Spirit

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The English word spirit (from Latin spiritus "breath") has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance. It is distinguished from Latin anima, "soul." In Greek, this distinction exists between pneuma (πνευμα), "breath, motile air, spirit," and psyche (psykhē, ψυχη), "soul." In the Theosophical view, spirit is a manifestation of the One Principle beyond the range and reach of thought, the Absolute.

General description

The Theosophical teachings postulate that Spirit is a primary manifestation, along with matter. Although they appear as opposite to our perception, they are simply two aspects of the Absolute. Mahatma K.H. wrote:

The conception of matter and spirit as entirely distinct, and both eternal could certainly never have entered my head, however little I may know of them, for it is one of the elementary and fundamental doctrines of Occultism that the two are one, and are distinct but in their respective manifestations, and only in the limited perceptions of the world of senses.[1]
What is "Spirit" pure and impersonal per se? . . . Such a Spirit is a nonentity, a pure abstraction, an absolute blank to our senses — even to the most spiritual. It becomes something only in union with matter — hence it is always something since matter is infinite and indestructible and non-existent without Spirit which, in matter is Life. Separated from matter it becomes the absolute negation of life and being, whereas matter is inseparable from it.[2]
In the book of Kiu-te, Spirit is called the ultimate sublimation of matter, and matter the crystallization of spirit. And no better illustration could be afforded than in the very simple phenomenon of ice, water, vapour and the final dispersion of the latter, the phenomenon being reversed in its consecutive manifestations and called the Spirit falling into generation or matter.[3]
Spirit, life and matter, are not natural principles existing independently of each other, but the effects of combinations produced by eternal motion in Space.[4]

In Theosophical literature "spirit" usually refers to ātman or sometimes to the dual Monad ātma-buddhi and less frequently even the higher triad ātma-buddhi-manas. Below, some definitions:

Spirit (in the sense of the Absolute, and therefore, indivisible ALL), or Atma. As this can neither be located nor limited in philosophy, being simply that which is in Eternity, and which cannot be absent from even the tiniest geometrical or mathematical point of the universe of matter or substance, it ought not to be called, in truth, a "human" principle at all. Rather, and at best, it is in Metaphysics, that point in space which the human Monad and its vehicle man occupy for the period of every life. Now that point is as imaginary as man himself, and in reality is an illusion, a maya.[5]
Spirit or LIFE is indivisible. And when we speak of the seventh principle it is neither quality nor quantity nor yet form that are meant, but rather the space occupied in that ocean of spirit.[6]
Spirit, in short, is no entity in the sense of having form; for, as Buddhist philosophy has it, where there is a form, there is a cause for pain and suffering. But each individual spirit--this individuality lasting only throughout the manvantaric life-cycle-may be described as a centre of consciousness, a self-sentient and self-conscious Centre; a state, not a conditioned individual.[7]

Difference between Soul and Spirit

According to Master K. H., Mme. Blavatsky was the first one in modern times to point out the difference between Soul and Spirit. He wrote to A. P. Sinnett:

[At the beginning of the Theosophical Society] neither Christians nor Spiritualists ever thought of, let alone mentioned, more than two principles in man — body and Soul, which they called Spirit. If you had time to refer to the spiritualistic literature of that day, you would find that with the phenomenalists as with the Christians, Soul and Spirit were synonymous. It was H.P.B., who, acting under the orders of Atrya (one whom you do not know) was the first to explain in the Spiritualist the difference there was between psyche and nous, nefesh and ruach — Soul and Spirit. She had to bring the whole arsenal of proofs with her, quotations from Paul and Plato, from Plutarch and James, etc. before the Spiritualists admitted that the theosophists were right.[8]

Online resources

Articles

Notes

  1. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 90 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), ???.
  2. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 315-316.
  3. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 90 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), ???.
  4. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 317.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, (London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 119.
  6. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 44 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 121.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 306.
  8. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 81 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 246.