You have heard that we are spiritual beings but what exactly is Spirit? Here is a straightforward explanation from the standpoint of a spiritual science called Vedanta.
Spirit and Matter
Spirit can best be understood in relation to matter, which is its exact opposite.
Matter can be gross or subtle. Gross matter, such as the physical body, can be perceived by the five senses (Eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin). Subtle matter, like our thoughts are beyond the perceiving limits of the senses.
Characteristics of Matter:
- It is inert. This means that it has no capacity to move or function on its own
- It is insentient. It has no consciousness – matter doesn’t know itself or anything else.
Matter whether it is gross or subtle, is inert and insentient.
The body and mind appear to be alive and functioning because of the presence of Spirit which lies behind them.
Characteristics of Spirit:
- It is alive. It has the capacity to move and function on its own.
- It is conscious. Spirit has the capacity to know itself and everything else.
Being alive and conscious, Spirit animates matter – it brings brings matter to life.
How does this happen?
How Spirit brings matter to life
Let’s take a jacket as an example. A jacket is made up of gross matter that neither moves nor functions on its own. And, a jacket is not conscious of itself. If you hold it up, it simply hangs, limp and lifeless. If you call out to it, ‘Hi Jacket’, it doesn’t respond because it has no consciousness.
Imagine the body and mind to be a jacket; and you to be Spirit. When Spirit comes into contact with matter – when you put on the jacket and zip it up completely- the jacket appears to come to life. Now, it can move, bend and turn. If someone called out ‘Hi Jacket’ it would turn around and respond. “Hi!’
Like the jacket, the body and mind appear to be alive and functioning because they are animated by Spirit.
When Spirit comes into contact with matter, it transfers its qualities onto matter, making it appear as though it is alive and conscious.
What is a spiritual being?
When we say we are spiritual beings, it means that we are not the body and mind.
In fact, we are not what we look like physically nor what our personalities are like. We are not the roles that we play, our likes and dislikes, needs, wants, desires, emotions and thoughts – none of that. We are something totally distinct and separate from all these personality traits.
We are that animating factor called Spirit that gives life to the body and mind.
To understand this better, please read Are you a human being or a spiritual being?
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