Thursday 7 March 2013

How spirits can appear as humans?

Related to arguments on consciousness in the world around us, is the challenge to us on how our gods resemble humans, or animals.  People ask: how can the rivers, and the rocks, and things like doors or wine be conscious or intelligent entities?  Today, after much contemplation, I hope to answer that question.  These lessons are ones I often give to those curious in the temple classroom.

Firstly, my own experiences.  Walking into a village I can pass the green fields with the grazing sheep and see that they are conscious and intelligent beings, as am I.  They wander around and eat the grass from the fields or pastures.  You (regardless of who you are) are probably with me at this point.  You probably agree with me.  Now to move on.  I can pass rows of houses, built on a slope, and see that the houses of the street are there and are their own beings.  I can see a palm tree growing in a garden, and it too has its own character.  Going further up the hill I can see that the stone church has its own character, and furthermore it is consecrated (even within the context of Christianity, as opposed to Semitic polytheism) to divinities like God, and Jesus, and Mary.  So the house itself, is its own personality.

'How so?' you may ask.  Well, each thing has its own 'character'- it's different and unique, as we humans are all different and unique.  We can 'feel' very close to these supposedly 'inanimate' objects.  We can experience them both on a physical level, and on a spiritual level.  What do I mean by that?  This is where the idea of us seeing gods as human-shaped beings comes in.  If I am dreaming, and I see a tree or river appear to me as a human, am I then truly dreaming of that tree or river?  On one level, you could say yes (because I'm still dreaming of a real tree or river, but seeing it as a human-shaped being rather than in its regular physical form, and I innately know that it is that particular tree or river that I'm seeing).  On another level, you could say no (as its regular physical appearance does not resemble a human at all).  For me personally, I would say yes, for the reason stated above.  It's still that tree or river, regardless of how it appears to me in a dream-state, that I'm dreaming of.  I can awaken and say, "How peculiar!  I dreamed that I saw a tree, but it appeared in a human form."  When I speak of dream-like or meditative states, this is what I mean by 'spiritual' or 'psychic'.  Physical and spiritual form are two halves of the same whole, but are still the same whole.

How can we say that these things are living beings then?  Well, quite simply because life is the opposite of death.  Things like rivers have a purpose (to reach the sea) and most importantly are still continuing to fulfill that purpose.  They are still flowing to the sea.  Therefore, the river has a spirit, which is alive.  Likewise, we humans have a purpose which we fulfill while we are alive.  We have sex, give birth, create religious shrines and temples, worship the divine, eat, drink, work, and play.  All human societies do this, for it is our purpose.  We can do much more than only one thing, because we humans are more complex than most other beings.  But we still have our purpose, and just like river can only fulfill it while we have spirits, while we are alive.  For the dead no longer have a purpose, and can no longer fulfill it.  When a river dries up, or stops flowing- then it is dead, and the spirit is gone.  But there is life, and there are spirits (up to and including the gods at the top, for the gods themselves are spirits) in love, and war, and luck, and fate, and rain, and sun, and moon, and stars.

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