Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mind, Soul and Body and the Meaning of Life and Happiness

Somewhere in the mists of Greek philosophy there developed the idea of the separation of the human being into parts. There was the body as one part, the mind as another and the soul or spirit as the third part.

Further development along these lines then said that the body or flesh was bad, less than desirable. The flesh must be subdued and held very much in check as it contaminated the other two parts.

Therefore the mind and the soul were held up to be the redeemable parts. The mind, of course, was used for reasoning, the soul was used to connect with the Divine.

The body as meaningful and useful was almost discarded in terms of the advancement of human beings. And the mind and spirit were separated as if they were two different parts. Why is this significant for you?

Because you were taught that this is the way things are to be with you. Your body is somehow shameful and unqualified to help a person advance. Your mind and spirit have a wall between them that each may not lend help to the other to advance the person who has them.

If you were raised in western religion, this was the subtle or not so subtle teaching of your religion. Yes, it was "borrowed" from the Greeks and the original use of these ideas did not necessarily have anything to do with religion. But the western church picked up these ideas and ran with them.

The church was so pervasive in western society for so many centuries that these ideas passed into the main stream. This dichotomy became invisible, almost, but still strong in the psyche of virtually every person raised in western society.

The problem with all this, however, is that it is a false dichotomy. Very little is further from the truth. You, as a human being, function as a unit. For example, what and how much you eat and drink affects how well your mind functions. Alcohol is a specific example of this concept. Too much of it causes problems with thinking and physical coordination. But you know that.

If your mind tells you that you are inadequate to a task, you perform poorly. When your spirit is depressed as after the sudden death of a loved one, you may not be hungry for days. It has been shown that hormones produced by your physical body directly influence brain chemistry which - of course - influences how you feel mentally, which - of course - influences how you feel spiritually.

You are a unit. But please do not take the statement "you are a unit" to be an impersonal idea. You are a physical, intellectual, spiritual unit. Even that sentence can immediately be construed to imply three parts. So I reiterate: You are a unit. A Whole. Complete. One.

Would you be happy? Have meaning? Then you must (I seldom use the word "must" - sounds bossy) see yourself as that whole. Treat yourself as if you are one.

Which means, in my mind, that you try to care for all three, because all three are one. For example, meditation will help your mind, spirit and body. Proper food will aid in physical health, mental health and spiritual health. You get the idea.

When you find the meaning of life, which is to be happy, you totally influence your oneness. When you find well-being in the oneness which is you, you build up the foundation that is meaning and happiness.

Start seeing yourself as a complete whole. Know from this moment forward that you are not separate parts, but one undivided whole - that you can have meaning and happiness.