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Athos Monks[play]
Th. Vassilikos[play]

About the composition and purpose of man.

St. Gregory notes that in his time the question whether the soul or the body was created first was a subject of "bewilderment in the churches." In response to this, he negates the very wording of the question. Neither the body without the soul, nor the soul without the body can exist: they are simultaneous in origin. The other two opinions are fables as much as the teaching about the transition of the soul.

All three forces act in human nature, as mentioned before: the growing, the feeling, and the reasoning one. "But they are not three souls. The true and perfect soul is in essence one, intelligent and immaterial, united through the senses with the material essence." "Inasmuch as perfection of the soul consists of the mind’s power and the gift of word, then everything which is not so (in nature) can only be something similar to the soul, but is not a true soul, but only some living activity, comparable to the soul."

"Where could one suppose the ruling part of the soul to abide? Some say that the ruling center of the soul (the mind – Edit.) is in the heart. Others claim that the mind dwells in the brain." The former argue that the heart is in the center of the entire body, owing to which the voluntary movement is easily spread throughout the body. The latter see the temple of reasoning in the brain, saying that the head is constructed by nature as a certain stronghold of the entire body, with the mind residing in it as a king, surrounded by the senses’ areas on the brain’s outer layer, like its heralds and protectors.

"I also accept that the feelings are based in the brain’s outer shell, lying over the brain within the head, according to the scientists. For this reason the thinking power of the soul often becomes confused; I will not deny such assertions after listening to those who have done anatomical research…We also do not minimize the meaning of the heart…But let the empty babble of those be stopped who think to confine thinking activity within any part of the body as in a box… The soul and mind belong to the entire body, to all its members; the two rule over the latter as well… But inasmuch as the body is constructed like a musical instrument, then, as often happens in music, that professionals cannot show their ability due to the worthlessness of the instrument, — thus the mind, acting either on the entire instrument — the body, or on individual members, achieves results only when the members are found in their proper natural state; but if the members of the body themselves are not in their natural state, there the mind remains unsuccessful and inactive."

The body and the soul, according to a higher law laid down by God’s command, possess a mutual "starting point," "so that a person may be neither older nor younger than himself"…

As we say that a wheat seed or any other seed potentially contains within itself everything relating to its future ripeness: green leafs, the stem, the branches, and seeds, so we may as well assume that both elements of an organism, the body and the soul, are already present when everything is being sifted out for the beginning of a person’s life, with all their characteristics. An individual’s unique appearance is founded in his initial qualities. "We assume that what the living (organism) procures from within itself to serve for the beginning of its life is not something dead and inanimate. The state of death results from the loss of the soul."

"As the body grows from its very smallest to its full height, so the spiritual activity develops and is revealed in a person, in accordance with the development of the body. In the initial development of the body, there is only a growing power in the soul itself, like some root hidden in the ground … Later, when this plant comes to light and shows its seedling to the sun, the gift of sense blossoms. When it ripens and achieves the proper height, then it begins to show reasoning powers, like some fruit, not everything at once, but quickly growing along with the growth of its physical shell, bearing its fruit according to the person’s individual powers."

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