When I was a youngster growing up on Chicago’s south side, I got my fill of church. I still feel “young,” but today cannot really claim that description, unless I’m talking to someone 80 or 90 years of age. (I still feel young though.) I attended church regularly, for that’s what we did in our household. I joined the church (Southern Baptist), of my own volition, and before going away to college, I served as an usher. There was enough talk about God and the devil, and sin and damnation, coupled with apparent agreement by the flock, for me to assume there might be something to it, even if it didn’t make sense to me. The people were kind enough, in general, but something just didn’t seem “right” to me.
The Bible stories didn’t make sense. It was okay to tell stories, but I didn’t see the relevance they had to today. Why should I care that Jesus gathered together a group of followers who would be fishers of men? And whose “sins” did he die for? If I wasn’t around 2,000 years ago, how could he have died for mine? And what about the ones that people have done since then? Would he continue taking the rap for that? And what would be the point if he did, if we didn’t choose to change our ways on our own?
As a child, the most basic and relevant issue for me was very personal. I wondered why my family had to sacrifice – we didn’t have a car and lived in apartments much of my childhood – for the pastor’s family, who had cars and homes covered by the congregation? I didn’t understand how choice factored in. We didn’t have to sacrifice, but chose to.
My mother, whose voice rivaled that of Aretha Franklin, chose to sing only for God, and even then, for no personal gain. In addition to her church involvement — choir and various committees, she also worked long careers at such companies as Spiegel Inc., Kraft Foods, and then Blue Cross of Illinois. In my view, she could have touched millions with her voice, and made millions in the process.
Instead, mom dedicated herself to God, and to supporting me. While I now know it wasn’t true, I sometimes felt then that I took second position to the church. The operative word in my child’s logic, was my. It influenced my decisions as I moved from childhood into adolescence, and then into young adulthood.
As soon as I was able to, I borrowed money from the credit union in my senior year of high school, to buy my own car. It never even occurred to me to ask my mom. However, when she saw my plan, she borrowed money from her company’s credit union, and we transitioned from public transportation CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) bus riders, to private vehicle ownership.
After graduating from high school and entering college (the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign some two hours to the south), the bulk of my church days had already been served.
I’m not here to say that church or religion is “right” or “wrong.” I’m here to say it’s not for me. I don’t judge people for being religious. I know and respect many who are. I can respect you without embracing, or even being interested in, your religion. However, to me, it’s your spirit that is important. However, while they speak of spirit, most religions convey little understanding of what it is, and its relationship to who we are. But give them credit; they attempt to. Science doesn’t even try. So this discussion doesn’t even start outside of a church, temple, or synagogue in an intellectual sense until one reaches college, if at all.
Spirit therefore too often gets cloaked in religious clothing. It’s not taught, or talked about in school, except schools that are tied to a church, and a specific dogma. Any discussion of other religious approaches become comparative and are rife with judgment. Therefore, religion is a natural association with the idea of spirit, even though as a reality, spirit exists independently of religion, and is involved in every earthly expression. A point that few religions will make, or even accept.
As such, it’s time for spirituality to come out of the closet and be recognized for what it is, and embraced as both the essence and substance of who we are.
For all of our scientific studies of the molecular, atomic, and subatomic nature of the physical world, we have yet to conceptualize and contextualize the element that makes it all work. It’s not the molecules or the particles; it’s the intelligent force of spirit; a force that is responsive to each of us.
Even if we behave in very unintelligent ways, our entire existence is nonetheless the expression of a spiritual force.
Why is that important? Because spirit is eternal. It cannot die, nor be killed. It creates form, and therefore, has no difficulty changing form. It indwells every living thing, and those things that appear not to be living.
No matter who we think is ruling the world today, spirit is present within each, as it is with those who appear to be the worst off. Ethnic cleanser and cleansee are both moved by spirit. Over achiever and under achiever are both moved by spirit. Our brightest, and our most regrettable examples of human expression, are all moved by spirit. This is not bad news. It means that every individual holds, and is the kernel of quantum change. This is because of the nature of spirit.
Time and distance dulls our awareness of the nature of spirit. If you think of something with passionate fervor, it exists right then and there… spiritually, instantly. If you see a place in your mind, that place is real right then, implicitly. However, it will come into being experientially — or you will come to it — in “space” over time.
For example, all the people who claim to want to be “millionaires” have the power to do so. However, it they actually did so, and missed the real lessons of spirit that they have entered this world to experience, then it wouldn’t mean anything today, other than perhaps a loaf of bread might be the cost of a Camry today.
The power to be a millionaire is, in actuality, simply the power to be. It matters not to spirit what the being is, or who he thinks he is. The power of spirit is the power to create, as our thoughts, energies, and desires, are impressed upon the mind. The people who actually become millionaires are those who did not let appearances to the contrary shatter their belief.
That is the power and nature of spirit… of who we are.
There is no place that is not spirit infused. Spirit manifests itself both in matters of politics, race, culture, class, religion, and ethnicity, and beyond. Spirit manifests as Christian, Muslim, Agnostic, and Jew. It manifests as Democrat and Republican, Catholic and LDS, Sunni and Shiite. It manifests as health and disease, not out of “good” vs. “evil,” but harmony or dissonance, according to our choosing. Who are the choosers? The egoistic, separation-perceiving consciousnesses that act in the passion play of life in this world.
Spirit can actually be seen by some, for it is energy, but it extends beyond earthly sight without end. As such, it is one with the space, the nothingness that allows everything to appear to be separate and distinct.
Space dominates every reality there is. It dominates the relationship of the components that describe every atom, as it does the relationships of planets to their moons, suns to their solar systems, and constellations to their galaxies. Yet space is viewed as nothingness.
It may be immeasurable, but it isn’t “nothing.”
On levels that we are yet unable to see or measure at our current predominant perception, space must be the realm of our spirit. In the same way that we can’t see a “mind,” or thought, but we all KNOW that they exist, the spirit is invisible to most of us; not because of an inability to see this subtle energy, but
fear of doing so, or anthropomorphic belief.
Who among you are ready to meet the Holy Ghost?
With benefit of many years of hindsight behind me now, it’s evident to me that fear is the biggest issue I had with religion. The second issue was the separatist “lines” that each tended to nurture, behind which each flock comforted itself in a sense of “rightness,” while non-believers swam in a sea of “wrongness.” Of course, members of other religious groups were looking at non-believers of their approach in the exact same way. Religion isn’t alone as a fertile environment for the “us vs. them” mentality.
The good news is that we have progressed as a species in spite of our predominant ideological clustering. We have learned in general (loosely), to co-exist with people of other beliefs. But… in general, we haven’t really begun to understand who we are as spiritual beings. This is the most important lesson that we can or ever will learn. I use the term “we” in the individual sense. It’s not really important that “you” get it for my growth. It’s important that I do. Yet, my “getting it” will help you, and your “getting it” will help me. Such is the nature of spirit.
The following is a list of what we are not:
- health or disease
- social caste
- economic station
The following is a list of what we are:
The first group of terms is strictly effect and observation based. The second group of terms is causal; none of which can be seen until they emerge into our experience. The first group is strictly meaningful in a limited, earth-centric context, whereas the second is applicable to any experiential place or time.
The first group represents the creative effects of choices me make through the second group of factors. The first have no power to change themselves, whereas the power to change the second group of factors is infinite.
To which group do you feel your greatest resonance and affinity?
Even the most progressive religions tend to foster the tendency to choose sides. Yet, it doesn’t yet seem evident that all of humanity represents the entire spectrum of “sides” that can be chosen. For example, Satanism is simply a contrarian choice by people who reject mainstream orthodoxy. Atheism is a religious orthodoxy that distinguishes itself by rejecting religious orthodoxy. All are spirit, and all are part of The All, or else wouldn’t exist.
The reason these topics are of importance is that by maintaining our intramural, easily divisible earth-centered duality focus, we do not begin preparing for grander opportunities that lie ahead. That is, conscious encounters with other intelligent beings and life forms that call other parts of the universe home… beings who themselves are also of spirit.
Truth is, other parts of the universe are our home as well… home of our spiritual beingness. Proof of our interstellar lineage isn’t really necessary to embrace the idea that we have one, else we’d put ourselves into another “box” brought on by linear thinking, trying to place ourselves “above,” or “below” others.
Embracing the idea that all are of spirit, and therefore, are on a single path, irrespective of where life has taken them or how it is currently viewed, opens us to inquiry and exposure to that which is unfamiliar without fear.
Duality and fear go hand-in-hand, but oneness quells fear. Kindredness emerges out of oneness, as common ground can be seen. When we see ourselves as kindred, not only to each other, but to beings who travel the stars, we take ourselves off the path of apocalypse, and onto a conscious, joyful adventure through the heavens. The adventures of spirit into deeper and more expansive realms of Truth.