Body and Soul
Three Theories of Body and Soul
All the widespread theories of body and soul can be combined into the following three theories:
1. Theory of Faith
This theory maintains that nothing but the soul (or spirit) exists. Adherents of this theory opine that there exist spiritual entities separated from one another by quality that are called human souls. They exist independently before they descend and incarnate in human bodies.
Afterwards, when the body dies, its death does not extend over these entities, because they are spiritual and not composite. In their view, death is a mere separation between the elements of which an entity consists. It therefore refers to the material body that constitutes a conglomerate of elements separated by death. But being a spiritual entity, the soul is simple and cannot disintegrate, so that its structure would be affected. Hence, the soul is immortal and exists eternally.
According to advocates of this theory, the body is the soul’s attire. The soul dresses into the body and manifests its powers, qualities, and various faculties through it.
This way the soul provides the body with life and movement and protects it from injuries. The body turns into lifeless and motionless matter when the soul leaves it. All the signs of life we observe in a human being are nothing but the manifestations of the soul’s powers.
2. Theory of Dualism
Those who believe in duality, contrive this theory. According to their opinion, the body is a perfect creation that can live, eat, protect itself from all harm and does not need help of any spiritual entity.
However, this body is not considered the person’s essence. This role is taken by the intelligent soul, a spiritual entity (this coincides with the first theory).
The difference between the two theories only concerns the body. Rapid development of science reveals that nature has installed in the body all the vitally important needs. Therefore the soul’s function in the body is only confined to passing good spiritual qualities and skills to it. The adherents of dualism believe in the two theories at the same time, but they assert that the soul originates the body.
3. Theory of Negation
Researchers, who deny the existence of any spiritual reality and only believe in corporeality of the body, share this theory. Followers of this theory completely negate the presence of any abstract spiritual entity in the structure of the human body. With an indisputable certainty they believe that the human mind is nothing but a derivative of the body. They imagine the body as a kind of an electrical machine with cables that connect the limbs and organs with the brain. The entire mechanism is activated by external irritants and is transmitted as pain or pleasure to the brain, which commands a certain organ to act. Everything is controlled through nerves (cables) and tendons attached to the organs programmed to avoid sources of pain and aspire to sources of pleasure. This is how supporters of this theory see the process of human comprehension and reactions to every life situation.
Our perception of intelligence and logic, inside the brain is much like a photographic imprint of what is going on inside the body. In comparing man with any representative of the animal world, man’s advantage consists in the fact that everything that takes place in his body, is reflected in his brain as a picture perceived as the mind and logic. So, the adherents of this theory consider the mind a result of all the processes that occur in the body.
Similarly, some of the followers of the theory of dualism completely agree with the theory of negation. However, they add to it the eternal spiritual essence called “soul”, which in their opinion dresses in the body. They assert that the soul is the person’s essence, while the body serves as its shell. By and large this is how the humanities have described the notions of “soul and body” until now.
Body and Soul as Scientific Notions in Kabbalah
The science of Kabbalah is intended for revelation of the Upper World to the same extent of clarity and reliability as the earthly sciences reveal our world to us. All that we know about the Upper World was received by the Kabbalistic researchers as a result of their experiments on themselves. Therefore, there is not a single word in Kabbalah based on a theory; everything is described as a result of a practical attainment.
It is an obvious fact that, by his nature, the person is liable to doubts and any conclusion defined as obvious, by the human mind, is called into question. Hence, the power of theorizing grows and the previous facts receive a different explanation, which is in turn considered as obvious.
If the person is really able to think abstractly, he keeps moving in this circle all his life. The obviousness of a previous day turns into the doubts of today, and the clarity of today will turn into doubts of tomorrow. So the absolute certainty can only be possible “today”.
The Revealed and the Concealed
Modern science has already come to an understanding that absolutely nothing is obvious in reality. Theorizing and hypothesizing have always been forbidden in Kabbalah.
The Kabbalists divide the science into two parts: The revealed and the concealed one.
The revealed part of the science includes all that we understand by simple realization, when the study is based on the practical basis, without any theorizing.
The concealed part of the science includes the knowledge that we have attained by ourselves, or from reliable sources, but is insufficient for analysis from the point of common sense and simple realization. Therefore, this part of information we are temporarily obliged to accept as “simple faith” and never try to research it, because it will be based on theorizing and not on practical experience.
However, the names “revealed” and “concealed” points not at certain kinds of knowledge, but at the person’s realization. That is, the knowledge the person gained from his practical experience may be called “revealed”. The knowledge that has not yet reached such a degree of realization may be defined as “concealed”.
From the aforesaid, it follows that there has never been a person in any generation, who would not possess these two parts of knowledge, the revealed and the concealed. He is only allowed to study and research the revealed part because he has a real basis for it.
Ban Imposed on the Humanities
Kabbalah considers it impermissible to use the humanities. It only relies on empirically proven knowledge.
Therefore, we cannot receive any scientific knowledge about the notions of “soul and body” from the three aforementioned theories, because the conclusions are based on religious arguments. We can only accept the information about soul and body as scientific knowledge based on the wisdom of Kabbalah.
In accordance with this, we have the right to use only the third theory, which deals with the body, in all the empirically proven conclusions that raise no doubts. Kabbalah forbids all the general, logical explanations of any theories.
Criticism of the Third Theory
However, the third theory is alien to the educated person’s spirit, because it does away with personality and presents it as a machine that is activated by external forces. From this, it follows that the person is not free in his desires and is totally controlled by nature’s powers. All his actions are forced, and he is neither rewarded nor punished for his own actions, since the law of reward and punishment only applies to the person with a free will.
This theory is equally rejected by the religious masses, which believe in the Creator’s reward and punishment and by secular people. It turns out that each of us is like a toy in the hands of a blind nature that leads us to an unknown destination! Hence the third theory is unacceptable in this world.
It was therefore decided that the body that is called a machine, in accordance with the third theory, does not constitute a human being. The person’s essence, his “I” is an invisible and imperceptible spiritual essence concealed within the body.
Yet how can this essence activate the body, if according to philosophy, the spiritual has no contact with the material and in no way influences it? This is why there is no answer to the question of the soul in philosophy and metaphysics.
1. We feel everything in our five senses. The combined picture of all that we perceive in our senses is processed and analyzed in our brain, compared with the already known and is forwarded to our consciousness as an image of ourselves and of the surrounding world. Thus, the person perceives both his own body and the world as a result of sensations in his senses. Neither the body nor the world exists by itself; they are but the consequences of our sensations. Baal Sulam writes: “I feel my body as solid and of a certain size, because my sensations present it to me this way…”
2. If we had no senses at all, we would not feel ourselves. If our senses were different, we would perceive the world and ourselves differently.
3. Everything we feel in our five senses is called the “revealed.” Naturally, every individual reveals his own measure of information depending on his sensitivity and intelligence. The revealed is:
Generally revealed to the entire humankind at each stage of its development.
4. The “concealed” is the information that still waits to be revealed in the future. The concealed is of two kinds:
That which we will reveal in our senses in the future, and
That which we will never be able to reveal in our five senses.
5. The information that is impossible to reveal in our five senses can be received in the sixth one. Each person carries in himself a root of the sixth sense and can develop it. The method of developing the sixth sense is called Kabbalah. The sensation, experienced in the sixth sense, can also be divided into two elements in similarity to the sensation of the body and the surrounding reality in our five senses:
The body, referred to as the “soul”, and
The surrounding reality called the “Upper World.”
The sensation of the Upper World is perceived as eternity, perfection and omniscience.