Nihil Obstat (Nothing contrary to the faith): Rev. Fr. Ronaldo Tuazon

Saint Therese, as was written in her autobiography, Story of a Soul, once asked her mom, “When will you die?” What brought her to this inquiry is what she learned from her mother herself that only death could bring us close to our creator God and reunite with Him who is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. She accepted death gladly and freely like a friend. She even welcomed her own death with a child-like heart.

Through Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates wanted us to accept death without resentment since it will free our soul from our body so it can better learn and move closer to light.

Socrates said that the soul is capable of reasoning and thinking, and that those capacities alone can grasp relevant objects. In line with this, he believes that no thought at all can be reached through the senses of the body since the body hinders the mind.

Socrates gave us the concept of two worlds: the world of the sensible and the world of Forms. The former would be things in the world and those that we perceive through our senses. The latter is the intangible, divine, and perfect ideas of Beauty, Good, and Truth. “Forms” are the necessary causes of all the sensible.

With regards to this, Socrates used two arguments to support his claims: First, the argument from “recollection”. This means that the soul existed before birth, and as Socrates explained, it was then that the soul learned all that it could learn from the world of Forms. At birth, all that was previously learned from the world of forms is forgotten and that is why we start out knowing so little, if anything at all. We learn in life and grow more and more by “recollecting” our prior knowledge, until we can arrive at true belief.

Only in death can we again arrive at the knowledge that we possessed before birth, when our souls were communing with the Forms. The Forms are a sort of realm like heaven for Plato, where we commune with them as souls learning and doing the dialectic.

As a seminarian, I would agree with this claim of Plato only in a different point of view. As I was brought up as Christian, I was taught not to fear death. Like Saint Therese, we must be happy toward death; for death brings us nearer and closer to God. In my perspective as Christian, the world of Form that Socrates was speaking of was God who is the beginning – the creator and source of all that exists.

Still regarding Socrates as basis, I would say that what we see now as reality are just imitation (imperfect, so to say) of what is higher than them. This is our situation from the things in heaven. We are suffering from the imperfection here on earth. Sooner, we will come again back to our creator who is our source. For this to happen, to achieve our goal of communing with God again, we should die first. That is why we should not fear death for it is our means to reunite with God.

The Second part of Plato’s first argument is about the existence of souls after death. He showed this by constructing a logical proof. Assume that opposites come from opposites. For example, wake comes from sleep. Since life is the opposite of death, then he concluded that life comes from death. This proves that the soul exists after death, and therefore the soul is and must be immortal since life comes from death.

I believe that there is life after death. Our souls are really immortal. When we die, our body separates from our souls and only the body decays. When they separate, our souls then will commune with the heavenly bodies and finally with God.

This is how the immortality of the soul is logically explained: Opposites cannot admit of their opposites (when opposed, they either flee or perish). “Carriers” cannot admit the opposite of what they carry. The Soul is a carrier; what it carries is life. The opposite of life is death. The soul can’t admit death; it must either flee or perish. The soul is therefore deathless – what is deathless is indestructible. The soul is indestructible – that is, immortal.

Since our soul is immortal, it requires us to care of it by being good; so that we may fare well when death finally visits us. Both Socrates and Plato believed that our life in this world and in the next life depends on the state of our souls.

Obviously, Philosophers were considered by Plato to have the best souls because they spent their lives in search of knowledge and therefore they can make better choices and have a better chance of choosing a good life, all because of the knowledge that they acquired and the way in which they lived their lives.

“I have no fear of death for it is not my ultimate end;

But rather, death is just a way — a beginning of my journey.

My ultimate end is to once again commune with Him who created me.”


About harksarmiento

Filipino. 27. Licensed Teacher of English. Writer. Leader and Team-builder. Speaker. Affiliations: PALT, Inc. (Active Member); PNU Manila (MA ELE); ONHS Main (English Department). Areas of Interest: Research, Philosophy, Psychology, Logic, Languages, Music, Politics, and Religion. Inclinations: blogging, watching movies, writing, reading. Hobby: badminton. Personality: Passionate, straightforward, tenacious.

Posted on August 11, 2009, in CULTURE, Lifestyle, Philosophy, Religion, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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