Spirit and Soul: just semantics or true difference?

A question that ofen arises in the spiritual journey is what is the difference between the spirit and the soul? I recall asking this myself and also hearing others ask the same question when I was in my period of searching and seeking. The thing is that I would often hear different answers and it seemed like there was no consistent answer amongst the various teachers that were asked. Some would say the spirit is Universal and the soul refers to the individual aspect of the divine, others would say the opposite – the soul is Universal and the spirit is the individual aspect. I would also hear words to the effect of, ‘well it doesn’t really matter, they are just different aspects of the same thing’ or that it is ‘just semantics’ and that the terms could be interchanged freely. It seemed like it didn’t really matter which term you used and people on the New Age circuit tended to favour ‘spirit’ and would talk of being guided by spirit etc as it being a positive guiding light or force and I joined in with them at that time.

However, I always felt that there must be more to it than just different names for the same thing, that there was a reason why the words spirit and soul came into being and I was never fully satisfied with the answers I heard. For me, the word soul carried more gravitas, spirit seemed more flighty, yet I adopted the New Age terminology and would have used the term spirit in a positive way as described above. It is from the word spirit that we get the term ‘spirituality’ and the latter is a subject for another blog post and will not be covered here – such are the myriad ways of it being defined and interpreted. Perhaps understanding the difference between spirit and soul, will shed light on why the term ‘spirituality’ is itself really a misnomer. It has come to replace the language of religion for many people and is a developing area within healthcare – but perhaps we are barking up the wrong tree by using it? For another day. 

It was only when I came to the Ageless Wisdom and Esoteric teachings, as presented by Serge Benhayon, did I actually feel for the first time that yes, here is the true difference between spirit and soul. These teachings are based on understanding life and the human being in all dimensions at the level of energy. Thus they are not based on belief or faith or opinion but on what is actually occurring at the level of energy. Therefore, one can reject the teachings or disagree with them, but if they are actually based on what is happening energetically, then no amount of disbelief or saying it is otherwise will counter the truth of what is actually happening energetically. It is for each person to discern for themselves of course whether it is or is not based on energetic truth and whether to accept or reject the teachings.  

Esoterically and energetically, the soul is that aspect of us that is made in the image and likeness of God, it is the true self, the divine spark, the Love within. It is our essence, who we are in-truth and that is Love or stillness. It can be accessed within the inner heart, which is the gateway to the soul. As an energy it is also called ‘fire’. Many of the mystics refer to this fire, knowing it to be Love, to be God and that it burns within their own being. Jesus himself said “I have come to spread fire across the earth and how I wish it were already kindled”. Knowing that fire is Love, is God, brings this statement alive and is consistent with the message of Love that Jesus brought to the world. But he was not the only one, other mystics including St John of the Cross and Bonaventure also refer to the divine as ‘fire’. So talking about fire in the context of the divine is not new, it is as old as the hills, as those who have made true contact with the divine down through the ages have conveyed the truth of it, in the language of the day. Fire is fire, Love is Love, the Divine is the Divine, these are constants that constitute the essence and being of each human being on earth and which can be felt and known to be true by each human being on earth if they so choose. That we don’t choose it, that we don’t express from this place is because we have given power to the spirit over the soul. Big fat ouch! 

The human spirit is that aspect of us which separated from the divine, to create independently of the divine. The soul, in contrast, co-creates with the divine and never does it not.  It is the spirit that incarnates and partakes in the merry go round of life on earth, lifetime after lifetime. It carries the imprints of its choices from lifetime to lifetime and will experience the consequences of all its choices – otherwise known as karma. This can be at a personal individual level or at a group level. This is not as punishment, but is the fulfilment of energetic laws and is always working towards returning the being to its essence, to love. Sometimes, it takes a mighty big stop sign in the form of an illness or disease or some other form of suffering, in order to break the pride and arrogance of the spirit, to get it to stop making its wayward choices.  We suffer because the spirit thinks it can do whatever it likes, irrespective of the consequences on the body, because it knows it can dump the body and come back next lifetime and do it all again!

It is the separation from the soul, our true self, lead by the human spirit that results in our suffering. Another way of expressing this, is to say it is the separation from the love that leads to our suffering. In-truth, we can never actually be separated from this love but we live and express as if we are in separation to it. Everytime we make a choice that is not coming from love, that is not coming from the inner heart, that is instead coming from anger, rage, frustration, jealousy, sadness or any such emotion, ideals or beliefs or from the mental plane, we are in effect, giving power to the spirit and that which is not love. YIKES! Not only that, but we get to experience the consequences of such loveless choices sooner or later. There is NOTHING that goes unnoticed in the world of energy. However, these consequences are always working towards returning the being to the love that it is. This is not about scaremongering or striking fear into people – it is about waking up to realise we do have a choice about how we express. It can either be from love (fire) or that which is not love, which energetically is called prana. We can express from and co-create with the love of the soul or we can create independently of the divine by expressing from the spirit. Simple as that – but not always easy to live because we are so engrained in ways of living and being that are in separation to Love.

For example, many activities that we consider ‘normal’  cannot be undertaken if one is truly living in a way that is loving and self caring. It would be impossible to be impulsed by the love of the soul to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, express with rage or anger, run a marathon, climb Mount Everest, do boxing, play rugby or partake in any combative competitive sport – for love does not compete against itself. This list could go on and on regarding the everyday and not so everyday ways that we continuously and perpetually give power to the spirit. Thus it takes time, practice, loving discipline and patience to steadily build a way of living and being that comes first from the inner heart or soul rather than the spirit, that gives power to and honours the feelings of the body rather than the loveless mind-driven thoughts. It also requires understanding and acceptance of where we are at and an allowing to let it unfold without beating ourselves up everytime we mess up. We’re not going anywhere fast, we’ve been on this journey for a long, long time. The spiritual journey is in fact the return of the spirit to the soul it separated from and it is by building daily choices impulsed by love that we can render the spirit naught. The gold is already within us, the diamond continues to shine brightly, the fire forever burns, we just have to clear the muck we have put in front of them that makes it seem like they have gone AWOL!  

The energetic understanding of the spirit and soul was new to me when I came to the esoteric teachings, but I came to see, understand and feel how it made complete sense. It fitted into a bigger picture of the divine and life and how it unfolds. How we came to be here, why things happen the way we do and what we can do to heal ourselves – choose fire, choose stillness, choose love.

Feel free to share anything that this blog post brings up for you. Do you have a different understanding of spirit and soul or have the esoteric understandings transformed your understanding of them?   


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    6th January 2013 at 11:01 pm


    What an amazing yet simple explanation about the difference of spirit and soul. My own coming to this understanding was a truly defining moment in my own quest for truth. Your expression in words is truly a gift from the heavens.

    Much love


  • Reply
    7th January 2013 at 12:16 am

    Hi Eunice,
    Great blog! Esoteric understandings have definitely clarified and transformed my understanding between what spirit and soul mean, and then that unfolded into actually feeling the difference between fiery soulful energy and pranic energy. I hear a lot of yoga teachers (and others) talk about prana/chi/vital force as if it is the universal healing energy, rather than the base energy it is. Interestingly, the word prana does literally mean something like ‘precursor to material life’ which makes sense. Knowing how it is needed in just small enough amounts to sustain physical life and no more, and it is the fiery energy that we want to be aligned to, I’d love to hear more from you about your understanding of this difference and how you would present this to someone who believes prana to be the universal healing energy or an energy that we would want to increase or enhance.

  • Reply
    7th January 2013 at 10:43 am

    Beautifully explained Eunice. My spirit has been my worst enemy

  • Reply
    Jonathan Stewart
    8th January 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Thank you, Eunice. That is beautifully and clearly expressed. It will be such a useful reference for when people ask for clarification of the difference.

  • Reply
    Sarah Flenley
    10th January 2013 at 10:31 am

    Thanks Eunice for expressing so clearly and beauty-fully what I know now to be true.

    I have also struggled for a long time, trying to understand the difference between spirit & soul. In my experiences, people (and I) have talked about the spirit as mostly a good thing – my spirit does this, my spirit belongs here, linking of course to spirituality, beliefs in higher things, the universe etc…. But also a not-so good things…”oh she is a wayward spirit”, she cannot be tamed etc….

    And I have never really understood why I, under the guise of living a spiritual life – or at least leaning towards/on it – why I have drank so much, partaken in many harmful substances, mild depression, smoked for 20 years etc….

    How can something that leans towards the mystical, divine, greatness – also lean me towards such a mess. Now I know some of the answers and its not coming completely out right (but I have made a committment to expressing so here I go!) but the essence of the question was always there.

    Now after coming in contact with Serge Benhayon, and hearing so clearly the differences between the 2 consciousness and slowly starting aligning myself to soul more than my spirit, I am slowly connecting to something more grand than I could have ever imagined. More love & grace than ever before.

  • Reply
    anne scott
    17th January 2013 at 1:41 am

    Following on from Deborah’s post about prana, this was the thing I found the most challenging when coming to the esoteric work, first with Chris James and later with Serge Benyahon. I was a yoga teacher at the time and remember asking Chris to clarify why ‘prana’ was so harmful. It was hard for me to understand that, given (as Deborah said) that in Yoga we thought prana was a good thing, as it meant ‘life force’. Indeed, we learnt that ‘pranayama'(breathing practices) was one of the eight limbs of Yoga (as described by Patanjali). It wasn’t until Serge, later in his teachings, taught that prana was indeed life force, but a very much lower form of energy than the fiery energy of the soul, that I understood the difference between prana and fire.

  • Reply
    Ariana Ray
    30th January 2013 at 11:36 am

    “It was only when I came to the Ageless Wisdom and Esoteric teachings, as presented by Serge Benhayon, did I actually feel for the first time that yes, here is the true difference between spirit and soul.” I concur. I had no idea I was being led by the nose of my ‘flighty’ and attention seeking spirit through my life, until I stopped long enough to admit all was not roses in the garden of my spirit. I had been fooled big time and felt a right numty I can tel you! It was not pretty. Yet here I am making connection with my soul the important matter in my life. I thought for a while I’d loose myself, but no….I am more me than I’ve ever been before, it’s an amazing way of living.
    Ariana Ray, UK

  • Leave a Reply