by Ernest ONeill
Today more of us than ever are able to choose what school we attend, what jobs we want, what clothes we wear, what vacations we take, and what we do with our leisure time. But, despite all the mental and emotional satisfaction that results from such improved participation in society, great numbers of us feel a vague lack of fulfilment in life. Deep down in our innermost beings — somewhere that seems beyond simple intellectual and emotional experience — many of us feel there is part of reality we are not even beginning to touch. Though educators, coaches and artists help us to use our minds, bodies and emotions more fully, we are left with a sense that we are not fulfilling the potential we have.
Even those of us who seem successful in our jobs or personal lives sense that life could be more exhilarating or assured than it is. We can understand why others attempt to raise their level of consciousness through drugs or alcohol because we, too, have felt there must be more to life than what we are experiencing. Psychic and spiritualist experiences attract us because they seem to offer the possibility of a higher level of consciousness without the adverse effects of drug or alcohol addiction. Yet we suspect these ‘twilight zone’ phenomena as much as mood-altering drugs because of the imbalance they seem to introduce into the personality.
Something Deeper Than Intellect
What we have been sharing the last few weeks is that there is a level of consciousness within us that is deeper than our minds and emotions. We all touch it from time to time in different ways. Some of us experience it as an unavoidable conviction that we are different from everybody else in the world. Though society barrages us with the notion that we’re all the same, we continue to feel that we are individually different from everybody else. Our minds and emotions may share the same characteristics as those of other people, but somewhere underneath our mental life we feel there’s something that is us ourselves. At times, we are convinced that we will exist even after we die. We can’t explain it, but somehow we feel we’re eternal. Sometimes, we are convinced that we’re being guided in our lives by some power that is more than human. We are surprised at the way things work out or we find a strength rising in us that appears almost superhuman. All of these symptoms are expressions of a deeper part of us that is the real ‘you’, the real ‘me’.
What Is It?
Its our very essence-the truly individual part of our natures. The son of the Supreme Being who made the universe, Jesus of Nazareth, explained it the same way as Moses did in the first book of the Bible. Paul, one of Jesus’ followers, put it like this in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 11: “For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him?” They all implied that there is part of you that is deeper than your thoughts it is able to judge the integrity of your thoughts because it has higher power than your mind. Indeed, it has the ability to communicate with the Creator who made you. Your mind and emotions (your psychological apparatus) make you conscious of yourself while your body makes you conscious of the world outside. But your spirit makes you conscious of the life beyond this physical universe.
Wordsworth described the kind of experience some of us have had of our spirits when sitting beside a mountain-lake in the evening:
- “And I have felt
- A presence that disturbs me
- with the joy
- Of elevated thoughts;
- a sense sublime
- Of something far more deeply interfused,
- Whose dwelling is the light of
- setting suns,
- And the round ocean
- and the living air,
- And the blue sky,
- and in the mind of man.”
In moments like this, we seem to be in touch with some life that lies behind and underneath the thing we perceive through our five senses. There seems to exist in this reality a deeper satisfaction or interaction with the very basis of the universe than we find in everyday experience.
These moments are so rare that ordinary humans like us have come to regard them as aberration, rather than normal. But the fact is that we were made to live at this level of reality all the time. But we can’t sit by lakes every day! So what is this ‘spirit’ part of us? And how do w (as they say today) ‘get in touch with ourselves’? Let’s talk about this in the next article.