Then about 100,000 years ago (more or less), humans evolved; the only species known that has self-consciousness (the ability to contemplate more than what is immediately in front of us--like death, or the future, or the nature of the universe). Putting Russell's first comment together with this fact, brought me to wonder what form our consciousness took for the first 14,900,000 years.
So, toward the end of the course, shooting at being a precocious student, I asked him if he thought that consciousness existed outside the crucible of a body. His answer was a great lesson that is still sinking in in its significance. He replied, "I don't know, and I don't really care, because I never will be able to know." I was slightly shocked, having expecting him, as a spiritual teacher, deep thinker and noetic explorer, to just say "of course."
What I now understand from his comment is the power of not knowing. The spiritual search is not about answers. Our culture of skepticism and reason dictates that we should find answers for everything. But it is possible to be both a skeptic and a seeker: a questioner who contemplates the mysteries of our conscious and unconscious life just for the sake of contemplating them.
The more we hope for answers, the more questions we will generate. The point is that whether it is true or not, it is amazing, and in some ways a relief, to consider the possibility that our consciousness-- our spirit--can exist without the container our body provides.