Opening to the Spirit
When we see the moon and it is not full, we can see the edge where there is very marked light on one side and darkness on the other. Human life is very much like that. There is a sharp and dividing line between waking and sleeping, between having self-awareness and being as we call it unconscious. Mostly, what we call the spiritual path is about crossing that line, going over that border, moving beyond that frontier in one way or another.
Best understood if we approach it using the old definitions of human nature as being a body, soul and spirit. It can then be seen in context. In this sense the body is a living process of change that is born, matures and dies. It is subject to time and the physical limitations of space.
The soul is the experience of personal awareness and personal memories. Rudolph Steiner points out that while the body feeds on physical substance such as food and water, the soul feeds on the experiences gathered via the body. In this way it learns, and we are referring to the soul when we say something like, “Through that experience I learned something.” The ‘I’ being the soul.
The spirit is the polar opposite of the body. It is not born and does not die. It is your fundamental core beyond the limitations of time and space, with no beginning or end. It is probably the same as the core of the universe we exist as an integral part of. Just as our physical universe – according to the big bang theory – emerged from a condition prior to the existence of time and space, so the human being emerges from and is rooted in that same mystery.
So taking the ’spiritual’ path would mean opening your personal ’soul’ or self to the influence of the timeless that gave rise to your present life.
I know some aspects of spirituality are said to be about living a good life; about being kind, charitable and loving to others. Well, there may be truth in that, but I do believe that unless one achieves some level of awareness of one’s own internal nature through whatever path one takes, there has not been any real awareness of the spirit. In fact I define the spirit as pertaining to what doesn’t change, what does not shift in human nature, what remains as the foundations of existence. It has everything to do with something that stands beyond life-and-death. And that is why I link it to crossing of that border, that frontier between waking and sleeping. It is about exploring the dark side of the moon.
But often the spiritual is described as if it is something far off, ephemeral, very divine or difficult to attain. What I have come to over the years is these ideas give a wrong impression of it. My simple explanation is that your spirit is you when you remember yourself fully.
What I mean by this is mostly we do not know who we are because we suffer a form of amnesia. It is a memory loss that in our culture is assumed to be normal. We fail to remember our childhood, our infancy, our birth and conception, yet these are all available to us.
When we do take our memory back to include all these and go beyond that to our life in eternity, we remember who we are. Then we know what spirit is – ourself.
In fact, one of the stated facts of what we have called the enlightened human being, is that they never sleep. By this is not meant that the body does not go into a state of what we call sleep. What it means is that while they sleep they have focused awareness still and do not lose themselves in unconsciousness. That is why lucidity is such an interesting subject. When we penetrate these levels in sleep or in waking we begin the process of remembering who we are. This is what happens in learning what I have described as LifeStream.
Carl Jung describes the consciousness of a human being, with its experience of being awake and asleep, as being like a sphere. He said that on this sphere, or ball, there is a small spot of light about the size of a pea in relationship to a tennis ball. This small spot of light, he says, depicts our experience of waking. It is a tiny part of our whole self, the rest and greater part lies in the shadows of unconsciousness, of sleep.
Of course, most of us have glimpses into that dark world when we remember a dream. Therefore, as Freud suggested, dreams are a royal road to the unconscious. But there are many other paths that have been developed through the ages. Most of them in one way or another are ways of throwing the spotlight of awareness into the darkness of that large sphere that is our total being.