What Is The Soul… (continued from the last nine weeks) Q: Dr. Guterson, you talk a lot about the soul? Maybe you can help me understand what a soul is? A: Our soul, which is an actual piece of Divinity, is sent to earth into our body. As a result, we have both a body, with all of its material and physical needs and cravings - as well as a soul, which yearns for just the opposite, for transcendence. In a healthy person, body and soul work in harmony. It’s a delicious dichotomy. To make this dichotomy work, according to Chassidic philosophy, we first need to understand that the structure of the soul consists of three intellectual powers: (1) the initial flashpoint that inspires our mind to focus on a G-dly concept; we call this wisdom. (2) the process which develops the depth and breadth of that concept; we call this understanding. (3) the practical application of that concept, thus effecting change; we call this knowledge. These intellectual powers then become the driving force for our soul’s emotional powers (more on these next week). In my psychiatric work, I have seen, sadly, too many people who are slaves to their physical desires. Addictions, sexual infatuations, and anger can take over a person. There are also those individuals who simply want to escape the world and opt for constant distractions and hedonism, or the opposite, asceticism. But ultimately, none of these are healthy life styles. The pleasure they may bring is only temporary. An inner void remains; it is our soul crying to be recognized. When we are in touch with our soul’s intellectual and emotional powers, then we are not controlled by these physical desires. To live this way takes work but it’s well worth it. Body and soul are partners in a battlefield. They need each other. Without the body’s feet, hands, mouth, and all that is physical, the soul cannot carry out acts of goodness in our world. And without the soul, the body would succumb to its base cravings. We are here to live, to live actively in this wonderful world and take all that is physical and infuse it with spirituality. That is our mission. To be continued….
top of page
bottom of page