One Soul, One Spirit

by Christopher Lovejoy on January 16, 2011

In my previous post, Transcend Negativity, I hinted at what a receptively involved soul and an actively engaged spirit might look and feel like when they function and operate in balance.

In this post, I will begin to sketch the outline of a structure that would support and uphold an active, balanced relationship between the soul and spirit. I’ll even add some substance to it.

Four Basic Relationships

If you’re a human being (indeed, if you’re any kind of being, hybrid or otherwise), then you have an opportunity to cultivate four kinds of relationship:

  1. the relationship you have with another
  2. the relationship you have with the world
  3. the relationship you have with others
  4. the relationship you have with yourself

I have two points to make about the sequencing of these relationships.

First, this sequence generally follows your development as an infant, child, and adolescent.

Your first relationship is with your mother (or caregiver). Ideally, this relationship instilled enough trust in you to explore the world freely and spontaneously. With enough worldly experience, you shifted your focus to others so that you’d have something to go on when it came time to have a relationship with yourself.

Second, this sequence is circular rather than linear; ideally, number four flows relatively easily and effortlessly into number one.

That is to say, if the relationship you have with yourself is secure, this bodes well for the relationships you have with another, which in turn will enhance and expand your relationships with the world and others. These, in turn, will enhance and expand the relationship you have with yourself. And so on.

With this circular relational sequencing in mind, let’s review and explore some soulful and spiritual preliminaries to give you a sense what it means to have a soul and spirit in the body human.

And, of course, we’ll tie this in with the cultivation and realization of personal fulfillment.

Soul and Spirit: Some Preliminaries

As I explained in my post, On Being A Witness, the soul and spirit are two key components in two distinct yet integral energetic pathways.

Here, again, is the relevant heuristic:

Body < Soul < Heart < Self / * / Ego > Mind > Spirit > Body

Again, the arrows indicate two distinct yet integral pathways:

One moving energetically by way of the Self through the heart of the soul into the body and one moving energetically by way of the ego through the mind of the spirit into the body.

In my post, Your Life: A Dream?, I had you imagine this linear presentation morph into a circular arrangement, where Body (on the left) and Body (on the right) curl downward to meet as one.

The current of energy for each of these pathways actually runs in both directions: from the Self by way of the heart and soul to the body and back again to the Self, and one from the ego by way of the mind and spirit to the body and back to the ego.

The currents are bidirectional for each pathway, both of which meet and mingle at or in the body.

Within its own frame of reference, the body in space and time can be at rest or it can move, and it’s in the nature of your  *  to observe with detachment this rest or movement as a Witness. The  *  can do so because it is not of this world, as I explained under the heading, The Witness Perspective, in my post, On Being A Witness. When your body is at rest, opportunities occur in your encounters for your  *  to follow the energy of the pathway through the heart of the soul, and when your body moves, opportunities arise from your experiences for your  *  to follow the energy of the pathway through the mind of your spirit.

As I indicated previously, the Self and ego are merely constructs, which identify two distinct yet integral pathways of energy, serving two distinct yet integral aims for the  *  at rest or in motion.

In light of these aims, the body is a vessel for the soul and a vehicle for the spirit.

The body contains the soul and carries the spirit, reflecting a situation where the soul can hold its energy while at rest and where the spirit can carry its energy while in motion. Genuine fulfillment of your person is cultivated and realized when both energetic pathways are actively balanced between rest and activity.

In light of these suppositions, let’s take a peak into the nature of the soul and spirit.

The Soul Contains a Sense of Promise

Soul, body, encounter, involvement, activity, ritual, quality, dignity, intimacy, sanctity, promise.

These are the keywords for a soul that contains a sense of promise.

The energetic pathway of the Self has the heart as its witness: the heart of what matters, of what really matters, of what truly matters, and of what really and truly matters.

The body serves to contain the promise of a soul and the body serves as a vessel for the soul through its encounters, in its involvement with various activities, interactions, and rituals.

Through this involvement, the soul becomes identified with the body. You might even go so far as to say that the soul becomes the body for the purpose of having an encounter.

In light of these observations, let us identify four types of encounter:

  1. casual encounters, with a focus on what matters
  2. formal encounters, with a focus on what really matters
  3. intimate encounters, with a focus on what truly matters
  4. sacred encounters, with a focus on what really and truly matters

In a casual encounter – with another or with others – your soul as a body is interested primarily in being at ease with quality, of knowing that promise is both present and assured.

In a formal encounter – with another or with others – your soul as a body is concerned primarily with making a dignified impression on the soul or souls with whom you encounter.

In an intimate encounter – with another, with the world, with others, or with yourself – your soul as a body is interested primarily in knowing beauty and concerned primarily with knowing the truth.

In a sacred encounter – with another, with the world, with others, or with yourself – your soul as a body is by turns casual, formal, and intimate as it imbues a person, place, or thing with special significance as a reflection of its own promise.

In every successful encounter, your soul is already full of promise, already fullfilled – either because it has already realized its inherent sense of promise or because it has earned and acquired one.

Your body at rest, through various encounters, provides your soul with opportunities to contemplate and cultivate its sense of promise for the sake of quality, dignity, intimacy, and/or sanctity.

This, in effect, is the fullfillment of your soul.

The energy activated by the contemplation and cultivation of your sense of promise has the effect of energizing your sense of possibility, which is what your spirit carries when it expresses vitality.

The Spirit Carries a Sense of Possibility

Spirit, body, experience, engagement, strategy, action, familiarity, validity, desirability, vitality, possibility.

These are the keywords for a spirit when it carries a sense of possibility.

The energetic pathway of the ego has the mind as its witness, through which four primary levels of engagement can occur or arise: observation, exploration, anticipation, and participation.

The body serves to carry a sense of possibility for a spirit and the body serves as a vehicle for the spirit through its experience, in its engagement with various strategies, actions, and reactions.

Through this engagement, the spirit becomes identified with the body. You might even go so far as to say that the spirit becomes the body for the purpose of having an experience.

In light of these observations, let us identify four types of experience:

  1. perceptual experience (observatory)
  2. investigative experience (exploratory)
  3. vicarious experience (anticipatory)
  4. actual experience (participatory)

In your perceptual experience, your spirit begins its engagement with some aspect of another, the world, others, or yourself, and operates in tandem with the soul to establish familiarity.

In your investigative experience, your spirit is familiar enough with some aspect of another, the world, others, or yourself to explore it in depth with the soul to assess its possibilities for further engagement.

In your vicarious experience, your spirit, in cooperation with your soul, is confident enough to realize that further engagement is desirable; with the soul, it begins to play out scenarios of fulfillment.

With your actual experience, your spirit releases the involvement of your soul and begins actively participating in whatever arrangements are necessary to engage them fully so as to fulfill its desires.

In every successful experience, your spirit sustains a process of engaging the possibilities for its own fullfillment, of fullfilling its desires, of filling the soul with promise so that it too is fullfilled.  

The body in motion, through its various experiences, provides the spirit with opportunities to activate and generate a sense of possibility in its pursuit of familiarity, validity, desirability, and vitality.

This, in effect, is the fullfillment of your spirit.

Your soul plays an active part in supporting the spirit up until the spirit becomes fully engaged in its participation. Up until this point, the two energetic pathways are joined together in cooperation.

Past this point, the spirit is on its own.

Let us finally turn our attention to what an active and balanced cooperation between soul and spirit looks and feels like, and do so by examining the many variations that can occur between them.

Soul and Spirit: A Two By Four Matrix

The activation of your potential as a soul and spirit is where your sense of promise and your sense of possibility meet and mingle in or at the alchemical body, and any purpose that you choose consciously will activate your potential to do one of two things: impress or express; improve or expand.

In other words, your sense of potential mediates your sense of promise and your sense of possibility and a purpose will activate your potential in either one of two ways: soulfully or spiritually.

In its encounters, the soul is forever looking for ways to impress or improve – to make favorable impressions and improve upon its existing conditions to deepen its sense of promise.

Through its experiences, the spirit is forever aiming to express or expand – to express and expand itself, in cooperation with the soul, in ways that allow it to heighten its sense of possibility.

I’ve identified four conditions in which the soul and spirit can manifest itself in daily life, either in the short-term or over the long-term, either temporarily or permanently:

  1. when the soul or the spirit or both are dormant
  2. when the soul or the spirit or both are active
  3. when the soul or the spirit or both are suppressed
  4. when the soul or the spirit or both are stagnant

These arrangements yield a 2 x 4 matrix with sixteen possible outcomes:

               dormant         active         suppressed         stagnant

soul              X

spirit             1                   2                      3                           4

So, for example, the soul might be dormant while the spirit is either dormant, active, suppressed, or stagnant, and so on for each of the other conditions where the soul might be active, suppressed, or stagnant instead of dormant. Ideally, the soul and spirit are balanced if they’re both active.

In my next post, I’ll focus on this ideal outcome for the soul and spirit.

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