‘Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, Ch. III Soul, Mind, and Spirit

‘Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, Ch. III Soul, Mind, and Spirit

The spirit of man has two means of action. Sometimes it acts through an intermediary. For instance, the spirit of man sees through the intermediary of the eye, hears through the ear, walks with the help of the legs and smells with the nose.

In order to seize the actions of the rational soul, we need the mediation of the body; but the soul can act directly without this intermediary. Thus, when we sleep the soul sees without the help of the eyes. The auditory nerves are inactive, but the soul hears. Our members are in repose, but the soul is in movement. Our body is in the room, our soul is traveling through all horizons. It is clear, therefore, that the soul evolves with and without the intervention of the material body. In the same way when we study an object, sometimes we observe it with the help of some optical  127  instrument and sometimes with the naked eye. Sometimes we move by ourselves, sometimes with the help of a machine of locomotion.

The soul acts in the physical world with the help of the body. When it is freed from the body it acts without an intermediary. We see with our physical eyes, but with the help of our thoughts we can see other lands. America was discovered through the mind. The day the soul becomes detached from the body it has but this second means of action – without intermediary.

It is the same with the holy messengers when they have left the earth. Christ acts to-day without an intermediary. His expressions in the world are numerous. The sun shines once through the medium of the mirror and again without it. Now we are looking at the sun which is reflected in the mirror and when the mirror is broken we look at the sun itself. The body is the horse, the soul is the rider and sometimes the rider moves without a mount. But people who do not reflect say that when the soul has left the body it can no longer act. The divine teachers act more powerfully after the detachment of their souls from the body. In his time the Christ was not able to influence many people. Afterward his influence became widespread. Spirit has no body. Reflect on this subject.

What becomes of the soul after its separation from the body? The question concerns that which  128  has a place and that which is placeless. The human body is in space; the soul has no place in space. Space is a quality of material things and that which is not material does not partake of space. The soul, like the intellect, is an abstraction. Intelligence does not partake of the quality of space, though it is related to man’s brain. The intellect resides there, but not materially. Search in the brain you will not find the intellect. In the same way though the soul is a resident of the body it is not to be found in the body.

When man dies, his relation with the body ceases. The sun is reflected in the mirror; the mirror reflects the light and brilliancy of the sun, but the sun does not reside in the mirror. It does not enter nor come out of the mirror, nevertheless one sees it in the mirror, so the soul reflects itself in the body. If the mirror be broken the sun does not die. The body is the temporary mirror; the spiritual soul suffers no change, no more than the sun does remaining eternally in its own station. Even as in the world of dreams when all the physical faculties are in abeyance and the soul travels in all realms seeing, hearing, speaking, so when the physical body decomposes, the soul is not affected.

People who know the truth say that the physical body of man is put into motion by the soul and in the same way man is the vital spark of this world. If man had not been put upon this earth the world would be dead. I do not speak of the physical man, but the human attainments  129  which are the adornment of existence. If man did not exist, this world would have no beauty, no eternity, no object. In the same way that the essence of man is the soul, the soul of this world is the subtle growth of spirituality, heavenly morals, divine favors and sacred powers. Were the physical world not accompanied by this spirit, it could not exist. A beautiful creature without a soul signifies nothing. A most sumptuous habitation set in darkness is non-existent. The most wonderfully wrought lamp, if it give no light, is useless. Europe, the most adorned of the continents, has progressed to the apex of refined material civilization. It is a beautifully formed body, – alas, that is has no soul! It is one of the most polished mirrors, – alas, that the sun of truth is not reflected in it! It is an orchard without fruit, – alas, it has no spiritual fragrance.


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