Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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Because we humans are of three parts, we can contact three worlds, the physical world, the psychological world, and the spiritual world. In our body we have a seeing sense, a hearing sense, a smelling sense, a tasting sense, and a touching sense. With these five senses we contact the material things in the physical world. Besides the physical world, there is also the psychological world. The psychological world includes joy and sorrow. We cannot touch or contact the psychological world with our five senses. We may be full of joy, but we cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or feel joy. It is something psychological, not physical. The English word psychological comes from the Greek word psuche, meaning soul. Some Christian teachers use the word soulish as the adjective form of the noun soul. The psychological world is simply the soulish world, the world of the soul.

Besides the physical world and the psychological world there is a third world, which is the spiritual world. God and the angels do not belong to the physical world or even to the psychological world. God is a spirit, not a soul, so He belongs to the spiritual world.

We contact, or touch, the physical world by the physical part of our human being, the five senses of the body. Likewise, we contact the psychological world by the psychological part of our being, which is our soul. We realize that someone has joy or sorrow by our mind and emotion, which are parts of the soul. Similarly, we contact the third world, the spiritual world, by our spirit. John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.” It is clear that we worship not by the body or the soul, with the mind and emotion, but by the spirit. Because God is the divine Spirit, we must contact this divine Spirit by or in our human spirit. This is our spiritual part, by which or through which we contact the spiritual world.

We may illustrate the three different kinds of contacts—physical contact, psychological contact, and spiritual contact—by the way we contact a brother. When we come together, we shake hands; this is to contact the physical world by our physical part, our body. However, we contact the brother not only by our physical part but also by our psychological part. The brother may have had some problems at home, so while we shake his hand, he appears to not be happy. This may cause us to suspect that he is not happy with us. This kind of suspicion is not in the hand, that is, in the body, but in the mind of our soul. Then when we two kneel down to pray, he may utter something from his deepest part, his inward part. At that time we sense what is in his deepest, inmost part; we sense in our spirit what is in his spirit. In this way, we come to realize that he was not actually unhappy with us. First we shake hands with the brother; this is the physical contact. Then we suspect something about him; this is the psychological contact. Finally, we pray together and sense something in our deepest part about what is in his deepest part; this is the spiritual contact.

Now we can discern the three different parts of our being—spirit, soul, and body. The spirit is absolutely different from the soul just as the soul is absolutely different from the body. Sometimes we have only physical contact with a brother with no psychological contact and, even the more, no spiritual contact. At other times we may have physical contact and some sort of psychological contact as well, and sometimes we may have too much psychological contact with nearly no spiritual contact. I have been taught by the Lord very much for many years; so many times when I contact the brothers and sisters, I simply do not like to contact them much by the psychological part. I mostly contact them by the spiritual part. When we contact the saints, we should try our best not to contact them by our psychology, by our soul, our mind, emotion, and will. Rather, we should try to contact them by our spirit, although we may contact them a little by our body. If a brother says, “Let me shake your hand,” we should not refuse him, saying, “I do not want to contact you by the body. I will only contact you in the spirit.” We should contact people a little physically, but we must try to contact them mostly in the spirit. We must learn the lesson to exercise our spirit to contact others’ spirit.

(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)