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Spirit? Soul? Mind? Self?


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Guest wayfarer2k

How do you understand these "components" of humanity (and maybe of other animals also)?

 

What is the spirit? The soul? The mind? The self?

 

How are they similar? How are they different?

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How do you understand these "components" of humanity (and maybe of other animals also)?

 

What is the spirit? The soul? The mind? The self?

 

How are they similar? How are they different?

 

Spirit/soul is the part of the being that is made of light and imbued with a unique, persistent, and ever-forming pattern of God's and our own making.

 

The mind is the culmination of memory, learning, genetics, emotion, experience, and spirit that persists our experience of living.

 

The self is the manifestation of a unique soul pattern into a specific personality or human being.

 

Regarding other animals:

 

Other animals may lack the level of self-awareness, intelligence, and creativity that humans have, but they are no less a manifestation of the glory of God. I believe they are also representative of unique soul patterns. Because of their simpler nervous systems, they are much more subject to instinct. They are much more in tune with community/species consciousness (think of how flocks of birds move together). Humans retain the ability to be sensitive to a broader consciousness than their own, but it is a choice (unlike other animals).

 

How sure am I of all this stuff? It doesn't really matter. It's a story that works for me. A unique attribute of humans is that we need to make sense of our experience ( humanity's quest for meaning and all that jazz). So we become story-tellers. We tell stories with science, philosophy, mythology, religion, and with our own lives. And is God a story teller, too? Of course!

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These terms have been given so many different definitions that I wonder if they are very useful? I'll give a go anyway.

 

Spirit and mind are overlapping constructs. Spirit is a close synonym for consciousness, i.e. having more to do with attention and volition. Mind has more to do with awareness and cognition in general, i.e. thinking, sensing. feeling and intuition. Attention and awareness are not quite the same thing. Expanded awareness allows us to focus our attention on a wider glimpse of "reality". Spirit and mind evoke the image of that which constantly changes. They also conote "higher" or "upper", "lighter" rather than "dark", etc.

 

Self and soul are also overlapping constructs. They often conote that which is "deeper" and more unchanging. Although self and soul overlap, I think soul is the most encompassing of the two. The soul is the totality of personality. We do not have direct access to all of the soul. Self, on the other hand is more directly related to the memory of our own actions and emotions knit together by time. This includes many of our actions and emotions we cannot explain rationally.

 

We tend to favor the sphere of the "upper", often on the assumption it is closer to God. This does not have to be true, however, as the opposite could be true just as well.

 

Is it true that ALL people equate "upper" with change and "depth" with order? Absolutely not. For many, it could well be the other way around. In other words, how people view these concepts depends on their unique personality. As I see it, the extreme rationalist will see "upper" as "order" and often fear the depths below as chaotic and useless.

 

Well, there you have it, "as I see it".

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  • 3 weeks later...
How do you understand these "components" of humanity (and maybe of other animals also)?

 

What is the spirit? The soul? The mind? The self?

 

How are they similar? How are they different?

 

With the help of a dictionary..... this is one possible understanding.

 

spirit - The vital principle or animating force within living beings.

 

soul - The spiritual nature of humans, regarded as immortal, separable from the body at death, and susceptible to happiness or misery.

 

mind - The human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination.

 

self - the individual; The essential qualities distinguishing one person from another;

 

Similar/ Different - They all appear as different parts of the whole yet they are all in reality one.

 

It seems to me that spirit is unchanging and eternal.

............................... soul is conditioned and evolving.

............................... mind is ephemeral. (short lived).

............................... self is illusion of the mind.

 

It seems to me animals have these components yet are at different stages in time of evolution/creation.

 

Just an option to consider concerning your question. :)

 

Joseph

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Guest wayfarer2k

Interesting, Joseph.

 

I've wondered about these distinctions most of my life. And I guess I've put them into a "suspense account" until I can understand them better.

 

I usually don't address things in this manner but what do you make of the "immortality of the soul" given this verse:

 

1 Timothy 6.16 - It is he (God) alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.

 

Any thoughts on this? Is God ALONE inherently immortal. Or do humans (and maybe other lifeforms) have, by nature, immortality?

 

Bill

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Interesting, Joseph.

 

I've wondered about these distinctions most of my life. And I guess I've put them into a "suspense account" until I can understand them better.

 

I usually don't address things in this manner but what do you make of the "immortality of the soul" given this verse:

 

1 Timothy 6.16 - It is he (God) alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.

 

Any thoughts on this? Is God ALONE inherently immortal. Or do humans (and maybe other lifeforms) have, by nature, immortality?

 

Bill

 

Bill,

 

It seems to me that that which is created has a beginning and end and cannot be immortal. Only the unborn is eternal. I would answer your "Or" question with a question or two. Does that unchanging animating spirit that is eternal vital principal live inside or outside of you or both or neither? Are these parameters I mention reality or just concepts of mind?

 

Perhaps this is a conundrum that will be answered when you get an answer to "Who am I"

 

Just a provoking comment,

Joseph

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Guest wayfarer2k
Does that unchanging animating spirit that is eternal vital principal live inside or outside of you or both or neither? Are these parameters I mention reality or just concepts of mind?

 

Beats me. As you can see by the responses in this thread (which are very interesting), there is no agreed upon definition of spirit, let alone the other components. Not even the bible, nor the church, nor other religions give a good workable definition of the spirit. More often than not, spirit is defined by what it is NOT, rather than by what it is. I.e. it is non-physical, non-material, not sensed with the senses, etc.

 

The bible claims that God's essence is spirit. And Paul told Timothy that God ALONE is immortal. On the surface, this assertion seems to dash the notion that mankind is born into this world with an immortal soul. In the NT, immortality seems to be something that is granted to mankind as a gift, not as something that we inherently posess.

 

But again, what do I know? I don't. I don't know whether spirit is unchanging or not. Or whether it is animating. Or whether, being non-physical, the terms "inside" or "outside" even apply (although the bible is replete with references to God's spirit being present in one place but absent from another).

 

By faith, I believe that God exists and is reality. But how much of what I believe or experience of God is just "concepts of my own mind", I have no idea. For me to know that, I would have to know exactly where God ends and I begin. Or, to put it another way, I would have to have a clear understanding of the distinctions of God's "otherness" from us and the rest of creation.

 

But I do find it interesting that most Christians think that all of humanity comes into this world with an "immortal soul" that will spend eternity either in heaven or in hell, in the light of the scriptural assertion that God ALONE is immortal. Unless we are God, that sort of leaves us out, doesn't it?

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Beats me. As you can see by the responses in this thread (which are very interesting), there is no agreed upon definition of spirit, let alone the other components. Not even the bible, nor the church, nor other religions give a good workable definition of the spirit. More often than not, spirit is defined by what it is NOT, rather than by what it is. I.e. it is non-physical, non-material, not sensed with the senses, etc.

 

It seems to me this is a very astute observation.

 

The bible claims that God's essence is spirit. And Paul told Timothy that God ALONE is immortal. On the surface, this assertion seems to dash the notion that mankind is born into this world with an immortal soul. In the NT, immortality seems to be something that is granted to mankind as a gift, not as something that we inherently posess.
Perhaps, since in God, we move and have our being, immortality exists in us.

 

 

But again, what do I know? I don't. I don't know whether spirit is unchanging or not. Or whether it is animating. Or whether, being non-physical, the terms "inside" or "outside" even apply (although the bible is replete with references to God's spirit being present in one place but absent from another).

 

It is also replete with references that there is no place that God is not. Many churches interpret God as being omnipresent.

 

By faith, I believe that God exists and is reality. But how much of what I believe or experience of God is just "concepts of my own mind", I have no idea. For me to know that, I would have to know exactly where God ends and I begin. Or, to put it another way, I would have to have a clear understanding of the distinctions of God's "otherness" from us and the rest of creation.
Perhaps your statements here are the beginning of real knowledge and wisdom.

 

But I do find it interesting that most Christians think that all of humanity comes into this world with an "immortal soul" that will spend eternity either in heaven or in hell, in the light of the scriptural assertion that God ALONE is immortal. Unless we are God, that sort of leaves us out, doesn't it?

 

Perhaps people believe what they want to believe more than wanting to know Truth. Perhaps the Truth is a far greater realization than the conceptual promises of the thinking mind.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

Edited by JosephM
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