1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

What is the difference between SPIRIT and SOUL? December 4, 2008

 image by axinia

There seem to be a confusion about the terms “Spirit” and “Soul” and I am happy to share with you my observations.

Wikipedia says:

The English word “spirit” comes from the Latin “spiritus” (breath). The term is commonly used to refer to a supernatural being which is transcendent and therefore metaphysical in nature. For many people, however, spirit, like soul, is a natural part of a being, and is identified with mind, or consciousness, or the brain.

In many religions and parts of philosophy, the soul is the immaterial part of a person. It is usually thought to consist of ones thoughts and personality, and can be synonymous with the spirit, mind or self. In theology, the soul is often believed to live on after the person’s death, and some religions posit that God creates souls. In some cultures, non-human living things, and sometimes inanimate objects are said to have souls, a belief known as animism.

The terms soul and spirit are often used interchangeably, although the former may be viewed as a more worldly and less transcendent aspect of a person than the latter.

As a linguist, I believe that there are no two words with the same connotation – if there are several different words for a seemingly same thing, it is still not the same thing. And it is for sure not the case with such an essential phenomenon like spirit or soul.

Let me offer you my experience based differentiation:

THE SOUL is the essence of all what makes us human and unique – our emotions, desires, experiences, thoughts, worries and joys…

THE SPIRIT is the essence of our divine nature – it is something almost impossible to precept, but once percepted, it gives a vast realisation of what we actually are, that we are one with the whole. The spirit makes  the ego and the soul disappear, and it is truly the ultimate. The Spirit is same in every being (human or animal or else), because it’s the reflection of the same divine light.

Any objections? 🙂

 LOVE, axinia


28 Responses to “What is the difference between SPIRIT and SOUL?”

  1. Sahaja Says:

    i have just commented on the image on ur fotoblog 🙂 I am smiling off 🙂

    Hmm I dont know abt all the theological /linguistical explanations but somehow I believe that soul and spirit are the Atma and Paramatma within a person!! Thats exactly what you said 🙂

    Atma – Soul that makes us Human
    Paramatma – Divine part of us 🙂

  2. axinia Says:

    Sahaja, you almost hit the nail 🙂
    If we take the great Indian philosophy, then it goes like that:

    Djiva – the soul
    Atma – the spirit
    Paramatma – the God (Supreme being)

  3. Sahaja Says:

    Ohh…..I did not hear abt Djiva …I heard abt Dwija which is totally different I guess….
    That was indeed a great piece of information 🙂
    Love U 😀

  4. guqin Says:

    Axinia, you said what I anticipated, in a more descriptive way. My vision is that the soul is a partial spirit in the way that that a fact is a partial truth, but that sometimes makes a fact non-truthful. And certainly, when the truth is realized all facts disappear. You see that the main difference between us is that I don’t seperate soul and spirit into two hierachies, which is also a Daoism principle. Indian tradition is more like a vertical spituality (higher and lower), Daoism is more like a horizontal one (whole and partial). Which is in essence the major difference between Hindi and Chinese spirituality.

  5. guqin Says:

    And when Dao is realized, all disappear, including God…
    I think it is for this reason, only Buddhism was accepted as a foreign religion in China since it was consistent with Chinese vision while Christainity, Islam and later western science have been very limittedly successful in China.

    I am a bit puzzled by the relation between Hindi spirituality and Buddhist spirituality. I wonder if anyone can provide me some insights. As it seems to me, Buddihsm is larger than Hinduism in the way that Daoism is larger than Buddhism (but Daoism seems weaker and less intellectual tham Buddhism, probably because of its “horizontal” nature (more “even out”), and the phenonmenon that Chinese people are not intellectual in general).

  6. axinia Says:

    giqin, I must admit, I LOVE your comments! You always give sucha special, valuable insight, always a different perspective – many thanks!

    I am sure some readers will give you good answers, and I will try by best too.

  7. Sahaja Says:

    guqin, i did not hear abt Daoism but there are certainly similarities between Hinduism and Buddhisim……The other day, I was discussing this with my collegue and we both felt that the book called Siddhartha would have many answers if your questions are related to hinduism and buddhism…
    [u can download it from gutenburg and its author is a german 🙂 Herman Hesse!}
    as per my opinion….religion is a faith and so it evolves…I feel Buddhism is a evoluted form of Hinduism! 🙂

  8. axinia Says:

    @Sahaja, thanks for remembering Siddharty by Herman Hesse – it is one of my favourite books!!

    As for Djeeva/Djiva – apparently is means soul in Sanskrit.

    And Dwidja – is the “twice born”, in other words the self-realised soul.

  9. volodimir108 Says:

    Wasn’t Buddha born and raised in HInduism?
    But I think he got fed up with the ritualism of people practicing it.

    Buddhism was originally free from ritualism (later it changed), but at the core of it we find same concepts as of Hinduism -like karma, Samsara, Nirvana.

  10. guqin Says:

    Thanks, Sahaja, Axinia and Volodimir.

  11. Sahaja Says:

    @ Volodomir – As per my understanding, he was neither fed of Hinduism nor with the people practising it. The history goes like this……
    He was a prince and if u can say born with a silver spoon. He never knew of life out of a Palace till he became King ….he got married, ruled his kingdom quite ablely until one day when he saw the suffering of a poor man and realised the mistake he was doing – the craving and attachment for material things and living for them – He realised then, there should be something more to life, some other purpose for our existance and uniqueness – then He went to the forests leaving his empire and family in search of the answer….Meditated under a Bodhi tree and got self realiasation and then from Gautama Siddhartha he was called Bhuddha [since he got self realisation under a Bodhi tree]……

    So its more like a reaction to suffering in the world in general……it was not against any faith…..it may be against superstitions! And the only reason why you may find similarities between Hinduism and Buddhism was that Prince Siddhartha knew this faith for his early life…If he was in Jerusalem it might be related to Christianity ..Thats my feeling….thats why i said its similar to evolution!!

  12. Sahaja Says:

    @ Axinia – I should have guessed that you knew about the book….but I did feel, if u wud have read it it would be ur favorite 🙂 …Ya Dwija is twice born….on a personal note, I am called a brahmin which you can say is a caste in Hinduism…..Its also called as Dwija/Vipra……..meaning the same…
    In olden days when such systems were made in society, they were based on work/profession grps of people were good at [like in other faiths i think]……and it was the scholars/yogis/Gurus who were called Dwija/Brahmin…..
    Ofcourse now , as everything worns over time….the purpose changed totally 😦

  13. axinia Says:

    I must honestly say I was quite schocked by the ritualism of Hidnusim myself – I mean when I saw temples and people going there like to the Christian church…I mean it is basically the same, but I was expecting something very special from HInduism, because it is such a fullfilling and wise religion…

    I am glad, that in Sahaja Yoga we not only accept ALL religions, but we take the essense, the best of each of them and acutally LIVE it.

  14. Though spirituality is fascinating, Axinia, I tend to agree with the definition you quoted. It is just a construction of the mind – in other words, the soul and the spirit are mere figments of the mind’s imagination. 🙂

    If you were shocked by the mere ritualism of Hinduism, Axinia, then unfortunately you have seen very little. I would recommend visiting a backward village in the feudal parts of India to find out the true nature the filthy caste system that is an inseparable part of Hinduism and its associated practices that would make anyone recoil with horror and disgust. The worst part is that Hinduism has resisted all attempts to reform it – whether by the teachings of the Buddha or the Jain Tirthankaras or the Sikh Gurus or the innumerable reformers within Hinduism through the ages. And instead of learning from these faiths and getting rid of its backward practices, unfortunately, the opposite has been the case so far. The nauseating disease called the caste system has infected Sikhism and Buddhism and even Christianity and Islam.

    Reformers have attempted to rid Hinduism of its barbaric, mediæval, inhuman practices but in vain. Apart from the caste system, the treatment of women is as pathetic as it is in Islam. Thanks to the socially backward, primitive, incorrigible aspects of this religion, large parts of India exist in conditions similar to the dark ages of mediæval Christian Europe. And what’s worse, there are vile extremist forces who want to Talibanise Hinduism completely and turn India into a Hindu Afghanistan. The backward mullahs who have a vice-like grip on India’s poor Muslims want to do the same with the people of their religion. Cursed with such primitive forces, it’s going to take ages for India to reach modernity.

  15. Rohit Swain Says:

    Thank you …

  16. guqin Says:

    “Djiva – the soul
    Atma – the spirit
    Paramatma – the God (Supreme being)”

    If spirit is what makes human divine, isn’t it the same as God? But as suggested above, God seems higher than spirit. Also I have problem in understanding the term “Supreme being”: Isn’t supreme being still just another being? (“Color that is more colorful than other colors” is still just another color, or is it?).

    Basically, I don’t understand the difference between God and divinity.

  17. axinia Says:

    guqin, dear THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE..
    it is just easier for humans to understand it this way.

    if you want to know what i really belive in:

    WE ARE ONE; THERE IS A COMPLETE ONENESS, and everyting has a divine origin… It is only…there is a certain evolutionary game going on and therefor people like to differenciate.

  18. guqin Says:

    I see…

  19. […] by axinia Following the recent discussion on this blog in the difference between spirit and soul, I want to quote a great enlightened soul, Indian poet Kabir (1398-1448) that described this […]

  20. abstractchatter Says:

    def enjoy reading ur posts!

  21. axinia Says:

    thank you, abstractchatter !

  22. kush Says:

    Body(Gross),Chakras(Subtle) ,Soul(Jivatma) is subtler and comprises of: Fire,Ether,Air, Spirit(Atma) and Kundalini.
    Soul gives conscience and guides us and brings us to Sahaja Yoga.It keeps us on the right path and looks after everything even before realisation.It makes us to think about the Truth and to seek the Truth-to know that there is something wrong in society.Soul is the essence of all elements. Soul is represented in every cell.After death experiences are due to attention going out with the soul.Realised souls become one with Divine after death or can choose to be born again.
    At death,earth and water element are left behind.
    Spirit(Atma) is the subtlest and can move out of the soul.It is the source of life and identity and located in the Heart.It is eternal and does not die.It is an aspect of God in us.Spirit is a deep ocean of blissful consciousness,beyond time,space and death within us-A Divine World.
    Permanent joy comes from the Spirit(Atma)

  23. axinia Says:

    kush, what a beautiful explanation, thank you!

  24. […] But the Matter is not all we consist of. Another powerful part of us is the Spirit (I don’t mean the soul here though) […]

  25. Robert Says:

    Hello. I think that Axinia explained very well what is the difference.
    Still, the spirit remains unique and aware of its uniqueness. That is what makes it transcendental.
    Soul is similar to computer RAM, it has some current memory and identity. It is restricted to certain time frame.
    Spirit is not restricted. Between reincarnations there are moments when soul is transformed into spirit and then again back into soul. Soul is like astronaut spacesuit. Allows the spirit to fit into physical reality.
    Then the soul is able to control the environment through mind and nervous system, down to muscle mechanics.
    Spirit can communicate with God directly.

  26. Nibbana Says:

    I’ve read from enlightened being’s, Thich Nhat Hanh’s, writing that we are all from the same source, it’s like taking a cup of water out from a pan of water, it is still the same water and from some buddishm writings that we are like an extension of light from a candle. We are the reflection of light, this is the first time I saw here. Dao or Tao seems to emphasize reunite back to your source and buddhism mentions about nirvana or nibbana but more important as coming back as boddhisattva because of compassion and love. Just learned a little bit about sahaja yoga meditation which emphasizes that we are pure spirits and the meditation empasizes connecting to the source through the 7th chakra. Some other site mention that there is only one spirit, if that is the case, I would think we are the extension of the spirit. I do know there is only one Self or All-that-is or God or Buddha and each one of us has this Buddha nature and we can realize to become a buddha as we see through the illusion/delusion. My godself/buddha-self reminds me about where I am from. I would accept the fact that we are part of God/Buddha and can become a a buddha ourselves but this is not really the end and that’s why there is the big bang theory of how …

  27. Nibbana Says:

    God created this world and why buddha will come back as boddhisattva. I also heard about the higher self which I think is our soul, the middle self is when we are beyond 4th dimesnion into astral being and the lower self which I realted to our mind/ego. As we are all from God/Buddha, we all have our own souls and the buddha nature. In the end there is only one Self/All-that-is/ God/ Buddha/ Tao/whatever your religion names it. To your buddhahood:

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