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The ‘spirit’ is an integral part of the mind. It may be the soul or the connection to God of the believer, or the deeper meaning and purpose of life for the non-believer. Either way it exists and needs to be vindicated.
The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard described the human person as “a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity.” You find expression of this in your need to seek experience and awareness beyond the normal or physical level. This is the need for transcendence, to explore the realms of self that lead you to excel or extend yourself to wider, deeper or higher limits.
The roots of the word ‘spirit’ come from the Latin word for breathing—the very essence of life. Many aspects of breathing are intangible, impalpable, non-physical, apparently lacking substance or reality. So it is with spirituality: you cannot see it, cannot touch it, cannot understand it; and despite this you may still acknowledge that it exists.
Spirituality is intimately connected to every aspect of your life though you may not know it or accept it. It is a deeper more profound nature behind the veil of materialism. Your values, thoughts, emotions and behavior stem from and contribute to your sense of ultimate meaning and purpose and to your connection to what believers call God or Yahweh or Allah or any number of other names.
Non-believers may identify with this deeper source as a Higher Self, Inner Self, Reality, the Ground of Being or similar terms. Whatever the belief or whatever name you use living from this perspective is at the heart of a free and authentic life. In Adaptive Freedom we use the term spirit (with a small “s”) as a simple, descriptive, all-encompassing but also relatively neutral term to which most can subscribe.
It is important to understand that you can have a spiritual life without having a religious life. The spirit is to be found in nature, art, ritual, creativity, truth and the generosity you find in fellow human beings. Your spirituality arises out of a sense of incompleteness and is manifested by an urge toward wholeness.
The spiritual journey is often described as the inner journey. The source of spirit is often found in the insight that arises from deep personal reflection, meditation or contemplation, and in the flowering of intuition.
All these are realms of the mind. Some believe that their most profound flashes of insight and intuition emerge from the mind because it is the seat of the soul and as such is divinely inspired. Others acknowledge a purely secular mind that is nonetheless capable of great feats of inspiration and wisdom. In either case the experience is the same—an exclusively mental perception.
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