Over eons of time vast changes have occurred in the world. Mountains have been pushed into the sky, dinosaurs have become extinct and rivers have found new channels. Each rotation of the planet Earth brings us into another day and another adventure. Indeed, yesterday or even a moment ago becomes a memory in history with the tick of a clock. The event that will occur next in our life is only another tick away but remains uncertain until its arrival. The ever elusive instant between ticks, the present moment, is savored, relished and dealt with as we deem appropriate and then it resides in the past. Such reflections can only emphasize the temporary condition of being in an atmosphere of time and space --- materiality. But what happens when time and space are no longer part of our experience?
The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being. [Geneses 2:7] Thus scripture provides a description of the origin of humanity as a being in Gods own likeness and having dominion over all of creation [Geneses 1:26-27]. Critics of scripture make light of such statements and call the story a fairy tale but they do not look beyond the horizon. Could it be that God first created an "astral world" of spiritual ideal and, upon "the fall," established the materialistic substitute for that still existing metaphysical place? Gods likeness is not of a physical body but of an awesome spirit that is not confined or limited to time or space. Humanity was originally created in the state of divine bliss and in direct communion with that which created all things.
The terms "Spirit" and "Soul" are often used interchangeably but there is a difference. The matter is further complicated by the terms "id" and "ego" developed by those who have pondered the human psyche. The physical existence is influenced by the seat of desire or emotion [the "id"] which is dominated by pleasure seeking and irrational wishes but its impulses are controlled by the "ego" and "superego." The "ego" is that spiritual substance upon which experience is superimposed -- it mediates between the impulses of the id, the environment and the moral standards of the superego. Philosophers and psychologists have made much of the term "ego" over the ages from Rene Descartes [1596-1650] who coined the phrase "I think, therefore I am" to Immanuel Kant [1724-1804] who envisioned an observing ego and a thinking ego to Sigmund Freud [1856-1939] who founded the procedure of psychoanalysis. The author poses the following personal hypothesis that may clarify the issue:
SPIRIT is that which gives life. Any entity that lives but eventually ceases to be has a spirit that provides life --- a human, a bird, a tree or a pollywog in a pond. All were created by the same God to exercise the Divine Plan and, in the process of their coming into existence, their generic spirit came into being. Some of creation [the seas, the earth, the air we breathe] do not have a spirit. Some entities, such as plants, have spirit but have no soul --- their existence ends at the end of their physical sojourn in material time. Atheists claim such a fate to also be the lot of humanity but God deemed otherwise. Human was given charge over all other creation and held a special place in the Divine Plan by being imbued with a soul. [Geneses 2:7] We do not know the Divine Plan and, therefore, can not deny the possibility of some form of soul being granted to other elements of creation, especially other animals.
SOUL is the reality of the individual self which is manifested as both a physical body [occupied during the sojourn on Earth] and a spiritual body that continues on to another place. With the mission into materiality complete, there is no further need for the human physical body and its assorted characteristics needed during physical life and procreation of the species. All that and its accumulated maladies can be left behind to return to the dust of the earth where they served. That which remains, the spiritual [astral] body, continues the journey in another realm.
The spiritual body carries with it all the knowledge, wisdom, experiences, relationships and other elements of adventure that has occurred since its creation [birth]. There is no need for a physical brain to house those memories because they are present in their entirety and their beauty within the habitat of the spiritual self. Unbiased truth and understanding becomes apparent --- things deemed unpleasant in time can become beautiful in the absence of time. The spiritual body goes through a cleansing process to dispose of the chaff to yield the nuggets of golden grain --- purified to be worthy to enter into the Holy of Holies. Without this process, even the most holy of humans would not be ready for the astounding reality of the Heavenly Kingdom.
Spirit brings Life but Soul renders that Life unique in both the physical and the metaphysical arenas. The essence of Nature must not be confused with Spirit and Soul. Nature is the innate attributes of the subject being addressed. Those attributes of God, the Divine Nature, we express as all powerful [Omnipotent], ever present [Omnipresent] and all knowing [Omniscient]. We speak of an attribute of human nature when we say: "To err is to be human." The Divine Nature, by definition, was a reality from beyond the onset of eternity. When first created, humanity was Gods companion in Divine Nature --- the "Garden of Eden." By disobeying Gods command to "not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and bad" human nature went out on its own. [Geneses 1:15-17]
Christians believe that the man Jesus had both natures --- a Human Nature and a Divine Nature. God became man as the Messiah to restore humanity to its original intent. Foretold by the prophets in ages past, the Divine Nature conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary to create the physical man who was to be called "Jesus." [Matthew 1:21] At that point the human nature of Jesus came into being. By living, studying, demonstrating, teaching and suffering, the man Jesus restored human will to the arena of Divine Will that all could return to the original state of humanity.
On the first day upon his resurrection, Jesus revealed himself to Mary of Magdala. She cried out and rushed toward him but he said to her: "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" [John 20:17] [Note: George Lamsas translation from the Aramaic -- the native language of Lamsa and the language Jesus spoke -- says: "Do not come near me; for ..."] Perhaps the Human Nature of Jesus was in the process of glorification at that time.
Scripture provides numerous instances where the risen Jesus "revealed himself" to individuals and to groups of individuals. Those instances are by no means complete but are given as evidence that Jesus truly did overcome death. Observers recognized him only when he chose to make them aware of his presence. He appeared and vanished at his own choosing; even passing into secured chambers. As proof of his reality he displayed his wounds and ate food with them. He truly was there but in a clearly new state of being which mystified them. The human Jesus was transformed to be a restored human in the likeness of his creator and the Divine Christ was returning to his throne at the altar of God. This final demonstration gives light to what lies in store for humanity as a whole.
It would have been totally unreasonable for the earthly body of Jesus to have remained as part of materiality. We can say the same for some others who have made the transition to the timeless zone. Surely, if their bodies remained after their passing, the graves of the Virgin Mary and Joseph would have been recorded and revered but scripture says nothing of the death of either. The birthplace and the tomb of Jesus are extremely holy places but that is not the place to look --- as the angels said, he is not there [in a physical sense]. In any case, when the physical body is no longer a dwelling place for the spiritual being, it returns in some fashion to its origin and the true self enters into another phase of existence. In that phase the individual retains its individuality and assumes awesome attributes akin to the divine. As a soul liberated from the confines of time and space, the astral body is perfect, complete, wise and in a pure state of bliss. One can enjoy the rapture of their choice dwelling in the New Jerusalem in the heart of God. [See Revelation 21]
It is conceivable that the restored body of the individual soul will have no need for such mundane functions as breathing, consuming liquid or food, walking, hearing or speaking. A foretaste of that condition might be gleaned from some of our dreams --- gliding or soaring instead of walking or riding --- feeling an intimate presence of a dearly beloved without a word being spoken --- mingling in a crowd of unrecognized faces but knowing a special relationship with each --- being assured that there is no force that can deprive you of such total bliss. These are not fantasies of imagination. They are very personal and unexplainable experiences while in another state of being. Such occasions can give great reassurance of a fantastic future.