I came across a quote the other day that was attributed to C.S. Lewis, one of my heroes.
You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
It was a blog about what is called spiritualism and mystical-type ideas, as far as I could tell, and it stood out to me as odd that C.S. Lewis would be mentioned in such a place. Even more unusual, this wasn't the first time I came across this quote. I had seen it before in one of our church's Sunday morning bulletins in a section used for inspirational quotes and resources. Here too the words were ascribed to Lewis.
I know Lewis is fallible, like everyone else. He could very well have said or written these words somewhere, but they are untrue. There is no reason for us to quote them. Also, it is likely that this particular quote should not be attributed to him at all.
Though the idea that the invisible part of you, your soul or spirit, is most-essential and remains alive after your body is broken and buried is good and right, the suggestion that your body is somehow less-you is incorrect. A human being is a body and spirit. A more accurate thing to say would be
You are a body. You are a soul.
At death we may be temporarily separated into parts -- the living spirit and dead physical body, but our real selves are body-souls. And eventually, at the end of all things, we will go back to being full embodied souls again.
There is only one permanently unembodied soul.
What does this matter?
It matters a great deal. Often it seems as though my mind, my perception, dissociation are more true, more real than any physical reality. What I feel, emotionally, seems more trustworthy than what I can see and feel with my hands. At times I get so far as to question existence -- mine and everyone and everything else's.
I could live my life entirely on the inside and be ok with that. I can divide my self up into three, four characters and live their lives instead of mine. I might tell you about how real they are. How they organically make decisions. How life feels more distressing without the internal division than with it. If I did, I would be describing to you an illness.
Because I can know that I am a body, regardless of thought or feeling or mood or belief, I know that I exist and that what's in my mind may not.