Is there a superhuman life or is this a closed universe limited to what we can see and touch? Right from our beginnings as a human race we and our forefathers have always felt there has to be some power beyond this earth who is ultimately responsible for our existing at all. In other words, there has to be a first cause, however many intermediate or evolutionary causes lie in between. Is there any empirical evidence of a life above and beyond ours? Is there any touch-and-see evidence of life from outer space?
New ( TMP ): " Track My Progress "- Register & Login
by Ernest O’Neill
Heroin enables us to pretend that we are transcending this narrow little physical sphere in which we live, but it ties us fatally to the earth. Marihuana gives us a sense of “flying” but it enslaves our inner aspiration to the body. Alcohol seems to relieve us of what Shakespeare called the “heavy and the weary weight of all this unintelligible world”, but it squeezes our mind in a vice-like grip that imprisons us in our circumstances. Sex seems to release us from the boring conventions of earth-bound relationships but it finally bores itself. We could go on listing thousands of other enslavements that we use to satisfy our inner longing to soar free like the eagles, but we would have to admit that all of them trap us in slavery to the earth or people or things. That’s the paradox of our lives here: we sense within us a longing to transcend and fly high, but our dependence on the world of things, people, and circumstances has enslaved us ever more continuously to this earth.
The Reality Behind Drugs
The explanation that we have been studying was given by the unique human being who lived in the first century of our era and was known as Jesus of Nazereth. After transcending the ordinary physical and mental powers of humanity by a life that could control the powers of nature and heal diseased bodies, he was executed by the Romans and came back to life after a few days. He explained that his father was the creator of the universe and that he had put us here to learn to depend on him. If we were to do that, he would fill us with his own superhuman life that makes cashflows work, bodies live free from strain, and maintain hearts at peace. He painted out that flesh and blood could never “inherit the kingdom of heaven” by using or abusing any weed or herb of the earth. He explained that our dependence on physical stimulation via our five senses over the years and centuries had permanently perverted our natures so that we couldn’t trust the creator for our livelihood even if we wanted to. What was needed was a complete destruction of all that we have become and a total re-creation of us by the creator himself.
The Cosmic Death
This was what his father did in his death at Calvary just outside Jerusalem in the first century of our era. His crucifixion was simply the space-time manifestation of a cosmic death of the human race that had taken place ‘before the foundation of the world’. Through followers like Paul of Tarsus, he elaborated on this ‘cosmic death’, pointing out that when he died, we all died and at that moment in spaceless-timelessness the old creation passed away and a new creation took its place. In a sense it’s what Plato said in “The Republic” there is in heaven a perfect, ideal form of everything here on the earth. Jesus, however, said that this destruction of the old and creation of the new was achieved by his father because he was able to foresee the way we would act and behave and deteriorate. Thus he was able to provide the solution even before we were born here on earth. We therefore have a real intelligible choice which we can make: we are in that enviable position of being able to see what our lives become if we depend on the earth and people and things. Yet we can reject that as we’ve seen it working out here on earth and be willing for the creator’s Spirit to replace this old creation with the new one he has made in Jesus’ resurrection.
The possibility of a total replacement of our old selves is like an impossible dream. Yet it’s what all of us know is necessary. We’ve all tampered with our habits and our incorrigibilities, but we realize that our fear of what people think of us and anxiety about our futures and the dissipation of our vices all come from one unitary attitude — self-dependence. Because we ourselves are incapable of supplying all our needs, self-dependence really means dependence on other things and other people in the world. It is this basic slavery and untamable selfishness that cannot be turned around by our “tampering” with this habit or that temper. We sense that a complete overhaul of the system is needed. The product really needs to be sent back to the manufacturer to be retuned and reset according to the original specifications. This, Jesus explained, is what happened in his cosmic death in eternity which was manifested in history in Palestine for humanity to see.
The Theory of Relativity
The plausibility of the creator foreseeing how you would turn out and replacing that with his original version of you before you were even born is clearer as scientists begin to touch the borders of time and eternity. We ourselves can see the relativity of time in the fact that we can now fly the Concord to New York from London and arrive several hours before we left. But cosmologists like Stephen Hawking are demonstrating mathematically that time passes more slowly at the top of a tower than at the bottom. The famous twins illustration has enabled even lay-people to understand that if one twin were to travel in outer space for several years, he would arrive back on earth younger than his brother who remained earth-bound. In other words, the theory of relativity is showing scientifically that there is a place out in space where time stands still compared with earth. An infinite creator can see past and future as one great eternal present where everything happens at once.
The real achievement or miracle is to bring eternity into time. How do you break through to eternity? How does the new version of you that exists in Christ actually penetrate your present self? Let’s talk about that in the next article.
The Ideal You
Plato was an ancient philosopher who has greatly influenced the way men have explained the meaning of life through the centuries. One of the surprising ideas he presented was that somewhere in heaven THERE IS A PERFECT FORM OF EVERYTHING HERE ON EARTH. Every artist or designer therefore is simply attempting to reproduce that perfect form in their particular specimen. A chair is an imperfect imitation of the perfect chair that exists in heaven.
Several hundred years after Plato, the unique human being, Jesus, lived in Nazareth. He differed from Plato in many ways. Plato died and was never seen again. Jesus died and was seen by hundreds for weeks after he came back from the dead. Plato talked about the One True Good, but Jesus talked about God as his own personal father. Plato talked about perfect forms of inanimate objects in heaven, but Jesus talked about perfect forms of each human being that existed in heaven.
This is the remarkable fact that we discussed last month. Most of us have realized that just as our arteries clog up with cholesterol and our bodies wrinkle with age, so our personalities become increasingly twisted and perverted as the years pass. We become dependent for our sense of self-worth on what people think of us. We become dependent on our possessions for our sense of security. As a result our emotional peace and balance is governed by people and things until we seem to be puppets who merely respond or react to outside stimuli. The heroin addict seems to be simply a very crude example of the complex deterioration that afflicts us all. Often we have thought: ‘`IF I COULD ONLY START ALL OVER AGAIN — the way I was as a child — a fresh, clean slate!”
The Perfect You
That is the miraculous change that Jesus explained was possible! He made it clear that such a basic, radical new beginning was the only possibility for our lives to be what his Father intended. Jesus showed that his death completed what God had started when he gave us free wills. Free will meant that we could choose to love God as our own father or separate ourselves from him. But separation entailed separating ourselves from the one person who loved us unselfishly, from the one person who could protect us forever, and from the one person who knew why we were here. Without these certainties WE BECAME WANDERING NOMADS; we felt like alien orphans on a strange planet, so we set about making ourselves secure and happy. However, everyone else was doing the same so we ended up the perverted little parasites that we are today — badgered by petty jealousies of which we’re ashamed and twisted by selfish ambitions that fill us with fear.
God foresaw this development, destroyed it in his son Jesus before the foundation of the world — and then let it “play in Peoria” so that we could make a real and final choice. Out of sheer kindness to us, the Creator gave us a chance to “HAVE OUR CAKE AND EAT IT”. He made it possible for us to reject him and cause him pain, see what that did to us and him, and then “go round again” and accept the new, balanced version of ourselves that he had recreated before we were born here on earth.
How Does Eternity Penetrate Time?
Many of us see the necessity for such a superhuman change because we have tried and tried to improve ourselves ’til we have given up. But how does eternity penetrate time- How is the recreated ideal version of me actualized here in time-space- This is where the absolute simplicity of God’s solution bewilders all but the most desperate.
God alone can reproduce in you the ideal version of you that he has recreated in Jesus. He does it IF YOU BELIEVE HE DOES! That’s it — it’s tantalizingly, infuriatingly incomprehensible. But that’s really how it works. If you believe you’ve been destroyed in Jesus — that selfish, unchrist-like, angry, critical you — and set your mind and will on the fact that Jesus now lives in your body instead of you, then God makes that a fact!
Not Power of Positive Thinking
It’s not that your thinking positively makes it so. It’s that the Creator sees your faith in Him and uses His miraculous powers to replace time with eternity. HE LITERALLY MAKES THE CLOCK GO BACK FOR YOU. The difference between faith and the ‘power of positive thinking’ is that positive thinking tries to change reality by the power of thought whereas faith simply thinks and wills what is reality.
“Turn the clock back- Not on your life — it’s been hard enough gettingwhere I am.” Besides, turning the clock back usually means losing all thegains that progress has brought about in our lives.
But isn’t there another meaning for the phrase — Have you not wished attimes that you could erase the wrinkles that time and anxiety have made in yourforehead? Haven’t you wished that you could be INNOCENT AGAIN AS YOU WERE INPRIMARY SCHOOL? Don’t we often wish we could look at things as freshly as weused to? Free from some of our cynical, twisted preconceptions? The ulteriormotives and suspicions that spoil our attitude to others?
Don’t we especially wish that we could turn the clock back on some of thephysical and mental habits that chain us to the past and prevent us doing whatwe know we ought? How many of us wish we could shed our procrastination, ourindecisiveness, our inferiority complex, our financial worries, our physicaladdictions? But all of these have been built “brick-by-brick” overyears of wrong choices — they are the part of our past that is present with usday after day. “If only we could turn the clock back on the character wehave become!”
The best that we can do with our COUNSELLING AND PSYCHOLOGY is — “let’spretend that we have turned the clock back”. So we try to manipulate theway we look at the past. We try to rationalize our actions and experiences. Weat times try to sever the cord that ties our memory to our consciousness. Butsomehow these excursions into our unconscious don’t produce permanent results.We wish that there was some way to actually turn the clock back — to unlive thepast — so that our present character was free to begin again. What a relief itwould be if we could now (given our experience) begin life again!
Time and Eternity
Our Creator knew we would end up in this position. It was necessary if wewere to have free wills. We had to have the opportunity to see the fullout-working of choosing to put ourselves first. But there had to be some way toenable us to return to “square 1” — to erase the past’s effects onour present personality! Choosing right means nothing unless its consequencescompletely replace the consequences of choosing wrong.
Turning the clock back is what happened in 29 A.D. on a cross outsideJerusalem when Jesus of Nazareth was executed. Time-wise, this was just thecrucifixion of another would-be national messiah who would deliver the Jews fromRoman oppression. Eternity-wise, this was the historical expression of theDESTRUCTION OF THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE (as it had become) and its complete renewaland resurrection in the timeless-spacelessness of eternity.
That’s why our Creator prompted Paul to write things like — “If withChrist you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as ifyou still belonged to the world?” “For you have died and your life ishid with Christ in God” -“We were buried therefore with him by baptisminto death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of theFather, we too might walk in newness of life” — “We know that our oldself was crucified with him” (Colossians 2:20; 3:3; Romans 6:4,6).
This Jesus Christ was “slain from before the foundation of the world”(Revelation 13:8) — “He was destined before the foundation of the worldbut was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake” (1 Peter1:20). As Stephen Hawking writes in his Brief History of Time, “the theoryof relativity gets rid of absolute time — just as one cannot talk about eventsin the universe without the notions of space and time, so in general relativityit became meaningless to talk about space and time outside the limits of theuniverse” (Ibid p.33). As is shown by the “twins” example of onetwin aging faster on earth than the other would out in space, there is a “place”where time is one ever-present moment. Thus our Creator did not simply turn backthe clock in Jesus’ death — He eliminated it.
How do we Turn the Clock Back?
Simply by believing reality — the Creator has eliminated the clock. Becauseof his work on us in Christ, we have been changed — that is reality. And thatchange is effective now — the tracks your past left in you have been erased. Itis as if it never happened! Adopt that attitude now. Look up to your Creatorthis moment for the original spirit he put into you to guide the development ofyour life.
Air fills your lungs as soon as you breathe. Reality breaks in upon you assoon as you act in accordance with it. Inferiority complex, weakness for drugs?”The old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians5:17).
Stop pretending any longer. Live now in reality.
Life in Space
We humans have always imagined a vast “space” world exists somewhere in the universe where beings like us would be capable of travelling huge distances and performing superhuman feats. Of course, we have always smiled at these dreams of space-fiction as simply figments of our imagination. Even if we are beginning to probe the breathtaking spaces of our solar system at speeds which appear to lift us beyond our human limitations, yet man himself remains burdened with his own human limitations however much he dreams of liberation.
But There is Such a World!
That is the startling truth! Our Creator made us with free wills, foresaw what a mess we would make of ourselves and rectified it in His Son’s death; then he gave us about 70 years on this planet to see the mess and choose his remedy. At this moment, in timeless-spaceless there exists an unspoilt version of you that is free from anxious wrinkles, disappointed cynicism, fear and apprehension. That’s the effect of the cosmic miracle revealed in 29 A.D.: “the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world…we are convinced that one has died for all, therefore all have died…therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (Revelation 4:8; Corinthians 4:14,17).
Leaving the Earth
But how do you enter that God-recreated self that has the innocence of the child you once were? How do you get into the spaceship that carries you beyond the earth’s limiting atmosphere?
Here’s one obvious truth–you can’t get into what you’re in already! And you’re already in that spaceship — “God…even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, and raised us up with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7). That is the part of reality that exceeds the dreams of space-fiction: while you live your daily life here on earth, the “real you” exists in spaceless eternity waiting for you to believe it. That is, in fact, how you enter this new dimension — you believe the Creator’s statement — and behave accordingly.
There is no other way. Your original creation is beyond your understanding, and certainly your pre-original re-creation is beyond your understanding, so the only step you can take is belief in the Creator’s statements. This involves more than a childish declaration of belief in yellow fairies just because you choose to believe in them. It means a realization of the egotistic, self-seeking and self-gratifying individual you have become through your dependence on yourself and others instead of God. It means arriving at a place of absolute despair of changing yourself that makes you desperate enough to see the sense of the radical destruction and recreation that your Creator has carried out.
Only such absolute despair and dependence on God’s work in Christ makes a person willing for the radical change that is to be worked in their nature. Only such a change enables the superhuman life of the Maker to infuse totally the inside and outside of a human being. Only such an infusion of superhuman spirit from God can lift a human creature into the life we were originally created to live.
Such an absolute change of mind and will about how we live life constitutes the metanoia or repentance that validates the intervention of eternity in this temporal life. But this new birth continues only as we live in the new reality of dependence on the Creator rather than the world of men and circumstances and things.
A Leap Into Cleaness
Personal change is a “leap into cleanness”. It isn’t a long drawn out struggle to overcome the selfishness in you. It is a glorious leap into the “perfect you” that has been resurrected in Christ in the presence of God. It’s not something you do, but an eager, whole-hearted embracing of what God has done for you in His Son. Suddenly it dawns upon you that “you have been crucified”. God did it when he included you in His Son. You must choose to live a crucified or an uncrucified life. But the actual crucifying is not in your hands — it’s been done for you. The life-shattering change from within that begins to take place, takes you out into a life of such vivid, carefree existence that it may take the next five years to describe it. Let’s begin in the next article.
By Ernest O’Neill
H.G. Wells — and others — dreamed of a “time-machine” that wouldlift us out of the present century and the limitations of our own time-spacelife and transfer us into a larger experience. That is what our Creator has donefor us in his son Jesus Christ. Jesus himself is above time and space — he said”restore to the the glory which I had with you “before the world was”.(John 17:5) This means that He exists above time and space and the limitationsof our earthly existence. In his short time on earth in the first century heexplained to us that we were created to live in that same transcendent timelessstate even here on earth. He put it like this — “I have come that youmight have life and that you might have it more abundantly…set your mindtherefore on things that are above not on things that are on the earth”. (John 10:10 and Collosians 3:2)
Just as we call credit cards “plastic money” so there is areligious plastic that substitutes its own limited salvation for this realsalvation which God has given us in his son Jesus. So, conventional religioninterprets these explanations of Jesus metaphorically as meaning that we shouldthink about highly moral things instead of low earthy things. But the Christ(this man who came from beyond the earth) meant what he said. He indicatedthrough his follower Paul that the present state of our lives was like deathcompared to the state our Creator had provided for us originally. He stated thatGod had allowed us to sink into this “second-best-life” to demonstratewhat life on our own would be like. But in his son Jesus Chris the had preservedthe original life and had recreated our original existence in his son so that wemight choose it if we wished. He put it like this: “those of us who weredead in our trespasses and sins God made alive together with Christ and raisedus up with him and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesusthat in the coming ages he might show forth the riches of his kindness towardsus in Christ Jesus”. (Ephesians 2:5-7) We all have had glimpses of thisexistence when the Creator has allowed moments of youthful exhilaration to fillus with the limitless possibilities of the future. At those times, we sense that”everything is possible” and we are filled with an inner joy thatlifts us above any feelings of inferiority or inadequacy. We seem to “forgetwho we are” until a friend or relative “brings us back down to earth”and we fall back into the consciousness of our own “human”limitations.
What is Normal?
These “human” limitations are not “normal human” but “sub-normalhuman”. They are the impaired minds, unbalanced emotions and weakened willswhich have deteriorated under the pressure of our attempt to live in dependenceon the material world rather than God himself. This fearful, anxious state hasbecome our “normal”, and the only way we can escape from theoppression of the world is by blotting out our consciousness of it through drugsor distraction. Even these deadly substitutes to which we have resorted point tothe exhilaration and excitement we were meant to have in our normal day-to-daylife on earth. “Salvation” is God miraculously exchanging our presentlimited and limiting existence for the limitless existence he gave us originallyin his son Christ.
How Can You Become Normal?
How can you yourself be changed from what you are into what you were meantto be? Not by our self-help methods of long-drawn-out struggle and repeatedfailure, but by believing all that we’ve just shared in these paragraphs–and byadjusting our thinking and our acting to the fact that we are now part of theCreator’s superhuman son, Christ Jesus. He has an unlived, unrepeatable lifethat he wishes us to live for him — and that he wishes to live through us sothat he can complete the creation of the universe. The moment we begin to graspthis and live accordingly, that same moment reality begins to break in upon us.The Christ of God infuses thoughts into our minds that we can then follow. Wehave the power now to follow them (though we can still use our free-will toreject them). As we start to follow the impressions he makes upon our minds eventhough they may seem foolish to our friends, the normal life of God replaces theso-called “normal” life we have been living. How does this work out inpractical living? Let’s now begin to share the ways it affects our humanabilities. But the best way for you to know is to begin believing all this now.
Why Am I So Confused?
One reason is that many of us don’t understand the make-up of our own personalities. Many of us take Darwin more literally than he took himself. He never thought that evolution was the explanation of creation — his “Origin of Species” ends like this: “There is a grandeur in this view of life with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”
We think he saw us as simply more complex animals consisting of body and instincts, but it’s obvious from his own conclusion to his historic thesis that he saw us as the creation of a superior intelligent being. However, so strong has been the influence of this view of Darwinism that we have come to treat ourselves as animals that walk on two feet. We think of ourselves as having a physical body like other animals so we experience hunger and tiredness like them. We seem to have the same instincts for self-preservation and self-gratification though our mental and emotional powers appear at times to be somewhat more refined. But generally we treat ourselves and others as if we consist of these two levels of lif — he physical and the mental/emotional.
This is why we’re confused and can’t understand ourselves. It’s why we seem to contradict ourselves about questions of conscience. From one angle we say we show fear of other’s opinion of us when we abstain from some behaviour because of peer pressure, yet from another angle we hold it’s important to consider one’s peers and what they think. In one sense we feel we should be free to sleep with anyone, but in another sense we feel that long-term commitment is vital for absolute intimacy. Again and again we human beings find that we seem to be more than just animals with refined instincts. We appear to have another side to our personalities that animals don’t have to trouble with. But we don’t know what it is, so we struggle on with this inadequate working-model of our personalities.
Three Levels of Life
That remarkable collection of historical books that has given us humans the best empirical evidence of the Creator of the universe presents a different picture of our personalities. Paul, who was a student of Jesus Christ’s, wrote about it to the people in Thessalonica: in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, he wishes “may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless”. This is the view also of his teacher Jesus, who is the only human that speaks, acts, and overcomes death as you would expect the Son of God to do. He says we aren’t just animals with two levels of life — body and instincts. He makes it clear that we exist on three levels — spirit, soul, and body.
The body consists of our physical powers and our five senses. It’s the medium through which we relate to the physical world. It has needs and experiences hunger, thirst, and tiredness. It has to be clothed and given food, water, rest, and exercise, but it is only pert of us.
The soul consists of the psychological part of our beings. The Greek word for soul is “psuche” and the word psychology comes from two Greek words — “psuche” and ‘logos”, meaning the knowledge of the soul. It includes our minds, emotions, and our wills. But even the soul, though more inward than the body, is only a part of us. Whereas the body is the world-conscious part, the soul is the self-conscious part. We are able to judge ourselves and examine ourselves through the introspection of our minds while we can feel shyness when we are hyperconscious of ourselves.
The spirit is the innermost part of our beings. It is the medium through which we know and communicate with our Creator. It’s the real “you”. During the Second World War we would talk about the “spirit” of Churchill: we meant the very essence of the man — what he was in himself. Your spirit is the real you.
Superhuman life — that life that enables humans to rise above normal human limitations — affects each of these three levels of existence. Actually it depends on every level operating in balance and harmony with the other two.
If the body dominates, then the life becomes more animalish. Supply or lack of food, shelter, and clothing are the most important considerations. Probably most people exist on this level and therefore rarely rise above the level of the animals. When they’re tired they’re unbearable, when they’ve just had a good meal or a good drink they are beaming. If they’re cold, they’re irritable and discontented. If the morning is bright, sunny, and Friday, they’re upbeat; if it’s wet, cold, and Monday, they’re miserable.
In a few like Einstein or Plato, the soul seems to rule the body. Though this is always limited by the fact that the close connection between them often means the body affects the soul. So the mind often has trouble concentrating if the body is tired. Similarly, the emotions of fear can tighten the stomach muscles and cause intestinal problems.
Jesus of Nazareth laid chief emphasis on the spirit as being the level of life that distinguished man most clearly from the animals. The spirit is the life that is part of the creator himself. It has the same capabilities as his own nature, though in finite form, and enables us to communicate and share his powers.
Our Personality — Spirit, Soul and Body
How does this way of looking at ourselves help us to understand and solve some of our contemporary problems? Let’s look at that in the next article.
The Person who made us humans explained very clearly down through history that we operated on three levels of life-not two! Even in the simple outline of our creation which He presented to mankind in its childhood at the beginning of the world, he showed Moses that He made man out of the dust of the earth, breathed into him life, and men became a living soul. Today we can easily see the physical body which returns to dust at death; we talk a lot about the psychological which owes its name to the Greek word for “soul”-psuche; but we don’t know what to make of the spiritual which owes its name to the Hebrew word for the “breath” of God. Those of us who see life as just soul and body think of our personalities as a dichotomy while those of us who see life as spirit, soul, and body think of them as a trichotomy.
The Problems of Dichotomy
Because so many of us today think of ourselves as having only physical and psychological life, we end up trying to solve human problems with animal answers. Most of our serious human difficulties originate in the spiritual part of our natures though they may exhibit physical or psychological symptoms.
So one of the most common problems in today’s “mass-production” society is self-esteem. This is really a problem of the spirit and our lack of God’s approval, but we try to solve it as if we were only physical and psychological organisms. The result is self-adulation groups or achievement-praise techniques which leave us feeling as inferior as ever.
It’s the same with today’s drug problem: we have concluded rightly that human happiness is a combination of serenity and excitement so we are now trying to devise harmless drugs which will provide these “highs”. What we really need is the enlargement of spirit that comes from a sense of the Infinite Creator within us, but we think we simply need to stimulate the emotions through injecting drugs into the body. The result is physical and emotional dependency instead of ecstasy.
Most of our marriage problems are due to the fact that we expect from our partner the security, esteem, and happiness we should get from God. The result is that we put superhuman demands on our husbands and wives, expecting them to supply the reassurance and security, the emotional and physical satisfaction that can come only from a balanced life under the Creator of the world. So marriage has become almost unbearable for the majority of people in the latter half of the 20th century.
The Psychoanalyst’s Couch
You know the problems you face if you have run out of petrol in your car but don’t realize it. You check the battery, the plugs, the timing, the alternator, the starting motor, the distributor, the coil, the carburettor, the fuel pump, the fuel lines etc.,etc., ad infinitum. You may improve the car as you replace each of these, but the time and money and final futility of it all wears you and the mechanic out. This is what we do with our psychoanalysts. They provide a legitimate service at times when they deal with disordered souls or psyches–minds and emotions. But we usually take the problems that stem from lack of the right fuel in our spirits. Our psychological problems are only symptoms of a deeper spiritual deprivation, but we spend hours on the psychoanalyst’s couch trying to motivate wheels, gears, and crankshafts that will never work smoothly until the underlying ”fuel problem is solved.
Dichotomy or Trichotomy?
So, because we assume that all our personal life can be explained in terms of two kinds of existence — physical and psychological — we face myriad problems that are never solved. Those of us who are repelled by church never consider the possibility that we have spirits, while those of us in church usually run to the psychiatrist because we think the psychological and the spiritual are the same. Meanwhile, all of us suffer lives that are basically the result of the spirit-world that sustains and pervades the world in which we live. Since we don’t understand what our spirit is or what it does, we wander through life burdened with various insoluble problems that will yield to no treatment we or others can devise. How does our spirit work? What does it do? How is it related to our souls — our minds, emotions, and wills? And how do these levels of consciousness relate to our bodies?
Let’s begin by looking at our spirits in the next article.
by Ernest o’Neill
How Were You Made?
One of the shortest explanations is given in the book that has the best historical and the sublimest spiritual claim to express reality. The Bible explains that our creator “formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”. This sentence is found in the first book of the Bible – Genesis – chapter 2, verse 7. It contradicts the view of most of us today because it states that we are made up of three different kinds of life, not just two!
Most of us think of ourselves as body and soul, inside and outside, mental and physical. But the creator made us with three elements – not two. He took earth and made our bodies, breathed into us his breath (Hebrew word ‘ruah’, meaning ‘spirit’), and these two elements combined to produce a riving ‘soul’. Today we all provide for the body with exercise, diet, clothes, and rest. We also provide for the soul (Greek word ‘psuche’) or the psychological part of us with education, entertainment, psychoanalysis, and group therapy. But even churches talk about the ‘spirit’ part of us as if it were synonymous with ‘soul’. The result is that most human beings live on the level of either their bodies or their mental faculties. But they go no deeper than that. The result is the widespread dissatisfaction with personal life that characterizes modern society.
The Banalities of Dichotomy
This dual concept of human nature produces life that is dull, flat, and trite — filled with the deadness that the poet, T.S. Eliot, describes-
- “We are the hollow men
- We are the stuffed men
- Leaning together
- Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
- Our dried voices, when
- We whisper together
- Are quiet and meaningless
- As wind in dry grass
- Or rats’ feet over broken glass
- In our dry cellar.”
If everything can be attributed to the effects of the physical world on the mental and emotional or viceversa, then such a closed system leads inexorably to the limp, stuffed scarecrows that react but never act. The American psychologist, Skinner, shocked us all by saying we are merely predetermined robots that are controlled by our heredity and environment. When you consider that most of us spend at least four hours a day absorbing, imitating, and reacting to what we see on the TV screen, such a shallow view of human nature may seem justified. Many people today have a great sense of inner emptiness and meaninglessness. We often feel a piece of us is missing. We sense there must be more to life than this.
We are revulsed when we are treated as just physical and mental animals. When we feel restless and are advised to change our jobs, we suspect that the restlessness is caused by something deeper than boredom with work. Mood altering drugs that provide emotional ‘ups or downs’ seem to treat us as less than we are. Though job satisfaction and security together with interesting colleagues and vacations are appreciated, we still feel there is something more to us than mental and physical fulfillment.
Is There Anyone at Home?
Sometimes, indeed, as we react to yet another set of demands upon our time, we wonder if we are anything more than a punch-ball that is pummeled by people and circumstances. As we smile wanly to please yet another “significant other” in our lives we feel there must be more to being “me” than just the sum-total of my physical and mental responses. Frequently we find something within us desperately wanting its own time and its own space to do whatever it wants for a change. Usually, however, such inner urgings end up in social or professional disaster. Yet we still feel there is some part of us that is almost dead despite the fact that is should be alive and active. At times we look into others’ glazed eyes as they probably look into ours and wonder “is there anyone at home?”
That’s the part of us that the creator breathed into us when he infused his spirit or ‘ruah’. That’s ‘you, yourself’ – it’s the very essence of you. Inside your physical and mental equipment (which you have in common with everyone else in the world) is the real ‘you’ – your spirit. As we’ll see next time, this is the part of human nature that is ignored in our contemporary world. Yet without a real respect for it, a human being feels ‘like a blob”. Let’s begin then our “research into this problem of inner space”.
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.
by Ernest ONeill
Do you feel that you have experiences and thoughts that no one else has? Do you wonder at times how others live without the sense of uniqueness that you have? Do you feel glad at times that you aren’t like others but are in fact as different as you are? Your mind and your emotions and your physical appearance may be like some other people’s, but inside you-in the very depths of your being–you know you’re unique and different from everyone else that has ever lived in the world. Why is this? And what part of you senses this?
Do you ever feel a sense of missing something in life? Have you ever thought that somehow you’re not quite hitting the whole point of life dead-on? Even though you may be quite successful in your career and family life, have you ever felt that you’re not experiencing the full exhilaration that should characterise life on the earth? Do you ever sense there’s a deeper peace or a more exciting sense of exaltation than you’ve experienced thus far? Why do you sense that you are somehow falling short? What part of you gives this sense of missing something?
As the years pass, do you ever feel that you were not made to die? Are there not moments when you think that the unique conviction of selfhood and personal existence is so complex that it must continue forever? When you think of some of your personal relationships and some of the people that are dear to you, have you ever reflected that they must surely continue to exist even after they die? That it would be an thinkable shame for them simply to cease to exist? What part of you has this sense of eternity?
Have you ever sat by a lake or the ocean on a summer afternoon and felt as if you could touch some spirit that lies behind the beauty of the scene that surrounds you? Have you been overwhelmed by the beauty of a sunset or a painting or a piece of music so that you seemed to be piercing to the very heart of the universe and touching the deep spirit that lies back of everything? What part of you perceives this kind of glimpse of reality?
Spirit and Soul
The Bible, which is that collection of history books that best recounts the events in which the Creator of the universe has revealed himself to us humans, calls this part of us — our spirits. God makes a distinction between the human spirit and the human soul. In Hebrews 4:12, the writer is inspired by God to state “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit”. The term “soul” is used to express the psychological parts of our personality like emotions and mind and will. For instance, 1 Samuel 18:1 describes that “when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul”. So, soul means not only personality but the emotions of the personality. The Greek word for “soul” points to the same truth etymologically: it is transliterated “psyche” which is obviously part of our English fish word “psychological”.
But “spirit” is a deeper part of us than “soul” and is distinguished from soul by our Maker. Moreover, “spirit” is regarded by Him as a part of us that can perceive things that neither our physical nor our psychological senses are capable of perceiving. Thus Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:9 “what no eye has seen nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him, God has revealed to us through the Spirit…because they are spiritually discerned”. Our Creator states through Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:17 that “he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him”. In other words, it is our spirit that senses God and is able to communicate with Him.
Function of the Spirit
It is our spirit that senses this lack of wholeness or completeness in our lives. Usually it is in our spirits that we find the lack of infinite exhilaration that we are meant to find in personal oneness with our Maker. On the other hand, it’s through your spirit that you sense at times what Wordsworth described when he said “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”. However, Wordsworth also described our modern state when he said “the world is too much with us, late and soon, getting and spending we lay waste our days-little we see in nature that is ours; we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon”. How do we get in touch with our spirits which seem so dead? Let’s discuss this next time.