Honestly

Finding where the truth lies

The Spirits Behind Spirituality

What we talk about when we talk about spirit.

Have you ever wondered what people mean when they describe themselves as “spiritual?” Not in the esoteric sense, but really, what does it mean? There is a sense that it represents something good, something positive, but in what way exactly? Do we know? Are we talking actual spirits here or using it as an adjective that refers to something else?

Certainly, we’ve all heard about the Holy Spirit that is central to religious faith, a deity worshipped for its goodness and power. But religion and goodness often have nothing to do with one another. And holy never enters the equation. Not by a long stretch. So it’s not that, necessarily.

But then there are also other spirits, like of the haunted-house variety or the kind that movies are made of, where a supernatural being decides to inhabit someone else’s body. Or how about when they come from the dead and try to communicate with the living?

Paige Bradley: Expansion
It seems fair to say that we share a universal understanding that spirits are “things” that emerge from our bodies after we die. This implies that they live within us first, yet we don’t seem to share an equal understanding when “spiritual” is used in the present tense.

This is where I have a lot of questions.

Are spirits something we feel? Sometimes see? Is it a world where a parallel universe exists? And, if we believe spirits have life once they are free from our bodies, why don’t we have a better sense of them while they are living as part of us?

I think intuitively we all know spirit. Maybe not like we know our minds, thoughts and cognition, and maybe not as well as we feel our emotions. And maybe that’s the problem. We are not an intuitive society. We push for fact, tangibility, proof. We analyze, control and manipulate. But, by doing that, we end up asphyxiating the breath of a subtle but powerful part of our being.

Even so, despite those efforts, somewhere in us, we know it on some level when we see it – or feel it – as it were. We’ve all seen folks who have something bright, something alive in them that is impossible to define. And we have also seen people who possess the opposite. It could easily be confused with an emotional state. But it’s not that. It’s about a deeper truth within us. I like to think of it as a life force. From there, I guess it‘s up to each one of us to figure what we want to do with it, however elusive an exercise that may be.

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Donna Flagg is the author of Surviving Dreaded Conversations and a New York City-based dancer.

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