What is spirit?

What is spirit?

Fritjof Capra in part 1 of his book “ The hidden connections” ( 2002)  enquires into life, mind and society. In this way he sets a context for his analysis of systems and how they impact on our lives.   When speaking about mind and consciousness he provides a simple and at the same time a deep insight into what is spirit in the human experience:

“ Spirituality or the spiritual life is usually understood as a way of being that flows from a certain profound experience of reality which is known as “mystical”, “religious” or “spiritual” experience.   There are numerous descriptions of this experience in the literature of the world’s religions, which tend to agree that it is a direct non-intellectual experience of reality with some fundamental characteristics that are independent of cultural and historical contexts. One of the most beautiful contemporary descriptions can be found in a short essay titled “Spirituality as Common sense” (1990) by the Benedictine monk, psychologist and author David Steindl- Rast.

In accordance with the original meaning of spirit as the breath of life, Brother David characterises spiritual experience as moments of heightened aliveness.

Our spiritual moments are those moments when we feel most intensely alive. The aliveness felt during a peak experience as psychologist Abraham Maslow called it involves not only the body but also the mind. Buddhists refer to this heightened mental alertness as “ mindfulness” and they emphasize interestingly that mindfulness is deeply rooted in the body. Spiritualty then is always embodied. We experience our spirit in the words of Brother David as the “fullness of mind and body.”

It is evident that this notion of spirituality is consistent with the notion of the embodied mind that is now being developed in cognitive science. Spiritual experience is an experience of aliveness of mind and body as a unity.  Moreover, this experience of unity transcends not only the separation of mind and body but also the separation of self and world. The central awareness in these spiritual moments is a profound sense of oneness with all, a sense of belonging to the universe as a whole.  “

This resonates with my experiences that began in early childhood and have continued throughout my life. It is also reflected in the poetry of William Wordsworth. In the 21 st century the next social innovation that I and other like minded people are enquiring into is how can a human being live a life as spirit – does this result in a shift in ones identity and behavior? If so is this for the better and what are the qualities that arise in such a person? I know for myself that one of the qualities of this non-separation, this unity, is a existential joy of being alive and here on this earth, no matter what life circumstances may exist  at any moment and what emotions are being felt internally.

This book by Capra, explores what it means to be a system- an ecological or economic or any kind of system. In  another book by Capra that he co authored  with David Stendl- Rast called “ Belonging to the Universe” (1991) they discuss the notion that we humans are the expression of the leading edge of  the evolution of the universe.  In my study of cosmology of the universe assuming the theory of evolution is correct we human beings are products of the evolution. Given that we are the energy and intelligence that created the universe and our subjective self is the interior of the universe. This is liberating and also results in us taking responsibility for our lives and the future.

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