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What is Spirit Anyway?

Monday, May 07, 2018    

 

 “The Spirit breathes where he will, and you hear his voice, but you do not know from where he comes and where he goes; thus is everyone who is born from The Spirit.” (The Aramaic Bible)

“The wind blows where it wishes. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going." (Jesus teaching Nicodemus, an elder of the Sanhedrin, in John 3:8, The Urantia Book, The UB, 142:6.5)

I remember these first metaphors of Spirit from Sunday School lessons, and I’d read the Rossetti poem, “Who has seen the wind?” when I was very young. Recently, I was asked the question, “What is spirit anyway?” by a young person obviously struggling for a comprehensible answer. Although I didn’t have a chance to provide one at the time, I owe it to my youthful seeker to try to do so here.

“The Spirit is the personification of the Father's love and the Son's mercy; in him are they eternally united for universal service. The Spirit is love applied to the creature creation, the combined love of the Father and the Son.” (8:4.2)

When psychology began to discover spirit behind mind, it crossed over into the borderlands of religion. Jung, Maslow, among others, in the 1950’s and 60’s, pioneered the study of the spiritual dimension of the human psyche. “Spirit is always intelligent, minded in some way.” (9:4.2)

“Spirit is divine purpose, and spirit mind is divine purpose in action.” (9:4.5)

“The Third Person of Deity is the source of mind …” (9:5.4) “Third Person of Deity is the intellectual center and the universal administrator of the mind realms;” (9:1.5)

Our younger friend’s question, “What is Spirit?” grew out of a conversation at a dinner party, where I introduced the idea that the kids I was tutoring had naturally occurring high ideals but weren’t being taught to develop a philosophy of life to support their ideals. Instead they were given the nihilism of “The Stranger” by Camus. This group at the party were science-minded; they had to have things empirically proven, demonstrated, and they were impatient with “invisible” spirit, or an “imaginary friend.” We soon were discussing psychology, which many people now discredit as a scientific discipline, so I wasn’t surprised to hear the young people in our conversation debunk its status as “a science.”

I wanted to answer the young man who posed the question: when you are talking to me, I do not see neural synapses linking words taken from memory banks, tissues of the brain, I see a person who loves, and a mind that dreams. I see the River of Delight, creative vision, the power of imagination flowing through our lives. The only proof I can offer is the effect this power has in restoring ourselves and others, same way that the mystery of dark energy’s existence can only be proven by understanding gravitation, the workings of which remain a mystery to scientists today.

Lately, I’ve grown more concerned about the lack of a philosophy of life when I read surveys that say there is a higher incidence of depression and suicide among millennials, aged 18-35. (Psychological Bulletin, APA, 12/28/17). A Scientific American article asks what will replace religion as the traditional source of meaning.

I try often to seek the guidance of the Spirit and hope that others do so. Lately in my experience, my trilogy of encouragements has been:

(1) have confidence in your value as a person and the worth of your achievements (believe in yourself is the secular counterpart);

(2) be reassured that all things work together for the good (although originally a Christian sentiment, motivational counselors advise you to expect the best and prepare for the failures; “the 10,000 things that you successfully found did not work,” give you a valuable perspective on yourself, a more accurate view of reality, and the ultimate achievement of your dream); finally,

(3) trust God or Spirit with your destiny, no matter how much opposition you experience on the outside (believe that with persistence, and the refusal to accept defeat, a good outcome for your life will prevail). All three of these views are taught as secular philosophies in the corporate world when we are grownups. They would be even more effective if partnered with the power of Spirit.

Coincidentally, not long after my conversation with the young skeptics professing their atheism, I met a retired Catholic priest at a local coffee shop. He discovered me reading Black Elk’s life story and then showed me the biography of a visionary he’d just purchased. We found we shared a common interest in Thomas Merton. In our conversation about various religious topics, he told me about his life’s mission: to reform Catholicism from the inside. I told him I thought of the Trinity as a family located in some way at the center of the universe, a Mother (Spirit), Father and Son, who work to keep the extended family together. It was an image of the Holy Trinity that he spontaneously approved.

I’ll give the last word to The Urantia Book (note The UB synonyms for Infinite Spirit are Third Source and Center and Conjoint Actor). “While you envisage the Father as an original creator and the Son as a spiritual administrator, you should think of the Third Source and Center as a universal co-ordinator, a minister of unlimited co-operation. The Conjoint Actor is the correlator of all actual reality; (s)he is the Deity repository of the Father's thought and the Son's word …” (9:1.3)

 


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