Spirit and Body

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AmyJ
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Spirit and Body

Post by AmyJ » 28 Dec 2017, 05:53

I have been thinking about the Spirit/Body connection for a while now with puzzling results.

At church, we are taught that the Spirit and the Body are distinct entities, with 2 of the purposes of morality as 1) birth being a point in time where the Spirit and the Body are connected (the actual joining/timeline of the Spirit with the Body prior to birth is up for heated debate), and b) For the Spirit to gain mastery over the Body (or at least figure out how to work in tandem with the Body).

So how are the Spirit and the Body connected?
A) There actually isn't a Spirit entity. Everything attributed to the Spirit is actually hormones, genetics, epigenetics, environmental influences, etc and is the brain figuring things out/being influenced by.

B) There is a Spirit entity, but the connection is spirit-based. We can't see the connections between the Spirit and the brain because they are spiritual networks overlaid on physical matter. There may be physical "ports" where the Spirit plugs into the Body (in the brain), but the brain is very complex, and we don't know what those ports look like.

C) There is a Spirit entity, and the connection is brain-based. We are looking at the connections between the Spirit and the brain, but we don't know what we are looking at and have renamed them anyways as we study them. What has been labeled as "Spirit" previously is actually the remainder of things that we can't account for when looking at how the body works.

D) There actually isn't a Body entity. Everything we have learned about the body is actually Spirit re-labeled by us.

E) A mixture of all of the above. I think that to a certain extent, everyone has their own individual answer(s) [experience may change the option selected at any given time].

Here are my questions for you wonderful folk:
1. What is the common belief out in the world and/or church, in your opinion?
2. What is your personal choice (or mixture of choices) from above, and if it is not too personal, why?
3. What option(s) am I not listing above that would belong to that list?

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dande48
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Re: Spirit and Body

Post by dande48 » 28 Dec 2017, 08:33

Here are my thoughts:
TL;DR version: Our Judeo-Christian ancestors were probably wrong, but it doesn't matter anyways.

-We see many instances where a tramatic brain injury can drastically alter one's personality, even if their intelligence is seemingly unaffected. The most popular case, was Phineas Gage in 1848, when he had a railroad spike shot through his head. While the documents on the Phineas case are limited, there have been a number of studies since then, indicating a strong shift in personality traits after a tramatic brain injury, including a loss of moral compass, worsened temper, depression, etc. This article covered a recent study from Vanderbilt University showing a coorelation between certain types of brain injuries, and criminal activity.

-There are mind altering substances, ranging from anti-depressants, to alcohol, to narcotics, which strongly affect a person's state of mind. Many such substances have been used historically (and some even now) to produce a "spiritual" affect. Hence, certain hard alcohols are referred to as "spirits".

To answer your questions, I think the most common belief is B, as science has yet to indicate any physical evidence for the presence of a Spirit. When a religious belief has been been disuaded physically, it often gets reframed to "spiritually".

Personally, I think D could be very likely. If there is a God, and God sent us to earth to test us and teach us, the biggest problem I see in the traditional view, is that other human agents can really mess things up (injecting false doctrine, stealing, raping, hurting, breaking one another...). Maybe this is all part of the learning process, but I have a hard time believing that children living out their lives as sex slaves is really "in their best interest". Letting other people "mess with the test" seems like poor design on God's part. We also know that humans, in our limited capacity, have been able to simulate expansive and fantasic worlds of our own (think video games). It's not a stretch to believe God could virtually simulate an entire life, especially since he'd only need to simulate what a single person percieves at any given time. And God has been described as having all things and all times present before him. So if there is a God in heaven, and life is a personalized test and learning experience, and God being perfect really wants to give us a perfect learning experience, I think there's a 99.999% chance "life" is a simulation. Only one person is "real" (YOU), and the rest of all existance is just programming which reveals itself according to where you are paying attention. It makes a lot more sense than God going out and sticking billions of his children all in the same test, in a remote system, the the remote part of a remote galaxy, amongst millions of desolate planets. That seems like a lot of work for an unoptimized system. It would require a lot less effort and be a lot more optimized just to individually simulate everything.

But I personally side with the Buddhist view of the Body and Spirit. There is no separate Spirit entity, or rather the Spirit and the Body are the same thing. There is no adequate evidence of a conciousness beyond our body that survives death, and even if there was, it would be irrelevant. While such pondering can be "fun", basing your happiness and wellbeing on the presence of something that might or might not exist is not going to get you anywhere. It's like being stuck in the middle of a body of water, and grasping at anything in order to survive. Trying to grab water is going to get you drowned. Grabing another person is going to get them drowned too. Faith is learning to relax, trust yourself to the water, and float.
"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy. "
-Albert Campus

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

AmyJ
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Re: Spirit and Body

Post by AmyJ » 28 Dec 2017, 08:56

dande48 wrote:
28 Dec 2017, 08:33
But I personally side with the Buddhist view of the Body and Spirit. There is no separate Spirit entity, or rather the Spirit and the Body are the same thing. There is no adequate evidence of a conciousness beyond our body that survives death, and even if there was, it would be irrelevant. While such pondering can be "fun", basing your happiness and wellbeing on the presence of something that might or might not exist is not going to get you anywhere. It's like being stuck in the middle of a body of water, and grasping at anything in order to survive. Trying to grab water is going to get you drowned. Grabing another person is going to get them drowned too. Faith is learning to relax, trust yourself to the water, and float.
Thanks for your thoughts, I really appreciate them.

I am going through an experience right now where my step-grandmother is dying. I did not realize how much I valued this relationship and now it is in the process of changing. I am taking this experience to reflect on/ponder/refine what I believe in for the after life.

Since the TBM way is to base happiness/well-being on the existence of an afterlife (and that it matters), this has become an opportunity to examine where I stand on the different options available and to what degree. What I do know is that I no longer view death or the afterlife the way that I used to, or the way it is traditionally taught at church.

I think I believe in a pre-mortal existence. To me, that explains a few things - mostly why toddlers do what they do. I basically think that the first 2 years of human development are based on the Spirit learning to master/work in tandem with the Body. For that to be the case, there have to be 2 labels/nouns applied as "Spirit" and "Body". However, this does not preclude that the "Spirit" may be the brain and the "Body" be the rest of the body. The process seems to me to be very similar to learning how to drive - drive the body, drive a car, very similar concepts with a lot of crashes and near-misses.

For now, I need to believe in a post-mortal existence. The idea that when someone passes away it is over and final is not something I can fit into my narrative right now.

If I understand what you are saying, you are saying that focusing on how the Spirit/Body connection works (if it exists) and the unknown existence of an afterlife is not an effective choice to make in the here and now. Did I get the right messages?

I agree that focusing on this life and what I am doing to become a better person is very important instead of relying on unknown factors in the future.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Spirit and Body

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 Dec 2017, 13:54

I see the spirit and body as intertwined in mortality, not as separate entities. I just don't like the idea of separateness, since it generally leads to vilifying one or the other.

I have no clue, intellectually, if a spirit continues to exist distinctly and separately after death, but I want to believe my existence doesn't end with death - so that is what I choose to believe
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Heber13
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Re: Spirit and Body

Post by Heber13 » 28 Dec 2017, 14:00

I have toyed with different theories and seem to come back to what is most comfortable to me, my mormon teaching that there is a spirit body that existed before there was a physical body, and that spirit body will continue on even after my aging temporal body dies which is a certainty.

I do believe the brain has a lot to do with the physical body. Perhaps like the CPU of a computer. But like a CPU...just the existence of the CPU doesn't make it work. The "code" and (I'm out of my league on technical stuff to continue the comparison...others can help me know what makes CPUs work)...things that make the CPU work and then make the computer work to make it useful. If the wiring is off...even if the code is good...the computer doesn't work right. So...some CPUs get damaged and limit the effectiveness of the computer.

I think it all comes together to make what JS called the soul, which is similar to what I read buddhists think of the body and spirit entity.

But there are many connections and parts that make it work, and potential in this mortal life for some parts or all parts to have varying degrees of defects and incompleteness.

Therefore, we are only judged based on what we can do about what we have, regardless of the various potential for limitations now.

I think this is what Joseph Smith was teaching about body and spirit and the 2 different "bodies"...they work together but are not the same.

It is very likely it looks very different than how we are taught in church...god may have a body or may be a spirit or something else...but...since I can't prove anything different...I return to my mormon teaching of the 2 entities and feel comfortable believing in that version of the story...since it makes sense and helps me talk to others about it. But I'm agnostic in many ways...I don't think we really can ever know for sure...until it is too late...and I'm not waiting for that...so i go with my mormon faith.
so that is what I choose to believe
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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dande48
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Re: Spirit and Body

Post by dande48 » 29 Dec 2017, 07:44

AmyJ wrote:
28 Dec 2017, 08:56
I am going through an experience right now where my step-grandmother is dying. I did not realize how much I valued this relationship and now it is in the process of changing. I am taking this experience to reflect on/ponder/refine what I believe in for the after life.

...

For now, I need to believe in a post-mortal existence. The idea that when someone passes away it is over and final is not something I can fit into my narrative right now.

If I understand what you are saying, you are saying that focusing on how the Spirit/Body connection works (if it exists) and the unknown existence of an afterlife is not an effective choice to make in the here and now. Did I get the right messages?
Hi Amy,

So sorry to hear about your step grandmother. That is a very difficult thing to go though. I hope you know we are here for you. As with Ray and Heber, if a belief help you find peace, it's worth believing in.

One of the Sutra's in Buddhism (the Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta) covered a story where one of Buddha's disciples came to him very upset that the Buddha did not reveal to him life's greatest mysteries. Specifically, "Are the soul and the body the same thing or different?" and "Does a part of us continue to exist after death?". Buddha gave the parable of the Poisoned Arrow. To sum up, it goes like this:

A man was shot by a poison arrow. His friends and family brought him to a surgeon. But before the man allowed the surgeon to operate, he demanded, "Tell me who it was who shot me? Was he rich or poor? Was it a long bow or a crossbow?..."
The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.
...
No matter the answers to these questions, there is birth, aging and death, there is sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, and distress. My teaching is about ending them.
...
And the reason I did not say anything about these things is that it would not help. Knowing about these things would not free you. And this is why I did not say anything about this. And what is it that I teach? I teach about suffering, about the causeof suffering, about the cessation of suffering, and about the paththat leads to this cessation of suffering. And the reason I teach about this is that these teachings are fundamental to achieve ourgoal and realize our practice. These teachings and practice will fre eyou.
The actual buddhist doctrine on these things is "irrelevant". For myself, even when faced with the death of a loved one, I've found that shelfing these beliefs as ultimately unknown, has allowed me to focus on what's most important. It's brought me a measure of peace and serenity, no matter what happens after this life. Come what may.
"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy. "
-Albert Campus

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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