The self, the “I” is consciousness—it is that which thinks, feels, loves, and perceives. This happens first on psychic and spiritual levels and only secondarily on the physical level when the consciousness is attached to and functioning through a physical body. Thought, emotion, love, and spirit are not physical but begin on an energy level that is above the physical plane. When the soul is functioning through a physical body, this subtle energizing is communicated instantaneously to the brain and body.
The body then is your vehicle. It is like a suit of clothes you wear during physical life or it is like a horse on which you ride and with which you are temporarily identified. We possess or are temporarily attached to a physical body. The body is, in effect, a temporary and very partial extension of our real identity which is the soul. It is a partial and limited reflection of the self as soul.
The “I” is not the body. I (as consciousness) is the soul. The soul is not a puppeteer but it’s life feeds the life of the body and works through the body. The soul, or rather a portion of the soul, is identified with the body and we could say there is a fusion. People often think that they are their physical body/brain. It is the fusion or identification of the soul with the body that creates the illusion that “I am my body.” Spiritual experience can break the illusion and reveal the fact of the soul, the real self, or the transpersonal self.
The body has an elemental life of its own that is inherited from the animal kingdom and and the life experiences of the individual are reflected in it. But this elemental life is no more than a ghost of the actual individual. It is the soul that makes real consciousness possible and it is the presence of the soul in and through the brain that makes conscious personality life possible.
In cases of extreme brain damage or the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, the soul is largely blocked from expressing through the brain and so the former personality with its true consciousness and memories is no longer present at a physical level and only a ghost of the former personality is left. The life of the soul is still feeding the physical elemental so bodily processes continue. And the full personality is still present on psychic and spiritual levels but its connection with the body has been functionally severed and so the result is that “no one is as home.” This demonstrates the extent to which consciousness on the physical plane is dependent on the overshadowing energy of the soul that normally stands behind and works through the personality.
Of course there are some people who even when physically relatively normal do not seem to “be at home” and the reason is that in such cases the soul consciousness is partially blocked by other factors. The degree to which the soul can take charge and function through its personality varies widely from person to person.