All of us say that “we have a mind.” The obvious question that emerges pronto is: whether one can equate the mind with mentality. Our ancients articulated that there was a definitive divergence in the context — just like the gulf that exists between “us” and mechanical, or “mindless,” entities. It all percolates to what they also vocalised as the big variance corresponding to “having a soul.”

The philosopher Plato believed that each of us has a soul, or the life principle — one that is simple, profound, fathomless, divine, and infinite. Not like our physical bodies that are complex and finite. The soul, according to Plato, is something that antedates, or predates, us — it represents “space,” or “field,” in its pure, intangible form. This was also the groundwork that prompted Plato to contemplate that what is called “learning” is merely the progression of recalling what one would have known, or experienced, in their antenatal reality, as pure souls. What does this connote? Simple. Our bodies are nothing more than a vehicle of our being in this material world, or “hired clothing” that we drape ourselves with. In spiritual terms, they are the ephemeral bearings in our soul’s perpetual voyage through space and time.

The whole idea trickles down to what is essentially the basic truth of our being and existence — we are what we are is because each of us has a soul. It is the soul that endows us with consciousness, intelligence, purpose, reason and prudence, unlike other less intelligent creatures. In metaphorical terms, it exemplifies our relationship to the interpretation that we are empirically, or essentially, indistinguishable with and also of our souls — albeit each of us has a soul. It is this entity that determines “I am, what I am,” and not someone else. It also, in like manner, signifies that each of us is bestowed with a mind of our own, because each of us has a mind — no more, no less.

It matters, but little when one thinks of Plato’s doctrine of being as more than a tad abstract, notional, or implausible — one that is way beyond the realms of pure, or real, possibility. This brings us to the personification of the mind-body montage — you’d call it dualism, or what you may. The purport of dualism, as you’d know, is not complex — it denotes that while each of us has a physical, material body, we are not complete without our mental, subliminal, or spiritual element.

You may think of the full-length opus as nothing short of a dilemma — the catch-22 of every philosophical, spiritual, or logical deliberation, or argument. While Plato’s primal contention may not be in agreement with modern thought, his pivotal standpoint, that each of us has a soul, or spirit, that survives bodily waning and demise, is proof enough that we are really our souls, not our bodies. This is simply because when our bodies decease, we continue to exist since our souls exist.

It is obvious that our soul outlines our individuality too. Your soul is your “bespoke identity.” It endures as long as it exists. So long as it exists — we exist. It is in this context that our soul manifests as part of our being — where our mind exists, as also our mentality, thoughts, feelings, consciousness, coherent will, emotional acts, physiological functions and dimensions. All of this and more belongs to our soul, not to our physical reality. In the final context, our soul celebrates the pristine, seminal idea of our being — to have a mind, or mentality, is tantamount to having a soul that influences our mind and body.

 (The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author)

Rajgopal Nidamboor