Is Our Society Spiritually Dead?
Article ID: 14415
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,118
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Author: James Bulls
Posted: April 3rd. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,821
I value perspective and look for insight wherever I can find it – among my sources of perspective and insight I count the skeptic community and those who either don’t accept my beliefs or who even actively work to discourage others from considering my beliefs as valid or acceptable.
In an effort to live by, follow, and apply the Hermetic Law of Polarity, I expand my borders and gain knowledge by exploring opposites; in this case, I benefit from the skeptic community because in response to their challenges and criticisms I gain the ability to see myself as others outside my religious circle see me and am forced to examine (as well as defend and justify) my own beliefs.
Recently while watching a clip of Richard Dawkin’s “Enemies of Reason”, I saw this clip that included an interview with the esteemed Satish Kumar, editor of Resurgence, who advocates for Earth-centric and environmentally sound policies, practices, and beliefs. My attention was caught by what Satish Kumar said to Richard Dawkins about “spirit:”
In other words, Kumar embraces animism – the belief that some or all things possess a portion of living spirit or an animating essence, which imparts innate qualities and attributes. His words were echoed thousands of years ago by Plato’s Forms or perfect Ideals. In Hermetic philosophy, it is held that THE ALL or “God” as you may call it cannot be created or destroyed, is equivalent to the “supreme power of the universe, ” and is totally immune to any efforts to change or alter its presence or nature. The Platonic Ideal is the “blueprint” or “original form” of a thing (tree, rock, etc.) , as it exists within the mind of THE ALL.
As I discussed in my book Hermetic Reiki, imagine for a moment all the different breeds and varieties of horses in existence today. Each one is different from the other and has been deliberately differentiated through breeding to form varieties certain traits and attributes. Now, suppose that when you look at a horse – any horse, it’s not important – you’re not really seeing a horse. What you see is something that resembles a horse. That is because, outside of human knowledge or mortal existence, there exists a perfect form, archetype, original pattern, or Perfect Ideal of a horse. This perfect form is the thought, concept, pattern, or ideal from which all other forms on earth that we call horses are made. This original or perfect form of the horse, which exists outside of man’s knowledge or comprehension, resides in the mind of THE ALL. The perfect ideal of the horse never changes and what we perceive in the finite world is only a shadow of the greater truth.
The reason I bring this up is because of both what I’ve heard in the skeptic community and within the religious community (especially with regard to what Kumar said in the interview above.) Many skeptics either refute the existence of reality beyond what can be perceived or refuse to believe in the supernatural because they don’t believe sufficient evidence exists to convince them otherwise. They believe that the world as we are able to perceive it does not include the spirit and that the world around us is in fact devoid of spirit (because “spirit” does not exist – it is not “real.”)
At the other end of the belief spectrum, Satish Kumar adheres to animism, Platonic forms, and teaches that each thing has its own “spirit” and that each spirit’s presence or activity is necessary in a system for proper function. He, too, addresses the absence of spirit but not to discredit the matter but to emphasize the necessity of its inclusion.
Clearly you can see from my position as a Reiki practitioner and believer in universal life energy that I, too, adhere to animism and believe that spirit is present in all things; however, this article isn’t about my beliefs but about the question stated as the heading of this article: do we live in a spiritually dead society? Do we live in the absence of spirit? In our daily life have we excluded the animating presence of the divine? To consider Kumar’s words on role a tree’s essence (the “tree-ness”) plays in a system, is there anything which we have excluded from our homes which would elevate the spirit present within them?
For example, my wife keeps a variety of houseplants – a large potted Newfoundland pine and a Mother-in-Law’s Tongue downstairs, and upstairs a tall jar of bamboo in water on the bookshelf and an admittedly small potted orange tree in the bedroom. Unlike my wife, I don’t have a green thumb… in fact, I have a black thumb: I’m notorious for failing to water potted plants. Despite my forgetfulness when it comes to watering plants in a timely manner, I often wonder to myself what they contribute to our home and what spirit or essence they promote. Indeed, as a writer I spend many hours seated in front of my computer seeing nothing except the computer screen in front of me. I have – either by accident or design – removed all “tree-ness” from my daily life. Even when I’m in the same room as the houseplants I often forget to acknowledge them – I forget that they’re there and frequently find myself wondering how much more room we could make in a small house by removing the large potted trees.
Do you find yourself in similar situations? Have you by accident or design removed all spirit from your life? Are you living in the absence of the divine, surrounded all day by only man-made technology and artificial structures? My question to myself is, “What can I do to reunite myself with the spirit in my daily activities?”
Location: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
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