The One-World Religion of Humanity's Distant Past
Many Australian aboriginal tribes still believe that people possess two souls which divide apart at death. The true self, which pre-exists the person's birth, comes from a timeless, primordial, heavenly realm called alcheringa, or "The Dreaming", and returns there after death. The other soul, meanwhile, separates from that self after death, remaining behind on earth to take up residence in another human body. Mirroring this belief in double souls, the practice of double funerals are very common in Australia, just as they once were all throughout the ancient Middle East.
The belief in a binary soul is also a common feature of African religion. Their two souls often consist of one part which lives forever, and a 'shadow' which only lives for an uncertain length of time after death, hovering around the mortal remains. The ancient culture known as Kush, located in what is now the Sudan, also believed in the ba and ka souls of Egypt, and also preserved the bodies of their leaders in pyramidal tombs, believing this necessary to insure the survival of the ka. Africa's present-day Mossi tribe also believe that human beings have one masculine and one feminine soul, and that death divides these two apart. Similarly, Africa's Samo tribe call their two souls the ri and the mere; the ri soul contains the person's thought and life force, reincarnating after death, while the mere soul, thought of as a perfect double of the person, becomes permanently trapped in a netherworld when it experiences a second death sometime after leaving the body. And Africa's Ba-Huana tribe also credits human beings with two souls - bun and doshi. The bun is the soul or self, and survives death unharmed, while the doshi is a shadowy second self, or 'double', that tends to linger around on earth after death, haunting its enemies and persecuting its own relations if a proper burial is not made.
The Binary Soul Doctrine also used to be very widespread in the Americas; tribes from South America to Alaska believed in a Corporeal Soul which gave life, consciousness, and the faculty of movement, and a Free Soul that would find itself trapped in some realm of the dead after death. The Corporal Soul provided the life force, and could not exit the body without resulting in the death of the individual. The Free Soul, on the other hand, often left the body during life, such as during dreams, trances, and mystical experiences. The Inuit (Eskimo) of Canada and Greenland believed in two souls; the inua held the life force and reincarnated into a new body after death, while the tarnneg, or double of the person, became a permanent occupant of the realm of the dead North America's Dakota Tribe called their two surviving souls the nagi and the niya. The nagi soul held the power of movement and independent free will, and after death, it could either join the world of the spirits, or be forced to wander aimlessly. The niya soul, thought to contain one's conscience and memory, helped the person to relate to and interact with others. After death, the niya was thought to testify against the other soul in a great Judgment after death (much like Persia's daena and Egypt's ka). And deep in the rainforests of the northwest Amazon, the Maku tribe still subscribes to the Binary Soul Doctrine. They believe that the whole world is composed of two equal-but-opposite fundamental forces - the hot force and the cold force - which, like the Chinese Yin and Yang, must always be kept balanced, or else health and prosperity will suffer. These hot and cool forces are also the basic components of human beings; we all possess one hot soul, or baktup, the Maku declare, and one cold soul, or bowugn. When we die, these two divide apart; the baktup soul becomes something akin to a ghost, hanging around and frightening people, while the bowugn soul shrivels up into a little ball and flies away to heaven.
Pyramids, Mummies, and the Binary Soul Doctrine
The world-wide presence of the BSD strongly suggests that a world-dominating culture probably did exist at some point in mankind's deep past, a culture which, much like the legendary Atlantis, was able to spread its religious ideas and practices fully around the world. In that many BSD cultures (including those in Egypt, China, and MesoAmerica) also built pyramids and mummified their dead, it seems reasonable to suspect that this ancient Atlantean-like religion included all three.
Some have argued that the main feature of Atlantis, the symbol of its culture, as it were, was the pyramid. And just as the Binary Soul Doctrine once covered the globe, so too did the practice of pyramid-building. Besides the familiar pyramid complexes in Egypt, many other locations around the world also house these ancient monuments. In the Americas, pyramids still stand in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, and Illinois, and unconfirmed reports place still others in Brazil, Wisconsin, and off the coast of Cuba. Dozens more pyramids exist, in various states of disrepair, in the Sudan, Greece, the Canary Islands, China, Japan, Korea, and Cambodia. Long ago, even more pyramids stood : the famous ziggurats of the Mesopotamians were monumental stepped pyramids, similar in appearance to those of Mesoamerica. And if legend is to be believed, India also had a number of pyramids, until they were destrroyed by Muslim invaders. Still other legends hold that pyramids once stood in Australia, Tahiti, and Western Samoa as well.
These pyramids, as geographically far apart as they were, were all associated with similar religious ideas. Virtually all pyramid cultures saw these monuments as having some sort of religious meaning, and a great many of these cultures also practiced mummification. People mummified their dead in Eastern Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor, Central Asia, and MesoAmerica. In fact, just like ancient Egypt, the Inca culture of South America had an entire industry that revolved around death and mummy-making, and there are even some remarkable parallels between the specific mummification techniques of the two lands. Both Egypt and the pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas viewed their pyramids the same way - as 'immortality machines'. Not only did both peoples build gargantuan pyramids, mummify their dead, and subscribe to the BSD, they both also believed that their funerary ceremonies transformed the souls of the dead into immortal gods, beings who would live in the heavens forever. And, just as Egypt's most important funerary ritual was called "the opening of the mouth", the most important funerary ritual of ancient Mexico was called p'achi, which also means "to open the mouth". And just as ancient Egypt believed that the hearts of the damned were swallowed in the underworld by a horrible monster named "The Eater of the Dead", one of the levels of ancient Mexico's underworld was called Teocoyolcualloya : "place where beasts devour hearts". And just as ancient Egypt believed in a group of nine supreme beings called the "Ennead", so too ancient Mexico also believed in a system of nine all-powerful gods.
The Egyptians of Africa, the Incas and their predecessors in Peru, and the Toltecs of Mexico all subscribed to the Binary Soul Doctrine, practiced mummification, and built huge pyramids they used as "immortality machines". Taken together, these uncanny parallels strongly suggest that these civilizations' religions were closely related, probably springing from the same parent culture; not only did the custom of building impossibly huge pyramidal religious monuments somehow spread to cultures on opposite sides of the planet, but identical theological beliefs and funerary practices apparently made the trip as well.
I have explored these connections in further detail on my website, and in my two books, The Division of Consciousness (Hampton Roads Publsihing, 1997), and The Lost Secret of Death (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2003).