Do fish have souls?

The dead mackerel fixed me with one cold eye. I had it on the table to slit its belly, take out its guts. We had much in common: eye, heart, spine and entrails. Its gills equate to my lungs: alternative ways to put oxygen in the blood. When I die my corpse will be just as inert. As living creatures we’re equally brilliant specimens of functional design.

When it was raised from the sea and left in the air to die, was there a fishy soul to escape and go somewhere? The question is whether I’m different from a mackerel, in the same way that a tree, stone or cloud is. No, there is animal, vegetable, mineral. We are animal. There can be few tribes today still acknowledging the soul of a fish before grilling it in a flame. What do modern people believe? I imagine some hybrid, some fudge, splicing the vestiges of religion with a smattering of evolution. We may accept the Big Bang as science, Eden as myth; yet if “spirituality” has any meaning for us, there’s a leap to be made somewhere. One could check it on the Web, to see what living theologians might have to say; or the late Teilhard de Chardin, who combined being a Jesuit and palaeontologist.

Every tribe, every generation demands answers and explanations, just as every child asks “Why?”

In my case the curiosity lasted no longer than the moments our eyes made contact, mine and the dead mackerel’s.

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7 thoughts on “Do fish have souls?

  1. I think soul is a word to describe the depths (especially if you’re a fish, ha ha…) of experience. Or, seriously, if you’re a fish, then at least the essence of the experience of fishness.Please, no, don't hang up on me.What I mean to say is that even if you believe that experience depends on having an intact physical body, experience isn't identical with that body. It's another phenomenon, no matter how related. Otherwise, for example, we wouldn't have the two words, “brain” and “mind.” Mind refers to experience.Besides, if someone offered you dessert and you wanted to be polite and we didn't have that word, you'd have to say something like, “Why thank you – don't brain if I do.”Right there, that would be just plain unappetizing and rude.Okay, I'll stop.

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  2. Right! “Soul” has accumulated many connotations in our language. Survival after body's demise is only one of them. Questioning of soul is my most recent experiment, and that's why I may have gone too far. I'll add a postscript to my original post with more on this.

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  3. I consider this entire universe, along with countless other cosmosses, to be a massive attack on total awareness, complete unity that existed once in the singularity that was destroyed by the terrorist attack of the Big Bang, an explosion that continues until this day.

    Today we see increasing fragmentation occuring on all levels. Spacetime is the environment providing fragmentation a condition to take place. Souls are merely fragmented entities of awareness in my view. An ephemeral state that separates source from destiny, in which the initial state will be restored.

    The property of immortality in such a situation is at best a rather equivocal interpretation. While present in spacetime everything is submitted to change everywhere and while being part of such a process learning as much as we possibly can, is probably the best meaningful option available to us. It applies for all entities that have the ability to learn, perhaps including some types of fish too.

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  4. Interesting view, Rage. I see your comment as a massive attack of cosmological ideology on ordinary animal/human existence!

    Immortality may be an equivocal interpretation, but you're right that it is an interpretation. This animal, me, feels all sorts of mysterious things and tries to make some sense of them, but I find that the feeling is more important than the interpretations.

    Having said all this, I don't disagree with what you say. I just don't know how to use it in my everyday living. I'd like to know more of your views!

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  5. The universes often referred to as creation in my eyes are exactly the opposite – attempts to uncreate. Fragmentation, separation, polarization etc. are all properties of destructive forces that we notice are taking place around and inside us. Constructive or creative action has nothing to do with them.

    After short or long breaks in the bardo, the parking lot souls visit between lives, we return to some plane. Which plane depends on the advancement we have made during life outside the parking lot.

    In view of this, the practical value in every day living means to me to try to live according to the Zarathustrian principle: think good, speak good, act good.

    I believe we have a problem – we sense in every fiber of our being, in each corner of our minds that the way this world is heading for destruction, but the cruel act of conditioning has obscured many important answers (for now). But like most things, such occurances are both a blessing and a curse. The paradoxality is a property of the physical plane that can be solved only by synchronization of the left and right hemispheres of our brains. We are poisoned daily by the food and drinks we take, by the frames that are drilled into our minds by the (main stream) media, by the pollution of the environment etc. that are all means aiming at de-synchronizing our brain.

    But all that has not prevented me from embracing the conviction that in each of my fragmented lives I can only do so much. If I succeed in doing my tiny bit, in the parking lot will be decided that I will be allowed to move to the next plane, if not I will be sent back to do it all over again. I don't look upon this as an act of cruelty, but rather and act of mercy allowing me to correct almost infinitely what I handled in the wrong way.

    The tiny bits of thinking good, speaking good and doing good will become bigger as I improve. I will understand more as I progress and will be entrusted with more abilities / responsabilities after each visit to the parking lot. What we see here and now is that many idiots have gained power without having a clue of their responsabilities and the consequence of their behaviour.

    It may seem a thin mission that is granted to us in this life, because we always want more. But that too is the result of the conditioning inflicted upon us.

    I do not belong to any religious organization or cult. The truth is also fragmented, so I investigate fragmented ideas that appeal to my intuition, regardless of the claims of any group. I do not care for most forms of reasoning, since it has lead this world to where it is today.

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  6. I think awareness is not an end in itself and is not any more important than anything else. Awareness is a product of the need for structures we call biological to interact with the universe within and without their structural boundaries.

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  7. I very much like your comment, Ileana. I think the second sentence is true, and well worth saying. Your first sentence gave me pause, made me ask myself whether I think awareness is an end in itself. On reflection, I agree that human awareness is not an end in itself. I don't know what kind of awareness a fish may have. I'm open to the idea that though it has little thought or memory, it may be living in a kind of bliss or Nirvana that humans can achieve only with great difficulty. I wrote the post in 2006 and have developed my thought since then. My latest post, for example, is about “Intelligent Design”.

    I've looked at your Google+ page and admire the breadth of your interests. Do you display your work anywhere else on the Web?

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