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Spirituality and Human Nature

World Religions / Faiths quotations and quotes


If the truth is told it is Philosophy (Pythagoras and Socrates / Plato) rather than Religion that is seen as having the strongest tradition of endorsing a "Tripartite Soul" view of Human Nature BUT the increasing availability of translations of Central world faiths texts allows for a presentation of the consistent way in which several important world faiths also strongly endorse the existence of a "Tripartite" complexity in Human Natures!!!

That is to say that the FIVE World Religions which have the most adherents, (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism), represent Spirituality - as being "relative" - to "Desire" and to "Wrath". On this basis it is surely not entirely unreasonable to suggest that Spirituality, tendencies toward experiencing Desires, and potentialities for Wraths, are all present, to some degree or other, in innate Human Nature.

The World Faiths tend to exhort us to follow courses of Spirituality and Holiness - rather than of Desire, or of Wrath.

Desireous and Wrathfulful impulses presumably tend to arise, (according to circumstances?), from Human Nature and the World Religions are probably not wrong in advising us that following them inappropriately, and inadvisably, could lead us away from "the straight and narrow" path of (relative) righteousness.


Click on these links to review quotations about
Spirituality and Human Nature
drawn from these World Faiths sources :-


Support for the "Tripartite Soul" view of Human Nature
is explitly, or implicitly, suggested by ALL of these spiritual traditions:-



Buddhism       Islam       Sikhism       Hinduism


Christianity



  Jesus' keynote teaching is known as the Sermon on the Mount. Inherent to the Sermon on the Mount is an undeniable assertion, in Jesus' own words, of the relativity of our personal capacities for spiritual expression and progress.

The Sermon on the Mount

  The Sermon on the Mount can be regarded as being composed of several themes including-



An invocation towards leading a spiritually centred life


An encouragement of mild forbearance


A litany against materialistic worldliness


An invocation towards leading
a spiritually centred life

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
   for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
   for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus Matthew 5: 1-19

An encouragement of mild forbearance

You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus Matthew 5: 38-48

A litany against materialistic worldliness

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Jesus Matthew 6: 24-34


  See also the other "Central" teaching of Jesus:-



The Parable of the Sower



The Parable of the Sower is, perhaps, the most "Enlightenment" related teaching of Jesus!!!

   Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times."

Then Jesus said, "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." ...


... Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop - some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.
He said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear."
Jesus' teaching ~ as set out in St Mark's gospel Chapter 4


The Parable of the Sower actually features in three of the four, primary, "Canonical" Gospels - such that it is possible to attempt to derive deeper meaning by presenting the following alternative ending ~

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."
~ as set out in St Luke's gospel Chapter 8

This "Parable of the Sower" could be said to suggest that Enlightenment does not appear to be Intellectual but may principally arise from keeping to spiritual teachings!!!


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  The results of Comparative Religion investigation allows us to state that several World Faiths other than Christianity also assert views about spirituality comparable to that implicit to the Sermon on the Mount and the Parable of the Sower - i.e. that human nature is a compound of several elements.



  The Masnavi of Jalaluddin Rumi is an overtly religious work formed within an Islamic context more than seven hundred years ago.

  In the Masnavi there are several passages which suggest that personal spirituality is relative ~

  The monk said, "I am searching everywhere for a man
Who lives by the life of the breath of God."
The other said, "Here are men the Bazaar is full;
These are surely men, O enlightened sage!"
The monk said, "I seek a man who walks straight
As well in the road of anger as in that of lust.
Where is one who shows himself a man in anger and lust?
In search of such an one I run from street to street.
If there be one who is a true man in these two states,
I will yield up my life for him this day!"

Masnavi Book 5 Story 10


  The Ka'ba is a singularly important Islamic shrine which stands in the court of the Great Mosque of Mecca and is a site of pilgrimage for all Muslims.

  The Ka'ba, whose renown waxes greater every moment,
Owes its foundation to the piety of Abraham.
Its glory is not derived from stones and mortar,
But from being built without lust or strife.

Masnavi Book 4 Story 2


[It is widely known that Allah's faithful are expected to pray five times a day, and it is widely believed that they are expected to face the city of Mecca in doing so.
It is actually the case that it is the Ka'ba, and not the city, that is the (global) focus of those countless prayers-to-Allah]!


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  Hinduism or Vedanta is another of the World Faiths which imputes a multi-faceted character to human "existential being".

In the Bhagavad Gita we read ~

Arjuna spoke.
   But by what is a man impelled, O Varshneya! when he commits sin even against his will, as if compelled by force?

The Holy One spoke.
   It is lust: it is wrath, born from the "passion" mode: know that this, all-devouring, all-defiling, is here our foe.

Bhagavad Gita 3: 36-37


and again ~

... the pleasures that come from the world bear in them sorrows to come. They come and they go, they are transient: not in them do the wise find joy.
But he who on this earth, before his departure, can endure the storms of desire and wrath, this man is a Yogi, this man has joy.
He has inner joy, he has inner gladness, and he has found inner Light. This Yogi attains the Nirvana of Brahman: he is one with God and goes unto God.
Holy men reach the Nirvana of Brahman: their sins are no more, their doubts are gone, their soul is in harmony, their joy is in the good of all.
Because the peace of God is with them whose mind and soul are in harmony, who are free from desire and wrath, who know their own soul.

Bhagavad Gita 5: 22-26





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  Buddhism also joins with Christianity, Islam, and Vedanta in suggesting that human behaviors have several identifiable tendencies ~

  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who does not cling to pleasures, like water on a lotus leaf, like a mustard seed on the point of a needle.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who, even here, knows the end of his suffering, has put down his burden, and is unshackled.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana whose knowledge is deep, who possesses wisdom, who knows the right way and the wrong, and has attained the highest end.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who keeps aloof both from laymen and from mendicants, who frequents no houses, and has but few desires.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who finds no fault with other beings, whether feeble or strong, and does not kill nor cause slaughter.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who is tolerant with the intolerant, mild with fault-finders, and free from passion among the passionate.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana from whom anger and hatred, pride and envy have dropt like a mustard seed from the point of a needle.

Dhammapada V. 401-407




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  Sikhism proves to be yet another major religion which suggests that human behaviors have three identifiable tendencies ~

  With lust and with anger,
The city, that is thy body
Is full to the brim.
Meet as saint and destroy
That lust and that anger.

From Sohila-Arti ~ a bed-time prayer
This section of which is attributed to Guru Ram Das


and again ~


  Root out the choking weeds
Of lust and anger;
Loosening the soil,
The more thou hoest and weedest,
The more lovely grows thy soul;

Rag Basant, page 1171



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Several truly notable authorities
endorse Tripartite Soul Theory


Key Socratic Dialogues from
Book 4 and Book 9 of Plato's Republic



Plato's Ideal State       Plato's Chariot allegory      


Philosophy - Eastern and Western & 'Tripartite' Human Nature


FIVE major World Religions & 'Tripartite' Human Nature