- Bill Petrie
What is Spirit?
Whether we like it or not, Spirit is fundamentally a mystery.
In fact, most of life is a mystery. Even within the bounds of conventional science, ordinary scientists would have to admit that we know very little about most of the universe that we live in. Sure, we have considerable knowledge about what we call matter. And, we have very significant information about the kinds of things that ordinary scientists call energy - things like heat, gravity, light and radio waves. But, an ordinary scientist would have to admit that this kind of matter and energy make up only a bit less than 5% of the universe. The rest – more than 95% of the universe - consists of what we have come to call ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ and we know very, very little about these indeed. Even to conventional science, then, most of existence is a mystery.
Now, when we come to ‘Spirit’ we face an even a greater mystery. Spirit comes to us through experience and those who of us who are lucky enough to have experienced Spirit, have no doubt that it exists. None the less, we are still left with little idea of what Spirit in itself essentially is.
Now, there seemed to be two fundamentally different ways of experiencing Spirit. The one way is a dualistic way - where we as a person experience Spirit as something other, something in a very different dimension, something often much greater than ourselves. These experiences range from a traditional African experience of spirits, to experiences of higher beings such as Angelic Beings and Ascended Masters. In dualistic experience at its highest level, we experience God.
Even, however, within the experiences of God there are fundamentally different encounters. Some have the experience of the Divine as Gods (as in the ancient Greek or Hindu traditions). Others have the experience of a single legitimate God (as in the monotheistic traditions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Then there is also be the experience of an ‘awakened one’ as other (as in Buddhism, for example). These are all valid experiences of Spirit in form.
So, we have many possible dualistic experiences of Spirit. And then there is the non-dual experience in which one experiences oneself as being 'consciousness,' 'presence,' or 'the one.' In the depths of this experience, there is no experience of a personal self. One has simply become Spirit, having died (at least in that moment) to a personal sense of self.
Now, although Spirit is essentially a mystery, there are certain qualities of experience that point towards it. One is a sense that one has come home to a much more fundamental aspect of existence. There is also a profound sense of peace - the peace that Paul noted ‘passeth all understanding.’ There is a sense of a vast spaciousness that surrounds and contains all experience. Another quality (if one's heart is open) is love - the love that is not personally motivated - the love that Christians call caritas. Buddhists call such love compassion and loving-kindness. There is also the experience of the interconnectedness of all things in such a way that all is one thing.
So, which is the right way of experiencing Spirit?
Well, in my view, there is no one correct way. At times, we experiencing Spirit through the mind (by reading and listening to teachings, through contemplation, through koans,...) or through the heart (through chanting, devotional practices, ...) or through silence (meditation, prayer, ...) or through practices which connect us with other beings (channeling, shamanic practices,...) or by simply bringing our attention back to presence.
All of this can be very confusing.
So, if you would like guidance or mentoring along the way, please feel to make an appointment. Email me by clicking here.