“Thou hast a spiritual nature; the soul is the image of the Creator; honor the image of God by being in agreement with all men. … As long as thy life remains to thee, cleanse thy soul from wrath. … Keep not anger in thy heart; hold not fury in thy soul; thou hast not power over thy soul, ave to do that which is good. … Thou art a man, the dust of the earth; the son of the race of beasts. If thou knowest not thy honor; separate thy soul from animals, by work and not by words. If thou lovest derision, thou art altogether as Satan; and if thou mockest at they fellow, thou art the mouth of the Devil.” ~St. Ephraim the Syrian
A Spiritual Nature
We hear this all the time. Our nature is spiritual. We are as much spirit as we are body. We are spirits having a human experience, and so on. But what does it mean to be spiritual?
It isn’t a matter of what school you go to. It isn’t even a matter of what church you go to. To truly be spiritual, you must awaken your dormant spiritual faculties and let them be in charge.
Image of God
St. Ephraim says the soul is the image of God. Not the physical body. Not the brain-mind. The soul is the image of God. Which is another way of saying that God created our spirit and soul, not our body and mind. The physical body and brain-mind are the result of the Great Fall, the descent into matter represented in the allegorical tale of Adam and Eve.
House of God
Suppose you were traveling and came upon an old church. The building was in bad need of paint, Windows were broken. When you looked in the door, you say trash all over and rats nesting in the corner. Would you go inside and worship in such a church?
I hope you answered “No!” Perhaps after you cleaned the place up, but not as described.
Your body, mind, and spirit are like a church in many ways. It is the home (to some degree) of your soul. And since the soul is the image of God, it is the home of God. But that soul will stay dormant, hidden if the body and mind is like that ruined, old church.
You need to keep the body healthy with sensible eating and exercise. You need to keep the mind healthy with positive thoughts and an open mind not trapped in false beliefs. Then you will be able to truly awaken that soul.
Separate from Animals
When St. Ephraim says we must be separate from animals, he doesn’t mean in a literal sense. We don’t have to move to some location where there are no animals. We don’t have to get rid of all pets. What we have to do is stop behaving like animals. That is how we separate ourselves.
Humans are blessed with a Divine Soul, that Image of God. If we live as if we were nothing but wild animals, it is as if we threw away a great fortune so we could live in poverty.
Awakening the Soul
Of course, it is easy to say we should live in peace. It is easy to say we should avoid anger, jealousy, greed, and other negative thoughts and emotions. It is easy to say we should live as spiritual beings rather than physical animals. We need to know how to do that, or it’s idle chat, wishful thinking.
The mystery schools going back thousands of years (many thousands more than historians believe) have taught how to do this. The answer is both simple and complicated. We can say that we must look TOWARD the sun (not directly at it) and take in the light of the spiritual sun along with the physical. Simple. It is still simple to say we must try to be in a positive and open state of mind when we do that. The truth is, it requires the help of a good spiritual school to teach us how to do it properly. No one would think he could become a good doctor by simply reading medical books. The same is true for spiritual development. Let that Image of God shine within you.