From the viewpoint of the description of the human reality in the Bahá’í authoritative texts, the essence of a human being is the soul, a metaphysical reality from which emanate all our distinctively human capacities. Unlike materialist views of the human reality, the Bahá’í teachings assert that our essence—the spiritual “self”—takes its beginning during the process of conception, whereupon it associates with the body so long as the physical temple remains capable of manifesting the reality and powers of the soul. Once the body/brain deceases, the soul dissociates from this relationship and exists and functions and progresses eternally. This hypothesis in no way diminishes the importance of a healthy brain as essential to our physical, intellectual, and spiritual development; indeed, it posits the brain as a transceiver by means of which the self manifests the soul’s condition and development in action, speech, and comportment. Therefore, when the brain becomes dysfunctional, whether through trauma or mental illness, the transparency of the soul’s relation to reality ceases. This paper explores the implications of this relationship for our understanding of emotion and presents a model for understanding the function of emotion as providing us essential feedback on, and guidance for, our lives, feedback whose ultimate purpose is to help us better calibrate our approach to spiritual growth. Given the brain-as-transceiver model, this emotional feedback is reliable only so long as the brain remains transparent in this systematic relationship. The paper suggests ways in which the model could inform approaches to treatment for affective disorders.
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