Monday, March 22, 2010

Spirituality 2

Thank you for your responses to the earlier question on the subject of spirituality. It seems that most of you believe in spirits. I was particularly amused by Cindy's parental (or chaperonish?) spirit who questioned her when she got home late.
Many dictionary definitions of spirituality link it to ecclesiastical activities. We need a new definition for everyday use, because people whom we all know naturally demonstrate spiritual behavior without necessarily being part of a church hierarchy.
"Spirit" comes from the Latin "spirare", which means literally breath. It is the root of such words as inspire and aspire, as well as conspire and expire. If we think of the spirit as altruistic, and if in a specific person the spirit is more to the fore than the body is, then that person can be thought of as spiritual--or at least more spiritual than others who are more focused on temporal concerns.
Yet spirits we have dealt with can be very negative, especially possessing spirits. This can be a problem when pagans and Wiccans "call down the moon", inviting spiritual entities--of whatever nature or disposition--to inhabit their very body. In controlled situations such as those that occur in Voudun, where there are people fully trained to deal with such activities, this may present no problem since exorcising the spirit is part of the training. On the other hand ...
Remember the case from Spirituality 1 of the old smuggler and the table. Ask any army psychologist what happens when a possessing (enemy) spirit of one killed in battle tries to make the body of the possessed commit suicide.
If we use "spirit" as the root of "spirituality", we can go to the philosopher Hegel (1770 - 1831).
The nature of spirit may be understood by a glance at its direct
opposite--matter. As the essence of matter is gravity, so, on the
other hand, we may affirm that the substance, the essence, of
spirit is freedom.
Is it possible for us to follow this quote and say that the opposite of spirituality is materialism?
Can materialistic people be spiritual? Is it easier for the rich to be spiritual? What about people like Elton John? At last count he had given $157M for AIDS relief. We might think of Mohandas Gandhi as being spiritual. Then we learn, though, that he insisted his wife clean out the latrines at the ashram where they lived--but would not clean them himself.
What about Mother Theresa? If you listen to her nuns, she was a harsh bully. Can a Jew be spiritual? He does not love his neighbor, nor does he turn the other cheek. A Jewish friend told us, "Spirituality is something we keep in our back pocket. We pull it out when we're in trouble and become holier than thou." Can you be half-spiritual? Is spirituality a learned behavior?
Causal determinism argues that every act we take is the result of a set of causes, and that we have no option but to react in response to those causes.
Every event has a cause.
If every event has a cause, there is no free action.
Therefore there are no free actions.
Ipso facto, you have no free will.
We all believe we have free will--but think about buying a Razzmobile. Advertisements, friends, price, salesmen, etc etc; many factors influence your "free-will" choice. Pagan, Wiccan, and Unitarian-Universalist groups accept all seekers, or at least profess to. Most conventional groups do not. Which type is free and hence more spiritual?
So today's question is : Do you have enough free will to become spiritual?

2 comments:

Ayn Soph said...

Thank you very much for your blog and the work you have done in the Craft community over the years. I was brought into the Alexandrian and Gardnerian lines - but have found the training and information in your published materials to be pure gold. Once more - thank you for the work you have done over the decades.

Concerning spirit possession and spirit possession in circles - I think that many are very poorly trained in how to discern the kind of spiritual entities they might be encountering, as well as having little experience in dealing with possession - whether partial or full. I was fortunate in that my initiator was trained in spirit possession early in the 1970s, along with her Craft initiations - though I think this sort of training is/was rare.

I was involved with a local ecclectic magical group years ago where the members regularly underwent spirit possession by various "gods". However - the advice seldom seemed useful to them, or the directions their lives took towards greater growth.

I came to the conclusion that they were "being led around by the nose" by a group of spirits playing at being "gods". I recommended your "The Magic Power of Witchcraft" book and the chapter on spirit possession and testing what the spirits say and, when necessary, not following their advice. You posited a common sense approach with safeguards (the circle casting, discipline with time of meditation, etc.) that I think many "spirit speakers" in the New Age circles do not use.

Once more - thank you for the work you have done, the integrity you have maintained over the years despite opposition, and the practical and workable advice in your published writings over the years.

book said...

每次看完你的文章,總是回味許久,要經常發表喔。.........................