Description: Soul and spirit: the personality
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Our Personality in Psychology
by Ernest O’Neill
We’re talking about the meaning of life on this program at this time every day. We have tried to present a
synthesized answer to the question, simply because knowledge today is so fragmented that very few of us seem
to be able to look at a question as cosmic as this in a complete and comprehensive way. So, that’s what we’re
trying to do.
Of course, you can’t go into extreme detail in every subject that we touch upon, but we’ve tried to go into
enough detail to at least give some intellectual undergirding to the points we’re sharing with another. So, if
you have followed for the past six months, you know that we have tried to proceed along the lines of dealing
with such questions. We’ve considered if there is a Supreme Being behind the universe. What indication is
there? Is there any evidence that He has revealed Himself to us men and women at any time?
What is the purpose for which He has created us? In other words, why are you here? Why am I here? What’s the
point of it? We have reached the stage in the discussion, you remember, where we have said that the Supreme
Being behind the universe appears to have communicated with us through a man who lived in the first century of
our era, and that seems to prove to our intellectual examination, at least, that he is more than an ordinary
human being. He is, in fact, uniquely related to the Creator of the universe.
He is not some kind of insane, unbalanced madman, but He is, in fact, the Son of the Creator of the world.
We’ve tried to follow through what His explanation of the meaning of our lives was and is. You remember what
He said? This man Jesus said that His Father made you to be His friend. That’s it! That’s it! His Father, the
Creator of the universe, made you so that you could be His friend, so that you could enjoy a continual
friendship with Him forever. That’s it!
You can have a unique relationship with Him that none of the rest of us can. So can I. The Creator of the
universe, the Supreme Being behind it, can have a unique relationship with you that He can have with nobody
else. That’s why He made you. That’s your real value and you are as important to Him as that. That’s why He
made you like Himself. That is, He gave you the same capacities as He Himself has.
He gave you a body, in this case a physical body, just as He has a spiritual body or an invisible body by
which He can be perceived. He gave you a physical body made out of dust from the earth and that’s why it
returns to dust. He breathed into that body the breath of His own life, His own particular spirit life. If you
say, “Well, what’s that?!” It’s the thing that gives life to everything. It is His very own essence. That is
what we mean by the Spirit of the Creator. Or, the fact that He has breathed His Spirit into you. He has given
you the capacity to have His Spirit within you.
His Spirit is like His blood. It’s what contains all the elements that give Him life. When you talk about the
spirit of De Gaulle, or the spirit of Churchill, you are talking about the very essence of the man. Well, that
is something of what the Spirit is. It is the very life and heart of God. He breathed into you that. That
combined in with your body to give you a soul.
That’s what is explained in the early chapters of the book of Genesis in the Bible. It says there that man
became a living soul. That’s why we speak of it in terms of shipping disasters when “this ship when down with
a hundred souls aboard”. Man is known as a soul, because the soul is a man’s most characteristic element. The
angels have spirits, the animals have bodies, but man has a soul. A man has a spirit, a soul and a body.
What we have been saying is that the way you relate to God the Creator is through your spirit. Many of us get
into great difficulties when we try to relate to God through our souls. Our soul is indicated by the Greek
word “psuche”, which becomes our psyche, which becomes words like psychological. It means the psychological
part of us, your personality, your mind, your emotions, your will.
That is the part of you that is conscious of self. Your spirit is the part of you that is conscious of God.
The body, through the five senses, is the part that is conscious of the world, and of things and of people.
But the soul is the part of you that looks into itself and is self-conscious. Many of us have got into great
frustration in our attempts to experience God through trying to experience it through our souls.
So, many of us try it through the beautiful church music, or the Gregorian chants, or the beautiful
architecture of the churches or beautiful paintings. Some of us are nature buffs and we think we think we’ll
find God through nature. Yet, all those things come through our soul. The soul is just a human part of us.
There is nothing supernatural about it. All it can do is perceive what is going on inside yourself.
That’s why, when you try to pray and wonder if you have really prayed or not, all you’re doing is examining
the mental track in your mind of what you were trying to do a few seconds before. That is because the soul is
a purely human part and it is tied to earth. Of course, the only way to really get through to the Supreme
Being is through your spirit.
Now, it might be good, if you would be patient with me, to follow through a little more on the make-up of the
personality that is presented by this man Jesus of Nazareth and by the people who proceeded after Him. These
are the people who wrote the books, as they were led by God’s Spirit, of the Bible. If you ask if we are going
to substantiate all this, the answer is “yes”. It can be done by giving references in the Bible. But, if
you’re not too sure of the Bible and not certain about it, then I am going to come over like a wild,
So, what I will do is try to outline the anthropology that is presented in the Bible, or the make-up of our
personalities that is outlined there, and then I can make available to you notes that will provide Bible
references and you can look them up yourself. But, I think it’s wiser for me to try to give you some idea of
what this man, Jesus of Nazareth, taught us about our personalities. That’s because I think that once you
begin to hear it, it will make so much sense to you.
If you have studied psychology, or science, or philosophy, or theology or anthropology, you will begin to see
how much sense this view of man makes. That will, in an intuitive way and in an implicit way, begin to give
you a conviction that this is actually truth. Then, of course, by all means, follow it up yourself by looking
up references and thinking it through.
So, will you bear with me as I try, in the next few broadcasts, to at least outline the way the Creator of the
universe meant our personalities to operate? I think it will help you to understand yourself and to understand
the way your life goes. The personality, then, is made up of three levels or three elements. These three
elements are the spirit, the soul and the body.
Now, you are dead right if you think that that is an old-fashioned Heraclitus view of life. It’s fire, air and
water. You’re splitting man up into elements. Well, no! No! Jesus never implied that. He always said that man
was one. But, He did imply that man existed on three different levels and that it was vital to understand
those levels. So, we are not saying that you can take them out, as you can take out an appendix; we’re not
saying that you can take out a soul and examine that.
We’re simply that this complex, human personality works on three levels…the spirit, the soul and the body.
So, tomorrow I would like to try to begin talking about the spirit, your own spirit, and what it is meant to