Friday, February 20, 2009

Sea of spirit

Yesterday morning, as I was driving home, I passed the remains of a raccoon that lay dead by the roadside. And I could not help but reflect that that which animated the animal had departed from its body, and was no longer present. It is not enough to say that the balance of chemicals or the interactions of neurons and electrons in its body had ceased; rather, its death was the product of the cessation of that relation between the corporeal and the spiritual which constitutes life.

And as I thought of these things, my mind wandered to the mountains before me and the sky above, and I began to reflect that we live in a sea of spirit, in which we move and have our being, as does everything that lives, just as fish live in the sea. And just as fish do not realize the element in which they exist, and which enables them to exist and is an integral part of their being, most of us do not realize the spiritual sea in which we move and live and die.

There are two ways of looking at life: One is the materialist view which denies anything above or beyond the physical plane, that is, the plane on which everything can be measured and analyzed and quantified. The other is the spiritual view, in which everything that lives is seen as being animated by a reality greater than the physical, which precedes it and which follows it, which is eternal and pervasive, enduring and transcendent, and which gives life meaning.

For those who take the materialist view, it becomes unnecessary to answer such questions as: Why are we here, For what purpose do we exist, What is the meaning of our lives, and What is our destiny. But for those who take the spiritual view, the answers to such questions become imperative, indeed, are at the very core of life itself. And for such people, those answers are inextricably tied to the nature of the spiritual animating force which gives us life. They cannot be found in the merely material; they must be sought and discovered and absorbed on that other plane of existence, without which we would not exist, and without which our lives would have no meaning.

All this seems to me now, at this stage of my life, to be not only true, but to be a great responsibility placed on our lives. And to live and die and be without the answers to those questions is to have no authentic life at all. Without them, we are little more than the remains of that raccoon the death of which prompted in me such thoughts, and, if I may say it, gave that poor creature's life a meaning which (just like too many of us) it did not suspect.