From the lecture "The Elements in Spiritual Growth":
This word spirit in English has been terribly abused, especially in the last one hundred years. Nowadays, no one can give an accurate or consistent definition to the word spirit. We use it for things ranging from the feeling of a certain kind of music or art to descriptions of ghosts and phantoms to discussions of god, and even alcohol ("spirits"). So, our definition of spirit is very imprecise, and not founded in the ancient, accurate, specific knowledge regarding how to awaken consciousness.
If we look at what Gnosis teaches us about spirit, we can look at any of the ancient traditions and the etymologies of the words used for spirit and they all agree.
- spirit: mid-13c., "animating or vital principle in man and animals," from O.Fr. espirit, from L. spiritus "soul, courage, vigor, breath," related to spirare "to breathe," from PIE *(s)peis- "to blow" (cf. O.C.S. pisto "to play on the flute"). Original usage in English mainly from passages in Vulgate, where the Latin word translates Gk. pneuma and Heb. ruah.
The true meaning of spirit is “animating principle.” So, ultimately, what has given us life?
The Hebrew word ruach can mean “breath, wind, spirit” and refers to our inner Spirit, or in Christian terms, our “Father.” In Kabbalah, this is related with the sephirah Chesed, and is represented in the Bible by Abraham, the patriarch (“father”) of the tradition.
The equivalent symbol in Hinduism is Atman. Directly translated, Atman means “self,” but refers to our inner spirit, the essence of ourselves, the ultimate sense of where we come from.
In Buddhism, it is simply the Buddha, “the awakened one.”
"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water [sex] and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh [through common sex] is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit [through immaculate sexuality, as required in Leviticus 15] is spirit." - John 3