Spirit (Video Script)
Spirit is life and movement. The Latin “spiritus” means breath signifying the invisible, vital force of the body that keeps us alive and active.
Similarly the wind has been used as a symbol for spirit – like the breath of the planet, an invisible energy that circulates and drives our weather systems. We can only see its effects.
Thus the hallmark of spirit is movement. In common speech we may say that we will do something when the spirit moves us. In a religious context, being moved by the spirit carries the connotation of being motivated by the divine, usually manifesting within the realm of purpose, meaning, and value.
When we speak of a spirited horse, it is vitality and movement that comes to mind. If we speak of the spirit of a sports team it is the quality of energy and motivation, unity of purpose, and unselfishness that puts the team first. We may speak of the spirit of the times or the spirit of the age.
What is the energy or purpose that unites and drives a society or culture forward? It could be adventure, the accumulation of wealth, scientific progress, or simply self-indulgence. In any case, it is really a spiritual ideal that we talking about.
The spirit of a nation or people means the ideal that energizes and unifies that group of individuals. For America it may be freedom. For France it may be pleasure.
Whether it be the spirit of a people, or activity, or a period of time – it ultimately boils down to the spiritual ideal that energizes, motivates, and unifies the purpose involved. That is spirit.
The Spirit of God
In the creation story that we have been exploring in this series of lessons, we begin in the realm of spirit – before the creation of the material universe. The spirit of God moved and brought souls into being.
When a material environment was required for the development of the souls, the spirit of God moved and brought the physical universe into being in the mind of God. The Creative Force or Creative Energy called God is that impersonal aspect of spirit that moves and motivates. Thus Spirit is the First Cause, the Prime Mover, the motivative influence in Creation.
The traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Americas speak of the Great Spirit, or creator of the world. In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit manifesting as prana, the cosmic breath or vital air that is the source of life. In traditional Chinese culture, qì (chi) is the lifeforce or active principle of any living thing. The scriptures of the ancient Hebrews speak of the holy spirit of God, which has carried through into the other monotheistic religions of the Abrahamic tradition. Virtually every culture in the history of the world has recognized the manifestation of spiritual energy as a creative force that is the source of all that is.
Even modern materialistic science recognizes that energy is matter and matter is energy – as physics has shown. All the various and diverse manifestations that we witness around us in the cosmos is an organization of energy into the forms that we recognize as stars, planets, and the wonders of nature. The Cayce readings even speak of God as the low electrical vibration that is the basis of all life – the spirit of God as the vital energy that animates the world.
Spirit and Soul
Sometimes the distinction between soul and spirit can be confusing. Essentially it is about the relationship of the part to the whole.
Spirit is the universal aspect of soul. Soul is the individual manifestation of spirit. They are one and yet distinct.
In the beginning there was only Spirit – the spirit of God that desired companionship. Spirit moved and from within itself created individual souls in its own image.
Souls exist within God – within the one Spirit much as corpuscles exist within the physical body. A blood cell is its own distinct entity with a permeable boundary or membrane that separates it from other blood cells and the rest of the body, and yet allows for exchange and interaction as part of the whole body.
Similarly, the soul has its own unique identity and yet is part of the whole – part of the spiritual oneness called God. Thus all soul is spirit but not all spirit is soul.
At the risk of oversimplifying this association, consider that all apples are fruit, but not all fruit are apples. So it is with soul and spirit.
Even within the physical body of humans, the spirit and soul forces have their own unique expression. Spirit is the life – the lifeforce of the body that energizes and maintains the vitality of the system. It is impersonal, as it is in all life forms.
Soul is personal with its own unique identity and agenda. It seeks its own expression through will and choice.
Another common analogy used to explain the relationship of soul and spirit is the shape of a star with its body and individual points. Each point could be regarded as a soul that has pushed itself away from the center and yet is still connected to the whole. The push that creates the sense of apparent separation derives from will – the gift of the creator to each individual soul – the gift that allows the unique expression and identity of each individual.
The spirit of God permeates the entire cosmos and is the source of all that is, including all the diverse and varied life-forms around us. Souls find expression within this greater spiritual context that is God. Thus we have the opportunity to know ourselves to be ourselves – as unique individual souls, and yet part of the spiritual whole that is God.