|The Mission of the
The physical world was created by God to sustain physical
bodies. But the body has a limited life span, during which
it must accomplish two vital functions: it must support the
spirit's growth from infancy to full maturity; and through
human reproduction it must enable the multiplication of spirit
men and women. In performing these functions, the body enables
human beings to realize their fundamental purpose and desire:
to experience joy through the fulfillment of the three blessings.
To accomplish its mission, the body itself is designed to
experience physical joy, or pleasure.
Once the 'mission' of
the body has been accomplished, it dies and returns to earth,
where it disintegrates into its basic elements, never again
to exist as a whole. When the body dies, the spirit departs
from it and continues its life in the spiritual world in
its eternal, discarnate state. The spirit is fully equipped
for life in the spiritual world, having attributes that
enable it to interact with other spirit persons and the
spiritual counterpart to nature, as well as men and women
on earth. Paralleling the five senses of the body, the spirit
body has sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, with which
it can know and enjoy the spiritual world.
There are a few people on
earth who have their spiritual senses finely developed and
in tune with their bodily senses, such that they are able
to perceive and interact with the spiritual world at will.
Some of these men and women are deeply religious, while
others find themselves in possession of these abilities
but do not attribute any particular significance to them.
A third group uses its access to the spiritual world for
selfish purposes, in negative forms of witchcraft, voodoo
and the like.
|Growth of the Spirit
Men and women grow to maturity through the interaction between
the spirit and body, each of which takes in elements for growth
from the other as well as from sources outside the human being.
For the body, growth is achieved by taking in external elements
from sunlight, air, food and drink as well as internal elements
from the spirit. For the spirit, growth comes from receiving
internal elements from God's love and truth as well as external
elements from the body. The fundamental objective of spiritual
growth is the perfection of parental love on the foundation
of three stages in the maturation of love within the family
(children's, sibling and conjugal love), as described in the
||In the growing process, the
body provides the spirit with vitality elements, the capacity
to respond to instructions of the mind. Doing good deeds generates
good vitality elements, whereas doing wrong produces evil
vitality elements. The spirit needs good vitality elements
for growth. People feel good when they do good, but, conversely,
feel bad when they disobey God, because the spirit recognizes
the quality of vitality elements it receives and reacts favorably
to good and unfavorably to bad elements. In the same way that
an unhealthy diet damages the body, bad vitality elements
damage the spirit. Thus the spirit of a person who has lived
an evil life is literally ugly. The spirit gives energy to
the body as spirit elements. When inspired by love and truth,
the spirit generates spirit elements that energize the body
to do good.
|Vitality and spirit elements
are exchanged between body and spirit such that the internal
character and external activities of a person always go hand
in hand. A good life is built on good deeds, inspired by love
and truth. Love and truth originate with God, and are given
to human beings as the life element. In an ideal world they
would naturally flow to individuals at one in heart with God.
In the human state of disobedience and separation from God,
however, religion exists to facilitate the flow of life elements.
The essence of a religious life is the pursuit of love and
truth. But God's love and truth can flow to men and women
only to the extent that they share them with others through
the dissemination of truth and the performance of good deeds.
Receiving has to be reciprocated by giving, or the flow of
love and truth is blocked and growth of the spirit is stunted.
Through a life of service to others, balanced by study, contemplation,
meditation and prayer, a man or woman of God grows in spiritual
maturity. The greater the love and truth received from God,
the greater the virtue of that person's words and deeds and
the greater the stimulation of the spirit, enabling it to
increase its capacity to receive yet more of God's life element.
|On the other hand, insofar
as the spirit is itself distant from God's love and truth,
it is deprived of life elements and thereby prevented from
growing. Consequently, the physical body is deprived of spirit
elements. This is the spiritual equivalent of starvation.
Worse than starving the body, though, is giving it poison.
The spiritual equivalent of poison is evil spirit elements,
passed to the body when the spirit has relations with evil
spirits and is influenced by falsehood and hatred.
|Ignorance or denial of God,
or the hypocritical profession of God by one without faith,
does not prevent the interaction of vitality and spirit elements,
but it severely limits the scope for human growth. The life
element, which comes from God, is the source of life and subject,
over the spirit and vitality elements. It operates whether or
not individuals recognize its existence, but ignorance of God
prevents people from using it to maximum effect. This condition
can be illustrated by the example of pre-industrial people living
in ignorance of electricity and consequently existing without
any of the benefits of that great energy source: they got shocked
by static and lightning but lacked electric lighting and household
appliances. Ignorance of God is, ultimately, devastating because
it condemns humans to existence in a state of partial completion
wherein they can never fulfill their true purpose or achieve