What is the soul?

Do we have a Soul? Who/what has it? What is the relationship between the body and the soul?

The Diamond Approach articulates a comprehensive understanding of the soul as the “medium of experience.” This medium of experience exists on the macro-level as the underlying field of consciousness of reality and on the micro-level as the individual consciousness.

The soul, then, is the medium for all awareness, knowledge, and potential of reality to arise and be “experienced,” which includes all mental, emotional, and body sensations and processes.

soul the medium of experiencd

According to Britannica: soul, in religion and philosophy: the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being, that which confers individuality and humanity, often considered to be synonymous with the mind or the self. In theology, the soul is further defined as that part of the individual which partakes of divinity and often is considered to survive the death of the body.

There are several points to consider in Britannica’s definition of soul:

  • The soul is immaterial – not of matter as the body is. This is congruent with the Diamond Approach’s understanding of the soul, as is…
  • The soul is the essence of the human beingEssence is your essence, the nature of your soul. In time, the more your experience and understanding of it deepen, you recognize that it is not just your essence, but the essence of everything. Deeper still, you see that it is not only the essence of everything, but that Essence is the only thing that is actually present; there is nothing but Essence, in other words.” – A. H. Almaas, Facets of Unity, ch. 17
  • …that which confers individuality and humanity – The Diamond Approach recognizes that all experience happens via the individual consciousness (the soul), but the relationship of the individual consciousness to the universal consciousness is similar to a hologram – the entirety of the universal is available at every individual point of the field.
  • often considered to be synonymous with the mind or the self. In theology – The Diamond Approach not only discriminates the soul from mind, but also articulates in great detail the differences between the self and soul. In fact, the Diamond Approach differentiates many levels, aspects, functions and presentations of the soul, the self, and the mind – as well as identity. (See The Pearl Beyond Price and The Point of Existence.)

Coming back to: What is the soul?

Under normal circumstances the body and soul are coextensive and hence function together to locate awareness. The more important meaning of locus—related to the first—is the second one, which is that the soul is the site where all of our experiences, of everything and on all levels, happen. So my experience happens within my soul; it does not happen in someone else’s soul. Although this observation is the basis of the notion of an individual soul, its relevance is that the soul is our personal inner field of experience, the matrix where all inner events and processes happen. In other words, the recognition of soul as individual locus not only leads to differentiating one soul from another, but also to the important insight that soul functions as the container of all experiences. The soul is literally the vessel that contains and holds all of our inner events.  –  A. H. Almaas, The Inner Journey Home

soul body relationship

So, what is the relationship of the soul to the body?

Thirteenth-century Sufi mystic Rumi said, “The soul builds the body, atom by atom.”

This points to the mystical understanding that this world and all of its manifestations are expressions and reflections from the other world, the invisible world of soul and spirit. Nothing originates in this world. All of what we see and experience has its roots in the spiritual dimensions.

To believe that I’m not a body but I have a body is very useful at some point when I begin to recognize and deal with my body image. As I begin to realize that I am identified with a body image, it is possible for me to recognize that I am a consciousness or spaciousness that has a body. This insight may manifest as truth at some point, which then transforms my experience. But this truth is not final. A year or two later, I might start having certain issues that I recognize are there because I make a separation between my body and my soul. I think I am a soul that has a body or a body that has a soul. At the time, it was useful for me to recognize that I am a soul that has a body, but a year later that truth becomes a falsehood because I recognize then that the body is nothing but a manifestation of the soul. There is no body separate from the soul. The soul doesn’t have a body, like a possession; the body is as much a part of the soul as my feelings are a part of the soul.  –  A. H. Almaas, The Inner Journey Home

sacred body

The sense of separation between spirit and our body is very common, both in our cultures and in many spiritual traditions. We are often taught that the body is merely a container of the soul and something to be transcended on the spiritual path. From this view the spiritual realm is seen as somehow separate from the physical and the body as something other than a form of spiritual consciousness.

Diamond Approach teacher, Linda Krier challenges this perspective by offering an alternate view: that not only is our physicality in a kind of mystical union with our soul, it is a living form of consciousness that is beingness itself. More information here>>

2 thoughts on “What is the soul?”

  1. Mike Williamson

    The “medium of experience” phrase also can point to the phrase “the soul is a knowing substance”. Of course ultimately it is of the One. This One, (call it) One Pure Consciousness, contains the unbound qualities sometimes called The Names of God. As the one pure knowing substance takes on existence via embodiment what happens? As an infant through the impressions of interacting with the mother or significant care giver and the environment including its own body, over time it comes to implicitly or non-verbally know “I am in here” in this separate body and everything I need is “out there” in other separate bodies (or objects). So what has happened here? Almaas tells us that the One Pure Consciousness or essence can know and it can identify. Here we find it knowing and identifying Itself with and as a separate body because at this point that is “all it knows” that is what its limited perception is revealing. The subtle light of Unity or undifferentiated consciousness has been over-shadowed by the glare or relative blinding by the light of the senses which see at this point only see separation. The template of self and other dictates to us as long as we are identified with the subject that knows separate objects ‘out there’. We can look at it as a necessary developmental stage making the path of return possible.The subject “in here” knows all the many objects ‘out there’ and ‘never the twain shall meet’ without this one being informed about the way that leads to the realization of the Unity. What allows this structure or template (what the Christian Bible calls ‘a glass darkly’) to be dissolved or made transparent? Words reported from Rumi say: “Dissolver of sugar dissolve it now (which can also mean ‘in God good time’). The knowing substance identifies with its knowing and it is this identification with conditioning that needs to be dissolved. If we read Almaas’s books we may find his main theme, like his book, The Unfolding Now, is about this dissolving of no longer needed identification with any contents of consciousness. The old Sufi expression is “Don’t confuse the container with the contents” however most of us need a school with a real teacher to realize what such sayings are pointing to. Love wishing to know the Reality as it is (aka Truth of Reality) keeps us living in the question and taking what within the unfolding answers strikes us that we can work with. “As we work so we are worked on”. What you can do for yourself see that you do it with a wisher of a ‘thank you’. What is done for you allow it and say ‘thank you’. The soul as a knowing substance via embodiment is allowed the miracle of seeing the many via a conditioning process that makes the path of return possible. We can say the knowing substance produces the body and the conditioned aspect of mind and, as it were, withdraws behind or is covered over by these apparent veils. (It is identification that makes this possible so what is identification and where does it come from?) Incarnation or embodiment for the knowing substance is surely a hazardous undertaking because the infant’s needs may be insufficiently met for the flowering of the Unity. However from the point of view of God or the Infinite can we say that without hazard there can be no love on earth as it is in the unconditioned or unmanifest realm? What does the saying as if from God “I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known…….” mean?

    1. Hi Mike

      I think your question is rhetorical given the rest of your comment, but being unsure, here is my answer.

      The infinite possibilities and potentiality of the Absolute is known via its revelation (manifestation). Pure being coemergent with Knowing (consciousness) via the medium of experience, the soul, creates the necessary phenomena for reality to know its multiplicity.

      Pure being knows it’s existence because it is its existence, but it can’t know an artichoke, an emotion, or a spiritual state except through an organ of perception – the individual consciousness or soul.

      Your statement – The knowing substance identifies with its knowing and it is this identification with conditioning that needs to be dissolved. – speaks to this.

      As for “loved to be known” – apprehending reality is knowing truth and truth is love, the primary affect. So, knowing is loving.

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