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Refletions on relationship of soul, spirit and body
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Reflexions on the most common views on body-soul relationship.

 

In this work I will try to describe the huge anthropological question, important philosophical issue and theological mystery, important for all thinkers in different religious systems and philosophical schools all over the world since human beings begun to reflect upon themselves and their nature: the relationship between visible physical body, possessed by us all in the course of life and invisible, immaterial and immortal substance, which was always a mystery and an object of interest. Most of us feel that we have something more than the flesh, bones, brain, blood and stomach, but no one has ever seen, what exactly it is, nor was this thin and close to invisible part of human being precisely described in the way as, for example, the way of a particle. We can write an equation which accurately predicts the way an atom will decay, but no formula will clarify the behavior of the soul after it leaves the body. And in time of materialism and positivism spread throughout the methods of epistemology, more and more people stop believing in any immaterial aspect of human beings at all.

Certainly, this question is too big to be described in a short text, so I shall emphasize only the most important in my view aspects, following such a plan:

1. Views of Greek philosophers on body and soul,

2. Views of the eastern Fathers of the Church,

3. Biblical anthropology,

4. Modern approach of non-materialistic scientists and thinkers,

5. My own independent view on this issue.

Certainly, this analysis will be very far from full and complex, there are far better descriptions of the questions, described in the first four points of the plan, but I will try to focus mainly on my own position as a free thinker, other sources are used to support and emphasize it.

 

1.

The Greek philosophers can be generally divided into pre-Socratics, Socrates-Plato-Aristotle and Neo-Platonists. There were also some other schools, such as Stoics or followers of Epicure. The thinkers before Socrates, called the nature philosophers, usually described the cosmology pretty vaguely and often based this on what they saw around themselves, giving mystical meaning to certain important elements—water, fire, air, etc. Most of them considered soul to be immortal, some considered it to reincarnate from plant into animal and then into human (Empedocles), others (Diogenes, Parmenides, Heraclites, Pythagoras) mentioned the soul`s origin from a certain “invisible world”. The only bright materialist among them was Democritus, who developed his brilliant ideas about atoms onto soul as well, considering it to be nothing more than “light and fast” group of atoms, in other words—highly organized matter, which does not live on after destruction of the body.

The revolution in the idea of the immaterial source of human life and mind was made by Socrates and developed by Plato. Their contribution is obvious and was used and modernized by thinkers throughout centuries, including Christians, some of who rely on Platonism up to this day. Socrates declared soul to be a divine essence, immaterial and good by meaning. Plato added, that soul is ideal, for it never changes and is like the eternal ideas, so it is far better and worthy than sensory world, liable to constant change. In his brilliant dialogues, like “Phaedon” and “Timeaus” Plato describes the nature of the soul, its way in the cosmos and the most important rules one has to follow in order to be happy. The Greek thinker states, that body is the prison for the soul, into which it is put for some misdeeds in the eternity. The soul is like a chariot with two horses—one of them reassembles passions, the other—ratio, both have to be equal, but if this system is off-balance, the soul falls down into the physical world. If a person lives an unworthy life, following  the habits of the body, it will re-incarnate into a woman, then—into an animal; but a rational soul, a philosopher `s fate is to be after bodily death enter the world of eternal ideas and investigate it forever. The most important way of knowledge, according to Plato, is not empiric (for the physical world is but a shadow not to be relied on), and not even rationalism, but the memory of the soul it has about the world of ideas. Certainly, these views are far from perfect, but in the time of Plato they were far more advanced than all the others.

Aristotle goes further, but turns into a different direction, denying the difference between physical and ideal worlds. The general “ideas” of Plato are renamed into “forms” and declared to be present in sensory things themselves. Soul is as well the other part of the body, connected to it—like vision is the “soul” of an eye. This philosopher was more a physic who researched the natural world, classified and categorized it, and that also spread to his views on the soul. For example, Aristotle introduces such terms as “plant soul”, “animal soul” and “rational soul”—the first is the life-giving and moving energy, present in all living things, the second one is responsible for feelings and the last one, found only in human beings—for rational thinking.

Neo-Platonists, mainly Plotinus, as seen from their name, followed the model of Plato, emphasizing the invisible world, but developed and widened it, creating the scheme of energy emanation. The One is the transcendental source of all existing, spreading around some rays of divine energy, which become more and more “thick”, forming layers of being. The first one is the Nous, which is the world spirit, carries all the ideas and natural laws. From Nous the angelic beings and human souls are originated, and as the latter go down and down into the “thickness”, they obtain physical bodies. The task of the Neo-Platonist is to “lighten up” their soul and go back from physical state to the Nous and then into eternity of the One.

This model has a lot of strong sides, which I will later analyze, and perhaps Plotinus obtained it throughout a certain mystical experience. The Neo-Platonic idea was mostly used by St. Dionysius the Areopagite in his works “On celestial hierarchy” and “Mystical theology”.  On the other hand, Masonic philosophy and ritual system used this model as well in order to “save themselves” without help of Christ: through the system of Scottish or Roman Rite to open up all the “hidden” powers of the soul and fly up to the highest levels of being.

 

2. The Holy Fathers of the east left us a great deal of texts on almost all aspects of life: commentaries of the Gospel and the Old Testament, directions in prayer life, laws of monastic life, cosmology, relationship in community, day-to-day deeds and eschatology. Revealing over and over again the salutary words, promises and commandments of Jesus Christ, they founded the strong basis of the Church—the system, which answered almost all questions of doubting philosophers and contradicting heretics.

The Fathers did not create any united philosophy or terminology—there is no general definition of what is soul, spirit, body and heart, all the saints use these terms in a slightly different meaning depending on the goal of their writing. As St. Ignatius Bryanchaninov, big investigator of Church Fathers of 19 ct. wrote: “The Fathers did not set an aim to create an abstract philosophy, but all their definitions of spiritual conceptions seeks to guide us in prayer and spiritual life”[1]. Certainly, in such a short work it is not possible to analyze all the richness of the Fathers` inheritance, so I will show only a few examples (taken from the work of St. Ignatius “Ascetic experience”).

Almost all of the Saints taught us that body and soul are both equally important God`s creations, originated simultaneously, and the relation between them (as well as their provenance) is a great mystery. The great mentors of Christian faith also often used philosophical terminology to explain some parts of these mysterious spheres. St. Gregory of Nazianus states, that “In a mysterious way God connected body to the mind and the mind to the Spirit” (here “soul” is not mentioned at all). St. Gregory of Nissa stresses the simultaneous origin of soul and body, but does not mention “spirit” or “mind”: “Neither body nor soul was created before one another, but only together”. St. Isaac of Syria introduces the new term “heart”: “Heart of human contains all the feelings, and mind is but one of what can we feel. Heart is the dwelling place of the mind”. He also speaks about soul: “The soul accepts joys and sadness of the body”.

Let us look through other examples, used by Holy Fathers when describing anthropology:

St. John the Damascene: “Soul is connected to the body as whole to the whole”.

Tertullian: “It is hard to say, whether the body contains the soul, or the other way around”

St. Gregory Palamas: “The soul like light is spread throughout all the body and holds the body together”.

St. Gregory of Nazianus: “What God is for the soul, the soul is for the body—the keeper and mentor”.

St. John Chrysostom: “Body is the chariot of the soul… For if one`s limb is cut off, soul is not harmed in any way”.

But it is important also to investigate the other side of question, which was, probably, unjustly rejected by the Church at all: the teaching of Origen. This name is widely known, but the essence of his teaching is understood only by unprejudiced theologians. Unfortunately, most of his works were destroyed, so we know only fragments (often revised by his opponents) of what this great thinker wanted to tell his followers. By the way, it is important to note that the council, judging Origen`s teaching occurred long after his death, so this theologian had no chance to actually defend himself and, perhaps, correct his views under the influence of his fellow theologians. The main idea of Origen`s “heresy” was the pre-existence of souls, which already possessed mind and free will in some sort of “spiritual reality”, existing before the events, described in Genesis, and after great a conflict occurred in that first world some souls fell away into our reality, enclosed in flesh (the clothes of animal skin that God gave to Adam and Eve after banishing them from paradise) as a punishment[2]. Here we obviously see the influence of Platonism and, perhaps, Hinduism or some other religious teachings of the Far East. I will return to the strong sides of this theory later.

 

3.

The Holy Scripture describes the human being either in dichotomy (material and spiritual aspect) or in trichotomy (body, soul and spirit). To analyze the Biblical anthropology more deeply we have to look through original texts, but I will only use Ukrainian translation of Metropolitan Hillarion (Ohienko) and English translations I possess.

Since the Scripture was written by many different people in different time, their understanding of the terms, mentioned above, was also different and not precise. We also have to take into account that the ancient Jewish understanding of soul, spirit and mind was rather different from Greek (adopted by the Fathers).

The term for “soul” in the Old Testament was “nefish”, literally translated as “throat”—something alive, which wants to eat and drink and in some parts of the Scripture the soul is described as mortal (Ez. 18.4, Mt. 10.28, Lev. 23.30, Job 7.15), also in Lev. 17.11 blood is purifying the soul. But in other places we find passages, where soul can feel emotions (Ps. 41.6, Job 30.25, Is. 61.10), express will (1Sam 20.4), be ruined by sinful desires, and in the book of Proverbs it is often a synonym to “mind”. Other verses show us the soul as autonomous and immortal: 1Kings 17.21-22, Rev. 6.9-10 and other.

The spirit (ruah) can be described as a live-giving energy, descended from God (and taken back after death—Eccl. 11.7), but also capable of emotions: Gen. 41.8 and Lk. 1.47.

1Thes. 5.23 describes the trichotomy of spirit, soul and body as the components of human being, stating, that all three have to be “kept blameless”.

By the words of Jesus, “God is Spirit” and has to be worshipped “in Spirit and truth” (John 4.23-24). Also the Spirit is the way of prayer: 1Cor. 14.2. And 1Cor 6.17 describes the unity of God and human in Spirit in the way man and woman are bound in marriage. In Rom. 8.16 the unity of Spirit of God and human spirit is the way of witness of our Heavenly Father.

The term “heart” is mentioned in the Scripture over 900 times and has slightly different meanings: it has knowledge (Ps. 116.11), thought (Mt. 15.19), faith (Rom. 10.9), and place of the Holy Spirit (Rom 5.5). It can be called the place of unity of the soul and the spirit.

Certainly, profound biblical studies will give a better understanding of these terms` origination and difference between them. But the general picture can be gathered from attentive reading of the Scripture.

 

4.

Today`s science and philosophy of nature gives us a rather new view on anthropology. Since the age of Renaissance and Enlightenment the materialistic view became more and more popular as a way to distance from the Church dogmas which were considered out of date and irreconcilable with the scientific knowledge. Especially in time such philosophers as Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau formed their methods of knowledge and assembled the Encyclopedia the view of the Christian cosmology and anthropology was considered unacceptable for educated people. Unfortunately later that gave its sinful fruit in such false teachings as materialism, positivism, atheism, liberalism, Darwinism, Freudism, Marxism and many others.

But in the XXI ct. when many of the mentioned ideas are unfortunately still very popular, newest research declares quite opposite: the soul and spirit actually exist and are, at least in part, a subject of empirical knowledge, not only faith or logical proof. After revealing the laws of quantum mechanics and multi-dimensional theory many views on surrounding natural phenomena have changed a great deal.

The materialistic view on mind, proposed in XX ct. declared that consciousness is nothing more than function of highly organized matter, mainly the chemical and electrical processes of the brain. But such scientists (mostly medical doctors and physicists) like Karl Ludwig, Charles Cherrington, Volodymyr Vernadskyi, David Huben and others[3].

Purely philosophical thought can reject this view as well, while no material object can be given to us so directly as our mind. The ability to self-reflect, think about ourselves, recall, etc. is en evidence that we are part of some more superior reality, while all material beings are objects of perception, and this I can`t say about myself[4]. We get to know ourselves before we know anything else. Our “self” has no characteristics of material being, it has no space dimensions and cannot be divided, it is not bound to elemental particles, possessing another kind of spiritual simplicity.

One of the greatest researchers, who built a bridge between the XX ct. scientific method and Christian dogmas was the great Orthodox saint and world known surgeon archbishop Luka Voyno-Yasenetskyi (1877-1961). In his work “Spirit, soul and body” (published in terrible years of Stalin`s repressions, atheistic propaganda and Sergian herecy) he describes the connection between the divine reality of the Holy Spirit and physical (including inter-atom and quantum) energy processes, as well as between body and immaterial soul. The author (perhaps even unwillingly) uses the already described scheme of Neo-Platonic emanation, but adds the evidence of physical research (mainly the Young and Heisenberg experiments) and gives such an analogy: as vapor in cold condition condensates and becomes liquid water and then turns into ice, the same way non-created divine energies are present everywhere, keep everything in being, but also become more “thick” to form quants, electrons, atoms and powers holding them together, later on these bonds “thicken” even more into mechanical energy, described by Newton laws. The similar is with the human spirit, the life-giving energy, “spark of Divine Life”[5]. Soul, according to St. Luka, is more “condensed” form of spirit, our psyche, personality and intellect, and most of its resources are hidden due to our continuous sickness of the sin all human beings obtained after the fall of Adam and Eve. The thinker also illustrates his theory with examples taken from his medical practice as a surgeon: when he operated ill people`s brain, their personality did not change. This way archbishop Luka proves that consciousness is not a function of highly-organized matter. His views could be criticized, but first of all, they are reliable due to dual education of St. Luka (doctor an theologian), and also they really show that Christian belief and scientific information really do not exclude one another but are two views of the same reality.

Another important scientist and theologian who tried to prove the same is the catholic Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin—not a very popular figure and example in his home confession, but perhaps a thinker still waiting to be newly re-thought. His ideas concerned the relations between the divine and physical reality and also he tried to lift up the veil of mystery of how life evolves on our planet. Usually the critics of Chardin appeal to the fact that this issue is not to be subject to any scientific question at all[6], it is God`s mystery and so must it be, they accuse this Jesuit scientist in materialism and even atheism. But if we really want to seek further than short, vague and mythological description of Genesis, the work “The phenomenon of human” is worth a look.

Chardin introduced a hypothesis that life was seeded by our Divine Creator since the beginning and then evolved slowly through the course of the centuries. Perhaps some parts of Chardin`s evolution evidences were a mistake and some mechanism he described were indeed false (after all, at that time he did not yet possess the instruments of scientific research we have today), but the general principle is quite properly formulated. The idea of the collective consciousness of the Universe (often this point is misinterpreted) corresponds to newly formulated theory of information field. It is false to think that Chardin believed mind and soul to be the result of highly organized matter, this thinker agreed on the point about the divine reality, but formulated it in a different way than St. Luka—for him the analogy was not emanation or states of matter (gas\liquid) but the veil of the Universe, having two sides—visible (physical) and inner (spiritual, divine)[7]. Thus the divine spirit is present in all matter (and so it is kept in being). Similar idea is also present in thoughts of Metr. Antony Blum, who stated that “every atom is created with intention to love God”[8], philosopher Hryhoriy Skovoroda, words of St. Francis and even St. Gregory Palamas, who explained how God in His divine energies is spread throughout all being[9].

According to Chardin, life and especially human consciousness evolved into a totally new level of being—the noosphere, all the thoughts, ideas, works and culture of humanity. The process of evolution does not stop and soon all the humanity will become united, exchange information among each other and nature, and the final point will be the “Omega point”, where we shall be united with Christ. By the way, St. Iryneus of Lyon wrote that at the end of days all humanity will become “the son of the Son of God”[10].  The thinker believed that the Catholic Church is the beginning of this unity, the model that will one day be spread on all souls of our planet—that was the reason he did not leave the Church even when forbidden to serve and prosecuted in different ways.

In Orthodoxy Chardin had a follower—father Oleksander Men, a theologian and a martyr. He also tried to answer the question about the origin of our soul and introduced a view about the first collective consciousness. In his book “The answers to questions” he writes: “I do not believe that each soul is created individually, for then we all would be ideal. In the beginning of our world the Lord created the first soul—the Adam, who after the fall was spread into many souls the way sparks fly from fire. Adam sleeps and in his dreams he sees all the sins and catastrophes of our civilization”[11]. But also for Fr. Oleksander, as for every Orthodox, the origin of the soul was a mystery, and proposed above was just his personal view. The theologian explained that soul of a human being is his psychological energy, and it is present in animals and even plants. But the spirit is immortal; it is the center of will, consciousness and creativity. Investigating many cases of witnesses who lived through clinical death, the priest supported Orthodox teaching about the stages the spirit passes afterwards. Many of his ideas, including the belief about common salvation and absence of hell were not supported by other members of the Church, and he himself was murdered by KGB agents shortly after collapse of the Soviet Union.

 

 

5.

Now many different views were analyzed and taken into account—the Bible, the Fathers, philosophers, theologians and scientists. After making a research of such sources and also including my thoughts and mystical experience, I formulated an independent point of view about body, soul and spirit, which I support nowadays. I have to emphasize that this is solely my own opinion, the Church does not formulate it this way and as I gather new knowledge and experience, this position is likely to change. Also the precise way of this connection is a mystery which would perhaps be revealed to us only after our death, but nonetheless it is worth trying to describe at least some parts of it.

First of all, I do support the position of St. Luka about how divine reality relates to physical energy, as well as his definition of soul, spirit and body. Spirit is a purely divine component of human being, given by our Lord that provides us with life and power. The Spirit is also the source of our mind and will. Also here the ideas of Nikolai Berdyaev would be worth mentioning—human spirit is something that makes us close to God and carries His image and likeness, and fundamental characteristic of the divine being—freedom.

The energy of the Spirit is “condensed” into our soul—the energetic substance, physical carrier of our information code, manifestation of Spirit in created world, bound to the body in some ways (brain is one of the centers, where the intercourse between physical processes of the body and energy-informational essence[12] of the soul occurs[13]). Soul contains psyche, consciousness, psychical reactions to the external world, etc. but not only that—it also has many more resources, usually hidden in day-to-day life. Those can sometimes be revealed in critical life-threatening situations or due to special training. Mainly this is the interchange of information—between people (especially close friends, relatives, twins when sometimes they can sense the mood or even thought of each other), nature (sensing the information of living organisms and data stored in the atoms of minerals, water and soil), and with other living conscious beings (the tradition of the Church offers us a view that the only creatures with free Spirit apart from human are angels, some of them sinful and fallen, but I do not share this view, believing, that God brought to life numerous beings and civilizations of different kinds and there is a possibility to establish contact with them).

Spirit is made of divine substance, which can`t be measured by devices, calculated in formulas and the only possibility to describe it is an analogy—it is the spark of God`s light in us, the way to the kingdom of freedom[14]. Soul is the manifestation of free spirit in this world, sharing many of its characteristics, but being closer to this reality. It can be divided into some layers: energetic (the EM energy of the processes, connected also with our body), informational (in the EM waves).

The big issue for me is the question of the physical body. Certainly, it is important, for without it the information of our soul could not exist (remember, that information is a function of energy, it is always bound to a carrier, like sound is impossible without air). But our organic protein body, made of mainly carbon elements, amino acids, muscles, bones and blood certainly can`t be the main God`s gift and something as important, as soul and spirit. This peace of flesh can live no longer than 120 years (exclusive examples, usually our life is 70-80 years, as it is written in Psalm 89), it is subjected to different diseases, dies of radiation, extreme frost or heat and natural limits of muscles, speed of reaction, etc. can be exceeded only with great effort and lifetime trainings. Organic body is frail and to take good care of it requires a lot of time, which drives us away from spiritual practices. Also our body limits us and does not let us to view the invisible worlds and other dimensions, which are revealed after death[15]. Our eyes can see only a small part of the spectrum, the senses are very badly developed and usually most people can`t sense anything except light, sound, smell, touch and taste, though there is far more information around us. Thus Plato and the ascetic Fathers, who took him as an example (St. John Climacus[16] and St. Basil the Great[17]) was correct in his antipathy to the physical body. It is doomed to die and we have to care about it no more than needed to prevent the body from getting ill. Certainly, it is God`s gift we need in time of our life on Earth, but we do not need to overestimate its meaning. Rather, the theory of Origen is closer for me and later I shall explain, why. Moreover, if Aristotle’s view is correct and this physical body was the only one, soul would not exist after its destruction.

Such doctors as Raymond Moody and Abraham Pozov[18] considered that this energetic substance (soul) is bound to the body in several places, but in other cases is independent and lives free after death. One of such places of connection is the brain, which gathers information from the organism; the other is what we call “heart”. St. Luka writes about heart not in the meaning of the muscle to pump blood, but about a certain center of spiritual perception. Different mystical teachings mention other bonds, but now we shall not describe them.

As noted above, soul itself has a physical manifestation, for information has to be bound to a carrier. So we all possess something that different mystical teachings call “the inner body”. Perhaps, this term is not fully correct—the energy of our soul is actually our physical appearance and the temporal organic body would then be an external one. The occasions when the saints could appear to people in different places during the prayer is known in our Church, most lives of saints contain these descriptions. In the western tradition the example of St. Pio is popular, and in eastern such a phenomenon was even called “a spiritual body”[19]. Also many non-Christian phenomena of going beyond physical body are recorded and described. Some of them involved occult practices, but the other happened to people without any preparation. St. Luka, Fr. Sraphim Rose and Fr. Oleksander Men mention some of such occasions in their books. This shows us that our soul contains far more resources than we use in everyday life, some of them are revealed after death.

Though the precise mechanism of cooperation of body, brain, soul and spirit is unknown (and it is the same mystery as how God keeps all the energy of the Universe in being), we can conclude the existence of multiple layers of human being: the uncreated, eternal and life-giving Spirit, which binds us with God, the center of will and creativity; soul as the energetic and informational essence which can live on its own eternally and physical body—the attribute of this life, mainly given by God for hard physical labor on our planet.

The next important issue which is also purely my opinion is the thesis about the pre-existence of souls. The widely known representative of such an approach was Origen, but in my opinion, he falsely associates the coming of souls to Earth with punishment for picking up the wrong side in the conflict of the previous age. But, first of all, our life here, despite of all difficulties and pains is not necessarily bad, especially after our salvation by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Secondly, not all troubles and misfortunes in our life do we experience due to punishment for sins, as is well described in the story of Job and in case of a blind man cured by Jesus in Gospel of John. So even if our life was held before our coming into this world, it could not be described as “sinful” or “bad”, we could come to this planet for gathering experience or to glorify God here and make it better.

We do not know what kind of existence we had before, what world we lived in, etc. But the argument that our soul must necessarily be connected to a body is not contradicted—we indeed had the physical manifestation of our soul I mentioned above. And since the doctrine of the Church stresses that the origination of our spirit is a mystery, giving no precise judgment, everybody is free to build up his opinion. St. Gregory of Sinai wrote: “The only necessary criterion for being Orthodox is to profess the One God in Three Persons and One Lord Jesus Christ in two natures”.

Other argumentations about the pre-existence include a Biblical verse on Job 38.21[20]. In his work “The pillar and foundation of the truth” Florenskyi mentions the topic of divine ideas, used by different Christian thinkers. In the western tradition it was formulated mainly by St. Augustine and St. Anselm of Canterbury, and in the East the concept of divine ideas was mentioned by St. Gregory of Nazianus. This view is commonly known: before creation of this world God has in His mind the ideas and plans about every thing and being to be created.  But if His will about non-living objects, such as stars, cosmic dust and atoms of Hydrogen is realized in physical dimension without any change, the situation with living souls, possessing the free spirit has to be different. Let us think: if God gives us His image and Likeness, creates us not as slaves, but as His cooperators[21], who can even turn against Him and He cannot violate once given freedom, does this not mean that our spirit in that transcendent and mysterious reality of God`s mind was different than a mere “idea” about a stone or a molecule of water? I believe that even then we had a sort of autonomous existence and communicated with God directly. The two analogies could be applied here: firstly, the unborn baby, as we know, already possesses the spirit, can feel the surrounding world and sense the mood and acts of his mother. Informational communication constantly occurs between them, that is why it is very important to treat the unborn as the fully autonomous person, not as something to be disposed of. But only after being born the baby sees the face of his mother and hears her voice directly. The second analogy is very personal, but important for me: I am a writer and when I create my novels[22] I feel that I actually communicate with my characters and the reality I am describing, taking part in the events I write about. So if I, an ordinary man, feel the autonomy of my ideas, how greater would be our freedom even in the mind of God?

There is no reason to deny that we lived in some other worlds before coming to this planet, no evidence against it. Some of the critics point to the literal interpretations of the Genesis, but I remind them that according to Orthodox teaching, we are not obliged to follow such a direct way (though we are free to profess the six days of creation, Adam and Eve, tree with forbidden fruit, angel with the sword, etc.)[23]. Some people (including myself) possess the mystical experience about other worlds and early years of the cosmos, and that does not deny God`s plan, but glorifies it, for our Heavenly Father created such a big Universe and gave life to numerous beings and civilizations.

Perhaps our pre-existence is not revealed to us directly for the same reason the immortality of every soul and the spiritual world is not shown to physical eyes: our mind in time of this life is not ready for it. Only few saints got the revelation on time of their death and about the future fate of humanity, for they could use this knowledge responsibly.

I believe that theology in the future has to move in the course of personalism, dogmas have to give place for individual experience and communication with God (I do not deny the importance of the tradition, but sometimes instead of giving freedom it encloses us from the divine world—again, how Fr. Pio was tormented for his stigmas and revelations).

 

Conclusion

Again we have to emphasize that such question of anthropology remains a mystery, that can be understood and described only in part, and this secretive aspect is not to be neglected. But on the other hand, God gave us mind, wisdom, ability to think and estimate and desire to investigate the reality around us. The big mistake of the Church in the past was that it denied all the scientific work and that provoked anti-Christian campaign (including the repressions in Russia since 1918). So again faith and reason have to be in balance. I sincerely believe we need a new approach to cosmology and anthropology, because now we have, on the one hand, too materialistic view, which ignores many phenomena, on the other hand—clerical approach, that denies any need to explain the spiritual truth through reason. We have to use philosophy, physics, biology, astronomy and mystical experience in our search of truth. But this search has not to be abstract, but, how the Fathers taught us, be bound to our life, prayer, relationship with God and salvation. For example I hope that this text for someone will serve as an opportunity to re-think the question of soul and mind and perhaps pay more attention to spiritual life. St. Luka wrote his work in hope to create a new approach to illness, health and curing in medicine. And, of course, our search has to be conducted in prayer and with the help of our Lord.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, sinner.

                                                                                               

 

[1] St. Ignatius Bryanchninov, “Ascetic experience”. http://azbyka.ru/otechnik/Ignatij_Brjanchaninov/tom1_asketicheskie_opyty/

[2] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11306b.htm

[3]Dr. Michail Hasmynskyi, “Does the soul exist and is mind immortal?”. http://www.memoriam.ru/sushhestvuet-li-dusha-i-bessmertno-li-soznanie

[4] Josef Seifert; Petro Husak “The immateriality of the soul”

[5] St. Luka (Voyno-Yasenetskyi). “Spirit, soul and body”. http://azbyka.ru/otechnik/Luka_Vojno-Jasenetskij/dukh-dusha-i-telo/

[6] Fr. Alexei Shevchuck “Chardin and his teachings”, https://www.proza.ru/2007/04/25-287

[7] Teilhard de Chardin “Phenomenon of man”. http://www.psylib.org.ua/books/shard01/txt01.htm

[8] Metr. Anthony Bloom “Man in front of God”.

[9] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07301a.htm

[10] “Man in front of God”

[11] Fr. Oleksander Men. “Answers to the questions”

[12] According to the theory of energy and information exchange in nature, everything around us is not purely “matter” (as we usually call it), but vibration of electromagnetic energy of different frequencies. Thus, in every EM wave information is stored, so every object around us becomes a sort of “container”, having recorded in its atoms data about its origin and all characteristics. Living organisms, stars and some cosmic gases act as centers of energetic processing and change of the information. This can be described in analogy to a pool: water in it is the whole aggregate of energy in the Universe (which can vibrate in different frequencies and so be perceived in numerous states), and waves on the surface would resemble information. Information would be the function of energy; one cannot exist without the other. Similarly, music or speech is information, coded in the energy of vibrating air and a printed book is information coded in slightly different density of page`s color. In this way we indeed can speak about a form of cosmic mind and noosphere, so the ideas of Teilhard de Chardin become more important in our time. For more detailed research on the topic of energy and information exchange see

[13] A. Menskyi “Mind and quantum mechanics”

[14] St. Luka (Voyno-Yasenetskyi) “Homilies”; it is also the idea of Berdyaev, introduced in “Philosophy of the free spirit” and other works, and St. Luka is likely to adopt this issue.

[15] Fr. Seraphim Rose “Soul after death”

[16] St. John Climacus “The ladder of divine ascend”

[17] St. Basil the Great “Homilies”

[18] Fr. Oleksander Men. “Answers to the questions”

[19] Fr. Alexander Torik “Selafiela”; St. Luka “Spirit, body and soul”.

[20] Job 38.21, a part of a “cosmological poem”, where God explain to Job different laws and patterns of the world and the cosmos, their origin and way of being, and after that “Surely you know, for you were already born! [meaning the time of origination of the world]   You have lived so many years!”. The common interpretation of it is that God asks the rhetorical question and then makes a sarcastic remark to Job, but I do not agree with that. Kenneth Willis Clark “The Gentile Bias: And Other Essays”

[21] “The man in front of God”

[22] I believe to cooperate with the Divine Reality at these times and always pray to “be the writer of our Lord, to glorify Him in my works and record what Our God and the Source of all creativity sends me”.

[23] “The man in front of God” (Author quotes St. Iryneus of Lyon). 

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П`ятниця, 15.12.2017