Does it seem strange to you that there are these words used in religion that none of us really seem to understand? Grace is one of them. Most people don't even use that word in the religious sense, but it is a big one in Christianity. Man "fell from grace" when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Also, man is "saved by grace" in Christianity. But what is grace? Nobody ever told me what it is.
Nobody ever told me what the soul is either, and for that matter, nobody ever distinguished for me the difference in definition between the words soul and spirit. All my life people have used those two words virtually interchangeably. Why? Don't they mean different things? Why don't I know the difference between them? Even the meaning of the word God is elusive. Does anybody know? Are people trying to tell me and I'm too out of touch to realize it?
Going to the dictionary doesn't help. The dictionary leaves religious terms with fuzzy definitions very similar to my own fuzzy notions before my consultation with Webster's. But the same holds true if I read into religious or "spiritual" source material. There just doesn't seem to be a consensus of opinion on the meaning of any of these words. What I tend to do now to compensate is to give these words definition based on my own experience of them and of life and nature. In other words, I come to my own consensus.
With the soul and spirit, I have decided that in my vocabulary, the soul will be that part of life's existence that exists beyond the existence of the body and mind, but possesses or entails the past, present, and future. It encompasses all of our enduring memories as well as all of our possibilities, but in a timeless sense. Our soul is not that part of our thinking which reflects on our past and future from a point of reference of right now, this moment in time. The soul is timeless.
Yet through the power of life, the soul has control over physical reality, over our body and our mind and our rational thinking and our feelings and even over how we are using all of these capacities in the reality of our world and universe. The soul is somehow in contact with the here and now. That contact is what I have come to call spirit. To me, the word spirit refers to the energy in the universe that is being guided by our soul. That energy is being projected into the universe by everything we do. Even physics attests to that fact. Our spirit is the measure of all of the physical energy that is under our control at any given moment. Our soul is a measure both of what that control of nature's energy has done and of what that energy could do if we used it for that purpose. Because everything we do is projected into nature by energy, everything in the universe is interrelated in time by this energy. The whole universe is affected by everything we choose to do. Time is the structure through which all of the universe is related.
I think I have often expressed my thoughts on the meaning of the word God. God is, after all, a word that refers to some sort of concept, some set of ideas that we express whenever we say the word. To me, God refers to the concept of truth, the idea that there is a truth larger than our "human" imaginations and illusions. It is my contention that if we were somehow able to raise our own consciousness to its fullest potential, what we would discover is the fact that this truth exists. We would rise into a consciousness of truth, of God. We would arrive at a level of thought where all truth is knowable and all illusion is exposed.
I have long been aware that such a level of thought does in fact exist. I tend to believe that such consciousness is part of life by design. In other words, I believe that it is natural to have this consciousness. I tend to think that if we could somehow reach this level of full natural consciousness, what we would discover is that the creatures and processes of nature are already at this consciousness. We would wind up asking ourselves why we have been asleep to it all our lives.
The story of Adam and Eve tells of how mankind fell from this consciousness, fell from God's grace, forgot spiritual truth. That forbidden fruit, that "knowledge of good and evil," somehow caused us to die to the consciousness of God and nature's truth. The fall from grace is a fall from consciousness. Yet the promise of the "New Testament" is that by grace we can find salvation. Is this the very same grace? Is that actually telling us that if there is a salvation for mankind, it is this consciousness, this grace? Is this a promise that we can regain that which we have lost, that we can regain this consciousness?