Chaplain's Corner ~ Defining the soul

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jason Gilleland
  • Special Warfare Training Wing/ Chaplain Office

When considering a person’s overall well-being, the Air Forces’ whole airman concept is a well-rounded approach to living a healthy and resilient life. The reason behind this is that it considers all aspects of the person. There is a focus on the body, mind, spirit and social aspects of who we are. Attention to all four of these areas is essential to living a balanced life. This is because in essence all these areas work together. For example, if you suffer an injury, you experience physical pain in your body, which affects your thoughts (mind), your desires/ beliefs (spirit) and those around you (social).

When it comes to the spiritual side of our health, a good place to start is the soul. While theologians and philosophers have debated what the soul is for hundreds of years, for the purpose of these articles we shall define the soul as our spiritual center. It is that part of our make-up that desires virtue over vice, that which is life giving rather than life depleting, and it is the hub of our moral compass.

The mental, physical, spiritual and social parts of who we are work together and they also have parallels in which we can better understand each. One such parallel is that of the soul to the body. We can see ourselves as having a spiritual “physique” just as real and readily shapeable as our bodies.

If we view the makeup of our spiritual self in this way then we could grasp how the soul, like the body, has muscles that must be regularly exercised in order to maintain good health. In both cases, you are given these physiques in a raw form and you can either let them be shaped by external forces, or intentionally sculpt them into the shape you desire.