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In looking at what spirituality is, we first examine what it is not.
We consider that by spirituality we do not mean religion, belief, cognitive dissonance, or equality with God. But that rather, we are talking about the expression of ourselves, and a means by which we may gain understanding of concepts outside of the natural world and journey into the unknown.
Arthur C Clark said, “Two possibilities exist, either we are alone in the universe, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”
By this statement, we see how interesting explorations of existential thought can be. And as we consider something like the extent of our universe, the measure of what lies beyond that, and the sheer incomprehensible vastness of it all, it’s hard not to ask some very big and basic questions.
It is most likely by the unique means of our spiritualty that we are even able to consider realms or powers outside of our own, and access these. It is proposed that we as humans are made of three parts: body, soul, and spirit.
Each part is seen to run on an appetite, or combination of appetites. The body needs food, water, air, sex, sleep and so on. The mind and soul yearn for connection, knowledge, and elements like joy, security and meaning. The spirit desires to take us past the realms of body & soul into new territories.
Attempts to satisfy one appetite with another, result in all sorts of illnesses in people. The need for meaningful connection, for instance, cannot be satisfied through sex or food alone. A hungry and neglected spirit will look to the body for fulfilment and substance abuse, for one, can readily follow. Knowledge, for example, can take us only so far. At some point, even logical reasoning will not suffice when one needs to achieve feats such as super-human survival or endurance. But our spirits can take us beyond what we know.
Albert Einstein put it like this, “Great spirits often encounter violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
Clearly, we are not the first to consider that the mind and spirit are not the same. Even when it is meant to describe a certain X-factor or valour as Einstein no doubt does here, the spirit of us as humans is undoubtably distinct from our souls, wherein lie aspects of character, personality, emotions, mind, and intellect.
Take for example what happens when each of these parts suffers injury. A broken body means we lose how we exist. A broken soul means we lose who we are. But a broken spirit means that all is lost, and the will to live will likely cease.
A short film by Pixar entitled “Piper”, depicts an adorable young sand piper on her journey to adulthood, learning to search for clams by herself for the first time. The film runs only 6 minutes or so but provides a touching and memorable reminder of the importance of perspective. By means of her spirit, the little bird pushes hard past the objections of her mind, in which is settled a recent trauma, and as a result, is rewarded with a brand-new experience, one which even her flock hadn’t ever enjoyed. It’s this added dimension of the human spirit by which we can achieve tremendous things. Or, conversely, when ignored, we go without tremendous experiences and depth of meaning.
As Benjamin Franklin puts it bluntly, “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.”
Existence, without being truly alive, can be an alternative to actual death. One could even call this a sort of living suicide. This is perfectly preferred to suicide, which is unfortunately an option for too many every day across the world. But the reality of living without being truly alive, is agonizing for the person doing so, and possibly the second-greatest squandering of the gift of life.
So, if we are at ease with the idea of a tri-part humanity, it is important to ask, what does Jesus offer our Christianity?
Well, in short, it is agreed that all schools of religious thought or teachings of deities must adequately answer the following four fundamental questions, to prove worthy of our devotion, whether examined by means of the mind or spirit. This means that the teachings of Jesus should answer effectively questions of our Origin, the Meaning of life, Morality & Destiny.
And, He does. He does so, in fact, more beautifully than any other great man to have ever walked the earth. The Bible offers from beginning to end, clear and broad descriptions about where we came from, what this life means, what is considered good and moral for daily living, and where ultimately, we could likely expect to find ourselves at the end of it all.
It describes how the physical body becomes a living soul when the spirit of God enters it. God’s spirituality is imparted to us, and by this spirituality we from that moment on have that near-magical connection by which we are pulled upward, forward, out of our pits of muck, off of our deathbeds, out of our darkest corners of ambivalence and hard heartedness, and we are given a life so rare, a hope so pure, that by its warmth we rise to become worthy of it’s shining on us.
It is your spirit that kicks in when your mind, emotions, training, and body fail, and by God’s grace, makes realisations like a recovery from addiction, widely considered impossible, possible.