Friday, January 07, 2011
Spirit (n) L. spiritus
My large, heavy Websters gives at least 18 different meanings of the word ‘spirit’.
1. Breath, courage, vigour, the soul of life.
2. The thinking, motivating, feeling part of man as distinguished from the body, mind, intelligence.
3. Life, will, consciousness, thoughts etc, regarded separate from matter.
I remember reading the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Professor Carl Sagan, the well-known scientist, called “The Dragons of Eden - Speculation on the evolution of human intelligence.” Although it was written over 30 years ago, the information, suggestions, speculations and assumptions he made then are just as relevant today.
In the chapter on the development of the human brain he focuses on the differences between the left (mostly rational) and right (mostly intuitive) hemispheres, suggesting that our pre-verbal, pre-ambulatory ancestors relied on their ‘intuitive’ non-verbal perceptions and cognitions to survive in the world.
“Intuitive knowledge has an extremely long evolutionary history: if we consider the information contained in the genetic material, it goes back to the origin of life.
The other of our two modes of knowing – the one that in the West expresses irritation about the existence of intuitive knowledge – is quite recent evolutionary accretion.”
He suggests that in the meditative state of many Oriental religions the left hemisphere of the brain is suppressed which allows the ‘stars to come out’.
Isn’t this what meditation and spiritual ‘awareness’ is all about? An Eastern guru said, "Enlightenment flowers when individual consciousness merges into universal consciousness. It is an experience beyond mind.”
Spirit - the thinking, feeling part as distinguished from the body and intelligence.
You can pick out pilgrims who have been on the road for a long time. They have calmness about them, serene and laid-back they don’t rush to be the first to leave the shelter in the morning; they are never the first to arrive, they don’t get caught up in the rush for beds. They don’t judge other pilgrims. They don’t complain about the shelters, or the food, or the paths or even the weather. They have become the Camino – the Way – they are in the Zen-Zone.
“Zen emphasizes experiential wisdom in the attainment of enlightenment. As such, it de-emphasizes theoretical knowledge in favor of direct realization through meditation and dharma practice.”
Walking-Zen is the exquisite state you reach when you walk without awareness. You are no longer aware of the pack on your back or the blister on your heel or the sun on your head. You are one with everything around you and although you see everything, you do not think about them in words, they just are. You just are. You are just walking.
You are in the Zen-zone – having a spiritual experience.