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The Trinity Within

Body Mind Soul

by Brian Robertson

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 blameless.."

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
spirit.... "

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 "I
serve with my spirit (Rom 1.9) or "We serve 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 passerby."

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 illness.

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 spirit.

(c) 1999 Brian Robertson, all rights reserved

Posted with Permission: Christian Mystics

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