Lessons In Truth - Lesson 3 - Annotation 4
Explain the three phases of our being, and show the function of each and how they are related.
4. The three phasesof our being are: spirit, soul, body (sometimes written spirit-soul-body). These three function as a unit, and consciousness of their oneness must be maintained if we are to express and manifest as God intended.
The first phase of our being is spirit, and is called by many names. We say that spirit is the image-likeness of God, for our Scripture tells us. "And God said, Let us make man in our image and after our likeness (Gen. 1:26). The words I AM are also the name of this indwelling spirit. When God was speaking to Moses from the burning bush, He said, "Thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you ... this is my name for ever" (Exod. 3:14, 15). I AM is the name of God (or Spirit) in us, and as God's children we inherit this name as our true name. In further explaining the first phase of our three-fold nature, we say that the spirit in man is the divine pattern, spiritual man, the Lord, or law of our being. Because God is the source of all life, we think of His presence in us as the life principle, the breath of life, the divine center of light, the inner reality, so these too are terms we use for spirit, the first phase of our being.
In the Gospel according to John our divine nature is referred to as "the Word," and also as the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world" (John 1:1, 8). A word in the New Testament that is dear to most Christians is Christ, which word is used to designate our inner divine nature; Paul emphasizes this in Col. 1:26, 2 when he refers to "the mystery that has been hid for ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested ... Christ in you, the hope of glory." Whether or not we know it consciously, as spiritual creations of the one God, we are sons of God. Jesus, in replying to the questions of certain in Jews about His being the Christ, called attention to this when He said, "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" (John 10:34). Jesus is referring to Psalms 82:6, "I said, Ye are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High"). Our lessons have referred to God as Divine Mind, therefore as spiritual beings, offspring of the one Mind, we are in reality the manifested Idea of that Mind.
The first phase of our being, that which we really are, is the Christ Mind, sometimes referred to as the Superconscious, the realm of divine ideas in man. Spirit is our eternal, unchanging, indestructible, complete being!
The second phase of our being is soul, which is also called the self-consciousness, our individual awareness of existence; the phase of our being that says "I am I" and "I will." Soul is the entire mind, for thinking is carried on through the conscious phase of mind the intellect) and feeling through the subconscious phase of mind sometimes referred to as the "heart").
"Soul is man's consciousness -- that which he has apprehended or developed out of Spirit; also the impressions that he has received from the outer world. Soul is both conscious and subconscious." (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 628).
The soul is the user of the ideas of God that are found in the Superconsciousness or the first phase of our being. As brought out in annotation 3 of this lesson it is through the conscious phase of mind (intellect) that we are able to think, to reason, to choose, to examine, to judge, to analyze, to will, to select, to decide, to form, to deduct, to reject, to accept, and to conclude. This phase has also been termed the "objective" phase of mind. The other phase of the soul, the subconscious, is the realm of feeling, and has been termed the "subjective" phase because it is subject to the thoughts received from the conscious phase of mind. The subconscious uses these thoughts as a pattern to work by in bringing forth manifestation. It is the storehouse of memory, acting as a reservoir of all thoughts, experiences, observations, inspirations, accumulated knowledge, emotions, moods, opinions, temperaments, beliefs, that we term attitudes of mind.
Our soul is pivotal in its action, that is, the thinking and feeling (conscious and subconscious) may turn inward to the first phase of being (spirit), the Superconscious realm of divine ideas, or may turn to the outer where they receive impressions through the five senses. It is our privilege to decide whether we will build our consciousness on outer impressions, upon that which is transitory, or on the divine ideas that assure us of the kind of body and world we really desire.
"When man realizes that there is but one body-idea and that the conditions in his body express the character of his thought, he has the key to bodily perfection and immortality in the flesh" (Charles Fillmore Christian Healing 34).
The body is, therefore, an idea in God-Mind, and is spiritual substance in form and shape, embodying all the divine ideas. "The body is the material manifestation of the life principle" (page 1, Addenda to Metaphysical Bible Dictionary). While the body is always perfect in its original creation as a God-idea, the appearance that the body takes on will be according to the use we make of divine ideas. In its physical form the body is a marvelous instrument with a divine intelligence in every atom, cell, nerve, tissue, muscle, and bone. When the soul is not using divine ideas in the right way (through the processes of thinking, feeling, speaking, acting, and reacting), then it is the body that suffers, for chaotic, confused, unhappy, anxious, fearful states of mind interfere with normal functioning of the body.
An illustration for the three-fold nature is seen in fruit: the seed could be said to represent the spirit or life principle, that which has power to reproduce itself; the pulp could represent the soul, or character of the fruit; and the skin or peel could represent the body that identifies the type of fruit in the world of visibility. We must remember that such an illustration falls far short of what we are in our completeness as spirit, soul, body, but it does give us some idea of the relation of the three phases.
An excellent statement for us to use to develop the awareness of our three fold-nature is the following:
Preceding Entry: What is thinking? Can one come into a realization of Truth by arguing?
Following Entry: What is meant by error consciousness?