Spiritual Suffering

What I mean by Spirit

I’m using the term “spirit” in a dual sense: “Incorporeal consciousness”[sup]1[/sup], and “The essential nature of a person or group”[sup]2[/sup]. Spirit is therefore not composed of matter or energy and can’t be sensed corporeally. Because it is a singular consciousness (since it isn’t corporeal), the spirit is a closed system or wff[sup]3[/sup]. Therefore, it is an Identity. It is at the root of our being. It is our ontological definition: [We = Spirit] And [Spirit = We].

What I mean by Suffering

I’m using the term “suffering” in the transitive sense, as “To undergo or sustain (something painful, injurious, or unpleasant)”[sup]4[/sup]. Suffering in this sense, then, is more than simply a feeling. It is a journey, a process, an ongoing struggle with pain and injury. It is an action. In fact, because of our free will, it is a praxis.

The teachings of Jesus

Since definitions have been given up front, please, when debating, refer to these meanings of spirit and suffering, and not to the many other meanings that are not relevant to this matter. I have suffered :wink: much criticism for walking into discussions using undefined terms in uncommon ways. Any such protest has been obviated by the offerings above.

According to Jesus, God is spirit.[sup]5[/sup] Jesus Himself cuts the dichotomy between spirit and flesh and acknowledges both the incorporeal and closed nature of the spirit with this remark: “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”[sup]6[/sup] Thus, the spirit is disassociated from flesh and is closed unto itself. You cannot therefore discern the spirit with your brain though you can discuss it with your brain. You cannot experience it with your body though you can express its joy and suffering with your body. You cannot see it with your eyes though you will most certainly know it when you see it.

As recently as a few months ago, I held the errant (or at least incomplete) view that the spirit suffers when it is coerced. Gaudere, however, offered an argument against this view that I considered compelling. And when I am confronted with reason that compels me to accept a conclusion, I always change my mind. I despise rationalization (the antithesis, in my opinion, of reason) and so sought to study more thoroughly and learn what spiritual suffering really is.

What follows is revelation that was a byproduct of study. These are my interpretations of matters, and your interpretations may vary. And herein lies the debate. This thread is not about whether there is or is not a spirit. Nor is it about whether there is or is not suffering. And it isn’t about whether Jesus is or is not an authority on spiritual matters nor about whether Jesus did or did not give these teachings. It is about what Jesus means when He talks about the metaphysics of spirit, given that He does in fact talk about it. Does He mean what I think, or have I misunderstood Him?

He says, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”[sup]7[/sup] Mainstream Christians hold that the reference to water is a reference to baptism. I disagree. I believe that the reference to water is a reference to physical birth. (As in a woman’s water breaking just before giving birth.) I believe that a careful study of the syntax and taxonomy of the entire passage[sup]8[/sup] of His conversation with Nicodemus conclusively shows that Jesus means once again that there is an unbridgable, hyperdimensional chasm between the physical universe and the spiritual one.

In fact, I believe that Jesus teaches that the physical universe is morally insignificant (and therefore morally neutral). Only the spiritual universe matters. He says, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.”[sup]9[/sup] I don’t know how much plainer He could possibly be about that.

Further, He teaches that the spirit is free and ubiquitous: “God gives the Spirit without limit.”[sup]10[/sup] That implies, in my view, that God will give us whatever we desire. (Remember the context: nothing is real but spirit; there is therefore nothing outside it to be desired.) The spirit exists independent of our observations, findings, comprehensions or apprehensions. He teaches, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”[sup]11[/sup] Yet again, he draws the dichotomy between the physical universe (“the world”) and the spirit.

My conclusions

After much prayer, mediation, and thinking on these teachings, I came to the conclusion that God is not the source of happiness, except in the indirect sense that He always allows us to pursue what we desire, guaranteeing only that, if we desire Him, He will give Himself to us.

God is the source of goodness; but our own desire — and specifically its fulfillment — is the source of happiness. Some people desire goodness. Some people don’t. Goodness is goodness, an absolute attribute of the Identity mentioned above. But happiness is a very subjective thing. What makes one man happy might likely make another miserable. Goodness, to be truly good, must fulfill a categorical moral imperative.[sup]12[/sup] Happiness occurs when our desires are fulfilled, and our desires are wholly disparate, one from another, due to the closed nature of our consciousness.

Thus, even evil people are not deprived of happiness (at least not by God), so long as they are fulfilling their desires. Jesus says to evil people (in this case, religion politicians), “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”[sup]13[/sup]

In fact, God deprives no one of the desires of his heart. It’s just that sometimes our desires are soooooooo trivial. Jesus comments on the desires of hypocrites: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”[sup]14[/sup] In other words, they want recognition from other men. Okay. They get recognition from other men. But had they wanted recognition from God, they would instead have prayed in private where only God could see their piety. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”[sup]15[/sup]

In summary, as I now see it, spiritual suffering is a manifestation of unfulfilled desire. If we desire evil, then we pursue evil, and evil is our reward. If we desire goodness, then we pursue goodness, and goodness is our reward. Those who are in hell (whether physically alive, dead, or not yet born) are not unhappy. They are in hell because they choose hell. They delight in evil and suffer nothing whatsoever spiritually from the absence of God. And God grants them the freedom of will to choose evil over goodness.

Those who suffer spiritually are those who desire goodness but have not yet found it, or else those who desire evil but are afraid to pursue it, or else those who have in some other way deprived themselves of pursuing their own happiness in their own way. When the essence of our being cannot achieve its own identity, it suffers. What we desire and what we are are one and the same. Thus, Jesus teaches, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”[sup]16[/sup]

The spirit suffers so long as it is deprived of what it desires.


[sup]1[/sup]The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company, definition 1b

[sup]2[/sup] Ibid definition 5b

[sup]3[/sup]Glossary of First-Order Logic Peter Suber, Philosophy Department, Earlham College

[sup]4[/sup]Op cit, definition 1 as v. tr.

[sup]5[/sup]Jesus of Nazareth John 4:24

[sup]6[/sup]Ibid John 3:6

[sup]7[/sup]Ibid John 3:5

[sup]8[/sup]John 3 A conversation between Jesus and the Pharisee Nicodemus

[sup]9[/sup]Op Cit John 6:63

[sup]10[/sup]Ibid John 3:34

[sup]11[/sup]Ibid John 14:16-17

[sup]12[/sup]Kant: The Moral Order ©1997-2001 Garth Kemerling.

[sup]13[/sup]Op Cit John 8:44

[sup]14[/sup]Ibid Matthew 6:5

[sup]15[/sup]Ibid Matthew 6:6

[sup]16[/sup]Ibid Matthew 6:21

A worthy return. First, a substantive comment:

I think thwarted rather than unfulfilled is appropriate here. Surely the journey is important, and starting off unfulfilled is not suffering. Fulfillment is necessarily the end of a process. I guess I’m saying that becoming, not being is the essence of a good life. Otherwise you’re either left with no journey at all, or concluding that a good life is necessarily a suffering one.

Now, two less philisophical remarks: (i) You may no longer be an existentialist, but they’ve sure left their mark on you; (ii)In the sentence “Spirit is therefore not composed of matter or energy and can’t be sensed corporeally” I think you mean “detected” rather than “sensed”. You certainly claim to sense it.


(That’s going to take some getting used to.) :wink:

I think it might be two different (and equally valid) ways of looking at and expressing the same thing. By way of analogy, a “sacrifice” in chess is not really a sacrifice at all (not to include spurious risk taking by amateurs), but is a calculated tactic or strategy to obtain an advantage. One player’s sacrifice is another player’s trap.

There can be enormous frustration and anxiety in the anticipation or pursuit of anything co-existing with delight — even delirium. Depending upon your point of view (or philosophical reference frame), the journey itself can be exactly the kind of transitive suffering that I defined. And so yes, in that sense, the end of the journey is the reward.

A thing hard earned, having been greatly desired, is a thing highly treasured. On the other hand, we often find that the end of the journey is a disappointment, an anti-climax. The hypocrites who sought the admiration of men likely were not very satisfied for very long (admiration disapates so quickly!), and so were compelled at some later point to go out and seek the admiration of still more men.

For some, it is the journey itself that makes them happy. For others, the journey is a means to finding happiness. Suffering is not an evil thing. It is the spiritual equivalent of physical pain. It is an indicator that something isn’t (yet) quite right.

Probably. I’m a very sensitive guy with an extremely melancholy temperament. Most everything leaves a lasting mark on me. Perhaps existentialism (at least Camus style) was an important part of my own moral journey, and helped me to understand what Jesus’s teachings mean to me in my own life.

Quite likely, were I to understand His teachings along the lines of ordinary Christianity, I would dismiss them as irrelevant.

That’s a good point and probably right. But I took care to draw the distinction between, for example, apprehending the spirit with your mind and comprehending the spirit with your mind. In other words, once the spirit has revealed itself to you, you can comprehend it. But you cannot corral or capture it by thought.

In the “spirit world”, first comes the revelation, and then the (new) understanding. What is the mechanism by which that revelation is given? I don’t know. At least not yet.

Questions: is it always immoral for a spirit to knowingly prevent the fulfillment of another’s desires, or does it depend (for example, it would not be immoral to prevent an evil person from fulfilling their desires)?

Is it preferable to God for all spirits to achieve their desires? When you say “God deprives no one of the desires of his heart”, do you simply mean that God allow people to want whatever they want, or that God allows them to fulfill their desires?

Oh, and how did I forget!? Welcome back, Libby. Good to see you again. :slight_smile:

I need to ask for one clarification. You discuss the spirit world and the physical world as dichotomous and closed to one another. Now, as I understand the word closed this would imply that operations of the spirit would never result in an effect on teh physical world and vice-versa. This raises some rather throny issues, not the least of which is associating a particular spirit with a particula body, but I hesitate to dig too deeply in that direction until you tell me precisely what you mean by “closed” to each other.

I have another question about your definitions, which may or may not be related. If I==spirit, then how are passages like “you will most certainly know [spirit] when you see it” and “once the spirit has revealed itself to you” meant to be interpreted? Are we talking about self-discovery by my spirit of my spirit, or are we talking about discovery by my spirit of other spirit(s)?

now for the meat
Just briefly, though, on areas that I think I can address before your clarifications of the above.

These aren’t contradictory, I just want to make sure I understand you correctly. Spirit is the only context for desire. God is the ultimate source of all spirit, but individual spirits have been granted free will. Spirit is also the only target for desire. Some desire, and thus some spirit, is trivial/petty/evil.

Well, I’m not sure the first group is possible, given the idea that “God gives the Spirit without limit”. If a spirit desires goodness wouldn’t, under what circumstances would God not fulfill that desire?

The second group seems reasonable, so long as we allow the set of things that are spirit and not God to have more than one element.

I don’t really feel competent to comment on the third group, since I don’t understand the mechanisms by which a spirit might deprive itself of a spiritual desire.

in summary
Your definition for spiritual suffering seems reasonable. The implication that a spirit seeking good will never suffer is interesting. I have to confess that I do not see any direct connection between the words of Jesus that you referenced and the identification of suffering with unfulfilled desire (but I bet that the Buddha would agree ;)).

Hrm, I’m not entirely sure I’d back that bet. From my grasp of the Noble Truths, the (immediate, if not ultimate) source of suffering is indeed desire–but fulfilled versus unfulfilled is not a qualifier that’s attached to it.

Here, I’m dealing with the amoral matter of suffering itself, phenomenologically. The deontology of the causitive agencies of suffering are outside the scope of this thread. However, the threshold of lattitude that I would extend to you is high, so I’ll comment briefly.

I don’t believe it is possible for one spirit to cause another to suffer simply because the spirit is ablative in nature, i.e., any part of it that is eroded is a loss to the whole. The physical universe, on the other hand, is genitive in nature. As physical individuals, separated from one another by electromagnetic fields, we each are merely stewards of what God is (and the real we are).

I don’t believe that there is any ipso facto morality in any action or deed. Actions and deeds are nothing more than manifestations of quantum displacements. Therefore, it is impossible to decide whether stopping an evil person from fulfilling his happiness is immoral because the event is contextless. And judgment of morality requires, not only context, but unabridged context.

That is why God leaves us to judge ourselves by His own standard.

With respect to your second question, I believe that God allows us to pursue our desires and, yes, fulfill them if we are capable. While suffering itself is amoral, the journey is the whole of our morality. In my opinion, our physical lives are of real value solely because they are expressions (or enactments) of our morality. Nothing is meaningful without moral context. Absent God, the universe is nothing more than an electromagnetic convulsion suspended in gravity. Where is the meaning in that? We are left, in that scenario, as recycled hydrogen — no more significant objectively than heaps of dung.

God’s existence (and moreover His love) imbue us with objective worth. Without Him, any worth we have is what we assign to ourselves — as arbitrary and amoral as the value a cat assigns to itself when it snuggles in your lap. It is your love, and not the cat’s, that conveys upon it sufficient value that it may remain in your home.

Now, there is an example of causative agency! :wink: You just alleviated a portion of my suffering, as I have always desired your approbation. You are my sister in spirit, and your welcome makes my presence here meaningful to me.

I mean it as an “A” proposition in the context of traditional notation for categorical logic. In other words, the whole of God is spirit, and the whole of spirit is God. I don’t mean that spirit cannot “interact” with the world. In fact, it can and does. The mechanism by which it does is its will. When the spirit has decided to act, the atoms will move.

Yikes! I deliberated so carefully to avoid equivocation, but how difficult it is when writing about dual metaphysical aspects simultaneously! — (1) the significant existence of the spirit, (2) and the insignificant existence of the brain.

What I meant was that “your brain will most certainly know”, and “once the spirit has revealed itself to your brain”. I must remember to make the distinction consistently between the real you, and the you that will die. Whenever I am slack in that regard, and the context is unclear, please ask me for clarification as you’ve done here.

What I was getting at was that you cannot come to a spiritual understanding by intellectual will[sup]1[/sup], but you can come to an intellectual understanding by spiritual will. Intellectual understanding is insignificant, but spiritual understanding is significant morally, as we are held to God’s standard in accordance with our spiritual understanding of it. One of Jesus’s famous encounters with the religion politicians went like this: Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9:40-41)

Whew. I thought you were headed somewhere else until I saw your very last sentence there. Yes, we agree. I believe that some spirit is trivial/petty/evil. That is the spirit that God eviscerates by means of a spiritual ablation. Jesus teaches, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” (Matthew 5:30)

Regarding the first group, remember that temporality is insignificant inasmuch as it is an attribute of the physical universe, and is not an attribute of reality. Thus, giving, will give, having given, gave, etc. — these are all identical from a spiritual reference frame. If you are given an understanding tomorrow, then from a temporal reference frame, that event is genitively separate from other events. (Each space-time event is its own coordinate.) But from a spiritual reference frame, if you are given an understanding tomorrow, you simply understand, have always understood, and will always understand.

I thought that the last teaching I gave in the opening post (the metaphor about a man’s heart and his treasure) was the one that cinched the connection between suffering and unfulfilled desire (hence, the reason I saved it for last.) Maybe this could be a point of debate. A man treasures most what he desires most. His heart is the vessel of his spirit.

(Spiritus, I know that you understand that by “heart” in this context, I don’t mean a rhythmically pulsating muscular organ, but believe it or not, I must clarify that fact to some. May they consider it clarified.)

[sup]1[/sup] “You cannot come to a spiritual understanding by intellectual will” is not meant to imply a pro causa. It can happen that, in the course of intellectual pursuit, a spiritual understanding will be made manifest. But that happens only when it is eventually the spiritual will that seeks understanding. Christians popularly call it “opening your heart”.


I meant to expound:

When the spirit has decided to act, the atoms will move. That’s what the atoms are for. That’s why they were created — to provide an amoral context in which we act out our moral will.


That should have been worded, “the last teaching I cited”.

Okay, I see my confusion. I thought you were talking about the relationship between spirit and flesh, not the relationship between spirit and God. Just to make sure I have it clearly: you are saying that both the flesh and any particular relationship between teh spirit and flesh are inconsequential to suffering. Is that it?

But now I am confused again. If God is an A proposition for spirit, then no spirit exists outside of God. :confused:

Again, just to verify my understanding, you are positing two distinct conscious entities: brain and spirit. Both capable of phenomelogical experience and epistemological apprehension, but only one of which is capable of suffering.

Well, temporality is a descriptor for a context in which change is possible. Your argument explicitely requires spirit to change, thus some form of temporality is required. It need not have any relation to physical time, obviously.

Well, without temporality “given an understanding tomorrow” is a nonsense phrase. Without temporality, action is not possible, only state. Spirit cannot do, as your praxis model of suffering requires, spirit could only be.

If spirit is without temporality, however, it only reinforces the implication that a spirit in a state of desiring good cannot suffer–it will have “always” found the good that of God’s bounteous present. (If I have understood your reading of “God gives the Spirit without limit.”)

Well, the section that I bolded agrees with my own interpretation of the passage (well, with a tiny quibble about the identifiation desire==treasure.) What I don’t see, though, is any reference to suffering. I should have been more clear in my initial comment. The Biblical passages do support a relationship between spirit and desire. They do not support an identification of suffering with unfulfilled desire (though I personally think it isn’t a bad place to start looking).


Well, my own readings (admitedly sparse) support the idea that desire inevitably leads to unfulfilled desire. But, like the Buddha ;), that’s neither here nor there. It was a joke. Hence the smiley. Too bad this board doesn’t have a “weepy”. I’ve often found a deep resonance with the Weeping Buddha.

First, I don’t understand how one “achieves” identity.

God is the source of goodness— but where do we place the moral valuations of goodness?— On the desires, or the realized desires? Jesus has definitely said on the desires themselves, whether or not they are realized.

Our spirit as we know it (and as we are, in fact) exists in the construct of physical reality, and while we are realizing that construct we associate physical actions with spiritual desires. (I am rephrasing to make sure I have a handle on things, so please check for conceptual errors! :))

Should we realize those desires, we are happy. But realizing desires are petty and morally inconsequential, right? So then neither actions nor desires are able to be morally valuated.

Except, of course, unless our desires are spiritually motivated, right? Is this the ultimate positioning of moral valuations—whether or not one seeks spiritual desires? Has them? Realizes them? Again, Jesus has implied that realizing a desire is not necessary for valuating that desire— so then am I to understand that simply desiring to understand spiritual matters based on Jesus’s and God’s teachings are the only prerequisite for being good, and hence living at God’s side after we leave this mortal coil?

(I hope I haven’t hacked your comments up too bad :()

What goodness, then, does God lay out for us in that manner? What small readings I have done of the bible don’t really shout out anything other than directives for physical interaction. (but I’ve got three of them, so if you want me to reference anything I have no problem)

I was attempting, while defining spirit, to include ourselves (our ontologically real selves — our selves that don’t die) as God. I’ve talked about both the relationship between the spirit and flesh (as separate existential phenomena, the former real, the latter not) and the relationship between the spirit and God (that includes us, which was the point of speaking about spirit as a duality and including definition 5b.)


I don’t know why you find that confusing. Certainly no spirit exists outside of God. God is Spirit. Did you mean because He will ablate (has ablated, is ablating) Himself? Is that the part you find confusing?

If so, let me just say that what God desires most is goodness. When we despoil Him with our poor stewardship, He suffers. Because He treasures goodness, He eviscerates (or more precisely, ablates) that measure of Himself that is corrupt or spoiled by us. It ceases to exist. Jesus refers to it as “the darkness”.

Search “darkness” in the Gospels at GospelNet, and you’ll see a blue million references to it.

Hmmm. That’s quite a knot. Let me just say that the spirit is immediate, and the brain is mediate, and let’s see if that clears everything up. At any rate, both are capable of suffering, but the suffering of one is morally meaningful, while the suffering of the other is not.

I agree with your criticism there, but I know of no adequate term. Some form, yes. But not anything like the form with which we are familiar.

In our physical state, we perceive temporality as transformation or animation — i.e., we perceive a difference between now and then, and interpret the significance of that perceived change as the passing of time.

The spirit, however, perceives all things at once: that is to say, all things everywhere and everyhow and in every state of being and at every time and always. Its metaphysical state is sort of an eternal instant. That’s about the best I can do at describing it right now, given certain constraints.

That’s probably right. I was attempting to contrast the physical notion of being given an understanding tomorrow with the spiritual notion of having an understanding. And I did this because of your comment about the first group. You seemed perturbed that God had yet given understanding to someone who might have sought it. I was explaining pretty much the same thing you are here!


Right! And that’s exactly what I was saying.

Well, I talked about the spirit (and its relationship to desire) at some length from scripture because I thought it necessary to present to many of the good people at Straight Dope what Jesus teaches about that relationship. Suffering, on the other hand, is sufficiently well understood, even by atheists, that I didn’t think an exegesis on it was required.

I take it for granted that, denied what I most treasure, I am incomplete, unfulfilled, and therefore suffer. A man who treasures freedom but is a slave suffers. A man who treasures humiliation but is glorified suffers. A man wants to rape women but is too afraid to try for fear of being caught suffers. A man who treasures the adoration of men suffers when he does not receive it. A man who treasures reason suffers when confronted with stupidity. And so on.

But it’s not his brain that suffers from these, because these are moral matters. His brain would suffer, for example, it he were shot in the head. Even if he treasures being shot in the head!

I meant that metaphorically.

“What does if profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” — Jesus

I attempted to separate goodness and desire/suffering. The point I was making was that evil mean do not suffer simply from not desiring goodness. Only people who desire goodness suffer from its evasion. Evil people who have fulfilled their desire for evil do not suffer (spiritually). They have the reward they sought.

Yes, barring any semantic surprises down the road, I think you have it essentially right. Physical (non)reality is a mis-en-scene comprising amoral quantum farts. It presents a veil of reality in which the spirit can act out its morality.

Well, some desires are certainly trivial compared to others. For example, the desire to be admired by audiences is trivial compared to the desire to be admired by God. Yet many men seek out the former rather than the latter, including men who claim to represent God!

But I see you figured that out for yourself! :wink:


“Seek, and you will find.” — Jesus

I look at a good paraphrase the way Bernie Taupin looks at a good cover.

Read John. You need nothing more than John.

“The point I was making was that evil mean do not suffer simply from not desiring goodness.”

should have said

“The point I was making was that evil men do not suffer simply from not desiring goodness.” (Though I’m sure they’re mean to boot!) :smiley:

“You seemed perturbed that God had yet given understanding to someone who might have sought it.”

should have read

“You seemed perturbed that God had not yet given understanding to someone who might have sought it.”

Lib, I too have had some similar thoughts along these lines… in fact, I went so far as to define evil as people who were only concerned with matters of the flesh (again, assuming spirit = identity). However, hell was not a place of suffering— it was a state of suffering. As you note, evil seeks desires based in the physical plane. Their spirit never really realizes it exists as a thing in itself.

Thus, when the physical body dies, the spirit can no longer pursue earthly desires, and thus suffers. Hell isn’t a place, to me (accepting the construct given above and much as you have outlined it). What do you think about that? Do you think that the devil grants evil people the ability to still achieve some form of physical desire— that is, are evil people happy in hell? (if hell is a “place”— damn semantic sandtraps!)

Now, a question. You say that God is spirit. We, also, are spirit. Are we a “part” of God or are we mini-gods? Is our spirit in any way connected (because they are obviously related) to God’s spirit apart from the ability to desire to know God?

I know. That’s what had/has me confused. If we are restricting our discussion to spiritual suffereing, and you have defined that as strictly a reflection of spiritual desire, and you have stipulated that spirit desires only spirit, never the material–then any discussions of the material world seem irrelevant.

**ab·la·tion: **Surgical excision or amputation of a body part or tissue. Once I cut off a limb, it is no longer a part of me. Once God cuts off a spirit, how is it still a part of God.

You answer with:

So, if spirit cut off from God ceases to be spirit, how can such non-existent spirit be discussed as a spirit with desire for spirit?

Fair enough. Is there any circumstance under which the mond’s understanding can alter the spirit’s desire?

This makes it problematical to speak of the outcome of desire, doesn’t it? Oniscience and free will are poor bedfellows. If spirit knows, in it’s eternal instant, the truth of its complete being then how can we speak of desire thwarted or fulfilled? Spirit is either happy with its state or it is not. It can have no possible expectation that its state will/can/did become other than what it is.

Not at all. I was intrigued by the implication that a spirit “desiring” good could not possibly suffer, under your model. I just wanted to make sure that you agreed with the implication.

Alright–found battom after all, at least on this point.
~pauses to catch breath and smile~

Oops. Didn’t we just agree that a spirit which desires goodness cannot suffer?

Sure, I don’t think that many people would argue that unfulfilled/thwarted desires are a source of suffering. I don’t think it is self-evident that they are the only source of suffering. I don’t plan on arguing the point. Your OP specifically asked us to respect the context you have established, so if you wish to postulate that identity it’s okay with me.

I simply misunderstood what you were trying to accomplish, I guess. Given that identity, and unless someone cares to find Biblical citations which contradict the association of spirit and desire, your conclusion seems to be a valid deduction from your premises. While I have quibbles with some of the details/implications of “spiritual temporality”, those have no bearing on the conclusion that unfulfilled spiritual desire is the source of spiritual suffering.