Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Spirituality

A subject that is somewhat fraught, we talk of our own spirituality in terms that are not easy to define, but is there behind the life force another layer of being, invisible but transcending the physical world. Can we touch it, does it belong to our senses, created by our minds - does it really exist?
There is no answer to that, we as humans are fallible capable of great evil and yet capable of self-sacrificing courage, people aspire to higher ideals and in doing so lay down there own lives for the greater good of everyone. Yet animals also fight to save their young, defend territory, can they be spiritually blessed as well.
When reading poetry or looking at a painting, behind the words or daubs of paint will be a person trying to express his vision of the world, trying to draw through the medium of expressive art, the inner essence of the subject matter. Sometimes the expression will be abstract, it will become fragmented into a subjective view, and the onlooker will have to construct his own vision.
Thinking about the landscape and the natural world as having a spiritual meaning is sometimes more difficult. We can perhaps classify it as a Gaian term, seeing the world functioning as a whole, each part dependent on each other. Whether there is a divine force behind all this we cannot tell, yet we are born within its safekeeping, we eat its fruits, and wonder at the marvel of a perpetually changing sky, the beauty of a flower caught for a moment in its upward seeking movement, - it is as if the world is sometimes laid out for our delight, as if its beauty is indeed the spiritual message we seek.
Yet within this life force, there is the opposition, death and decay, autumn leaves crumble to dust, we kill to eat, paradise is lost, or at least out of reach. When someone dies we are deeply unhappy, a life force has been extinguished, a void has been made in the web of our lives. We return their dust to the earth where it belongs, to shift and blow in the wind maybe, or to be driven deep into the matrix of the soil becoming part of the minute teeming organic life that exists beneath our feet.
As I write this, I remember all the deaths that have occurred during my lifetime, and how we must bear witness to the final moments of death, and the giving back to the earth the life form that was once so active. When the young are taken there is bitterness and anger that life has been so cruelly shortened, we grieve for their pain and the loss of a happy fulfilling life.
So in coming to this moment of death, to the spirituality of the person and the spirituality of the place we marry these two aspects together, it is a moment of closure, a time of serenity and peace, it should not be an unhappy event but one of contemplation and acknowledgement that there is something indefinable that exists beyond the mere physical world that is our everyday life.

2 comments:

  1. "...we talk of our own spirituality in terms that are not easy to define, but is there behind the life force another layer of being, invisible but transcending the physical world. Can we touch it, does it belong to our senses, created by our minds - does it really exist?"

    "...is there behind the life force another layer of being..." Well, who knows? Probably we'll never ever know, though we often 'feel' that there is. I may be wrong but it seems to me that all religions and all spiritual belief systems have one thing in common - the belief in the soul. Even Buddhism which is not, strictly speaking, a religion believes in the soul. That's always intrigued me. Trouble is, in most religions 'god' somehow got in the way. But if you look at it objectively the belief in the soul and the belief in god are two very different belief systems. In the monotheist religions it's obvious that those religions are trying to dovetail the belief in the soul with the belief in a god and frankly, the joinery doesn't quite work.

    Personally, I believe the god idea to be a load of boloney - an instrument devised by those in power to control and terrify the masses (sorry if that sounds a bit socialist but if you look at the history of the Christian/Islamic/Jewish religions that is exactly what has/is happening). The soul, however, is something quite different; it's almost subversive in the eyes of the Church(s) because it belongs to no-one other than the individual who owns it.

    Well, that doesn't bring us any closer to confirming that behind the life force there is another layer of being but, somehow it makes me feel a lot better :-)

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  2. Well I wrote an answer but it disappeared when I previewed ;) but in a shortened version I came to the conclusion that the idea of 'soul' comes down to us through culture and religion, it is subjective. It originates probably through the first creation stories/myths that we tell to explain the world around us. The natural world was the storyboard, its mountains,rivers, animals the cosmos all figured. Awareness of death, a past,present and future led 'stone' people to acknowledge the passing of time in funeral rites which acknowledged ancestors. It is this that marks the beginning of 'otherness' the invisible spiritual layer which we use to transcend death and its finality... there again I might be waffling

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