Are you a Body with a Soul, or a Soul with a Body?
Great philosophers and religious leaders have already addressed the question of the “Soul” which is eternal and is the true essence of who we really are. In this short installment I will simply go on the assumption that the entity of a “Soul” is a given.
If so, does it make any difference to ask the question above, Are You a Body with a Soul or are You a Soul with a Body? In my current understanding, the distinction between the two is absolutely essential to who we are (our identity) and what we do in this world.
If one identifies self with being a Body with an element of something called a “Soul” somewhere within, then we are intimately attached and effected by our physical environment. Anything that happens to our physical bodies, as well as any change in our environment that affects us is taken very seriously. Given the fact that most people are resistant to change, even though change is inevitable, this can cause extreme discomfort and distress.
Some of the examples of such changes and stressors include illness, accidents, getting older, threats to our physical and financial comforts and safety and so on. No wonder so many people are on anti-depressants and other medications for mental health. When asked about the quality of life and overall happiness, very few of my clients and patients are truly happy and satisfied with Who and What they are. It almost seems that for many people, being alive itself is a source of problems and stress as opposed to experiencing joy, happiness and fulfillment.
Further, in addition to the stress of being “Alive”, many people experience stress and extreme discomfort with the thought of “Death”. This is very logical and understandable given that the person’s perspective comes from the identity of Self with the physical body and matter primarily. The notion of the “Soul” is usually fleeting and poorly defined; rarely does it serve as a source of comfort and reassurance. From this perspective, “Death” is the end of Self as we know it, and anything else from that point on is for the most part unknown. Being human, the Unknown is usually a frightening thought and experience.
On the other hand one can re-frame the perspective to the identity of the “Self” as a “Soul”, also referred to in terms of “Energy”, “Eternal Being”, outside of the human perspective of limitations of space and time as we know it.
Those with near death, as well as having been through “OUT-OF-BODY” experiences will often experience a paradigm shift, a change in how they understand themselves and their environment. The difference is absolutely monumental. It is difficult to express in words the feeling that one develops as a result, and it may vary from fear and confusion (especially if there is a conflict with a very strongly held personal and religious belief system), to absolute liberation and freedom. This includes freedom from attachment to one’s physical body, attachment to material possessions and circumstances that surround us, freedom from the limiting beliefs involving “Life” and “Death”.
The process of living a life then takes an entire new meaning with the understanding that the physical body, while belonging to us, is but an instrument for a higher purpose and function, whatever that purpose and function means to the individual. The fear of aging, illness, injury, appearance, and the “status quo”, is no longer a threat. Without this fear, we are no longer limited or restricted in who we are and what we do. Regardless of what happens on the physical and material plane of existence, a person can maintain a sense of joy, freedom, satisfaction, purpose, and unlimited potential!
With regard to “Death”, the sense of fear is also released and the process of dying is nothing more than a transition point for the “Soul” which is really who/what we are.
So in a way, your true essence is far greater than your physical body associated with your name. If that doesn’t make you feel better about who you are and what you do, I don’t know what will.
Take home exercise: take a minute or longer to quiet the endless chatter of the mind, open yourself up to the possibilities that YOU ARE GREATER THAN YOUR PHYSICAL BODY, and see what happens.
According to Victor Frankle, holocaust survivor, author and founder of Logotherapy, “Between the stimulus and response, is a freedom to choose”. What is your choice? Are you a Body with a Soul, or a Soul with a Body?