|Skyscape by Nicholas Roerich|
The breath-body is not something “spiritual” in our sense of the word. It is characteristic of Western man that he has split apart the physical and the spiritual for epistemological purposes. But these opposites exist together in the psyche and psychology must recognize this fact. “Psychic” means physical and spiritual. The ideas in our text all deal with this “intermediate” world which seems unclear and confused because the concept of psychic reality is not yet current among us, although it expresses life as it actually is. Without soul, spirit is as dead as matter, because both are artificial abstractions; whereas man originally regarded spirit as a volatile body, and matter as not lacking in soul (C.G. Jung, Collected Works, Vol 13, page 51, note 2).
Here we have a statement by Carl Jung, explaining the tripartite nature of human being. I have heard all my life how we are spirit, soul, and body, but it was never clear how spirit and soul were different. Ministers should not speak about such things to curious parishioners without knowing what they’re talking about. I was deeply confused about this in my youth. If only I had had Jung to explain it to me!
Westerners are very familiar with the physical body. Just think of how our medical technology has advanced in the past one hundred years. Some are absolutely obsessed with our material nature. Furthermore, there are those who emphasize spiritual things to the point of being so heavenly-minded they’re no earthly good, to use a cliche borrowed from a fire and brimstone preacher I once heard. From one extreme to another, but they have totally missed our intermediate state, which is the most crucial.
Soul is not an objective reality, in the empirical sense. Hillman says it very well:
By soul I mean, first of all, a perspective rather than a substance, a viewpoint toward things rather than a thing itself. This perspective is reflective; it mediates events and makes differences between ourselves and everything that happens. Between us and events, between the doer and the deed, there is a reflective moment — and soul-making means differentiating this middle ground (Revisioning Psychology) .
Soul belongs to an intermediate universe, according to Henry Corbin, “where the spiritual takes body and the body takes spiritual.” We, as Souls, exist in a world Corbin calls the mundus imaginalis. Here, Imagination is of the utmost importance because it creates the physical world. In our world, images are thought of as being less important than “real” objects, but the objects we are familiar with are what they are because they have emanated from a place of suprareality, the mundus imaginalis.
Creation is not creatio ex nihilo, as the Church Fathers would have us believe. The Creator has an intimate connection, a divine umbilicus, to the Creation. The doctrine of creatio ex nihilo sets up an unbridgeable chasm between Creator and Creation. This is one reason why Western man has become disconnected from the earth, desacralizing it. How can we hold the earth sacred if we are told to think it is separate from us? This has been the root cause of much madness in the world, everything from scientists creating atomic bombs to religious zealots desiring to be “raptured” from the earth to a place more fitting for their holiness.
Our world is sacred. It becomes desacralized because we have allowed a great chasm to form between it and the spiritual world, a void that can only be filled by Soul. Our world grows weaker and more chaotic as the gulf widens. To heal our reality, we must tend to the business of soul-making, the care of Soul, as Thomas Moore has taught. We must be ever diligent. Our Souls are intertwined with the World-Soul. Together, we will thrive.
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