• Q and A

    Questions and Answers from the Risale-i Nur Collection
  • 1

What Kind of Relation is there Between the Spirit and Body?


The spirit establishes its connection with the material world through the body

The spirit is a simple entity that issues from the world of Divine Commands. In order to be manifested and function in this world, it must use material means. As the body cannot get in touch with the world of symbols or immaterial forms, the spirit cannot establish contact with this world if there is no human heart, brain, or other bodily organs and limbs to mediate. The spirit functions through the body’s nerves, cells, and other elements. Therefore, if one or more bodily systems or organs goes awry, the spirit’s relation with that system or organ is disconnected and no longer commanded by it. If the failure or “illness” causing this disconnection severs the spirit’s relation with the entire body, what we call death occurs.

Although some coarse, meaningless hand or finger movements can be produced by stimulating certain areas of the brain, such movements are like confused, meaningless sounds produced by pressing piano keys at random. They are automatic bodily responses to stimulation, and are produced by the body’s automatic functioning. Therefore, to produce meaningful movements, the body needs the spirit, which is conscious and has free will.

Although such psychoanalysists as Freud offered various explanations for dreams, they cannot be said to consist of the subconscious mind’s jumbled activities. Almost everyone has had dreams that have come true. Many scientific or technological discoveries have been made because of true dreams. So, as will be discussed later, dreams point to the existence of something within us that can see in a different way while we are sleeping.

Although the spirit sees with our eyes, smells with our nose, hears with our ears and so on, there are many examples of people who somehow manage to see with their fingers or the tips of their noses, and smell with their heels.


The spirit determines the features of one’s face

The spirit manifests itself mostly on a person’s face. Truly, our face is a window opened on our inner world. Through all its features, our face discloses our character.

Psychologists assert that almost all of our movements, even coughing, reveal our character. However, the face’s clear ability to reveal one’s character, abilities, and personality caused the birth of physiognomy, the art of judging character from facial features. The spirit determines these features.

Our body’s cells are renewed continuously. Every day, millions of cells die and are replaced by new ones. Biologists say that the all bodily cells are renewed every 6 months. Despite this continuous renewal, the face’s main features remain unchanged. We recognize individuals through their unchanging facial features and fingerprints. Despite the constant renewal of the fingers’ cells or because of any injury or bruise to them, their prints to do change. It is again each individual’s unique spirit that makes these distinguishing features stabile.


The real identity of a person consists in his or her spirit

If we are only a physical entity of blood and bones, flesh and tissues, and attribute all our movements to biochemical processes in the brain, why should we obey any laws? We have established that our physical body is renewed every 6 months. If we were tried in a court for a murder we committed a year ago, would not the following conversation be entirely logical, given the above understanding?

– Judge: When did you commit the crime?

– Defendant: One year ago.

The judge announces the verdict: Since the murder was committed a year ago and the defendant’s cells, including those of his trigger finger, have been completely replaced with new ones, and since it is therefore impossible to punish the actual murderer, the jury has voted for acquittal.

How can anyone be no more than a physical entity; their movements, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and decisions the results of the brain’s biochemical processes? Such assertions are untenable. The main part of our being is our spirit, which is alive and conscious. This is the part of our body that feels, thinks, believes, wills, decides, and commands the body. The spirit uses the body to enact its decisions.


The Spirit Is the Basis of Human Life

God acts in this world through causes. However, there are many other worlds or realms: the world of ideas, symbols or immaterial forms, the inner dimensions of things, and spirits, where God acts directly and that have nothing to do with matter and causes. The spirit is breathed into the embryo directly, making it a direct manifestation of the Divine Name the All-Living, and therefore the basis of human life. Like “natural” laws, which issue from the same realm as the spirit, the spirit is invisible and known through its manifestations.

In this world, matter is refined in favor of life. A lifeless body, regardless of size, such as a mountain, is lonely, passive, and static. But life enables a bee to interact with almost the entire world so that it can say: “This world is my garden, and flowers are my business partners.” The smaller a living body is, the more active, astonishing, and powerful life is. Compare a bee, a fly, or even a micro-organism with an elephant. The more refined matter is, the more active and powerful a body. For example, wood produces flame and carbon when it burns, and water vaporizes when heated. We come across electrical energy in the atomic and subatomic worlds. We cannot see it, but we are aware of its presence and power though its manifestations. This means that existence is not limited only to this world; rather, this world is only the apparent, mutable, and unstable dimension of existence. Behind it lies the pure, invisible dimension that uses matter to be seen and known. As the spirit belongs to that dimension, it is therefore pure and invisible.


The spirit has a cover of itself

The body is not a cover for the spirit, for the spirit has its own cover. When it leaves the body at death, it retains this cover. This cover is like a body’s “negative,” and is called by many names: the envelope of light, the person’s ethereal figure, energetic form, second body, astral body, double (of that person), and phantom.


This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.