Monday, July 25, 2011

Working in the world... in a spiritual way

This post is a kind of companion piece to "Science? Pseudo-science?". Where that post got into the need to keep the philosophy of the material and spiritual realms separate, respecting each enough to approach it in the way most appropriate to each, in this one I'm going to explore how to act in the world without either falling into the pitfall of the obsession with soulless realism... or the even more soulless attempt to turn others' suffering into a way to grow "spiritually."

Many people seem to "do good" as some sort of nauseating self-help program. In a world filled with the empty pursuit of nothing, of the isolation of one human from another, and from nature... a world in which our very being has been commodified and sold to us by some ad man on Madison Avenue... even the drive to help one another has been gutted of it's heart, and it's soul, and turned into yet one more self aggrandizing accessory. While we in the bloated wealthy nations suffer from that sickness of the soul, ennui, even the act of helping others becomes a way to feed off them.

At the same time, clearly the way I had been acting in the world before diving into the Underworld for the past month was also lacking something. There was a brittleness, a lack of resiliency, that comes from cutting oneself off from the spirit. Not that the material world is lacking in awe, wonder and beauty - the world of science in particular is an amazing, awe inspiring treasure box of wonder, for those who take the time to delve into it's mysteries. But the way in which each of us must journey, and the difficulties and trials of our path, are difficult if not impossible to even understand without access to the spiritual. And they are impossible to solve in any deep, qualitative and permanent way unless we go to the gods and goddesses acting in our lives and give them room to speak to us and act through us, thereby changing us.

Every thing we do - every heart seeking connection we reach out to, every drowning hand grasping for survival we reach out for - every act is an act of the soul. But the paradox is that we can't reach out hoping that this will save us. To do so cheapens the act... and violates our soul and the soul of the other. Yet, by reaching out in love, motivated by the great passion to connect to one another - and the desire to help one another that grows out of that connection - we can achieve more spiritual growth than we'd ever imagined. As in the making of great art, it is only by losing ourselves that we finally find ourselves.

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