Today’s guest post is by jmb275. In my first guest post, I talked about intellectualism and faith. A few of the commenters pointed out that I had somewhat assumed that we had dual natures – spiritual and rational. The point was mentioned that the term “spirituality” could be loosely defined to be many things – not necessarily religious in nature. In this post I would like to address these issues as I have been pondering it for quite some time.
1. Are we innately spiritual, rational, and/or do we have dual natures that we are inclined to satisfy? I would answer ‘no’ to this question. I like the posts from hawkgrrrl about the various personalities that characterize many of us rather well. We have no reliable means (at least not that I’m aware of) for determining what we are born with, and what is learned, and how each influences our overall personality. Some will be inclined (for whatever reason) towards science, math, etc. and others will be drawn to painting, and music composition. Some may like all of it and become the proverbial “renaissance man.”
In Hinduism we read “Ekam Sat Vipra Bahuda Vadanthi” or “Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names.” I’m a big Joseph Campbell fan. He pointed out the goal of religion is to take us beyond the dualistic conception of reality, or “pairs of opposites,” to a stage of transcendence. I think we find this in Mormonism as well. The words of Lehi in 2nd Nephi 2:11:
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.
juxtaposed against Christ’s admonition in John 17:11, 21:
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Ultimately, I wonder if there is a duality, each side of which is to be satisfied, maybe it is our mission in life to overcome it and become one?
2. What does it mean to be “spiritual”? And an extension of this, do religions always help us be more “spiritual”? This is where I’d like to focus my thoughts. Joseph Campell’s message, research, and ideas can be summarized by the phrase “Follow your bliss.” Might I suggest this as a definition of “spirituality.” I am convinced that this could be science, mathematics, scholarship, religion, mythology, music, pottery, philosophy, languages, poetry, etc. etc. etc. From Campbell:
The way to find out about happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy – not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what is called following your bliss.
As a case study, I’d like to compare Joseph Smith with Albert Einstein. Joseph Smith needs no explanation to this audience. He was a visionary, a mystic, a prophet, a charismatic leader, superstitious, an author (depending on your POV). But no matter how you spin it, he was a deeply “spiritual” man in the traditional sense of the word – that is, he was concerned about God and religion, afterlife, premortal life, ordinances, revelation, and authority.
The less traditional case is Albert Einstein. When most of us think of him, we might think of general, and special relativity, and more specifically E=mc^2. What we don’t think of, are his profound thoughts on nature, religion, God, oneness, etc. From Albert Einstein:
A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.
It seems to me, from this statement (and many others he made) that he was “following his bliss” via his scientific endeavors. It would appear that Einstein was deeply “spiritual” in this sense. He was passionate about the subject that, for him, led him to a place of appreciation, love, respect, and kindness for all things living. A kind of transcendence above the need for “opposition in all things.” Note the following:
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty… The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. (Albert Einstein, 1954)”
But lest you think that his convictions came from religion, or traditional “spirituality,” observe this statement:
“I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein, 1954)”
My point, at the end of the day, is twofold: first, the seeming duality is, possibly, something we are to overcome, and second, that “spirituality” can be defined as following whatever means leads us toward this realization. Religion, God, the Holy Ghost, prayer, and Mormonism is one way to achieve that end. I suggest there are as many other ways as there are human beings!
What say ye? http://www.spaceandmotion.com/albert-ei … eology.htm