Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spirituality - Installment 4

As usual, the comments on Spirituality 3 were better than the blog itself. They ranged through the topic and anticipated part of what we had been going to say here in Installment 4. Several of you protested about our referring to fundamentalist morality. We felt compelled to mention it because we look upon it as a continuum--the same continuum that Ayn Soph pointed out. In that continuum the parental stick or slap is replaced with religious control in the form of a set of "morality" rules--a dead giveaway to the string-pulling of the dominator mindset that Riane Eisler articulated with such brilliance in "Power of Partnership" and "Chalice and the Blade".
It seems that very few people grow beyond that stage ; but those who do, including all our commentators, feel that they are responsible for their own ethical set and their own behavior, not responsible for what they have been threatened with in the name of religion or the dominator juju. For us, the thoughtful ones, the morality rules are replaced with our own innate sense of ethics. (Here we use "ethics" as that which applies to a single person, as contrasted with the more general term morality--behaving conventionally because of some religious belief and/or threat.) Thank Goddess that Plato is not dead, so that some of us are fortunate enough to live examined lives.
This brings us back to our own mind and to what is loosely termed the soul or spirit, which may indeed be a construct of the mind. Many researchers think in terms of the mind being a fragmented or extended network in which consensus is reached when all the pieces come together.
We are not very familiar with the exact Egyptian elements of spirit ; but we are quite familiar with the idea of a fragmented soul and of soul retrieval. ("Soul" here is essentially synonymous with "spirit", except that the soul still dwells within the body.) We have witnessed several quite startling soul-retrieval healings, ranging from (a) a girl in a coma who instantly woke ; to (b) mild cases of depression alleviated in, for example, widows.
We've all felt the same hollowness of our essence, as though something is missing. Our Native American friends say that sensation comes when we have given away part of our spirit--or when it has been stolen from us. "When he died, I feel as if part of me died with him." The simple explanation is : When two people are in love and one dies or departs, the one left behind needs to retrieve the piece of spirit given away in all innocence. This simple concept seems to work in practical terms. Indeed, we are not prepared to say that it's not all simply a game we play within our own minds, especially given the assumptions of the culture in which we live. If the mind can be fragmented, then surely the spirit can be as well.
So where do you get your ethical set, if not from the combination of the pieces of your spirit (or your mind) that come together to give it to you? Like much of life, though, the set can be either positive or negative. It seems to us that those epiphanies of oneness that most of us have from time to time, through deep meditation and through astral travel, pull the glimpses together and make the whole. Thus they change our worldview in a positive way.
Does that mean that the "whole" adult is spiritual? Regrettably, not necessarily so. We ourselves do not feel that a one-to-one correlation can be assumed. This leads us, in turn, back to the question : What is a spiritual person?
Some of you know that when Yvonne or I try to read aloud a particularly meaningful piece of poetry or prose, we often have to pause to fight off the tearful response--the meltdown--that the words elicit in us. Yvonne is susceptible, for example, to the work of A. E. Housman, especially "Loveliest of Trees". This is vividly true with pieces that address the pain of others. We believe that this very awareness of pain and the wish to reduce it in the world is an early symptom of becoming a spiritual person.
In ancient Celtic thought the Web of the Wyrd, the interconnectedness of every living being, was of prime importance, and was sometimes thought of as Deity. The vision of yourself at the center of a network of people where they are all trustworthy friends, no matter what their affiliation or physical attributes are, is a vision that we can aspire to. Today, though, it seems to be slipping away from us, losing ground to the throngs of self-centered people who no longer think of the general good. We feel as if the truly spiritual people are few and far between. If our lips look warty, it's because of the huge number of toads we've had to kiss.
We thank each blog responder for your responses ; your thoughtful comments encourage us to continue.
Of course the final question is : How do you judge a person to be truly spiritual? What symptoms do you perceive as meaningful? This is the last installment of the spirituality blog, except that we will review and share comments ... gratefully. Please, you who are participants in the discussion (or just reading without participating), respond to the blog itself, not through facebook. Then everyone will see the comments.
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P.S. Next time, Goddess willing, we expect to branch out into thoughts about the Ultimate Deity, evolution, and the First Cause.
P.P.S. Dawn Godess, I can't resist telling you the Unitarian-Universalist cat story.
A little girl sits weeping on the steps of the U-U fellowship building. A good Christian lady walks by. "What on earth is the matter, dear?"
The weeping girl points to the fresh smear on the street and howls, "A truck squashed my cat Timmy!"
"Well, never mind. Timmy is with Jesus now, in a better place."
"What the hell would Jesus want with a dead squashed cat?"

Sorry, DG - Gavin