Sunday, December 24, 2017

Body and Soul

It is a tradition that Germany’s weekly magazines write about religious topics around Christmas time. So Die Zeit titled, Where does the soul reside ?” We are searching for it.

©Die Zeit
Greek philosophers located the soul - only humans are supposed to possess - in the heart, the brain, or even in our blood. That is what Mephistopheles meant when he said in Goethe’s Faust, “Blut is ein ganz besonderer Saft” (Blood is a quite peculiar juice).

For the monotheistic religions, the human soul is God’s Odem (breath of life) that we receive when we are born and that will leave our bodies at the moment of our deaths. More poetically said, “the soul is a droplet of a divine nature”, a definition acceptable for those who have their problem with a personal, fatherly god. In nearly all cultures the individual soul is something that will stay beyond death.

The soul is the place where we experience love, perceive happiness, discover beauty, have hope, feel pity, and desire another person. We suffer together with other people, donate on Christmas or for victims of an earthquake, and love our pets. May robots be more intelligent in solving problems or perfect in producing goods; they do it mechanically and are only intelligent electronically; they are without a soul.

Maybe we should consult Goethe on the meaning of soul. He wrote the following poem in 1779 while contemplating the Staubbach Falls at Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland:

Gesang der Geister über den Wassern

Des Menschen Seele
Gleicht dem Wasser:
Vom Himmel kommt es,
Zum Himmel steigt es,
Und wieder nieder
Zur Erde muß es, ewig wechselnd.

Und Goethe lässt sein Gedicht enden:

Seele des Menschen,
Wie gleichst du dem Wasser!
Schicksal des Menschen,
Wie gleichst du dem Wind!

Song of the Spirits Over the Waters

The soul of man
Is like to water;
From Heaven it cometh,
To Heaven it riseth,
And then returneth
To earth, forever alternating.

And Goethe is ending his poem:

Soul of man mortal,
How art thou like water!
The fate of man mortal,
How art thou like the wind!

Did our national poet belief in transmigration?

On the lighter side; here are some pictures of this year's Christmas Market. Due to the poor light conditions I employed the HDMI technique for the first time.

The Market seen from my dentist's practice on a late and somewhat foggy morning.
Veterans of the Parnerschaftsmarkt know the site well.
In the back from right to left: St. Martin's church, and the two town halls,
built in Renaissance and in Historicism style, respectively.
In the background: St. Martin's church

Mulled wine in a simple and in a fancier cup

Santa and I wish you a Merry Christmas 

See also this.

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