The Soul, Spirit and Spirit Body
Once I grasped that dying and death are a process, I wanted to consider the steps involved.
Before proceeding, I need to define what is generally understood by the terms ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ that I have begun to use freely.
Spirit = the eternal essence of who we are that gives life to the body. It is the God-conscious part of our being.
Soul = the self-conscious part of our being – including our intellect, self-awareness, emotions, memories, personality, likes and dislikes, reasoning ability, appreciation or criticism of things, sociability, attitudes… i.e. the aspects that make us conscious individuals.
The early church appears to have believed these divisions in essence. For example, from about AD 177 Irenaeus 4, the bishop of Lyons in Gaul, preached that the soul exists after it is separated from the body at death – and that man is comprised of body, soul and spirit.
Early on in the NDE, the consciousness that drifts away from the body finds it is within a new ‘spirit body’, a process that thousands have now described. This spirit body has new abilities, so it is more than simply a consciousness that experiences the afterlife.
So I will add to my usage of the terms ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ that of ‘spirit body’. In most NDE descriptions, ‘spirit’ is an inclusive word understood to include all three components. Taken together, these comprise the ‘real’ person following separation from the body.
Some new abilities discovered in the spirit body include sharper perceptions – for example blind Vicki Umipeg 5 could see in Paradise, but returned to being unsighted when back in her physical body. This one account reflects a common theme that runs through NDEs, that Earth lacks the perfection and beauty experienced in Paradise. Dean Braxton 6 and others describe Paradise as where ‘everything is right’ – a strange description, but one that denotes a region of perfection where God is in total control, which is not the case on Earth where other personalities and forces are involved, along with our own free choices. But I am getting ahead of myself. First I need to probe what actually happens to people when dying.
A word of caution before we continue: God is involved in NDEs, and God does not necessarily operate according to the rules of human logic. Logic, in fact, is given to us to enable us to get through the day and plan ahead, because it makes the world predictable, and therefore science depends on it – but in an NDE one enters new venues where new rules apply. God has the ability to do whatever he chooses however he chooses, far beyond the constraints of human logic, which makes NDEs themselves unpredictable. In the Bible we learn: ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD’ (ISAIAH 55:8-9), AND, ‘With man, this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God’ (Mark 10:27). Overall, this makes NDEs a bit frightening and very exciting, rather like the first time we went on a roller coaster or other scary ride over which we had no control.
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