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soul versus spirit -- tripartite division
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soul versus spirit -- tripartite division
I thought I'd check in here.

Just to let you all know in advance, I won't be able to be online as much of a regular here at this point in time. I'm working half-time, and carrying 9 units at school. Adding homework on top of that (16-18 hours), plus my journaling, plus chores and self-care, makes it so I don't have much free time this semester.

That having been said, I've re-entered the art scene at my school at full force. This is majorly due to having found that I really frikkin' enjoy doing Art and would like to enter a career in it -- even if I will one day need eye surgery (strong likelihood) or have to be on a medication which causes tics or tremors (also possible). These reasons, plus the fact that it takes a certain kind of strength to allow oneself to be vulnerable enough to share part of oneself with the world in general (unavoidable in Art), were why I didn't major in Art the first time around. But I think Art is what I really want to do, and if that's so, I should stop wasting time doing everything I can except Art.

With my schedule as it is, I haven't had a lot of down time to think about spiritual topics, but it stays in the back of my mind. On my blog, I've been relatively open about the fact that I have a diagnosable, treatable, mental disorder. I have recently broached the idea that sometimes, now, it feels like I can separate out myself and my illness. That, then, gets into the idea that maybe there is something underneath the veil of my flesh that is separate from that flesh. This is although I am speaking from the positionality of a person who has had some kind of grasp of an idea of the unity of all that is. That is, prior to recently, I had a greater sense of a kind of mystic unity to life. Whereas now I wonder if, like some kind of a unique chemical formula or crystalline pattern derived from that, there is something that makes and distinguishes "me" -- not my body or my experiences, but me -- from the rest of existence.

It could be an effect of my newer medication -- I've been on one additional medication for at least six months now, probably more. The original purpose was to help with my wakefulness in the daytime, but I'm seeing things come together and act together in a positive manner for the first time in a very long time. I have set a life mission for myself, from the last time I was severely depressed and needed a reason to keep going. Basically, life is a lot of work, and my experiences have pushed me closer to the point of giving up on it than most. And so if I'm going to keep at it, I need something to ground me -- some kind of reason to continue to exist. I realized that what I needed was to push past my fears of others' hostility and claim my voice, and be who I am and need to be.

What I'm finding is that having that mission is a great unifying tool for me. I find that it motivates me to realize that I can impact and change my world, instead of being crushed in by it. It doesn't hurt that there appears to be serious tolerance in the Art world for those who are mentally nonstandard...and that I am finding some support as well within both college and work settings. I've re-entered school with the intent of utilizing Disability Services, which are meant to help those like myself who have additional troubles going on that they have to deal with, on top of school. I am also working with the public less than I used to at my job, though I'm still carrying the maximum number of hours I'm allowed to, at work.

But what I started this post thinking about was this idea of soul versus spirit versus body. I'm not sure if I sponged up some Abrahamic influence just by nature of living in the US...or with parents who have Christian (I include Catholic in this) backgrounds. Or, there is a third possibility, and that is that at least one of the (discorporeal) spirits helping me at this point may have a Christian background, lest I ignore the signs. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> Then there's the mystic element that runs through most of my existence. And just because there is a tripartite division of the Christian god in both Catholicism and Protestantism, that doesn't mean that this idea has no merit just because Christianities which derived influence from the Council of Nicaea and Rome have done some reprehensible things.

I'm looking at it this way: my body is my link to the physical world. It's nowhere near perfect, and I've got some bugs in my thought processes which make it harder for me to navigate the world and remain in the world, than most. I have a tendency to forget that I have a body which has needs, and so for example I end up writing late at night when I should be asleep, or not eating when my body needs food. The long-term outcome of this, though, is an extended, dull psychic pain which can erupt into intense psychic pain and de-motivation. I take medication to mediate this now, so I have a greater tolerance for the ups and downs of life. The medications take the edge off, but they don't eliminate the pain entirely and for all time. If I were to stop all my medications now, I'd likely have a relapse. There is the possibility of tapering off of them slowly, but I'd have to factor in a lot of lifestyle changes to manage my mood symptoms, and I may never get a handle on the psychotic ones (psychosis = "breaking from reality," not, "wanting to kill people") without medication.

I also, though, have a lot of strengths which I can see that many if not most people don't have in concert -- like my relative intelligence, artistic skill, and the ability to write coherently and at length. (I've had to somewhat familiarize myself with these for the purpose of assessing what kind of jobs I might be suited for.) So, all of that is linked to my physical form.

There is another level which I'd heard first related at a mediumship website, which was run out of some kind of Christian religious organization...I can't remember who they are anymore, but the idea: you've heard me mention it before. This is the concept that everything that exists now arises from the same ground of being. That ground of being is what they (and I) call "Spirit." In my system (though I might be wrong), every one of us is part of this as a condition of existence. I use the concept as a stand-in for what others call "God," which I generally refer to as Deity (in order to attempt to get some distance from the Christian milieu which that "God" term often implies).

Then there is this other thing, which has been a question in the back of my head for a little bit...and that is whether there is something which is uniquely "me" and separate both from my body and brain's experience and from the vast ocean of Spirit. Having gone through my experience, I've run across a number of psychic formations which I have eventually labeled as "spirits" (small "s"). Because of my experience with Buddhism -- which in turn was a faith which appealed to me because of its acknowledgment of (nearly) universal suffering -- I had considered the idea of anatman, or the idea that there is no enduring "self" which exists apart from causes and conditions. This reflects back on the term "Spirit," as "Spirit" would then be the Unconditioned, or in clearer terms (at least if one knows a bit about Mahayana Buddhism), Buddha-Nature itself. Spirit would = (my) God, would = Buddha-Nature, or that inside one which is enlightened and unmarked from the pain caused by delusions.

However, this does not explain my internal sense that there could be something within me which is separate from my body, or to be more direct about it: there is part of my mind (which I see to transcend my body as part of Spirit) which is separate from my brain's illness (which may be wholly a biological and epigenetic issue). That thing, I think I would refer to as "soul." "Soul" would thus be the conditioned...but in this sense it seems idealized.

Anatman is also sometimes translated as "no-soul," but obviously if "soul," in a different lexicon, is meant simply to be "the conditioned," then soul exists. If the conditioned exists, and if planes of being (for lack of a better term) exist within which either our ideals* or our formed selves, exist -- as my experience might infer -- then soul would seem to exist? But as part of Spirit.

Anatman might also specifically refer to the idea that the person one is now has not been there, unchanged and unchanging, for all time -- it was originally a refutation of Hindu doctrine.

So "soul" may exist as something temporal -- rather like life or the body -- but it is not unchanging, is the message. So do not be concerned if at one point one stops wholly identifying with it, and do not strive to be the same all the time, and do not limit oneself by self-definition.

This then would infer fluidity in one body between all the beings one could be, made possible by one's existence as Spirit. Spirit contains potentiality, seen in the diversity of life which arises in interdependence from it.

This is the point I've gotten to, tonight. I really don't know the Christian definitions of this tripartite division, but I thought the subject (on the possibility and colloquial or formal definition of the term "soul") merited some thought.

As a closer, what are your definitions of spirit, soul, body? Do they all belong to the same system? Do they make sense in relation to each other? Where in your life did these definitions come from?

I won't be on very often, but I'll try to check back before the end of the week (if I remember)...

-- Chord

*(that is, the perfections we strive for -- and yes, I did accidentally just get that Six Perfections reference [Six Perfections are strived for by Bodhisattvas, enlightened beings who choose not to pass into nirvana for the sake of lifting the world out of suffering, one being at a time], thank you madam)
2015-02-02 6:56
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