @blake: Thanks for the link you posted.
    Yes, it states: “Don’t get involved in flame wars”. And flame means heated messages. I must admit I got involved in a flame war… So I apologize to everybody witnessing this flame war and especially to E-OstadElahi.com.

  30. SM Jul 31, 2011 6:32 am 30

    @ star (comment 19):

    I don’t believe it is a question of size. First, keep in mind that as Dr. Elahi has mentioned, these schematics are merely illustrations to give us an idea of the components of our self. Second, our psychological unconscious self is not only made up of our id (which, in excess, produces the imperious self), but also our super ego (which is composed of our super id, blaming conscience, etc.). And our spiritual unconscious is the largest component of our self, where our meta brain resides. So the id is not the “largest” component, and if it was a question of size, our spiritual unconscious should have dominated and we know it does not. I think the reason that our conscious self (ego) is so easily dominated by the imperious self is that our imperious self stems from our id, which has reached its maturation and works automatically, whereas the spiritual side of our self is still immature and needs a lot of development in order to work as well and requires a strong will power.

    @ blake (comment 20)

    “Our soul is an entity of pure consciousness” – I believe the word “pure” here is intended to mean “entirely,” meaning that our soul is entirely made of consciousness (and nothing else); I don’t believe it is referring to “purity” (a question of pollution). Therefore, it is not intended to be the opposite of an “impure consciousness entity” (assuming such an entity could exist).

    As far as it being an example of “What is impossible by virtue of itself,” I don’t believe so. Something that is impossible by virtue of itself is an entity whose nonexistence is necessary in itself; for example, an equal for the Creator (who by definition is unique) or a more theoretical example, like a round square (by virtue of being round it cannot be square). So I suppose it depends on what you mean by an “impure consciousness” (which, as I explained above, is NOT the opposite of “pure consciousness” as used by Dr. Elahi in this video). But without a specific definition, I don’t see how it can be an example of an impossibility by virtue of itself. Maybe you can explain what you mean.

    Hope this helps.

  31. Tiger Jul 31, 2011 8:14 pm 31

    @ SM, in response to Blake

    I disagree with both of you on philosophical grounds, but also based on a more attentive reading of the book you are referring to.
    “What is impossible by virtue of itself”, as defined in Knowing the Spirit (p. 44), is a very strong concept. Its logical status is quite different from any imaginary, absurd or contradictory idea you may come up with (unicorns, flying pigs or round squares).
    Of course, by definition a square cannot be circular. Rephrased in terms of essence and existence, this means that something in the essence of the square resists its being instantiated as round. Reciprocally, the idea of circularity seems to push away squareness. Nevertheless, we can entertain the idea of a round square (after all, we’re exchanging views about it!). Up to a point, we can even devise concrete approximations of such a concept (for instance, by bending the sides and smoothing out the corners of a squared shape…). Some philosophers argue that round squares and the like do not count as logical contradictions proper but belong rather to the category of “impossible objects”. Such objects exist in their own right as sheer possibilities or fictions of the mind; their only limitation is that they are unconstructible—in other words, their concept can never be instantiated (their extension is null)…

    The point I’m trying to make is this: I do not think that round squares—or any similar example—qualifies as an instance of what is impossible in itself, as understood by Ostad Elahi and the philosophical tradition he’s drawing from.
    By virtue of itself, a circle resists squareness; by virtue of itself, a square resists circularity. But a round square by itself is a perfectly legitimate—if useless—idea. It is as “real” as “the future King of the United States”, or “the baldness of the present King of France”. You may think that a round square is more intrinsically impossible than “the present King of France (in 2011)”, but if it is in fact impossible (i.e., unconstructible), it is by virtue of what we mean by “square” and what we mean by “round”; it is by virtue of the set of axioms that govern our geometry—that is, by virtue of something OTHER than itself. As impossible as it may seem, it cannot rule itself out of existence by its own means: it is not powerful enough to do so! (Naturally, the same is true of flying pigs: they are ruled out of existence by the laws of physics, not by themselves).

    So we’ll have to do better than invoking round squares and the like if we want grasp the idea (and possibly, the spiritual insight) behind “what is impossible by virtue of itself”.
    If you read the relevant paragraph in Knowing the Spirit, it is clear that the scope of this concept is very restrained—as restrained as that of God Himself, which applies to only ONE entity: the unique truly necessary being. Being the concept of “that whose nonexistence is necessary by virtue of itself”, it is exactly symmetrical with “what is necessary by virtue of itself” (mathematicians would say that these are DUAL objects). In fact, “that whose nonexistence is necessary by virtue of itself” cannot be rigorously applied to anything but the idea of God’s “partner / associate”, or any equivalent, such as God’s equal (i.e. another God, which would neutralize the very idea of God as Unique).

    The way I understand this is that “what is impossible by virtue of itself” is the Absolute Absurdity, an Absurdity commensurate with God’s absolute necessity. If you like, it is the negative (in the photographical sense) of God’s absolute necessity.
    Trying to come up with concrete, tangible cues to make sense of these very metaphysical, very abstract, and yet fascinating lines of argument in Knowing the Spirit, I came to the conclusion that another good candidate for “that which is impossible in itself” could be God’s nonexistence itself—or if you prefer, the frightening perspective of a world without God. The utmost absurdity encapsulated in the idea of “what is impossible by virtue of itself” is tantamount to the absurdity of a nonexistent necessary being. Such a state of affairs is impossible in an absolute sense (impossible by virtue of itself), because a being that exists in itself simply CANNOT NOT EXIST. (By the way, this is the structure behind Descartes’ so-called “ontological argument”. On the proofs of God’s existence, see http://www.e-ostadelahi.com/eoe-en/on-proving-god/).

    Again, the kind of impossibility we’re dealing with is quite distinct from anything we can think about in the realm of what is conditioned / contingent / necessary through another. (Using Bahram Elahi’s terms, I’d be tempted to speak of “metacausal impossibility”). Accordingly, “that which is impossible by virtue of itself” is the prototype of every impossibility, whether physical (flying pig), conceptual (round square) or logical (“A is non-A”).
    I quote: “All the other impossible things, including what is ‘impossible through another’ or ‘impossible by relation to another,’ also come back in the end to this (i.e., to what is impossible in itself).” (p. 44).

    “That which which is impossible by virtue of itself” is the ultimate ground of every impossibility, just as “that which is necessary by virtue of itself” is the ultimate ground of any possibility—and thus, any form of existence.

    Bringing these two considerations together, we can meditate on the following intuition: a world without God—anything without God—is absolutely impossible. More impossible, that is, than a round square.

  32. k Jul 31, 2011 9:14 pm 32

    @SM: Can you please make a reference to where you read that “these schematics are merely illustrations to give us an idea of the components of our self.”
    I just don’t remember reading it. This is why I don’t bother to study physics; I have not even done my primary “homework”! And then Jake wants me to read about physics!

  33. SM Aug 21, 2011 8:41 am 33

    @ k: I am basing that statement (that theses schematics are mere illustrations and not literal depiction of our self) on the following:

    1. Medicine of the Soul, Study VI: “… organs and faculties of the soul are inseparable, meaning that … the sensory functions of the soul are not organ specific. Each faculty of the soul simultaneously exists throughout the entire soul in the same way that various electromagnetic waves (radio, television, etc.) occupy a given space and can be detected at any point within that space.”

    I understand the above to mean that the soul’s faculties are not confined to “organs” or areas, if you will, within the soul and that there is a certain fluidity to these faculties. However, we need the strict separation in the illustrations in order to understand the functions of these faculties and their interactions.

    2. According to Prof. Elahi, the substance of the soul, while material, is not made of physical matter, but rather made of “spiritual matter.” (MotS, Study VI.) So using physical illustrations, I doubt we can capture the true form of this transcendent matter, just as we don’t have the vocabulary to describe things that are beyond our comprehension, and we do the best we can with the words we have to understand the concepts.

    3. If the depictions were literal (as opposed to mere illustrations), they should not have changed over time, but we see that these illustrations contained in Prof. Elahi’s works have changed significantly over time as he has further developed these concepts and studied them in depth. The newer illustrations are more in line with the way he is presenting these same concepts he has written about for years.

    By the way, I want to emphasize that I do not mean to suggest that the illustrations are insignificant, or that the proportions do not mean anything. For example, the fact that the ego, which is our superficial conscious self, is depicted as a tiny fraction of our total self, particularly in comparison to our spiritual unconscious, is quite important as it demonstrates the point Prof. Elahi makes about us being analogous to a child who is looking at the world through opaque glasses with pin-size holes in them. Or the fact that the metabrain is situated in our spiritual unconscious is again significant in that we do not have direct access to it while we are in a physical body, making the role of a sound intellect that much more critical.

    So I am merely suggesting that the illustrations are not literal, that’s all. I think if we focus too much on the literal here, we tend to memorize the faculties and “archive” this knowledge, which Prof. Elahi has warned us is useless. But if these illustrations help us to detect these faculties within ourselves, particularly in vivo, then we are learning about ourselves and that is valuable any way you look at it.

  34. SM Aug 21, 2011 8:49 am 34


    The example of a “round square” was merely to illustrate the definition; it is an example often used in philosophy classes to explain this point (another example is a stationary moving body, etc.). But your point is well taken that these self-contradictory examples are based on our own conventions and definitions, as opposed to a “true” impossibility. And in the context of the ontological argument for God’s existence, the thing that is truly impossible by virtue of itself is an equal for the Necessary Being. While we can change convention and definitions to allow for round squares, for example, accepting the Necessary Being as a true reality absolutely negates an equal to it.

  35. k Aug 21, 2011 11:57 pm 35

    @NN (comment 10):
    About being disconnected quasi-entirely from our consciousness:
    I did not understand this either at first but I think the answer is quite simple: We are only quasi-entirely disconnected from our (total) consciousness because we also have a conscious self (=the consciousness we have while on earth).

  36. NN Aug 24, 2011 4:53 pm 36

    @K thank you for your response! It helped after watching the video a couple of times and looking up the definition of quasi.

  37. blake Aug 28, 2011 7:39 pm 37

    @Tiger and SM:

    I appreciate your efforts and responses. I am very weak in the field of philosophy but what I could grasp from the concepts you discussed were, nevertheless, new and interesting.

    I find SMs statement very convincing “I believe the word “pure” here is intended to mean “entirely”

    Tiger, you said “I disagree with both of you on philosophical grounds”… I didn’t get that. Did you mean the question I asked was incorrectly phrased?

    My question was specifically about the “human soul” which comes directly from the Source. Rather than round squares and the like, I think “pure consciousness” would be more analogous to using the term “kind God” in a sentence….when and where it may be needed. When used, we know it would be placing an emphasis on one of God’s attributes, because we also know that an ‘unkind’ God is indeed an impossible (non-existent) attribute.

  38. Z Aug 30, 2011 7:42 pm 38

    I have typed this lecture so I thought it was a good idea to post it; perhaps some will find it useful. I cannot promise that I have not made some spelling mistakes, etc.

    A lecture by Prof. Bahram Elahi
    Sorbonne, March 2011

    Excerpt 1
    The soul and the conscious self

    What is this “we”? What are we? We are a soul, and from this soul derives our Self – Self with a capital “S”. And when we die and leave, that is, when the soul leaves the body, it takes with it our life and our Self. So our Self leaves. But this Self never disappears. Once formed, it never disappears. This Self is always with us: whether we are on earth, it is the same Self, whether we are going to the other world, it is still the same Self, or whether we are travelling through successive lives – which I always qualify as “ascending”- it is always the same Self.

    The fact for the human soul to live several earthly lives during which it cannot regress to a lower stage (animal, vegetal, mineral).

    For example, some people say: “But that’s not me!” “If what you say is true, that I have lived other lives, that I acted incorrectly in the past and that now I am being punished…it was not me! I was someone else.” It is to them that I say: it was you.

    Our soul is an entity of pure consciousness. It could be defined as an entity of pure consciousness comprised of a conglomerate of powers. A power is something that exerts an effect, a force, which can be modified, decreased, or increased. But how much of this entire consciousness do we have while on earth? All we have – I’m embarrassed to say- is this pinhead. Of our entire consciousness, all we are privy to amounts to a pinhead, which is called the “conscious self”. Why, then, is this pinhead all that we have? Well, you see, it is because of a opaque psychological veil. This psychological veil disconnects us from the entirety -well, from the quasi-entirety- of our consciousness. And the state we are in resembles that of a child who has been fitted with opaque eyeglasses since birth, with only two pinholes to see through. This child sees the reality of the world through these pinholes. So the scope of his consciousness of both material and spiritual realities is limited to what? To a pinhead. And as soon as these glasses are removed, the child realises the extent of his faculty of consciousness. But when we say that he realises the extent of his faculty of consciousness, it does not mean that he can use it. So when we leave- when we die- we leave the body behind and the psychological veil is no longer there. We then become like this child: we suddenly realise that our consciousness is immense and the world we have reached is immense, but our level of understanding has remained the same, the same as the knowledge that we acquired on earth. What should we do, while on earth, to become more conscious, to take better advantage of our *total* consciousness? What should we do? We should reduce the opacity of our psychological veil. What generates this opacity? Our imperious self. The imperious self is a negative psychological energy that is harmful for the soul. It is produced by our unconscious psyche and rises up to the level of our conscious self; this energy constantly occupies our conscious self. So whether we want it or not, we are constantly ruled by our imperious self, unless we fight against it.

  39. Tiger Sep 03, 2011 2:08 am 39

    I was merely reacting to your suggestion that an “impure consciousness” could qualify as an instance of “what is impossible by virtue of itself” as understood by Ostad Elahi in Knowing the Spirit. My point was that a contradiction in terms is not enough, that there seems to be something deeper to the “impossible by itself”.
    If consciousness is pure as a matter of definition, you’re quite right to say that an “impure consciousness” is somewhat contradictory. But again, there are so many things that are (self)contradictory in that sense: round squares, married bachelors, you name it… I don’t think any of these examples sheds light on the “impossible by itself”, which—as far as I can tell—points to a much deeper sense of the impossible.
    Here is another way to put it: would you say that a round circle, or parallels that never intersect, are good examples of what is necessary by virtue of itself? Do these objects help us grasp the notion of a Necessary Being? Hardly so.
    And why is that? Because the fact that circles cannot be anything but round, that parallels cannot but stay parallel, does not make the existence of these circles and parallels any more necessary! What is at stake is necessary existence, not necessity per se.
    The same holds for the impossible: we are not looking for an impossible state of affairs (one that is ruled out by the laws of nature or the principles of logic), but for something whose very existence is impossible BY ITSELF, period.
    The only thing that seems to qualify is the notion of God’s associate, God’s equal, or (I would suggest) anything that entails that God is not really God. I believe these are good topics for meditation…
    Incidentally, I’m not sure what you mean by “impure consciousness”. When B. Elahi states that the soul is “an entity of pure consciousness”, I believe what he means is simply that it is wholly made of consciousness or “mind-stuff”. The opposite of “pure” here would not be “impure” but “mixed” or “partially made of”… But I may have missed something.
    In any case, as far as I’m concerned, focusing on the idea of “impure consciousness” (or “pure”, for that matter) does not really help me get a practical sense of the issues related to God’s existence in relation to creation (=the focus of Knowing the Spirit, chap. I). But again, I may have missed something, and I am not really sure what it is that we’re discussing here.

  40. star Sep 03, 2011 3:34 pm 40

    @z: thank you for transcribing the article. It is very helpful!!

  41. Tiger Sep 04, 2011 10:57 pm 41

    More on “pure consciousness”.
    I’ve double-checked: in French Bahram Elahi says “une pure conscience” (emphasis on “pure”).
    Clearly he doesn’t mean “pure consciousness” in the sense of “not impure”, otherwise he would have said “une conscience pure”.
    So my verdict is: the soul is “pure consciousness” = the soul is “one hundred per cent consciousness” (as opposed to unconscious or corporeal, I guess).

  42. blake Sep 07, 2011 2:31 am 42

    I also think It is very clear that ‘pure’ means ‘entirely’ or ‘100 percent’ in this lecture.


    Again. I appreciate you taking more time on responding. You wrote in 39: [Incidentally, I’m not sure what you mean by “impure consciousness”.]

    This might help: During one of the repeated times that I listened to the lecture, the thought of the creation of a human’s celestial soul, being anything but “pure consciousness”, as an impossibility, occurred to me. Then I used the term ‘impure’ (maybe a bad choice of a word) in my question. It was not meant as an opposite to pure, but the converse to the term pure consciousness.

    So my question was triggered by a personal curiosity to expand my understanding of “what is impossible by virtue of itself” through examples other than God’s equal. My question’s face value was just a question and not a suggestion. I have no answer and wanted to know what others thought.

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