.Increasingly so as the years have passed, I have come, for a whole raft of reasons (many of which will unfold over the course of these pages) to return again and again to one – for me at any rate – seemingly unerring and unfolding truth. Namely, that I· am more than I appear and seem to be. Firstly, there is something, someone both around and within me, which I have come increasingly to know as the “really me”. This “really me” or (“You”) is altogether more than and beyond brain, bone, sinew, flesh and blood; beyond mind even and is known only (and even then in but a partial sense) to myself.
Then – and second – there is (as I increasingly often perceive it) a “without but around me” which, for reasons of clarity I have come increasingly to perceive and will continue to refer here to as the “beyond self”, dwelling outwith the reach and scope of ordinary sense perception, yet frequently working through it. Although I can neither visibly see nor in any tactile way make contact with this “beyond self”, somehow or other, I perceive it to be real, related and – albeit complexly – connected.
Moreover, I have also become aware of the fact that the state of this relationship at any given time can and does affect and influence the present in the form of ongoing feeling, motivation, intention and interest and can therefore affect present mood. When things seem, as sometimes they do, to be (for want of a better phrase) “in tune”, we invariably, feel happy, relaxed and not uncommonly, invigorated, in the “zone” and energized. If, on the other hand – and under different conditions – we perceive things to be seriously “out of kilter”, we are, so it would seem, at least potentially more likely to experience feelings of low mood, tension and lethargy. To put it another way, sometimes this hypothesized·· relationship is harmonious and somehow ‘light-giving’. On other occasions it seems to represent more in the nature of a cacophony of self-perceived (and sometimes, self-inflicted) dissonance and mayhem. Whichever it is, it has become increasingly clear to me as time has progressed, that both can and do impinge upon and markedly influence the quality of my “here and now”.
Furthermore, it would be so much easier and more convenient to understand, were I able simply to correlate· (as indeed I may appear to be doing above) the enlightened and harmonious state with ensuing happiness and good health and the darker, somewhat chaotic times, with low spirits and indifferent or poor health. The reality is (as we each and every one very well know) much more complex than that and seems at times to call forth (not by any means always successfully) an insightful awareness, which is somehow entirely different and therefore outwith the logic, which comprises, conducts and controls our worldly understanding. (This may well, in some measure at least, provide an explanation for that cry from the heart that we have surely all at sometime both heard and uttered, “Why should this happen to me?”··)
How then can we – do we – refer to this essence of a “me or “self”” that is “more than I seem” and somehow connects to a “beyond self” and a “beyond what I know”, in ways other than the normal processes of reason? As it happens, we do actually have a word in common usage, which we regularly employ to describe the constant and continuous “me” or “self” throughout (what we might call) “the span of mortal life”: (whereas mind, brain, bone, sinew, flesh and blood and associated mental and emotional features, i.e. temperament, personality etc. are in an continual state of flux, i.e. ever changing/being updated throughout that life). We call it “spirit” and the “beyond self”, with its mode of relationship to what it connects to, we refer to as the “spiritual” and “spirituality”.
Moreover, it is important here to articulate what we know: namely that what human beings experience of the spiritual and that unique quality of life which we are here referring to as spirituality, is by no means irrational. It does not in some way or other circumnavigate reason. Rather is it what we might call supra-rational; that is to say it is not in spite of reason but rather because of, in full accord with reason. It transcends it, i.e. goes through it and beyond, if you see what I mean.
- Although writing here in “the first person”, it is meant to apply generally, i.e. to all. In other words, the “I” could just as easily and properly be substituted by “we”.
- · Remember that in scientific terms, an hypothesis is a proposition which goes beyond the data already available and is subject to correction/modification: in non-scientific language, “a hunch”.
- Two complementary phenomena, so related that a change in one implies a change in the other. If we assume that the contents of water in two tumblers are related, a positive correlation would be where an increase in the fullness of one tumbler predicted increasing fullness in the second tumbler. A negative correlation would be where increasing fullness in one tumbler predicted decreasing fullness in the second tumbler. (The key word in all of this is the term “predicted”).