thu 26 jul 2007 19:49:15 west gloucester ma, usa
spirit flesh expression
sitting on the back porch of my brother's house looking out on the forest. smoking sjekkies. drinking coffee.
first i started thinking how nice it was that the leaves of the trees provide enough shade for the little ecosystem below, and how the leaves have their own other purpuse, and how that leads some people to wonder at how brilliantly it was all designed. then i thought about how our definitions of necessity are what make us think it was so brilliant, when in fact those definitions are just another leaf on that tree. the question of whether there is some big disembodied spirit guiding the whole thing becomes less important when you realize the material and spiritual are expressions *of* each other.
wrote in my little notebook:
i was thinking of how to formulate simply my thoughts on how the spirit and flesh are not really mysteriously distinct things. and how our illusion that they are, is just a function of our limited understanding of both.
we know tht the effects of our lives live outside of us, and can propagate via the rest of us. ideas are spirits. big ideas are big spirits, and some spirits seem "good" and others seem "evil". the big idea "we're all in this together" seems socially healthy, whereas the big idea "it's us or them" seems unhealthy (to me anyway). the big unhealthy ideas are what i see as evil spirits at work in the world. they infect us, possess us like demons, and make us do bad things.
when i think my identity is more essential than my physical survival, i'm recognizing that i have a "soul". but when i admit that my flesh and my spirit are expression *of* each other -- that they are not quite distinct from one another -- then i'm admitting something important. the ideas and behaviors which sum up to "me" are epiphenomenal to my body and my bodily experience on earth. but lest that sound trivial, i have to also keep in mind that the more aware i become, the more i can affect my body *and* my world. so my physical existence is just as epiphenomenal to my spiritual. in the end, thinking of the two as separate begins to sound parochial.
the idea that i must defend my body alone at the expense of my soul, makes me the moral equivalent to a bacterium perhaps. or maybe that's putting it charitably. but neglecting my body (as i do) isn't such a great attitude either.
the desire to protect our children and see them prosper, is the physical equivalent to the spiritual desire to see our *ideas* survive and prosper. if my ideas live on, i feel a bit less "mortal". same thing goes for having kids i guess.
thinking that our souls are separate, or that evil spirits are not explicable by the big psychoses we allow to float, makes us vulnerable to the plague of conformity. because if we think we are not responsible for the big ideas, we can safely disavow them, or worse, hide inside them because they are part of our mob. hiding inside great insanities of our tribes or our times isn't very a responsible way to live. but it happens to us all the time because of our deep-seated need to *belong*.
of course we do need to belong. but when our need to belong grows stronger than our need to be individuals, then society has no effective counterweight against the epidemic of big bad ideas the cowardice of conformity makes us capable of every darkness. (by the same token, *ignoring* our social / moral influences and thinking we've got it all figured out alone, puts us in peril of a different madness, that of megalomania.)
in the end, the only way to peace is courage.