Research: Religion’s Lost Secret

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Written by: Peter Novak
Date: 02/12/2002

The Nag Hammadi Gospels and Religion’s Lost Secret

What would you bet that the Secret of Death, the biggest and most elusive mystery of all, is the sort of thing that no one ever notices even though it’s been standing right in front of

our noses all along, the sort of thing that, once you finally see it, it makes you want to slap yourself upside the head, saying, of course! How obvious!

 

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

 

There are, of course, huge volumes of material both ancient and modern which support both the “heaven-and-hell” and “reincarnation” scenarios of life after death; and these mountains of evidence, instead of being contradicted by modern science, have been added to yet further by recent research into Near-Death Experiences and Past-Life Regression. With the added weight of this new sociological research, one cannot help but wonder if the answer somehow involves both scenarios.

 

My wife, Alice, died, less than a year after we were married.

After this, because of this, I became intent (some would use a stronger term) on learning everything I could on the true nature of death. A single father, I was limited to studying when time allowed, and searched this way for many years, but for a long time it just seemed I was making myself even more confused than when I’d started. Then, in the summer of 1988, while haphazardly reviewing a handful of religious and scientific works (including the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, a collection of Upanishads, the Egyptian and Tibetan Books of the Dead, a review of Zoroastrianism, the lost Christian Gospels rediscovered in Nag Hammadi in the 1940’s, and a hodgepodge of writings from Swedenborg, Freud, and Jung) an idea came to me, slowly but insistently, an idea which, I wonder now, just may change everything.

The idea was this – what if, at death, we divide? Not merely dividing apart into body and spirit, as nearly all have assumed up until now, but truly dividing our inner essences, dividing into two entirely different and separated spiritual portions.

We know, we HAVE KNOWN, for a hundred years now, that besides a body we are also made up of two other things, two other quite distinct parts, two already largely alienated mental halves -our ‘head’ and our ‘heart’ – a conscious mind and a subconscious mind (this, of course, calls to mind the ancient maxim that we all possess a body, a soul, AND a spirit). We have further discovered in this century that these two halves of the psyche possess entirely different characteristics: the conscious half is the seat of the intellect and the will (the ability to make choices), while the subconscious half is home to our emotions and our memories.

 

All this, of course, is anything but news, but neither our religions nor any of the so-called New-Age theories on the afterlife seem to be the least bit interested in taking this inner dichotomy (the most fundamental dichotomy of human existence) into account in their theories and teachings.

The Division of Consciousness:

Science, Religion, and the Secret Afterlife of the Human Psyche

If these two parts each survived physical death, but divided from one another in the process, what would happen? Where would they be? What would each experience? Well, this frankly doesn’t seem so hard to figure out; each would, obviously, lose what the other half gave it, and would be forced to rely exclusively on its own capacities. The conscious half, then, would lose all its memory and emotion (modern Near-Death Experiencers, curiously enough, commonly report just such an absence of emotion immediately after leaving the body; similarly, Past-Life Regression subjects frequently report a pronounced absence of both emotion and memory during the time spent in-between lives). Although the conscious would lose its entire memory if separated from the subconscious, it would nonetheless remain free to make new choices and move on to new experiences; and this sounds an awful lot like the East’s reincarnation scenario, if you ask me.

The subconscious, meanwhile, would lose all ability for objective, rational, independent thought, as well as all ability to make new choices, and thus, deprived of its ability to move in any way, would just sit perfectly still, with nothing to do but fall back deeper and deeper into itself, deeper and deeper into the levels of the unconscious, deeper and deeper into its own emotions and memory (Swedenborg saw something very similar to this in his mystical experiences).

And since the subconscious is responsive and emotional in nature, it could be expected to react emotionally to those memories as well, feeding off its own emotional reactions to its own life memories; it would, in effect, be emotionally judging its own past life and then creating and experiencing its own dream-world reactions to those judgments. And as it would be cut off from all external input, it would remain in this unconscious dream-state permanently (kind of reminds you of Jesus saying “He is not dead, only sleeping”, doesn’t it?), and 100% of its experience would derive from its memories and its reactions to them. Caught in a circular pattern of automatic behavior, it could be expected to perpetually review its memories, react to them emotionally, and react to those reactions emotionally as well, all automatically, over and over, forever, squeezing every last drop of emotional content from its life memories (which reminds me of the “treading the winepress” quotes scattered throughout the Bible). If the subconscious judged its memories of what it had done in its past life favorably, it would thereafter experience a dream-world filled with absolute, positive emotion – pure pleasure and happiness. If it judged itself unfavorably, it would experience a dream-world filled with absolute negative emotion-the pain of self-condemnation. And this, if you ask me, sounds alot like the West’s heaven-and-hell scenario.

Thus, the 20th century’s scientific discovery of the natural division of the human mind seems to produce two radically different afterlife scenarios, which are, interestingly enough, virtually identical to the two major religious scenarios that have been in existence for millennia. The East’s tradition of reincarnation and the West’s tradition of heaven and hell are each thousands of years old; science’s discovery of the natures and qualities of the conscious and unconscious, on the other hand, are less than a single century old. Nonetheless, they are somehow the same; somehow, the latter has reconstructed the former. Science, it seems, has arrived at conclusions religion embraced centuries ago.

Ancient Corroboration of Division Theory

Echoes of such a “Division Theory” theology seem to appear in the original religious texts of cultures all over the world.

Many ancient cultures, for example, believed that humans possessed two different ‘souls’, each of which successfully survived the death of the physical body, but only to then separate from one another as well: in ancient Egypt, the ba separated from the ka at death; in ancient Greece, the thymos separated from the psyche; in ancient China, the p’o separated from the hun; in Persia, the urvan from the daena; in India, the asu from the manas; and in Israel, the soul from the spirit

(Eccl. 12:7, Heb. 4:12). Even in many primitive cultures still existing today (such as the Alaskan Eskimo and the Australian aborigine), strikingly similar belief patterns can still be seen.

LOUD echoes of such a Division Theory theology occur in the banned, long-lost 1st century Christian Gospels rediscovered in Nag Hammadi Egypt in the 1940’s (especially so in three: the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Truth).

Ignoring for the moment the obvious question of why cultures all around the globe and through history seem to have arrived at such similar afterlife beliefs, another question still begs to be asked – might not all these belief-systems, both ancient and present-day, found all around the world, be referring to he very same elements within human beings that we in the West olloquially refer to as the ‘head’ and ‘heart’, what we more properly, in this scientific age, call the conscious and the unconscious?

Division Theory, simply by taking what science now knows about the human mind, and asks how it might function under a different set of circumstances (the two halves of the mind continuing to exist and function after death, but divided apart from one another), arrives at answers that replicate beliefs thousands of years old. This seemingly impossible anachronism suggests the existence of a single, potentially verifiable scientific reality which underlies and substantiates both Eastern and Western religious traditions. Thus, Division Theory not only works toward unifying the divisions within humanity’s religions, but also the chasm between religion and science as well.

And in the process, it carries profound, disturbing implications for both the legendary ‘Fall of Man’ (i.e., the division of Adam and Eve, or Hegel’s Primordial Rupture) and the prophesied ‘Resurrection of the Dead’ during the West’s classic Judgment Day scenario (“you will be invaded by an ancient and enduring army, an army of old, such as has never been seen before” Ask yourself – what does “Resurrection of the Dead” become, if reincarnation is part of the picture?).

Perhaps the Secret of Death hasn’t remained elusive because it was too far removed from us, but because it was too close.

Division is, after all, the very core and essence of the human experience. What was a historic revelation to Freud 100 years ago(and through him, to the whole of the scientific world) – that we are all divided – is, and has always been, Man’s surprised cry of discovery.

We are all divided; whether we use psychological terms(“conscious and unconscious”), physiological terms (“male and female”), colloquial terms (“head and heart”), Biblical terms (“soul and spirit”), Egyptian terms (“ba and ka”), Chinese terms (“p’o and hun”), Greek terms (“thymos and psyche”),Kant’s terms(“phenomena and noumena”) Blake’s terms (“imagination and reason”), Hegel’s terms (“subject and substance”), or Sartre’s terms (“existence and essense”), we always find ourselves ultimately referring to two separate components of our reality.

Each time, we find we can never quite completely get a handle on any of these sets; we can never quite completely identify or fully define them. No matter how hard or carefully we try to look at them, we can never fully wrap our minds around any of these sets of components.

That would make sense if they were infinite. Division Theory suggests that no matter what terms we happen to find ourselves using at any given time, we are always really referring to the same two components, which each have an infinite number of different names, faces, and facets.

Whether one is speaking of the division between conscious and unconscious, male and female, head and heart, or soul and spirit, Division always ends up enthroned as our single most basic an intimate reality. Is it more reasonable to suppose that we have an infinite number of different divisions within us, or that we have just one division that can be viewed from an infinite number of different perspectives?

Is this inner division, Division Theory asks, identical with the division between life and death, between Man and God?

If so, then to heal this division is to conquer death itself.

What did Jesus hold up as the key to eternal life?

Integrity. Being undivided.

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Religion’s Lost Secret

By: Peter Novak

Article

The Nag Hammadi Gospels and Religion’s Lost Secret

by Peter Novak

 

What would you bet that the Secret of Death, the biggest and most elusive mystery of all, is the sort of thing that no one ever notices even though it’s been standing right in front of

our noses all along, the sort of thing that, once you finally see it, it makes you want to slap yourself upside the head, saying, of course! How obvious!

 

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

 

There are, of course, huge volumes of material both ancient and modern which support both the “heaven-and-hell” and “reincarnation” scenarios of life after death; and these mountains of evidence, instead of being contradicted by modern science, have been added to yet further by recent research into Near-Death Experiences and Past-Life Regression. With the added weight of this new sociological research, one cannot help but wonder if the answer somehow involves both scenarios.

 

My wife, Alice, died, less than a year after we were married.

After this, because of this, I became intent (some would use a stronger term) on learning everything I could on the true nature of death. A single father, I was limited to studying when time allowed, and searched this way for many years, but for a long time it just seemed I was making myself even more confused than when I’d started. Then, in the summer of 1988, while haphazardly reviewing a handful of religious and scientific works (including the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, a collection of Upanishads, the Egyptian and Tibetan Books of the Dead, a review of Zoroastrianism, the lost Christian Gospels rediscovered in Nag Hammadi in the 1940’s, and a hodgepodge of writings from Swedenborg, Freud, and Jung) an idea came to me, slowly but insistently, an idea which, I wonder now, just may change everything.

The idea was this – what if, at death, we divide? Not merely dividing apart into body and spirit, as nearly all have assumed up until now, but truly dividing our inner essences, dividing into two entirely different and separated spiritual portions.

We know, we HAVE KNOWN, for a hundred years now, that besides a body we are also made up of two other things, two other quite distinct parts, two already largely alienated mental halves -our ‘head’ and our ‘heart’ – a conscious mind and a subconscious mind (this, of course, calls to mind the ancient maxim that we all possess a body, a soul, AND a spirit). We have further discovered in this century that these two halves of the psyche possess entirely different characteristics: the conscious half is the seat of the intellect and the will (the ability to make choices), while the subconscious half is home to our emotions and our memories.

 

All this, of course, is anything but news, but neither our religions nor any of the so-called New-Age theories on the afterlife seem to be the least bit interested in taking this inner dichotomy (the most fundamental dichotomy of human existence) into account in their theories and teachings.

The Division of Consciousness:

Science, Religion, and the Secret Afterlife of the Human Psyche

If these two parts each survived physical death, but divided from one another in the process, what would happen? Where would they be? What would each experience? Well, this frankly doesn’t seem so hard to figure out; each would, obviously, lose what the other half gave it, and would be forced to rely exclusively on its own capacities. The conscious half, then, would lose all its memory and emotion (modern Near-Death Experiencers, curiously enough, commonly report just such an absence of emotion immediately after leaving the body; similarly, Past-Life Regression subjects frequently report a pronounced absence of both emotion and memory during the time spent in-between lives). Although the conscious would lose its entire memory if separated from the subconscious, it would nonetheless remain free to make new choices and move on to new experiences; and this sounds an awful lot like the East’s reincarnation scenario, if you ask me.

The subconscious, meanwhile, would lose all ability for objective, rational, independent thought, as well as all ability to make new choices, and thus, deprived of its ability to move in any way, would just sit perfectly still, with nothing to do but fall back deeper and deeper into itself, deeper and deeper into the levels of the unconscious, deeper and deeper into its own emotions and memory (Swedenborg saw something very similar to this in his mystical experiences).

And since the subconscious is responsive and emotional in nature, it could be expected to react emotionally to those memories as well, feeding off its own emotional reactions to its own life memories; it would, in effect, be emotionally judging its own past life and then creating and experiencing its own dream-world reactions to those judgments. And as it would be cut off from all external input, it would remain in this unconscious dream-state permanently (kind of reminds you of Jesus saying “He is not dead, only sleeping”, doesn’t it?), and 100% of its experience would derive from its memories and its reactions to them. Caught in a circular pattern of automatic behavior, it could be expected to perpetually review its memories, react to them emotionally, and react to those reactions emotionally as well, all automatically, over and over, forever, squeezing every last drop of emotional content from its life memories (which reminds me of the “treading the winepress” quotes scattered throughout the Bible). If the subconscious judged its memories of what it had done in its past life favorably, it would thereafter experience a dream-world filled with absolute, positive emotion – pure pleasure and happiness. If it judged itself unfavorably, it would experience a dream-world filled with absolute negative emotion-the pain of self-condemnation. And this, if you ask me, sounds alot like the West’s heaven-and-hell scenario.

Thus, the 20th century’s scientific discovery of the natural division of the human mind seems to produce two radically different afterlife scenarios, which are, interestingly enough, virtually identical to the two major religious scenarios that have been in existence for millennia. The East’s tradition of reincarnation and the West’s tradition of heaven and hell are each thousands of years old; science’s discovery of the natures and qualities of the conscious and unconscious, on the other hand, are less than a single century old. Nonetheless, they are somehow the same; somehow, the latter has reconstructed the former. Science, it seems, has arrived at conclusions religion embraced centuries ago.

Ancient Corroboration of Division Theory

Echoes of such a “Division Theory” theology seem to appear in the original religious texts of cultures all over the world.

Many ancient cultures, for example, believed that humans possessed two different ‘souls’, each of which successfully survived the death of the physical body, but only to then separate from one another as well: in ancient Egypt, the ba separated from the ka at death; in ancient Greece, the thymos separated from the psyche; in ancient China, the p’o separated from the hun; in Persia, the urvan from the daena; in India, the asu from the manas; and in Israel, the soul from the spirit

(Eccl. 12:7, Heb. 4:12). Even in many primitive cultures still existing today (such as the Alaskan Eskimo and the Australian aborigine), strikingly similar belief patterns can still be seen.

LOUD echoes of such a Division Theory theology occur in the banned, long-lost 1st century Christian Gospels rediscovered in Nag Hammadi Egypt in the 1940’s (especially so in three: the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Truth).

Ignoring for the moment the obvious question of why cultures all around the globe and through history seem to have arrived at such similar afterlife beliefs, another question still begs to be asked – might not all these belief-systems, both ancient and present-day, found all around the world, be referring to he very same elements within human beings that we in the West olloquially refer to as the ‘head’ and ‘heart’, what we more properly, in this scientific age, call the conscious and the unconscious?

Division Theory, simply by taking what science now knows about the human mind, and asks how it might function under a different set of circumstances (the two halves of the mind continuing to exist and function after death, but divided apart from one another), arrives at answers that replicate beliefs thousands of years old. This seemingly impossible anachronism suggests the existence of a single, potentially verifiable scientific reality which underlies and substantiates both Eastern and Western religious traditions. Thus, Division Theory not only works toward unifying the divisions within humanity’s religions, but also the chasm between religion and science as well.

And in the process, it carries profound, disturbing implications for both the legendary ‘Fall of Man’ (i.e., the division of Adam and Eve, or Hegel’s Primordial Rupture) and the prophesied ‘Resurrection of the Dead’ during the West’s classic Judgment Day scenario (“you will be invaded by an ancient and enduring army, an army of old, such as has never been seen before” Ask yourself – what does “Resurrection of the Dead” become, if reincarnation is part of the picture?).

Perhaps the Secret of Death hasn’t remained elusive because it was too far removed from us, but because it was too close.

Division is, after all, the very core and essence of the human experience. What was a historic revelation to Freud 100 years ago(and through him, to the whole of the scientific world) – that we are all divided – is, and has always been, Man’s surprised cry of discovery.

We are all divided; whether we use psychological terms(“conscious and unconscious”), physiological terms (“male and female”), colloquial terms (“head and heart”), Biblical terms (“soul and spirit”), Egyptian terms (“ba and ka”), Chinese terms (“p’o and hun”), Greek terms (“thymos and psyche”),Kant’s terms(“phenomena and noumena”) Blake’s terms (“imagination and reason”), Hegel’s terms (“subject and substance”), or Sartre’s terms (“existence and essense”), we always find ourselves ultimately referring to two separate components of our reality.

Each time, we find we can never quite completely get a handle on any of these sets; we can never quite completely identify or fully define them. No matter how hard or carefully we try to look at them, we can never fully wrap our minds around any of these sets of components.

That would make sense if they were infinite. Division Theory suggests that no matter what terms we happen to find ourselves using at any given time, we are always really referring to the same two components, which each have an infinite number of different names, faces, and facets.

Whether one is speaking of the division between conscious and unconscious, male and female, head and heart, or soul and spirit, Division always ends up enthroned as our single most basic an intimate reality. Is it more reasonable to suppose that we have an infinite number of different divisions within us, or that we have just one division that can be viewed from an infinite number of different perspectives?

Is this inner division, Division Theory asks, identical with the division between life and death, between Man and God?

If so, then to heal this division is to conquer death itself.

What did Jesus hold up as the key to eternal life?

Integrity. Being undivided.

 

Lori Soard started Word Museum in 1997. She’s a published author and has written thousands of articles over the years for newspapers, magazines and online. She has a PhD in Journalism and lives in Southern Indiana with her husband. They have two grown daughters, both animal lovers their house is always filled with pets.

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