The Spiritual Nature of Man
by Rod Martin, Jr.
The physical aspect of Man seems obvious. Homo sapiens is very much a physical being. This being is born of a mother, lives and dies. It has a large variety of sizes, shapes and shades of color. The species seems to be described in Genesis 2:7 when God creates Man from the dust of the ground. But Genesis 1:2627 also describes God creating Man, but in His own image. And certainly that "image" is not dust.
Every major religion talks of a non-physical aspect of Man. It seems they are not talking about the mind or the ego, but something superior to these. The mind of an individual human seems temporary and very much connected to the brain and the body. The ego seems similarly the subject of attachments. The human soul or spirit, however, has been portrayed as immortal. Descriptions vary greatly from religion to religion. So, what is true?
Ye are gods
In the Judeo-Christian Bible, God first creates Man in His own image. Much as the offspring of Adam look human with two arms, two legs, a head and torso so we should expect the children of God, created in His image, to look like God. But what does God look like? Would we be accurate in saying that He is a non-physical, spiritual and immortal source of creation? If so, then we are, by the description in Genesis 1:26, non-physical, spiritual and immortal sources of creation. Yet, this is a touchy subject. This description looks like blasphemy in some circles.
Psalm 82:6 states, "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." Some Christians with whom I've chatted say that this passage is merely talking about the power of the judges of Israel over life and death. They compare such "power" to the power of God. But is that what is meant, here? Notice the last phrase, "you are children of the most high." Are we not all "children of the most high?"
In John 10:34, Jesus responds to his enemies who wish to stone him after he claims to be the Son of God, "Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" Here he is referring back to the Psalms. But if he was merely talking of the power of mortal judges, why would he use that to defend himself? If Jesus were indeed a spiritual son of God, then his defense with Psalm 82:6 implies that we are all spiritual children of God. In other words, how can the angry mob legitimately complain about Jesus claiming to be "one" with God, if they are also "gods." By this logic, not only can the judges of old claim to be "gods," but also the angry Jews confronting Jesus, as well as you and me.
A distinction must be made here. The physical body cannot claim to be a god, because the body is not immortal and not a source of creation (in the sense of creating something from nothing). The physical body obeys the laws of physical reality chemical processes, inertia, mass, gravity, vulnerability and others. And the ego cannot claim to be a god. Ego is similarly vulnerable and bound to the action-reaction laws of physical reality. Only the spiritual "half" of Man can claim to be a god and child of the most high.
The Bible contains stories of several miracles. To the skeptic, these stories are irrelevant. In other words, they offer no proof. While that may be accurate from a purely scientific standpoint, the skeptic must agree that such lack of scientific proof does not disprove a spiritual aspect of Man. The biblical claims of miracles must be taken as unproved possibilities. Such unresolved issues are not easy for some skeptics to live with. Some skeptics would rather demean the entire concept as "impossible" or as "superstition." Yet, under close examination, such judgment on the part of the skeptic is tantamount to superstition. Their belief that biblical miracles are superstitions is not based on facts, but on feelings. If those miracles actually happened, then one could properly claim the skeptics beliefs to be irrational (not believing in a real event). Naturally, we do not have video recordings of those events, so they are impossible to prove, yet they are equally hard to disprove.
Suppose for a moment that such miracles actually happened the magic of the Egyptian priests who turned their staffs into snakes, the magic of Moses and his God, the magic of Jesus with the fishes and loaves, and the magic of Peter walking on water (if only for a moment). Visions, prophecy, healing and more, dot the pages of the Bible with something more than can be accomplished by a mere body, brain or ego. If such miracles actually occurred, they imply Man's spiritual nature. Only an immortal spirit, created in the image of God, can create such magic.
Why don't we see more miracles? Why aren't they more common? By the same token, we can ask why do so many humans think of themselves as their bodies? Genesis 3 describes an incident rather prosaically an incident of disobedience and downfall. Does this third chapter of the Bible's first book describe a real event? If so, the details in Genesis demand that we not take the story literally. For instance, God tells Adam that he will surely die on the day he eats of the Forbidden Fruit, yet Adam lived to be 930 years of age, if we can believe Genesis 5. By consensus, it seems Adam died a spiritual death not a literal, physical death. And what does it mean if an immortal spirit dies?
Death has sometimes been called the "big sleep." When immortal spirit thinks it is nothing more than mortal flesh, we are only looking at a symptom of the spiritual version of this "big sleep." Miracles sometimes occur when the immortal stirs from their sleep.
What can cause the spirit to stir? Inspiration can do this. Also, an immediate and present danger can provoke the spirit to stir from their slumber. Examples of this include, temporary superhuman strength (as in a grandmother lifting a car off of a loved one), long-range telepathy (as is portrayed in the Charlotte Brontë novel, Jane Eyre), and control of objects or persons without direct, physical contact.
I have experienced several miracles in my life. Perhaps the most compelling one involved traffic on one of the busiest streets in the world Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. Late one afternoon in 1977, I found myself stuck in thick, rush hour traffic. The stop-and-go flow had become increasingly frustrating, especially after six separate near-accidents within the short span of two minutes. Six times, a different driver jammed their car in the too small space between my car and the one in front of mine. After the sixth such intrusion, my frustration evaporated. Suddenly, I had realized my own responsibility in the series of incidents. I no longer felt vulnerable to the whims of traffic. The cars around me could do whatever they wished. I was no longer in any hurry to get to my destination.
In that moment, I saw the mechanics of creation. I realized how easy it would be to achieve an entirely different situation there in traffic. I pictured in my mind "wide open spaces and smooth sailing all the way to my destination." Then, I dismissed the picture, effectively resting from my creation.
The next moment, the car directly in front of me moved into the already crowded lane to the right. The car in front of them moved to the left. Right and left, the cars in front of me, for as far as I could see, moved to the side, leaving empty the center lane for at least two miles, and a wall of snarling traffic on either side. In the four minutes it took me to traverse that distance, not once did another car turn into the lane ahead of me.
Miracle? Delusion? Perhaps neither. Such could merely prove to be a demonstration of our natural state as children of God. Witnesses? At least two thousand other drivers were there. Perhaps many of the cars had passengers who may have noticed the oddity. Perhaps several dozen pedestrians noticed the peculiarly open center lane. There were also tall office buildings along the Miracle Mile portion of Wilshire where this occurred. Perhaps some office workers noticed the incident. Would any of them remember after over thirty years? Perhaps.
The point here is that such a magical thing could only have been accomplished by methods outside the laws of physical reality. Only a spiritual child of God could have done such a thing.
Delusion or Out-of-Body?
Our culture has numerous examples of "out-of-body" stories. Most of these occur during physical trauma or during drug use, as in a surgical operation. Yet, are they really spirit looking down from above onto the trauma or operation? Or is it merely shock-induced hallucination?
Six years before my incident on Wilshire Boulevard, I experienced an out-of-body incident, only it did not require trauma or drugs. I had been receiving spiritual counseling and suddenly had an epiphany. One moment, I was sitting in a chair on the second floor of the church building; the next moment, I was about five meters above the ground and four meters off of my body's left shoulder. No longer could I feel the chair in which my body was sitting. No longer could I feel the clothes my body was wearing. I could see the cracks in the pink stucco on the outside of the building. I could see the closed grayish-blue blinds between me and my body. The sky was dark and overcast. The restraurant parking lot next door was largely empty. When I realized that the light from the parking lot was passing through me that I was not casting a shadow! I found myself back in my physical body.
One gentleman I met over a year later, after I had moved to Phoenix, Arizona, told a story of his own out-of-body experiences. During spiritual research in the mid-1950's, he had been asked to come to an office building to which he had never before visited. During the questioning, the researcher asked the man to describe the contents of the office room next door. Of course, the door to that room was closed, and the gentleman had never seen the room with his physical eyes. Yet he accurately described everything there, including reading off the titles of the books on top of the filing cabinet next to the door. Years later, the CIA attempted to make such "remote viewing" work, but failed in that endeavor. Could there have been too much skepticism involved to make it work?
For many, "reincarnation" is an Eastern philosophy. However, perhaps a majority of Christians are not aware that reincarnation is in the Bible. There have been a number of attempts to document past lives of young children. Some of those stories are more compelling than others. In those stories, the reincarnated individual remembers details that could not have been "learned" in their current life. One young girl in India remembered her former brothers and their friends, even including their pet names. A young American boy remembered details of his World War II fighter plane, the name of the flattop from which he flew his missions, and even recognized one of his old buddies by name when he reunited with survivors of the same ship.
If reincarnation is a factual part of our existence, what is it that is reincarnated? Would this be the sleeping immortal the spiritual nature of Man? I think that is the obvious answer.