The spirit acts in two ways: One way is by instruments; that is, it sees with the eyes, it hears with the ears and speaks with the tongue. These instruments work by the spirit, which is their motor; though its senses are manifested by the body, they come from the faculty of the spirit. The other way is that of being and acting without instruments; as in dreams and visions, it sees without eyes, hears without ears, speaks without the tongue, walks without feet. All the faculties of the spirit are clear and distinct in the world of visions. Hence it is evident that the spirit acts in two ways: First, by the instruments of the body; second, without the instruments of the body. …
The body is like the crystal and the spirit is like the light. Though the crystal be extremely transparent, its brilliancy and splendor belong to the brightness of the light. To be luminous, the light does not need the crystal, but the crystal to be bright needs the light. Even so the spirit does not live by the body, but the body lives by the spirit.
If the body is mutilated, the spirit conserves always its greatness and power. For example: If the hand of a man is cut off, the spirit keeps its authority and sovereignty; if the eye becomes blind, the spirit remains clear sighted; but if the attributes of the spirit leave the body, immediately the body becomes nothing. Thus it is affirmed that man is man only by the spirit and not by the body.
This spirit is one of the divine bounties, a manifestation of the Sun of Truth; but if the human spirit receives the breath of the Holy Spirit, then it is a pure spirit. The breath of the Holy Spirit is the divine teaching; in it, the spirit finds eternal life. It is the heavenly light and illumines the human world by the divine qualities. Hence we must endeavor to act according to the teachings of Baha’u’llah.
(An excerpt from ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s address to the Alliance Spiritualiste of Paris, November 9th, 1911; Star of the West, vol. II, no. 17)