This post is a followup to my previous post, “Being Erica, Being the Ego.”
In that post I wrote the following:
My (very basic) understanding of the spiritual life is that the human being has (or is the expression of) three identities. These three identities go by various names in various religious and spiritual traditions. I use the terms: Spirit, Soul, and Ego. Each identity has its own strengths and limitations—things it “sees” and things it does not see. Different spiritual traditions and different forms of practice are generally geared to different identities. The post-postmodern path (as I understand it) is about (at minimum) the integration and proper expression of these three identities. We are all always all three and therefore any that are ignored or not brought into alignment will start to “live us” out in often negative ways.
The last post discussed the role of the ego. In this post, I will discuss the identity of Spirit (or spirit).
To the degree that it is possible to speak about this topic at all, Spirit is the Ultimate. It is Presence and utter Oneness. Spirit is the Absolute. If ego is the realm of the personal, Spirit is the realm beyond personal (impersonal or trans-personal).
In the realm of Spirit there is no time and no space. All is at rest, at peace, and full. There is no seeking, no desiring. There is neither suffering nor pain. No birth, no death. In a literal sense, no-thing at all.
The realm of Spirit is profound Grace. Spirit is the source and essence of liberation from fear, want, pain, confusion, and delusion. Grace is the experience of the unearned dimension of Spirit--how the Divine precedes us before anything can be done to bring about this Ultimate Truth. The Divine is not achieved by winners at the end of the heroic journey. In the realm of Spirit there is only one direction--"down". Down into humility, loss, and sacrifice and somehow paradoxically this is the greatest gift, the undoing of our being, the gift of being emptied.
If we may speak in such a crude manner, there are three “elements” of the realm of Spirit. The three “elements” are not really three separate things but exist in our minds in and our human conceptual-based language.
One is the domain of peace. Sometimes called Consciousness or Oneness. Here is there is a vast sense of eternity. Everything is utterly full and expansive. This space is wakeful which is where the term Awake-ning derives.
Speaking crudely again, in general, when a person first contacts (or is contacted by) Spirit they generally enter at this point of Peaceful Eternity.
Speaking really crudely, this piece of Spirit is the earliest and the least embodied. The other components of Spirit build upon this Wakefulness but bring in other elements.
Over time, The Wakeful Present may “drop down” to the Heart. It doesn’t literally drop down as it is always already the case. It is rather perhaps that The Heart wakes up to that which is already present.
But however described, the important piece is now there is a feel of Comprehensive Love. God is Unconditional Love—Love of all (or with respect to no) condition. Here in Spirit (as spirit) we feel God’s Unconditional Love for all reality.
In this Unconditional Spirit-Heart, there is a liquid melting into The Divine. A person becomes transparent to everything around him/her. Joy rushes in, pain rushes in. Whatever rushes in, rushes in raw, without defenses.
The body opens and there is a deeper realization that there is no separation—no separation between our thoughts and emotions and Spirit. No separation between our relationships and The Absolute. No separation between whatever arises and The Divine.
Following this deepening, following this thread of no separation leads to the “third” of Spirit’s three components: Radiance.
In the first, we had the Peace and Oneness of all things. In the second, the Heart in the midst of everything loving all beings. And now the Glory of God. Existence is light [lit?] up as the Radiance of The Divine. The Heart explodes “down” through the “gut” (the realm of instincts) and all the way down into the feet (we might say). The Wakeful Mind and the Loving Heart of Spirit are both revealed to be the manifestations of Utter and Undying Radiance.
At its best, The Vastness from the Peace is there. The Love-Sorrow of The Heart is there. And all pervasive Joy emanates from The Radiance.
Of course this is not a linear 1-2-3 process. Things move forward, backward, sideways. There are cul de sacs, missteps, interesting side jaunts, and spiritual “tourist traps”, all along the way. Some might experience the 3rd moment of Radiance before the 2nd moment of the Heart. This schematization is only that—a schematization not in any sense the reality itself.
But it gets at (I hope) a key point about how there are layers to this identity.
How to Access Spirit
Spirit is always already the case. It is real by Grace. Spirit is not something anyone can engineer or create.
Rather first locate (or be located by) where you are already deeply in peace and joy. There is a kind of current that is already taking place within you, where there is joy, this heartful peace is already pumping. It is already taking place within you. You can ask to speak to this Voice of The Heart in yourself.
Here, in Spirit, you are not meditating. Rather Spirit is meditating you. And You Are That Meditation. As Spirit, you are that Glorified Mind and Heart. Not your ego, but the spirit identity.
Spirit is Ultimate Feeling. It is not emoting (or emotions) but a simple pure Feeling and feeling into all reality. It is a kind of deep sympathy for all creation that happens by grace spontaneously.
As you begin to melt into this space and rest in it more and more, then you will find times where you are resting (or being rested) in God without effort and times when your attention has become contracted into various thoughts, sensations, feelings, daydreams, whatever.
When you notice that contraction occurring, first notice it. Notice how your body-feeling is now contracted into a fixed position of thought, word, or deed.
Then in that contraction you can say (with a smile), “Huh, I’m contracted.” This will tend to loosen the contraction.
Some contractions will loosen--others will not. The nonduality of Spirit is both the Absolute Truth of Primordial Heart AND the fact that we are always (in addition) beings in this world through egos. We are both The Infinite and the finite. Awake and contracted. Free and limited. We are both The One and just one among many.
In Spirit there is no knowing what ultimately anything is. But there is a non-self conscious realization and loving identification with all that is. But there’s no solution to what it all is other than it is The Divine. But what God or Consciousness is is completely unknown. There is no way to square this circle mentally, but there is a way to live in that ultimate paradox. The Joy, The Wakefulness, The Love as well as The Sorrow that is intrinsic to that lived paradox--that is Spirit.