Body, soul, and speech: which is the most important?

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Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, it depends on what religious tradition you're talking about. In modern Christianity for example, there is great emphasis placed on the soul. The soul is considered the permanent, immortal aspect of self. Modern Christianity takes a lot from Platonic philosophy, in which the Greek notion of the soul is paramount. Other religious traditions, such as Buddhism for example, completely lack a notion of a permanent, individual soul. In these traditions, what is done with the body and mind may be of critical importance. Even within a particular tradition, different people will approach these ideas differently. For some, the distinction between body, mind, and soul may not be so clear.

What's more interesting, perhaps, is the relationship between body, mind, and soul. For example, one reason ritual is so important in most faiths is that ritual is a method for regulating the body. When you prostrate, your body assumes a certain form and posture. When you pray or meditate, your hands take a certain position. Regulating the body, in turn, regulates the mind. It is well known that placing the body in certain positions or carrying the body in a particular manner has psychological (mental) effects. These effects clearly show the relationship between body and mind. Likewise, calming the mind also produces calming effects on the body. The rituals of prayer and mediation, as well as other rites, demonstrate the importance of mind, body, and soul together, and the relationship between them.