If you eat a beautiful meal, you will feel happy. What is the thing that is happy? It’s your body, of course. If you read a good book, listen to a beautiful piece of Music, see a beautiful landscape, you will also feel happy. What is it that is happy? Obviously it is not the body, you can only say that it is your mind, your soul that feels happy.
If you have a stomach ache, fall, or get stung by a bug, your body will suffer from pain. But if you fall out of love, your loved one dies, you think of the day you will die, or you are subjected to injustice, what part of you is suffering? Again, of course, it is the soul.
It seems that man has a body and a soul, and they are very different things. Some philosophers deny that man has a soul; they speak of the soul as a function of the physical body. However, if there is no soul, how can we explain the source of all the above-mentioned pleasures and pains of a spiritual nature?
The soul is invisible and intangible, it is not an organ of the human body like the eyes, ears, stomach, heart and brain, but we can believe it exists based on the fact that man has a spiritual Life that is different from the physical life. In fact, the so-called soul is an inner space that carries our spiritual life.
The human body is very practical, it has to survive, and in order to survive, it needs Food and clothing, and in order to survive better, it has to struggle in the society, to obtain fame and status. The human soul is not so practical, it pursues ideals, spiritual values such as truth, goodness, beauty, faith, thought, art and so on. We call this pursuit of ideals and spiritual values spiritual life. If a person only knows how to eat, sleep and earn money, and has no spiritual life at all, we will laugh at him for having no soul, and think he is not much different from an animal.
The soul never seems to be satisfied with the status quo; it is always in pursuit of a state of perfection. Where does this desire for the ideal realm come from? When we see images of beauty and hear beautiful music, why is our soul moved and intoxicated? How does an uncontaminated and simple soul, which seems to naturally love what is beautiful and good and hate what is ugly and evil, possess such characteristics?
Plato, the greatest philosopher of ancient Greece, gave an explanation for this. He speculated that the soul must have once lived in an ideal world and seen perfect beauty and goodness, so that when it is reborn in the physical body, the real world, which may not be perfect in beauty and goodness, will make it dimly recall that ideal world, which makes it excited and happy, and makes it unsatisfied and yearn for perfect beauty and goodness.
He further concluded from this that the soul and the body have an entirely different origin, and that the body dies, while the soul is immortal. This explanation of his was criticized by many later philosophers and accused of mysticism. What makes me wonder is how people did not hear that Plato was telling an allegory.
He was actually trying to say that the human soul yearns to go upward, just as the wanderer yearns to return to his homeland, and that the soul’s homeland is in a very distant place, and as long as life lasts, it will always be pining, longing, and always on its way back to its homeland. As for where this hometown is, it is an eternal mystery. We have to say, in an allegorical way, that it is a place as beautiful as heaven. “The soul is the divinity in us, and when we enjoy the pleasures of the soul, we are farthest from the animals and closest to God”?