To begin, I want to express that this post has been a tough one to shape. Is it a healthy spirit, or soul? Should it be about spirituality, or perhaps purpose? Do I attempt to tackle it as secular and non-secular, or focus on only one? Not easy.
This is a personal blog though, so I will keep it that way. I am sharing my growth and views. Again though, and unlike my thoughts and convictions relating body and mind, this idea of spirit and soul is harder to establish conviction. So this is how I am going to begin …
… by stating that this is truly a journey. My convictions on this topic, even when they have been formed, often change. Why? Because I read and because I try to expose myself to as many experiences and points of view as I can. I am constantly challenging my views; currently focused on Nietzsche, and more broadly, philosophy.
In the past I have read every book I could on religion. I have read the Bible. I have been exposed to the Qur’an. The Tanakh and Talmud were introduced as part of my university studies. Traveling too offered influence and insight. India was an incredible experience where I learned about the remarkable stories found in the Hindu Vedas, as well as Jainism while visiting the temples in Karnataka. I took a meditation course in Bodh Gaya and really immersed myself in the story of Siddhartha and Buddhism for a long period thereafter. This is to name but a few to make a point.
You will note on my list of 100 books, that although I consider reading and exposing oneself to all viewpoints and the divergent ends of a topics’ spectrum to be critical, none of these religious texts are on my list. That is not necessarily a statement nor position. I may also change that when I update my list. However, you will note that I do have Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and The Heathen’s Guide to World Religions by Hopper on that list. I could also have added many of the textbooks on religion I have read. I did not, choosing instead to put, respectfully, a challenge to faith and a secular overview of religions on the list instead.
Stoicism and the writings of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus have consumed me more recently. Of course, I have also been heavily influenced by Aristotle, and I’ve just finished reading Arendt.
In the period between my religion interests and philosophy, and not coincidentally but immediately after Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code came out, I read everything I could on the Knights Templar, Illuminati, Opus Dei and many others. None made my list from these secretive organization and bloodline books, save one: Jim Marrs’ Rule By Secrecy. I attribute this to the broad scope of these groups and organizations that Marrs covered. My list was never designed to be finite, but rather purpose-built to stimulate a discussion and to exercise a deliberate review of influences I attributed to reading.
So what does this all mean? What am I trying to say here?
I think I am trying to say to keep an open mind and keep exploring. Keep challenging yourself and your views. If you recognize a truth, or hold a faith, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t or can’t be tested. It may cause doubt, true. It may even change your mind. Maybe though, it firms your convictions. At any rate it will deepen your soul and spirit. It will certainly make richer your journey.
Life is a journey. Your spirit, your soul, these will outlast your body and your mind. That could be a very literally understood statement, or entirely figurative depending on your religious or secular viewpoint. Find your truth. We come into this world alone and we leave it alone. You will ultimately need to work this out for yourself. Keep exploring, challenging and testing your views. Keep growing.
To conclude this 3-part reflection on Health, I refer back to my post on priority that prompted it. Three weeks on, I am finding myself with more time and focus. This comes as a result of pulling back and starting to say ‘No’ more often. The result is that I can now think more, and write more routinely. I started running again this weekend and my calendar is clear for the coming weeks and through April. Not totally clear, but focused and with ‘white space’ to allow me to better regulate sleep, diet, exercise, reading, writing and relations.
Of course, the numerous cancellations resultant from the COVID-19 pandemic are freeing up time as well. Indeed, my family decided to adhere to requested travel restrictions and cancel our Spring Break plans, and have encouraged others to do the same. A great opportunity to limit my time to family and close friends, and to contemplate life in a time of global crisis.
Please, stay safe and make good decisions. Think of others and be kind. When in doubt, and regardless your religious or secular view, consider that universal standard – The Golden Rule. We’re all in this together.
I will finish with this related extract from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin S. Sharma, which I will finish reading today.
“Every being on the Earth, every object on this Earth has a soul. All souls flow into one, this is the Soul of the Universe. You see, … when you nourish your own mind and your own spirit you are really feeding the Soul of the Universe. When you improve yourself, you are improving the lives of all those around you. And when you have the courage to advance confidently in the direction of your dreams, you begin to draw upon the power of the universe …. life gives you what you ask of it. It is always listening.”