The Trinity Within
Body Mind Soul
1 Thessalonians 5:23, we read,
"May the God of peace sanctify you wholly, and
may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and
If they even bother to think about it at all, most people
take the attitude that we are simply mind and body or,
if they happen to think in more spiritual terms, that
we consist of a soul and a body. But the Christian mystic's
experience reveals that we are, in essence, a kind of
mini-Trinity, three rather than two.
This realization is that each of us consists of body, soul
and the spirit.
The body is our means of being in this world, the world
of matter and of time. The spirit, on the other hand,
is our way of being in the world of spirit, flavored
by that which lies beyond the temporal, beyond that
which is seen, heard or experienced through the senses.
While the body is "world-consciousness" the
spirit is "God consciousness. At the point where
these two, spirit and body, interface and touch we have
the soul, which is, to use the above terms, "self-consciousness."
If one takes the analogy of a light bulb, which (assuming
the complete person is the bulb itself) consists of
electricity, light and wire. This becomes, in this case,
the metaphor for spirit, soul and body.
And, just as stated above, the spirit is the part that Jesus
speaks to when he says, "I will show you things
the ears have not heard, the eyes have not seen and
the lips have not spoken." The depth of this spirit
is hinted at in Mark when he notes of Jesus: "And
he sighed deeply in his
In this life, it is the soul and body that occupy the greater
part our energies and attention unless, as mystics and
Christians, we work to magnify the energy and importance
of the spirit. Certainly, following this life, it will
be the spirit to the soul as the soul now is to the
body, for "it is sown a physical body, it is raised
a spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:44). Our soul, in
essence, becomes the outer "body-casing" of
the spiritual body as we continue our journey toward
union with God.
What is it to have access to the spirit part of us in this
life? The spirit is the source of conscience, intuition
and communion and herein lies the key to developing
to our full potential in God. By communion the intention
is, as in Luke 1:47, "My spirit rejoices in God..."
When we engage in meaningful prayer or, more the point,
contemplation, we are shifting our balance of power
internally to the spirit and the results are utter transformation.
When we go out into the world to be the literal hands
and feet of Christ to help those in need and to live
a life based in love, we are following the intent of
with my spirit (Rom 1.9) or "We
...in the new life of the spirit." (Rom 7.6)
The understanding of how we function is a map that leads
us to the ultimate goals and the end-product of the
Christian path. "He who is united to the Lord becomes
one spirit with him," Paul explains in 1 Cor. 6:17,
for "you have received the spirit of sonship when
we cry Abba, Father!" (Rom 8:15). It is a compass,
another way to understand how we are in or out of balance
in this life and how others might need to have this
particular thing in order to come into balance, the
proper proportions, as it were.
Certainly, this is not all to consider the physical as either
somehow "sinful" or worthy of neglect. The
physical, the body, is our vehicle for accomplishing
things in this world. It is, as Paul wrote, "a
temple" in which God is housed. At the same time,
to simplify one's life so that the dependence upon the
physical becomes less of a drain on the system, as it
were, is an act that brings the spirit and soul into
play. This is the entire essence behind the mission
of someone like St. Francis and explains why Jesus was
so adamant about the need to lighten the load in life,
to travel lightly, to be, as one source reports, "a
It is true that many of the Desert Fathers and Mothers
retreated to that barren area of the world (and, by
extension, of their psyche) to bring the physical to
a minimum and, hopefully, the spirit to the maximum
influence. The system is not entirely one way, however,
in that as we magnify the spirit, the soul and body
prosper. On a more practical note, it is the spirit
that urges us to serve and to give in an effort to enhance
others and their spirit, soul and, certainly, make allowances
for their body's needs and to act against poverty and
This becomes, then, a kind of road-map for the spiritual
journey and a way of understanding ourselves and others.
For those who take up that guide, the most mystical
gospel, John, supports you.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship
in spirit and truth.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and
that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of
no avail; the words that I have spoken to you
are spirit and life.
When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is
finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his
(c) 1999 Brian Robertson, all rights reserved
Posted with Permission: Christian Mystics
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