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Previous: 25.4 Distinct minds and bodies Up: 25. Mind-body Connections Next: 25.6 The human (functional) form

25.5 Spiritual-natural relations

All of the above descriptions of the connections between the mental and physical can be applied analogously to the connections between the spiritual and the mental. There will be widespread and thorough-going correspondences between functions of internal spiritual processes and the functions of internal mental processes. All of the processes (a)-(d) may be applied again to these connections in ways that are analogous to the above explanations.25.9

Using both these sets of correspondences, we can generate corresponding relations between spiritual and natural events. The correspondences of natural with spiritual things are very useful to give definite and permanent form to our ideas of Love (which otherwise tend to be vague and nebulous). We have, for example, the idea that “the Divine Love operates by means of Wisdom, to produce outgoing Spirit and actions". This corresponds to the pattern in the physical world, where “physical dispositions (energies and propensities) operate by means of interactions in spatial relations to produce physical effects". Love is like a disposition or physical energy or vibration, but it is not identical to anything physical. We have many metaphors and analogies between the spiritual and the physical. To forget this is to think physically and naturally of spiritual realities and thus to make one or more of the ontological errors concerning spirituality that are listed in Section 23.2.

Several of these correspondences have been used in this and previous chapters as illustrations. They help visualize non-physical processes. They are also often used in religious scriptures, as a means for representing spiritual processes in everyday language. This makes them memorable even if spirituality itself is not yet recognized. I now present a list of candidates for such correspondences. I have listed first the physical processes and then the spiritual or mental processes to which they correspond:

  1. The sun is the source of physical light in the world, and God (as Wisdom itself) is the source of understanding for us. We see physical things best by reflections of the clear light of the sun, and we understand (have ‘insight’, or ‘see’) ideas best when we receive the clear light of rationality from God.
  2. The first living reception of light from the sun is by green leaves, where (with other inputs) it is used for plant growth. This corresponds to our first reception of the clear light of rationality from God since this has a similar function.
  3. Our everyday physical life is sustained (in part) by food that is swallowed and digested to give energy. This corresponds to our everyday spiritual life being sustained by reception of spiritual food which consists of new ideas and affections. Some food is from plants, which correspond to preliminary rational structures already built up.
  4. Digested food is distributed throughout our body through blood vessels by means of the heart. This corresponds to the way new ideas and affections in our spiritual body are conveyed to where they are useful by the way we receive, store and re-enact loves.
  5. Plants also produce oxygen, which via the atmosphere is received by us in our lungs and also conveyed through our blood vessels to where actions are produced in cells, especially in our internal and external muscles. This corresponds to the way rationality, after first reception, is conveyed to where it can inform the operation of loves.
  6. The brain is the overall controller of what happens in the body. This corresponds to the way spiritual loves and principles are the general source of mental activities in our mind.
  7. Our bodies are held together by an overlying skin. This corresponds to the way the physical degree acts as a ‘container’ and basis for our mental and spiritual life.
  8. Our bodies are held together by internal membranes. This corresponds to the way there are internal sub-...-sub-degrees throughout our spiritual and mental bodies that have the role of the ‘third sub-degree’ that correspond, as images of God, to Action within God.
  9. Animal bodies typically have bilateral (left-right) symmetry or near-symmetry. I speculate that this corresponds with the spiritual fact that every internal process requires the joint operation of love and wisdom, and that these must have been received in similar (but spatially distinct) manners before that joint operation.
I believe that all of these have some basis in reality, even if some at first seem far fetched. There are many more correspondences to be found and elucidated. I speculate that all of the physical world (from galaxies to solar systems to ecologies to physiology) will be found to correspond with internal spiritual functions and hence with images of God. This claim is based on the fact (within theism) that God is the original source of life of all these physical things, and hence that nothing can persistently exist that is not an image of God according to some correspondences of function. Since, in this case, all the parts of a mind will be similarly related to all the parts of the brain and/or body, there is much more to be investigated.


Previous: 25.4 Distinct minds and bodies Up: 25. Mind-body Connections Next: 25.6 The human (functional) form

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