What is a Sentient Soul?
The Parts of the Soul
While many traditions' teachings include interpretations of the gross and subtle energy systems of a human being, I like to keep things simple and direct. Therefore, I think of there being three primary realms in which we operate, and in which we can learn to sense ourselves more deeply:
The physical body: that which functions in the physical world. It is the densest part of our being, housing our consciouness through the nervous system.
While many traditions teach enlightment as requiring transcendence of the physical body, I believe the opposite to be true. It is only through awareness of and sensitivity to the body, that we can access our deeper wisdom.
- The emotional body: that which functions in the physical body through an amazingly complex system of neurochemicals, hormones, and neural networks located not just in the brain, but in a neural intelligence and sensory system that runs throughout the entire body. While it doesn't have the density of the physical body, it arises out of and is deeply influenced by, physical processes.
My view is that the concept of an emotional body is synonymous with a feeling body: I use the two terms interchangeably. The emotional body is that part of our Being that is made up of feelings, emotions, intuition and desire, and so is vital to our well-being. Emotions like joy, love, awe, gratitude and deep affection have the power to touch, inspire and motivate us. The more challenging and painful emotions such as grief and sadness can bring gifts of depth, patience and gratitude. Anger, properly understood, can be a powerful signpost to getting our needs met, to establishing healthy boundaries, and to recognising the need for self-individualisation; while fear can awaken us to the places in our lives where we feel vulnerable, and where we may need support, protection, or care.
Imagining a life without emotion is really unthinkable - there would be no music, art, desire, passion, friendship or love; we would not be touched by beauty, there would be no joie-de-vivre. In essence, the more we can learn to feel our emotions and feelings with wise attention, the more purposeful, joyful, and meaningful our lives can become.
The intellectual, mental or mind body understands, holds beliefs, has ideas and concepts, holds intention, and applies thoughtful reason to our lives. Thinking in it's most developed form arises out of a well balanced and nourished nervous system. The refusal of our mind to unconditionally accept our inner and outer realities can lead to limiting beliefs and judgements, emotional blockage and physical stress. Ideally, our thinking should be informed by the sensations, feelings and emotions that live in our whole psycho-physical Being, rather than the mind informing and controlling our body and emotions. Ideally, the use of our mind and thought should serve our highest intentions, guided by compassion for ourselves and others, and grounded in our bodily and feeling-based knowing.
Together these energies / bodies make up our whole Being, our Soul. They exist within one organism and are intricately entwined, linked, fused. One invariably affects the others, and what is manifest in one is likely to exist in the others. No one aspect is more important than the others - without one the others could not / would not exist.