Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Spiritual Side

This is a phrase I always wonder about. It is said so freely and so often I think people all assume that everyone more or less knows what is meant - ‘your spiritual side’. Or, the spiritual side of life in general. What does this mean? The dictionary tends toward two areas of definition. 1. True spirits, ghosts, the holy spirit and perhaps the belief in them as in religion etc. 2. Alluding to emotions, desires, true self, in the spirit of things.

Does nature itself have a spiritual side? It has a real side - a natural occurring and evolving side to be sure. The side that we can touch and detect and agree on our results afterward. If I go to a wonderful place for me like Quetico in Canada or a beautiful anchorage like where I am right now, do these places themselves have a spiritual side? If so, can it be detected? If it can be detected by two or more independent observers would they agree on their results? If so it would seem to put this spiritual side back in the area of the natural occurring. That would seem to indicate that people may have a spiritual side but external nature itself does not.

Let’s come at this from another way. Why do we as people value beauty? To what end? How did evolution pick beauty value-ers over others? It is right here where the theist gets a grip. He would say that beauty HAS no intrinsic value to our survival and only by allowing god to exist can we explain why we are more if you will than our monkey cousins.

Consider this. . . It happened that as we evolved we were first nomadic. No gardening. A place with a cool stream and plenty of game would also have wild flowers, trees, and options for shelter perhaps. This place would make a good layover place for the tribe. Barren places with dry ground, nothing growing, and no shade would be avoided. What we would now call beautiful places were originally useful places! We still have that in us. As our brains developed in crazy ways our ‘beauty’ lobe if you will was already in place and ready to expand to more intellectual and abstract ideas of beauty such as painting, music, etc. No god needed again!

So, when I go to Quetico the placid waters, shade, cool streams all click for me at a very fundamental level. Maybe I do have a ‘spiritual’ side then and maybe we all do but it has nothing to do with invisible beings or gods. Maybe it has to do with tapping into some of our most deeply embedded hard wiring. Things we would be hard pressed to put into words because they hearken back to a time before language itself.

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