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June 6, 2004

Time for a serious post…


The classification of the human being into three spheres, namely the body, the mind, and the spirit, is useful insofar as to allow for us to allocate particular functions and uses of each in the schema of the human beings. This being said, this classification can further be extended such that we understand that these three spheres are intimately related to one another. In other words, what one does to one’s body will certainly affect one’s mind and soul; the corollaries to this scenario are certainly true as well. Thus, it is more useful to think of these 3 spheres a harmonious community, with both excesses and deficiencies in one affecting the well-being of its fellow comrades.


 


The importance of this is highlighted by the disease state of the human being. When one is afflicted with a physical illness, one will find disharmony in one’s thinking and spiritual well-being as well.  It is a well-known fact, for example, that irritability is often a byproduct of many viral and bacterial infections. The deleterious effects on mental and spiritual health due to imbalances in one’s physical state are well-documented and accepted by most people, as well as the modern medical profession.


 


This notion would change with the arrival of Cartesian duality, wherein Descartes’ philosophy essentially divorced the body and spirit forever.  The ancients, however, knew that the corollaries to this phenomenon were also true: an imbalance in one’s mental and spiritual faculties could also lead to deficiencies in one’s physical well-being. Tragically, this has not been as well-accepted as the aforementioned example. In other words, a hubris of the modern condition is to deny the effects of imbalances on the physical body due to conflicts within the mental and spiritual realms of the human being. The ancients, therefore, treated all three of these realms as equally important to maintaining homeostasis in the human being.


 


The problem today is that our psychological and mental states are out of balance since they have been removed from that which nourishes them.  Interestingly enough, the nature of the nourishment for each of these spheres is similar to the sphere itself. In other words, the body is nourished by food; a physical sustenance for a physical being. The mind is nourished by knowledge, particularly that which leads to a greater appreciation and comprehension of the Divine Reality. Most importantly, the spirit, being an immaterial entity, can only be nourished by that which is immaterial, and that is the Divine Reality itself. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the Qur’ân eloquently speaks of this when it says, “Those who have faith find comfort for their hearts in the Remembrance of God; Is it not in the Remembrance of God that the hearts find comfort?


 


What lessons does this discourse leave us with?


 



  1. Eat healthy, nutritious, pure, and lawful food such that the body is nourished properly and can thus be in a position to soundly complete the outward acts of worship.

  2. The mind needs to be nourished with information and knowledge, particularly that knowledge that leads to a greater understanding and contemplation of God. Reflection is part of this mental nourishment, as it is said, “An hour of contemplation is better than a year of worship.”

  3. The soul needs to be nourished with the Divine Reality itself, through the remembrance of God. It also must be noted that while the physical body has a limit on its capacity of food intake, the soul not only has no limit on its intake capacity, but also is a voracious and famished guest at the Table of God, eagerly awaiting for the banquet to begin.

 


Only when these three entities are nourished properly and brought back into a state of balance and soundness can we truly start to see levels of holistic homeostasis in our selves.


 

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2 Comments
  1. I guess mind and body dualism was one of Rene Descartes’ lesser ideas. But I don’t think it would be accurate to say the body and spirit have been divorced “forever.” It’s not a divorce. It’s like a trial separation where they’re allowed to see other people. And you still got to give props to Descartes for inventing the x-y coordinate system.

  2. hehe, i like that term ‘trial separation’… it implies they can get back together without having to marry other partners first.
    oh yeah, i wasnt meaning to bash on Descartes completely… old boy had a lot of good ideas and certainly his work has been influential in world history. i was just commenting on my perceived flaw in his “dualism theory” and what kind of global problem it has created.

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