“Now mark this with diligence: a threefold unity is found in all men by nature; and also in all good men according to a supernatural manner.
“The first and highest unity of man is in God; for all creatures depend upon this unity for their being, their life, and their preservation; and if they be separated in this wise from God, they fall into the nothingness and become naught. …
“The second unity or union is also in us by nature. It is the unity of our higher powers; forasmuch as these spring naturally as active powers from the unity of the mind or of the spirit. … This unity we possess within us, above our senses. …
“The third unity which is in us by nature is the source of all the bodily powers, in the unity of the heart; origin and beginning of the bodily life. … These three unities abide in man by nature as one life and one kingdom.” ~John of Ruysbroeck
There are three levels of being within us which Ruysbroeck is calling “unities”. While I agree with what he says, I would use different terms for these levels. I would call them the physical level, the psychic level, and the spiritual. The physical level is made up of the body, the senses, the nerves, and certain automatic responses that are centered in the spine more than the brain. The second level is the mental and psychic which is centered in the brain and mind. While the mind extends beyond the brain, they are linked. The spiritual level is made up of the spirit and soul. This is the highest level and the one that can bring us to higher levels of consciousness.
Triple Unity on the Lowest level
On the physical level, this unity exists in many ways. If you think of a factory as many different and largely independent machines that nonetheless produce a single result, it is a lot like that. Our body is a unity of many different organs and cells operating independently. They must all work together, however, if we are to survive and thrive.
On another level, our physical self must function within a physical environment and, in a sense, there must be a kind of unity with that environment so we can work within it rather than opposing it.
Triple Unity On the Middle level
On the mental and psychic level, there is a kind of unity as well. While there is still a great deal of research needed I this area, we are learning more and more that what we believe our world to be is not what it truly is. The would we see with our eyes is altered by our brain-mind into what it expects. We have been taught since we were babies to see, feel, smell and hear certain things, and so we do.
While that means we are living an illusion to some degree, it may also be necessary. Suppose there were a dozen people in a location and each looked around and say something entirely different. They could not function together, They could not communicate with each other. So there has to be a linkage between brain-minds so that they basically sense the same thing. That is one form of the triple unity.
Triple Unity on the Highest level
The spiritual level is the highest and most important level of all. It is on this level that we can communicate with higher beings including God. It is on this level that we can learn the ultimate truths.
This level is the most important of the triple unity, but also the hardest to develop while on the plane of matter. The effort, however, is worth the rewards.
Suppose you were standing near a table on which two objects rested. One was an ice sculpture, the other was an exquisite sculpture made of blown glass. The table is typing over and you are the only one close enough to grab one of the objects to save. Since the ice sculpture is melting and will soon be gone anyway, the sensible choice would be to save the glass sculpture.
The ice sculpture is like our physical body and mind. Useful, valuable, yet temporary. The glass sculpture represents the spirit and soul which is immortal. Yet many choose to care for the body and mind and ignore the spirit. The highest level of the triple unity is ignored. The capstone of the pyramid is missing.
The Ultimate Triple Unity
The greatest triple unity of all is when all three levels of our being unite into one whole. When spirit is fully awakened and aware, it teaches the mind and psyche and keeps them aimed in the right direction. Then the fully conscious mind can direct the body to live in health, wisdom, and truth. When the body, mind, and spirit work together, we become super beings capable of changing the very nature of the planet we live on. And when we do that, we become truly immortal because our mind will be united with our soul. This is the triple unity that all real spiritual schools seek to help their students achieve.