General Question

shalom's avatar

What is the difference between Spirit and Soul?

Asked by shalom (374points) October 13th, 2010

In my mother tongue I think there’s no distinction between the meaning of Spirit and Soul. What does it mean in the Western context? I am sure it means different things.

Can you please give your personal definition and if possible provide an analogy of Spirit, Soul and Ego, how they are the same or separate.

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29 Answers

JustmeAman's avatar

The spirit is a body of spiritual means and is just that spiritual. The soul is the combination of the spirit and body. Without the spirit or body you do not have a soul.

wundayatta's avatar

Soul is a metaphorical word used to encapsulate all that a person is, or the whole concept of the person. It is the idea that there is an essential person—who, without some aspect of personality, wouldn’t be the same person. It kind of cross-inhabits both body and mind, but is about the interaction of this set of mind and body with the rest of the world.

Spirit is about the connection between souls. It is about the connection with the world—the awareness that we are not alone, but are part of something larger than ourselves. Spirit is the word used to describe that feeling of connection. It feels magical and unexpected (in many cases), and it is very special because it offers a lot of comfort, knowing we are not alone.

Austinlad's avatar

I think of soul as who we are and spirit as how we connect to others.

wundayatta's avatar

@Austinlad Jesus, man. How come I had to write two paragraphs to say what you said in a sentence???

CMaz's avatar

Nothing. Semantics.

Souls = Spirit trapped in body.

Rubrica's avatar

To me, the spirit is the liveliness and vitality in a person,whereas the soul is their collective being. You can have a soul, but not much spirit. However, you can’t have spirit without a soul… or something like that.

Axemusica's avatar

James Brown got Soul.

High School Cheerleaders have Spirit.

End Transmission

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Spirit sees the grand scheme of things, and soul is an individual striving to return to Spirit.

CMaz's avatar

Soul is a hearty soup.

Spirit is what happens 6 hours later.

ragingloli's avatar

We said it before and we shall say it again: Neither has a universally agreed upon definition, so comparing the two is like comparing “dkfjksdgl” to “davsogdjksd”.

CMaz's avatar

@ragingloli – How do you spell that?

CaptainHarley's avatar

The spirit comes from God and is what animates man and makes him a living being. The soul is that which contains the thinking and feeling capacity of men. Ego is a part of the soul, I would imagine.

JustmeAman's avatar

Just as I stated the spirit is what makes the soul and the body come to life. When the spirit leaves the body is laid to rest and there is no more soul though the spirit lives on. When the resurrection happens then the spirit and elements of the body are reunited into a soul again.

flutherother's avatar

The soul is the water and the spirit the sunshine.

JustmeAman's avatar

Here is a good explanation I received once. Pretend that a glove is the body and the hand your spirit. When you put your hand in the glove then the glove is animated and can move. Remove the hand and the glove no longer works.

veileddarkness's avatar

To me, souls are at the very centre of people/ beings; of course connected at their core to others, yet still holding depth unique to you. And spirits, I feel are more all encompassing – the substance that resides within and in between each soul. I imagine spirit/s as being like the cold wind of the night, both creating the substance of the universe, and existing within each entity on Earth. :)

choppersangel's avatar

Soul is in compost, while Spirit flits joyously around the garden, a butterfly’s breath on the breeze. The Soul is sipping strong tea, in gentle sunshine, feet bare on the dew-damp grass… Oh damn, got all airy-fairy again.

Er, it seems that the spirit, ‘esprit’, ‘elan’, is a lively and fluttery thing; energised by ideas and energising the body. The soul can be moved by the simple, the old, the darker things of life and is deeper. So deep there is no end to it. So deep, we all share it eventually.

Spirit flourishes in the light and dainty, the fast and forward, it shines in the individual. The Soul seeks ancient and joined up things. Yum.

We are all of both, but sharing is definitely the realm of Soul, and something our culture needs to re-connect with. I reckon anyway.

shalom's avatar

@Justmeaman – You said : “Here is a good explanation I received once. Pretend that a glove is the body and the hand your spirit. When you put your hand in the glove then the glove is animated and can move. Remove the hand and the glove no longer works.”

So does it mean that whatever you do or create after you put on the glove and how you do the things you do with the gloved hand – that would be the “soul”?

shalom's avatar

Can I then say it like this :

The physical body is like the computer, with all the hardware fixed correctly.

The Spirit is the electricity/battery that is the Source of Energy to animate, I mean, boot up.

The Mind is the Operating System.

The Ego is the software installed which collectively then gives a computer its identity : Is it for graphic design, architecture, finance & banking, military security, business, etc

The Soul is the quality of work (our expression) and the quality and manner it interacts with other computers over networks. So the Soul of Google,MySpace or Facebook, Fluther comes from the people who use these tools and the way they interact with each other.

So we “die” if our battery keeps leaking and just doesn’t have enough to fire up one more round anymore or the motherboard burns. Our Spirit (electricity) leaves us. Our Soul (expression) lingers through the work we have done.

So which one reincarnates? Which one is the “ghosts” and “poltergeists”? Which one is the one Supernatural brothers hunt?

choppersangel's avatar

The soul is in the metaphor itself. We are not computers, but creatures of ooze and gunge, the soul loves this. We are not ‘networked’, but actually from and of the very same stuff. The stuff of the universe is also energy, Spirit resides in the temporary animative force, the twinkling light of our conscious lives. It is (likely) only this which leaves us upon our demise.

As Soulful creatures, we develop memory, we hold sentiment. Our Spirits soar when we find beauty, love, thrill and progress, but the spirit cannot survive death. Death is the end of the individual, the province of Spirit. The Soul relishes the movement through great periods of time, the depths of space, the replenishment of life through rotting and recycling. The Soul is constantly available in the wisdom of the ancient and the reflections of those brave enough to go diving into the unconscious, or digging around in the compost.

Ghosts and poltergeists are the memories… Could be piezoelectric references, ultra-tiny microwaves, quarks gone astray and performing Shroedinger functions just for fun. Both Soul and Spirit share humour and a laugh can dispel almost any ghost (see Harry Potter for this).

Whoa there, I love writing this stuff, no idea if it answers a question! But, I will say this, when presented with the opportunity to feed the soul, there is a deeper and more meaningful relationship to be had with life, than relying on the spirit. A cuddle, holding a hand, keeping company with the dying so they do not fear isolation, the Soul is there. The life-support machine may beep a couple more times – the Spirit is irrepressible – but it will move on as the Soul deepens…

shalom's avatar

Nice answer, @Choppersangel! Am happy you love writing this stuff – but I still don’t understand why two words are used and why they are not the same thing? Do animals have spirit or soul? How about old trees? Or insect…...or moss…...

If trees or marble or stone don’t have soul then why when someone enters an old house they say, “This house has soul”.

choppersangel's avatar

Hmmm, @shalom, (peace be with you too!),
Humans are communicating creatures, known for using many words where few will do…! I’m going for a bit of personal belief here, as the many words written can only ever infer. To me, it’s all one anyway. The difference between ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ is only one of speed… or energy… or age.

We too are animals, our evolutionary path draws us consciously, we have choice in how we develop; which is a privilege and a great risk. The loss for us, may be attendance to some of the ‘soulful’ things of life. I believe this may be at the root of some of the techno-world’s sickness, the depression and fundamentalist belief systems that are effectively so destructive.

Humans are incredibly recent on the earth, still finding our way it seems. We certainly haven’t learned not to ‘shit in our own back yard’ yet, and if we don’t grow up pretty smartly, we won’t be able to. The Cockroaches will, I am sure, step up and inherit the earth along with a number of other shiny or slimy things; and, for all we know, they may make a better job of it!

The division between Spirit and Soul is only one of perspective. When full of ‘high spirits’, we can still sing soulfully. When dancing in a ‘spirited’ way, we can be moving to the deep and soul-loving rhythms of ancient drums. It’s all in how we perceive and experience.

For health, it is wise to slow down sometimes, take in some of our soul’s desires and give the spirit a chance to take a breath. Our technological world is full of Spirit, but the soul of the Earth may be at stake if we can’t get a better idea of how we need live on it.

I found the book ‘Care of the Soul’, by Thomas Moore deeply affecting and helpful when I first read it, about 12 years ago. He was a Jesuit monk, then left the church to become a psychologist and psychoanalyst. Failing that, read ‘Illusions’, by Richard Bach, it’s much shorter. Less about worthy ‘soul’ stuff, but lots to do with perception!


CMaz's avatar

One is bla, bla.

The other is bla, bla, bla.

lloydbird's avatar

One sounds much better with the letter R in front of it.

CMaz's avatar

This question is the soul.
The answer is the spirit.

lloydbird's avatar

Seriously though.

Soul is probably God.

Spirit is likely the bit that has shifted off It.

shalom's avatar

It seems from all your answers that both Soul and Spirit is important as part of our existence. There are as many people who believe in the presence of the soul and having a spirit as people who don’t.

Thanks everyone for answering.

Pazza's avatar

Ego is the persona created by the sentient numpty that thinks he/she’s somthing other than he/she actually is.

PARAprakrti's avatar

It depends on the context and how these words are being used. But, in general, I’d say that “spirit” refers to the substance and “soul” refers to the individual being.

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