[Wednesday, January 18, 2006, continuing the transcript of the same session]
Those who perceive spirit as one of the elements of a human being see it as an immaterial “something” that is necessary to life. No spirit, no life. Extinguish life, destroy the bond between body and spirit.
We have no quarrel with that view. In practical terms, “it works.”
There is a difference between spirit and soul. The spirit is the “something” that gives life; for the moment leave it at that. No one shapes spirit; nor – it may be said – does spirit shape our lives. Spirit animates us, it provides – it is – the vital link that “keeps body and soul together,” as the old saying is. But it is not particular to us in any detail. Like the wind, to which it is often compared, spirit blows where it wants to blow, according to its own laws of being. There is nothing personal about spirit. Yet – you must hold the contradiction – spirit is a closer part of you than anything else, and so may equally justly be described as entirely personal in the way we experience it. To put it again, because we are part of spirit, we experience it entirely personally; because spirit is so vast and apparently animates everything, it is in its essence far beyond personality.
So – personal and impersonal. The breath of life – how often have you heard it called that, and not really heard what was being said – and yet the animation of worlds. This is stuff of the gods. We will return to it.
Where the spirit animates, the soul personifies. Those who perceive body and mind and spirit and soul see now (at least) a four-fold being, not nearly as simple and unitary as first appeared.
What is a person’s soul? You might look upon it as the flower you create in the living of your life. All your life, you choose what you are going to be. You learn this, you bypass that, you encourage these threads of behavior, you chose (deliberately or otherwise) not to encourage others. You do, and so you be. You choose, continually, from the many choices presented to you – for any situation presents choices, if no more than a choice of how to react to the inevitable. As you continually choose, you continually shape your soul.
Now you must not think that this “soul” you shape is something concerned with heaven or hell. That is but superstition compounded of misunderstandings of what was believed. Look at it this way: the soul is the photograph of your being. It is not a static photograph, because it changes as you, by living, change it. But it is who you are. It is the template by which you could be recreated if one had sufficient skill, materials and tools.
Where the spirit is impersonal in that it cannot be shaped by your life, the soul is entirely personal, and is entirely shaped by your living of its potentials.
The body holds you in one time and place at a time, and drags you (kicking and screaming sometimes!) to the next moment, and the next.
The mind observes, participates, directs, learns, reacts, concludes, resolves – and in short provides the awareness needed for the body to function in its surroundings.
The sprit provides the energy that fuels body and mind moment by moment. Unseen, unfelt, unfailing, it is the background that is unseen because it is the universal support. Being universal, its presence in has to be inferred, practically, for in time-space there is no place where it is not.
The soul is the local manager of the body-mind-spirit combination. It is the universal record of this particular expression of life. It records every moment – perhaps we shouldn’t say records, as much as incorporates every moment first to last. This is not merely what you may have heard, or heard about, church doctrine. Hear us: We are describing something real, not something deduced or invented. We have no agenda provided by a church or religion. (Indeed, they will likely regard us as illegitimately poaching on their privatized soil.) Your soul has as much to do with the color of your hair and your taste in paintings and the kind of jokes you prefer as it does how “good” or “evil” you are. It concerns your weight, your talents, your amusements, your illnesses, your irrational preoccupations. It incorporates the effects of your home life, your commuting to an office, your paying taxes, your playing games. It includes your best and worst moments, your pets, your car, your house –as they interact with you – and, in short, your life.
Your life is not (as Shaw once said) a moral gymnasium. Life is about living. It is about choosing whoa and what you want to be. All of this becomes the soul, so that it might be said, truly enough (from one viewpoint) that a lifetime begins with spirit and body, adds mind, and grows soul. True enough for rough estimates.
But now, having come this far, have we come to the limit of differentiating among the pieces of what to some seemed a monolith, comprising body alone, with all else subordinate or illusory? We have not.
The model – we repeat – is wrong. This model we just sketched is entirely wrong (from our viewpoint) because it assumes solidity where there is only flow, and identity where there is only community.
A little more and we will stop for a while to let you get more coffee.
Take the body. You have learned to separate it conceptually into four – physical, energetic, mental, emotional. As working definitions these work well enough. The more closely they are examined, however, the less they will seem separate or, indeed, existent as separable entities.
The physical body is made up of a huge number of sub-systems, each of which functions autonomously and well. Is it one body with subsystems or many intelligences cooperating to produce a functioning whole? Either view is true enough. Hold the thought a while.
The energetic body is really a subsystem of the physical body – looked at that way, anyway; that is, this is one permissible view. It is a subsystem large enough, autonomous enough, that it is worth considering separately for specific purposes. But of course by definition it has no purpose but to provide the energetic superstructure of the physical body. It is true that without the energetic body the physical body could not function; it is equally true that without the physical body the energetic body would have no reason for being.
The mental body actually maps where in the physical body certain –
No, try again.
The mental body is a representation of an interaction between “mind” and “body” that is more or less unsuspected by the culture at large – even though body-workers for instance are well aware of the connection. Touch a spot inside the brain with an instrument, and a memory appears, as fresh as the day it was imprinted. Whether the spot is actually the carrier of the memory or the gateway to storage elsewhere is immaterial. For practical purposes the brain could be mapped, if one knew how to do it – so that the memories were located and labeled. Well, similarly, the body. Traumas of all sorts are located at different parts of the body, so that a massage therapist may press on a calf muscle and find that the client responds by breaking into tears at the strength of a suddenly remembered even from long before. Thus conceptually one might map the body’s stored areas of trauma and other experience.
The emotional body, similarly, is a representation of where the body stores emotional memory.
Now, all these substructures, these subsystems, are what we might call logical derivations of function. In a way they do not exist except as useful abstractions. In a way they do exist in that as conceptualizations they offer a way to work with the underlying reality. And what do you want beyond something that works? The trick is to prevent useful tools from becoming superstitions.
Again, before we stop to let you catch your breath – you have been doing this 90 minutes, somewhat longer than usual but we wanted to get this all out in a breath, so to speak, so that it would have the same feel — remember that this entire model even with the sophistications and the nuances we have just provided, is in our view not a good model for what humans are. It is true enough but now you will require better tools, better models, and this we propose to give you.
Whew! Wow. I’m drained. Thank you for this. I want to be used, and I hate to feel like I’m just wasting time. I was building steam again, wasn’t I?
Go have some coffee and a light breakfast.
[Again, this session will continue, this time on April 23]