Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Body, Soul And Spirit
BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT
If we observe man, the microcosm, somewhat more closely, we first perceive his body. This body, in the case of the living human being, is not just he total of all the chemicals of which the body consists. All of them are subject to a common idea and serve the total entity that we call a “human being”.
This is not self-evident. Much more self-evident is the process which we can observe in the disintegration of a corpse. Here all the individual chemical components are not subjected to an overall concept. In the case of the living human being there must be within him or her an authority in operation which possesses the power to coordinate the physical diversity. This authority must be peculiar to the living human being, because we do not find it working in a dead body.
It is known that on the physical plane nothing vanishes at the death of a human being. Therefore the authority we are looking for can never be of a physical nature – this we would not expect anyway, for if the essential attribute of this authority is the ability to coordinate matter, it can hardly be itself made of matter.
Everybody knows from experience that at the death of a human being consciousness and life fade away. It is therefore likely that our pursued authority is identical with one of two concepts. But what is consciousness? Man is conscious of himself. He experiences himself as a living, perceiving individual, from birth to death. This consciousness forms a continuity which the cell-building and -destroying body does not have.
Another, older, term is soul. Soul is consciousness, individuality, that authority which gathers and coordinates the diverse physical constituents of the body into one whole. Soul is an independent authority, which differs qualitatively from the physical body.
Most of our modern psychologies, unfortunately, do not know the soul. They boast vociferously in technical terminology, giving the impression of knowledge about the soul, even about its depth and layers, but, in fact, have not succeeded so far in making even a faint contact with the soul of man.
Psychology investigates the “psyche” in man. Yet that is not the soul, but a by-product of this science. In confusing these two things, soul and psyche, mainstream modern psychology makes the mistake of claiming that the soul of man is a product of the brain and the nervous system and that therefore, when these cease to function, the “soul” ceases to exist. The confused concepts and sloppy thinking of modern science make it often very difficult to straighten things out again, but let us be clear about the following:
1 When I speak of soul or consciousness, I mean an independent, non-material authority which is neither a product of matter (like the brain or the central nervous system), nor in any way dependent on it. Men of religion, initiates and occultists have known from time immemorial of this soul and its survival after physical death. But today the general public and our scientists apparently consider it a sensational surprise when researchers such as the American Dr Moody and others publish accounts of people who have clinically died and been reanimated and who have unanimously reported how they left their bodies, remained in the room, invisible to others, and continued to see, hear and perceive everything that went on.
2 The psyche or soul recognized by psychology (including so-called depth psychology) is in no way identical with the entity that I have just described, but is merely a by-product of it. The soul as seen by psychologists is the scene of urges, fears, conflicts and complexes. In other words, what they are describing is a collection of the soul's outward effects, but they never come anywhere near the source of those effects. That source is supposed to be in the brain or in the nervous system. But here the argument becomes circular. Who commands the workings of the brain or the nervous system? It is known that matter always needs information if it is to become active. The information, however, is always immaterial. In Chapter IV I describe in more detail the difference between information and the bearer of information. I only mention it here in order to discourage anyone from looking for such information in the genes.
Finally I should mention that wherever in nature a shaping process is in progress, information, that is to say consciousness or soul, must always be present. Every animal, every plant, every human being has a soul. Within the physical realm the soul also needs a physical carrier, which is composed of a more subtle form of matter. This is referred to in occult circles as the astral body.
In this connection it is worth mentioning some recent investigations by the American researcher Harald Saxon Burr, a professor at Yale University. Using impressive technical resources Burr investigated the electric field that surrounds living organisms. He found, for instance, around a seed, a field the area of the mature, fully grown plant, and could prove the existence around a frog's egg of a field in the shape of a fully grown frog.
From this he concluded that all living creatures possess such an electro-magnetic field. In these invisible but measurable three dimensional images every new cell has its place. These experimental results may confirm the esoteric assertion that all living creatures develop into a predetermined form.
One should, however, guard oneself from mistaking those electro-magnetic fields for the soul. They are, in fact, the physical correlates of astral bodies. A similar confusion let to the assumption that in so-called Kirlian photographs the astral body becomes visible. In fact what Kirlian photography shows is merely the interaction between an electrical field and the emanation of energy from the organism.
Now that we have clarified somewhat the concepts of body and soul, we are still left with a very important concept, namely that of “life”. Life cannot possibly be identical with consciousness, for our very language makes a distinction between unconsciousness and death. Life is also not to be looked for in matter, because only the outward effects of life are visible in matter. Life is probably the biggest mystery to man.
If science knows little of the soul, it knows even less about life. Science is always only concerned with material consequences, but is ignorant of life itself. Man cannot produce it, nor destroy it. Life is a quality which completely eludes his grasp.
Probably everyone knows from hearsay the classical division into three parts: body, soul and spirit. Hermetic philosophy teaches that spirit is life. Life (spirit) is, by contrast with soul, impersonal, anonymous. There is only one spirit, one life. When one is linked to the spirit, and the spirit works through one's physical being, then one is alive. When the “earthly life” is over then the physical connection is simply relinquished, but in no way is any of life itself destroyed. There is only one spirit, and therefore the life in us also represents unity – it is the “divine spark” which is to be found in every living creature.
Hence man, like every product of nature, consists of the trinity body, soul and spirit. He experiences himself as unity and calls this unity “I”. When we look closely we discover that the physical unity “man” can himself be subdivided into further “unities”. As for instance, into organs. An organ is also an individual unity. Otherwise one could not distinguish a heart from a liver. This functional individuality, however, presupposes that every organ has an individual consciousness. This thought might seem strange, seeing that we only ascribe a consciousness to ourselves. True, most people might be willing to grant their dog a consciousness, although the consciousness of a dog is undoubtedly very different from that of a person. To suggest that a fly has consciousness would probably provoke more resistance. Yet it is questionable whether there is any justification for such a line of distinction. In fact every living thing that develops and shows individuality has consciousness, however difficult it may be for us to imagine our consciousness existing in life-forms entirely different from our own.
We have no choice but to recognize that our organs have this consciousness too. The liver, for example, experiences itself as a self-contained and individual unity. Its task is solely and exclusively to perform its law-governed function as a liver. If it fails in this task its superior authority, the whole person, into which it is integrated, will suffer.
If we continue to analyze the entity that we call liver, we come up against smaller unities called cells. Every cell is also an individuality. It lives; it can reproduce. Therefore it too possesses and experiences itself as “I”. Its task is nothing more than to be a “liver cell”.
If it is not content in this task and discovers a personal urge for freedom, so to speak, it may develop into a cancerous cell, because it has departed from the overall plan. A man who has in him such rebellious cells does not usually congratulate them on their newly found freedom, but rather tries to eliminate them in order to preserve his own existence.
Just as the entity that we call a cell forms part of the entity called the organ, so the organ is itself only part of the entity known as man. But man in turn is only part of a still larger entity. He is only a cell in an organism which we call planet earth. Just like all plants, the earth is an intelligent being which possesses not only a body but also consciousness, otherwise it would not be a functioning planet but merely the corpse of a planet. Just as a dead human body disintegrates, so the body of a dead planet disintegrates, as we find, for instance, in the asteroid belt.
We must eventually get used to looking beyond the corporeal manifestations of things. Every body, whether it be stone, plant or animal also possesses a soul and a spirit, otherwise we would be dealing with a corpse which would very quickly lose its shape. A planet is also an organ of a higher being called the solar system, and so on. When man reflects a little on such organization, then he becomes aware that he, as a cell, has also the task of doing his allotted duty to the whole and nothing else. He has to try and be as useful a cell as possible, just as he expects his body cells to be, so that he does not become a cancerous cell in the organs of the world. If he still abandons the plan willfully in order to taste his mistaken freedom, he should not be surprised if he is eliminated. Remember: as above, so below.