This is of course very basic, but a topic that has come up for me more strongly over the past few weeks.
Among the many ways of slicing the continuum of being is body, mind, soul and spirit.
Body, mind, soul, spirit
The body is our physical body – a fluid and temporary pattern of matter and energies. And this body shows up at our individual level, as our human self, and it also shows up as the whole of this universe – as the body of the divine mind or Big Mind. (F1 in KW’s framework).
The mind is the psyche, the emotions and thoughts at our human level. As with our physical body, these are universal patterns with a unique flavor in each of our case, and in time as well – always showing up in new and fresh ways. (F2-F6)
The soul is that part of us that goes on between physical incarnations. It is that which evolves, matures, develops over longer time spans. When brought into awareness, it gives a deep sense of richness, fullness, guidance, meaning, intimacy – in short, soulfulness. It is the middle ground between our human self and Big Mind. (F7-F8)
The spirit is the ground of it all, and also that which forms itself into all these other phenomena. It is the divine mind, Big Mind, Buddha Mind, Brahman, Dao and so on. It is completely impersonal, allowing all the manifestations to occur within and as itself. (F9, nondual)
Leaving out the soul or not
In Zen and the standard Big Mind process, the soul level is mostly left out and there is an emphasis on our human self and Big Mind. There are good reasons for this, mainly to avoid distractions from realizing Big Mind (selflessness) and living from this realization.
At the same time, it leaves out the deeply nurturing sense of soulfulness which comes from bringing the soul into awareness. When I ask to talk with the soul in the Big Mind process, there is a presence there which is quite different from any of the other voices – including that of Big Heart.
When I lived in Norway, all levels were quite strongly present – including the soul and Big Mind, and there was a tremendous richness of it all. In Utah, living at the Zen center there, the soul aspect got de-emphasized and gradually left my attention and awareness. And now, it seems time to bring it back in. Apart from the fullness it offers, it also gives a sense of responsibility for the evolution of this soul – for allowing it to mature through bringing it into awareness. And through that, participating more fully in the evolution of the form aspect of the divine mind, of Big Mind.
Evolution of soul and selflessness
In some ways, it is easier when only our human self and Big Mind/Heart are into the picture. It does simplify it. It brings attention to the ground awakening, to realizing selflessness and living from that. When the soul is into the picture, it is both fuller and a little more complex.
There is a dual emphasis on the evolution and maturing of this soul, as well as realizing that the soul too is part of the world of phenomena – that too is the temporary manifestations of the divine mind, of Big Mind. That too is ultimately selfless.