Human as Embodied Spirit

Contributor: Lida Nikfarid
December 1, 2020

Author – Lida Nikfarid, PhD

First published – 2020


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Major Concepts

The first two concepts involve “what a nurse assesses” and describe two main aspects of physical body and soul in human beings.

Constitution of physical body – The physical body, as the material component of human being, is that which is recognized as the human being and is made up of a complicated set of organs and biological systems to administer the acts of human’s non-physical component (soul). One’s unique constitution of matter- energy as basic elements of his/her physical body make five main sets of mental and physical characteristics named temperament; which is comprised of phlegmatic, sanguine, melancholic, bilious (choleric) and balanced (the desired state). The temperaments are dynamic states with variations that change according to the effect of internal and external factors.

Composition of graded soul – The graded soul, as the energetic component of human being, is that which governs the physical body and is recognized as human’s mind or psyche. It passes through the gradation and stages of vegetative, animal and human; each possesses capabilities (faculties) which help it in governing the physical body. The composition of it depends on the function of the faculties and the constitution of the physical body it governs. The soul, as a component of the universe, is concurrently governed by a higher form of consciousness. Evolution from being a human soul to being a higher soul (pure consciousness) literally happens in a balanced state of the constitution of the physical soul and the composition of the self. This could not be possible without living in harmony with the other components of the universe.

Herein, the human is considered an embodied spirit; this means the spiritual dimension is the more significant aspect of humanity.  In Iranian mysticism this spirit means those divine attributes (categorized as two categories of knowledge, to be perfect; and love, to be merciful and beautiful) given naturally to humans to be actualized in their pathway toward perfection. The ultimate is to have a higher state consciousness as a human soul through actions to deal with imbalances of physical body and graded soul (knowledge); and promote others to remove deficiencies (love), as the transcendence of one is not separated from the other ones in a mystical point of view.

The other two concepts of the model include what is desired for one’s body and soul to achieve through gaining knowledge and providing love for others.

Balance – To achieve a balanced constitution of the physical body and composition of the soul, one needs knowledge of the body’s temperament and soul’s grades and faculties; and the love to assist others who does not have this knowledge. Balance will be achieved when the state of one’s dominant temperament is such that the soul’s act on the physical body is in accordance with its pathway to becoming a higher self and integrates with the higher consciousness; and in harmony with the other components of the universe who are going through their own evolution.

Harmony – To achieve a harmonized constitution of the physical body and composition of the soul, one needs knowledge of the body’s temperament and soul’s grades and faculties; and the love to assist others who does not have this knowledge. Harmony will be achieved when a balanced person is in a state in which the soul acts in accordance with the universe’s pathway to evolution.

These two categories of divine attributes need to be manifested in human beings’ acts and behaviors, bringing forward the two category of nursing acts and interventions as the two main concepts in the field of “what nurses do”.  

Knowledge-based interventions – In its evolution toward upper grades of development to being a higher soul, it needs to achieve knowledge about how to balance constituents of the physical body and the composition of the graded soul. Also, it is needed to know how to be in harmony with the other components of the universe as a whole. All the sciences can be applied in this regard. In addition, a nurse needs to know the underlying theory of temperament systems of human being and how it is influenced by others’ temperament.

Love-based interventions – Love is desire to manifest grace in the acts; in case of humans, as a way to evolve toward higher grades of soul. Presence, intention, caring, listening, being with and all similar interventions of nursing can be implied as love-based interventions. According to the divine attributes of the category of beauty, these provide grace of one to another. The aim is to assist others who do not have knowledge, to balance their constitution of the physical body and the composition of the graded soul, or act out of harmony with others.

As one can see, in the point of view of this model, nursing knowledge and art together help nurses in the process and trajectory of their life to promote their own and others in achieving a better state of soul and body, gain the most state of consciousness of the soul; which provides the most possible transcendence of each spirit of them. The better states in nurse and patient which are provided by the two type of nursing interventions lead to the consequences introducing the two last concepts of the model, belonging to the field of what a nurse anticipate. 

Typology – A conceptual framework broad enough in scope to explain any and all instances in nursing.

Brief Description

Developing a nursing conceptual model from a mystical system of thought provides an innovative perspective about nursing phenomena that is based on ancient philosophy. This mystical perspective is proposed as a new way of thinking for nurses about the relationship of body and soul, and that of humans with the world.

The model is developed from an Iranian mystical philosophical context, but the concepts are defined in such a way that they also can be used in other cultures. The model sees human as a whole with intertwined and integrated dimensions of body, soul and spirit.  While the process of living deals with perfecting body and soul, spirit as the predisposition to divine attributes in the human being acts as a guide. This model gives an equal value to the art and science of nursing and integrates all dimensions of human being and related health problems in such a way that they can be explained and approached as a continuum. Nursing is considered the integration of knowledge and art (love) to promote a higher state in body and soul; manifesting as much as possible of the nurse’s own and client’s divine attributes as needed.

The model’s concepts have been placed within the context of nursing practice processes as “What a nurse assesses”, “What a nurse does” and “What a nurse anticipates”

Primary Sources

Nikfarid, L., Hekmat, N., Vedad, A., & Rajabi, A. (2018). The main nursing metaparadigm concepts in human caring theory and Persian mysticism: a comparative study. Journal of medical ethics and history of medicine, 11.

Nikfarid, L. (2020) The Concept of Environment Based on Iranian Mysticism and Wisdom, Toward Development of a Nursing Theory. Journal of Pizhūhish dar dīn va salāmat. 6(3):89-106. Persian with an English summary. Journal Homepage:http://journals.sbmu.ac.ir/jrrh

Nikfarid, L. (2020) The Concept of Person Based on Iranian Mysticism and Wisdom, Toward Development of a Nursing Theory. Journal of Pizhūhish dar dīn va salāmat. 6(4):205-213.Persian with an English summary


About the Author – Lida Nikfarid (1973 – )   

I was born in 1973 in Hamedan, Iran. I live in Tehran, the capital of the country with my husband and two daughters. I work in Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, faculty of nursing, as an assistant professor. I was interested in nursing theory by reading about the Theory of Human Caring of Jean Watson. I found it very mystical and tried to explain it in the context of Iranian mysticism. During a 7 years searching and studying in this context, I noticed that I have some idea about nursing knowledge and how nursing metaparadigms are defined in Iranian mysticism and wisdom. In this process I was guided by Dr. Fawcett through emailing and I admire her sincerity. She helped me to write my own theory. Also, Dr. Shoenhofer kindly helped me to find a suitable language for providing a theory.

In addition, I have spent a long time studying Iranian philosophical and mystical books, which catalyzed my interest in this content as a really comprehensive and innovative way to answer the basic philosophical questions all we have. Avicenna, Mulla Sadra and Rumi were the three persons whose thought inspired me in developing my theory.