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How Do We Know It Is Of The Spirit?


soma
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I think we know it is of the spirit because the highest point of the soul is similar to a mountain peak that has been hidden in the clouds, but when the sun melts the clouds away, the mountaintop receives the full light of the sun. Love is expressed and burns away ignorance and illuminates the mind with unity and the presence of a pure consciousness that comes from Christ. It gives rise to a mind that is capable of seeing a totally new dimension. On the mountain peak of the soul one then can see a new horizon in the clear, upper, rarefied air of the pure consciousness of Christ where one is able to guide the mind’s activities in a new direction that one has never before known. In this way God gives the spiritual mind new instincts to prepare it to move in a new spiritual consciousness.

 

What do you guys think?

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I think that if we are seeking for truth, then truth rings true in our hearts when we hear it. I suppose you could call this "of the Spirit" but my background in the charismatic movement makes me a little skittish of what I attribute to the Spirit and what I don't.

 

In a practical way, my journey into progressive Christianity has been "of the Spirit" where what I am learning is, in a way, something I have always known. It is something that I have suspected all along but was unable or afraid to pursue or voice. And it goes far beyond head-knowledge of trying to learn different doctrines or trying to become some sort of apologeticist. It goes to the very practical matter of how I live my life everyday.

 

So I don't necessarily have an intentional yardstick that I use to judge everything as to whether it is of the Spirit of not. If it is of the Spirit, it sort of sticks in my craw and I can't get it out. It rings true in my soul in a way that doesn't require 99 theses in order to prove.

 

wayfarer

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Nice, when I was reading your post I could see individuals tuning themselves spiritually similar to tuning a musical instrument that is out of ture. It rings of truth so keep playing.

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Nice, when I was reading your post I could see individuals tuning themselves spiritually similar to tuning a musical instrument that is out of ture. It rings of truth so keep playing.

 

Your metaphor of the shrouded mountaintop rings true for me also, Soma. The truth is always there but many things cloud our vision and only true love can burn those clouds away.

 

One of the problems that I had in conservative evangelicalism was with the notion that truth, instead of being grounded in love, was said to be grounded in authority. Truth that is grounded in authority carries with it a never-ending chain of heirarchial "mediators", those who control and disseminate the truth as they see fit.

 

In the first century, that authority was the Law and the Temple. For 1000 years, that authority became the church and the Pope. Then, with the reformation, the authority switched to the Bible. Clouds. Smoke. Obscurations.

 

I think Jesus tried to blow all of those clouds away when he taught that a relationship with God was not dependant upon the Law or the Temple. Love summed up the Law. We are the Temple. There is no mediator and no need for one. Christ left us with one central mark of where the Spirit holds sway - love. You will no they follow Christ by their love. Good enough for me!

 

wayfarer

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Nice, when I was reading your post I could see individuals tuning themselves spiritually similar to tuning a musical instrument that is out of ture. It rings of truth so keep playing.

 

Your metaphor of the shrouded mountaintop rings true for me also, Soma. The truth is always there but many things cloud our vision and only true love can burn those clouds away.

 

One of the problems that I had in conservative evangelicalism was with the notion that truth, instead of being grounded in love, was said to be grounded in authority. Truth that is grounded in authority carries with it a never-ending chain of heirarchial "mediators", those who control and disseminate the truth as they see fit.

 

In the first century, that authority was the Law and the Temple. For 1000 years, that authority became the church and the Pope. Then, with the reformation, the authority switched to the Bible. Clouds. Smoke. Obscurations.

 

I think Jesus tried to blow all of those clouds away when he taught that a relationship with God was not dependant upon the Law or the Temple. Love summed up the Law. We are the Temple. There is no mediator and no need for one. Christ left us with one central mark of where the Spirit holds sway - love. You will no they follow Christ by their love. Good enough for me!

 

wayfarer

 

I agree. The following is proposed not as a conclusion, but merely as speculation:

 

SPIRIT: The Added Dimension

 

We're told that we're composed of a body and a soul. Then we wonder if the soul is immortal. In personal terms, this becomes, "Will I live forever?"

 

Maybe we're selling ourselves short.

 

That may be the wrong question, wrong because it frames the question in too-narrow terms. Centuries ago, the Neo-Platonic philosophy (Plotinus, Augustine, etc.) maintained that we're not composed of two parts, but three: Body, Soul, and Spirit.

 

We all know that the body dies, rots, and crumbles into dust. But what about the soul? Soul we think of as Ego and Mind. The ME-ness of me. And maybe that doesn't survive either, or if it does, not for very long. Ancient Hebrew literature had the concept of Sheol, a place where ALL the dead go. It's kind of like Hades as depicted in THE ODYSSEY. Not a very attractive place, but one where souls wander around moaning. But the writers had a sense that there might be some kind of survival.

 

So maybe we shouldn't WANT the soul to survive. But there may be another part of us. I think that certain religious leaders were in touch with Spirit, at least at times. Probably the people around Jesus felt this in him. The incident of "The Transfiguration" in Matt & Luke may be a memory of this phenomenon.

 

I think that people like Siddhartha, Martin Luther King and William Blake were also frequently in touch with Spirit. And I think Zen is an attempt to bypass our ordinary Ego-consciousness in order to get in touch with Spirit.

 

Spirit is available to everyone, by virtue of being human. Therefore, since each person is an actual, or potential, bearer of spirit, each person has infinite worth. A crime against a person is a crime against Spirit.

 

The problem is, the Ego gets hold of the insights of Spirit, and immediately degrades them. The Ego sets up religious organizations with their strict creeds, their intolerance, and their exclusivity. But as the Bible says (I forget where), "The Spirit blows where it lists, and no man knows the movements thereof."

 

The religious person may be denied any meaningful contact with Spirit, and it may be granted to the pornographer, or the prostitute, the corrupt official, or the homeless person, or the outcast (or even conceivably, the banker). Jesus seemed to know this, and the religious people of his day were shocked that he associated with such people.

 

The Spirit is a haunting presence, not in the sense of being a ghost, but in the sense of being something just beyond the reach of consciousness. Consciousness is really self-consciousness, our own self-awareness of ourselves in relation to our environment. The Ego sits at the center of consciousness like a spider in his web. It becomes aware of the slightest opportunity to enhance itself, and is immediately conscious of any threat. Jacques Lacan said that the Ego is paranoid in its essence.

 

To put this in terms of modern psychology, I think the distinction that Carl Jung makes between the Ego and the True Self is useful. We could think of Ego as soul, and the True Self as Spirit.

 

Unfortunately (or fortunately), there is no prescribed way, no official program or course of action to get into touch with Spirit. I don't know much about the Hindu religion, but I understand that they have the concept of Atman. Atman is at the same time both the deepest part of ourselves (the Spirit)_and also the Universal Spirit. It is when we get in touch with our Spirit that we are closest to all other people, not in their everyday lives, but in their Spirit.

 

Soul is temporal, the Spirit is eternal. (NOTE: Eternity doesn't mean a long, long, time, but just the opposite: no time at all)

 

Bottom Line: The soul may not survive, but the Spirit almost certainly does. Spirit would be the deepest Self.

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I prefer the ancient Hebrew idea that we live on by those who remember us.  The idea of a disembodied soul/spirit is creepy, to me.

 

I understand. But I've read that Spirit is more real than matter, which at bottom, kind of disappears (subatomic particles, etc).

 

Paul says "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Cor 3:17).

 

Another way of looking at this is that Spirit is invisible but powerful.

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Creepy or not, there are enough older and far richer cultures that had formalized beliefs in such things for there to probably be a certain amount of truth to it all.

 

As I have mentioned elsewhere here, the earliest nomadic cultures of Eurasia always had a group shaman whose duty and talents were to interact with the spirit world on behalf of the community in order to fulfill obligations that others simply could not fulfill. Drumming and chanting by the community usually accompanied such shamanic activities.

 

Mircea Eliade, in his book, The Sacred and the Profane, goes to extensive lengths to describe the process by which things of the spirit world are almost immediately profaned by our realities when such things enter into human communties and institutions.

 

Furthermore, the great civilizations of Egypt held beliefs that each person had a shadow and a double, the "ba" and the "ka". The shadow followed them around and sort of served as the dark side of one's existence, but vanished after death. The "ka" existed as pure spirit and existed after the death of the body and the disappearance of the "ba". The tombs of wealthier citizens always included food and drink for the "ka" to sustain itself while in the tomb, and many tombs had small doors in them that allowed access and egress for the"ka" after burial.

 

In present day Serbia, families sometimes build their vacation cottages in family cemetaries so that later generations might commune with the spirits of their ancestors. And in ancient Anatolia (Turkey today) families buried the dead under the floors of their mud brick homes to help maintain familial ties across the generations.

 

Creepy...maybe so. But accepted by many for thousands of years nonetheless. But having recently lost my Dad who was cremated, I believe that I breathe him in from time to time, and I fondly hold his memory close to me within my heart as did the Hebrews and the Jews after them.

 

Yes John, I also believe that quantum physics and quantum complimentarity have a lot to do with all this. And with this all in mind, perhaps the meaning of the cross has to do with symbolizing hidden, up and down and back and forth movement of spirit.

 

The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that the satanic spirit moves that way under the earth (the upsidedown cross ?) And, while it is not specifically stated, as such, one might presume that rightsideup crosses above ground symbolize movements of the divine spirit among us all.

 

flow... :)

Edited by flowperson
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Guest wayfarer2k

Interesting thoughts, everyone.

 

As to the spirit/soul/body deliniations, there are, obviously, many different views that come from different cultures and different religions. It is an issue that I wouldn't want to be dogmatic on because 1) there is no concensus and 2) no one has returned from the dead to tell us *exactly* what happened to them -- where they were, what they saw, what they sensed, etc. Yes, I know of NDEs and other such experiences but, again, the opinions are very diversified and, basically, unproveable. If one is truly dead, one does not come back and report about it.

 

And, yes, I know Jesus is said to have been resurrected. But he did not return and give us a forensic analysis of what happened to him at death. He seemed to stress more the fact that he was back then where he went and what he experienced in the great beyond.

 

I think was most often gives us the creeps, when it comes to the afterlife, is the popular notion that many survive life in a state of separation. Our scariest tales of ghosts are of those that cannot seem to make contact with either the "living" or the "dead." They are here, but they're gone. They are gone, but they're not. I found "The Sixth Sense" to be deliciously stimulating because the central character had no idea that he had died. His character was in no way creepy until he realizes that he has been separated from the land of the living. And perhaps it is this idea of separatedness that frightens us the most.

 

Which leads me to consider the merits of panentheism, that God is an all-pervasive spirit. That the God from which we came is the God into whom we return. (yes, I know my sentence structure sucks. but this is a forum, not a literary society, and I try to type like I speak.) If that is truly the case, then there may be no need (or even desire) for some sort of consciousness that *we* still exist. To say that we still exist implies that we are still something separated from God. There is God...and there is us.

 

Certain passages in the Bible do speak of everything being eventually consumated in God, of God being "all in all." If/when that happens, I think it is reasonable to assume that we will lose all sense of separateness. If/when that happens, we might very well be united with our loved ones in a way that was never possible "down here", in a way that transcends individuality. Maybe sort of like the Borg? One consciousness, one mind, one unity where distinctions are no longer necessary nor desired.

 

Just thinking aloud. Enjoying the conversation and the different perspectives.

 

wayfarer

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Sorry OA, but the end is the beginning and the beginning is the end.

 

That's where spiritual beliefs come from. It's been that way for thousands of years, and that, together with observance of this universal phemomenon in all of nature is where all religions came from in the dim past; not from contemporary, nihilistic viewpoints that only, in the end, engender and promote fear and loathing.

 

I respect your right to think what you think and believe what you believe, but there are likely more believers that would disagree with your viewpoint than agree with it.

 

Find and read the book I mentioned above. You might surprise yourself.

 

WF2k I agree with much of what you say.

 

Life and death are a continuum, and there are movements from one side to the other, but they are both part of a larger whole which is the holy consciousness and the realms of light and darkness.

 

flow.... B)

Edited by flowperson
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"Sorry OA, but the end is the beginning and the beginning is the end."

 

actually, it is a spiral, not a cycle.

 

 

 

"That's where spiritual beliefs come from. It's been that way for thousands of years, and that, together with observance of this universal phemomenon in all of nature is where all religions came from in the dim past; not from contemporary, nihilistic viewpoints that only, in the end, engender and promote fear and loathing."

 

Quite the opposite, acutally. It is when I came to realize that death is in fact the end for me that the fear disappeared.

 

"I respect your right to think what you think and believe what you believe, but there are likely more believers that would disagree with your viewpoint than agree with it."

 

You don't appear to or you'd let it go instead of continually responding in the manner you do. I wasn't aware that we were voting on this. I'm not concerned about what the majority of "believers" think. I think for myself.

 

"Find and read the book I mentioned above. You might surprise yourself."

 

Been there, done that. I'm no more interested in going back to a pie-in-the-sky theology than I am in thinking God hates women.

Edited by October's Autumn
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Which leads me to consider the merits of panentheism, that God is an all-pervasive spirit. That the God from which we came is the God into whom we return. (yes, I know my sentence structure sucks. but this is a forum, not a literary society, and I try to type like I speak.) If that is truly the case, then there may be no need (or even desire) for some sort of consciousness that *we* still exist. To say that we still exist implies that we are still something separated from God. There is God...and there is us.

 

 

I guess I look at it this way. If we return to God in some form after we die then we do. If we don't we don't. But all the contemplating it isn't going to change what is. I like to focus more on the here and now and what I can do change what I know does exist -- ie poverty, injustice.

 

I attended Synagogue for a while and talked to the Rabbi about this very topic. He basically said he doesn't know if there is such a thing as Heaven (in the sense of life after death) but that he does know what is now and in Judaism that is what is important. God will take care of life after death (or not) it isn't our job to be concerned about it. (That is more or less a quote). I took great comfort in his words, still do.

 

(She says as she returns to her Final Project due in a matter of days).

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Which leads me to consider the merits of panentheism, that God is an all-pervasive spirit. That the God from which we came is the God into whom we return. (yes, I know my sentence structure sucks. but this is a forum, not a literary society, and I try to type like I speak.) If that is truly the case, then there may be no need (or even desire) for some sort of consciousness that *we* still exist. To say that we still exist implies that we are still something separated from God. There is God...and there is us.

 

 

I guess I look at it this way. If we return to God in some form after we die then we do. If we don't we don't. But all the contemplating it isn't going to change what is. I like to focus more on the here and now and what I can do change what I know does exist -- ie poverty, injustice.

 

I attended Synagogue for a while and talked to the Rabbi about this very topic. He basically said he doesn't know if there is such a thing as Heaven (in the sense of life after death) but that he does know what is now and in Judaism that is what is important. God will take care of life after death (or not) it isn't our job to be concerned about it. (That is more or less a quote). I took great comfort in his words, still do.

 

(She says as she returns to her Final Project due in a matter of days).

 

We had a Jewish rabbi speak at our church last night concerning the differences and similarities between Judaism and Christianity. At one point, I asked him what he believed about the afterlife, and his response was very similar to what you posted: a relationship with God is about the here and now, it is about being a light in this present darkness.

 

He affirmed that he (and his congregation) do believe in an afterlife, even in a form of purgatory, but he also affirmed that he saw no reason that all of humanity would not eventually be united to God. We ultimately came from God. We ultimately go to God.

 

As far as the constituents "parts" of human makeup, I think the Jews take a more holistic (and wholistic) approach to our existence. The focus is not so much on *how* God created man, but that God *did* create man to be in fellowship with him/her/whatever.

 

I think that part of the problem is that we, like the Greeks, want to compartmentalize and disect everything. What is spirit? What is soul? What is body? We want clear lines of deliniation and the scriptures (let alone medical science) just are not clear and concise on such subjects. As you've said, it is all conjecture.

 

So in that aspect, I am a pan-theist -- God will pan it all out in the end. I don't know where the lines are for human components (and I'm not sure they are necessary) just as I don't know where the line is between divinity and humanity. The notion of salvation, according to the whole Bible, is a more holistic concept of healing of body, soul, and spirit anyway -- a restoration of wholeness.

 

wayfarer

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"Which leads me to consider the merits of panentheism, that God is an all-pervasive spirit. That the God from which we came is the God into whom we return."

 

Yes. I was taught that if God were not present to anything, it would cease to exist. And mysticism is the awareness of this preence.

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"How do we know if it is of the Spirit?"

 

Well, Paul says "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5:22-23)

 

("By their fruits you shall know them.")

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We become aware of love, when we are conscious of our unity with everything and make a conscious effort not to harm others. Love is an uncontrollable murmuring, a whispering of our spirit that plays such a tremendous part in our spiritual life that it influences even the smallest detail. As we observe the presence and power of love everywhere around us, we begin to experience a deep connection with what I like to call Christ consciousness, other faiths I am sure have other terms to describe the same thing. This consciousness reaches into the nature of others and draws them unassumingly to us and draws us to them, restoring the unity of everyone together in one consciousness. We begin to feel that we are a part of the living God, when we believe what Jesus said, “I and the Lord are one.” I think this could also be called living in the present. In the spirit of love there is unity with room for diversity without elimination. Christ consciousness is ready to reveal itself to the sincere soul that makes an intense effort to search for love. What is needed is not submission to an external authority, a flawless book, or a rigid church that divides and eliminates, but an inward realization of a God that unites similar to what Wayfarer was suggesting. We need to test our realization with reason, witness it at work and perceive the unity of everything in pure consciousness. In every race, in every country and in every stage of history and culture people talk about God so we must admit that our minds are being qualified and supported with God’s love to reach within our selves and others to experience this pure consciousness that permeates everything. Maybe that is spirit?

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Which leads me to consider the merits of panentheism, that God is an all-pervasive spirit. That the God from which we came is the God into whom we return. (yes, I know my sentence structure sucks. but this is a forum, not a literary society, and I try to type like I speak.) If that is truly the case, then there may be no need (or even desire) for some sort of consciousness that *we* still exist. To say that we still exist implies that we are still something separated from God. There is God...and there is us.

 

 

I guess I look at it this way. If we return to God in some form after we die then we do. If we don't we don't. But all the contemplating it isn't going to change what is. I like to focus more on the here and now and what I can do change what I know does exist -- ie poverty, injustice.

 

I attended Synagogue for a while and talked to the Rabbi about this very topic. He basically said he doesn't know if there is such a thing as Heaven (in the sense of life after death) but that he does know what is now and in Judaism that is what is important. God will take care of life after death (or not) it isn't our job to be concerned about it. (That is more or less a quote). I took great comfort in his words, still do.

 

(She says as she returns to her Final Project due in a matter of days).

 

We had a Jewish rabbi speak at our church last night concerning the differences and similarities between Judaism and Christianity. At one point, I asked him what he believed about the afterlife, and his response was very similar to what you posted: a relationship with God is about the here and now, it is about being a light in this present darkness.

 

He affirmed that he (and his congregation) do believe in an afterlife, even in a form of purgatory, but he also affirmed that he saw no reason that all of humanity would not eventually be united to God. We ultimately came from God. We ultimately go to God.

 

As far as the constituents "parts" of human makeup, I think the Jews take a more holistic (and wholistic) approach to our existence. The focus is not so much on *how* God created man, but that God *did* create man to be in fellowship with him/her/whatever.

 

I think that part of the problem is that we, like the Greeks, want to compartmentalize and disect everything. What is spirit? What is soul? What is body? We want clear lines of deliniation and the scriptures (let alone medical science) just are not clear and concise on such subjects. As you've said, it is all conjecture.

 

So in that aspect, I am a pan-theist -- God will pan it all out in the end. I don't know where the lines are for human components (and I'm not sure they are necessary) just as I don't know where the line is between divinity and humanity. The notion of salvation, according to the whole Bible, is a more holistic concept of healing of body, soul, and spirit anyway -- a restoration of wholeness.

 

wayfarer

 

To me, something we can probably agree on is: that which is spritual is that which we find most meaningful. While some of these things can vary - particularly the specifics of our beliefs - the least variable of these (to sort of paraphrase Saint Paul), is love.

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Yes, we are immigrants traveling to and in the pure consciousness. Our sense of self being the border that separates us from the divine, giving us qualities that define and separates us from our home. Now, we are trying to cross our own border, the obstacles and fences we have erected because we are tired of living as refugees in a borderless wonderland. Good luck learning how to love............see you on the other side.

Edited by soma
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If it is of the Spirit, it sort of sticks in my craw and I can't get it out. It rings true in my soul in a way that doesn't require 99 theses in order to prove.

 

I quite agree.

 

I read something lately that you might appreciate regarding morality versus awareness.

 

"Unless awareness rises in you, all your morality is bogus, all your culture is simply a thin layer that can be destroyed by anybody. But once your morality has come out of your awareness, not out of a certain discipline, then it is a totally different matter. Then you will respond in every situation out of your awareness. And whatever you do will be good. Awareness cannot do anything that is bad. That is the ultimate beauty of awareness, that anything that comes out of it is simply beautiful, is simply right, and without any effort and without any practice."

 

Jesus said to Do Unto Others. To Love Neighbor. To Love God. That these are the summation of the law and the prophets.

 

We don't need 99 theses in order to prove what is of the Spirit. Unitive awareness can do that. I believe Jesus had this awareness and that he summed it up perfectly.

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"Unless awareness rises in you, all your morality is bogus, all your culture is simply a thin layer that can be destroyed by anybody. But once your morality has come out of your awareness, not out of a certain discipline, then it is a totally different matter. Then you will respond in every situation out of your awareness. And whatever you do will be good. Awareness cannot do anything that is bad. That is the ultimate beauty of awareness, that anything that comes out of it is simply beautiful, is simply right, and without any effort and without any practice."

 

Enjoyed this quote, Aletheia. I'm hoping that as the church moves out of the 20th century and into the 21st, it will be transformed into a church that desires, fosters, and encourages this awareness. We don't need more doctrines. We don't need more creeds. We need people who are aware -- to God, to each other, to the world, to ourselves. When we become truly aware, we become truly alive.

 

wayfarer

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That may be the wrong question, wrong because it frames the question in too-narrow terms.  Centuries ago, the Neo-Platonic philosophy (Plotinus, Augustine, etc.) maintained that we're not composed of two parts, but three:  Body, Soul, and Spirit. 

 

When I was a JW we were taught that humans are a material body, combined with God's spirit (animating, supporting force) to form a living soul. That wouldn't be quite the same as what you said, being composed of three parts. More that we are composed of two parts, which combined form a third. (Heh. There's that trinity, yin/yang, duality in unity thing again.)

 

I don't hold hard and fast to that view anymore, because of my ideas regarding the "material" but I still find it a very helpful idea (metaphor, symbol, finger pointing to the moon).

 

I don't know much about the Hindu religion, but I understand that they have the concept of Atman. Atman is at the same time both the deepest part of ourselves (the Spirit)_and also the Universal Spirit. It is when we get in touch with our Spirit that we are closest to all other people, not in their everyday lives, but in their Spirit.

 

I think the Hindu view of Atman is very similar to the Jewish view of God's spirit as an animating force. It is also very similar to what I thnk of now when I think of myself and why (and anything) is alive. Thou art that.

 

B)

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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