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Previous: 23. Spiritual Discrete Degrees Up: 23. Spiritual Discrete Degrees Next: 23.2 Common misconceptions

23.1 What is the spiritual?

There must be a first degree in all creatures according to the triadic structure outlined in Chapter 17, and that degree is here identified as the spiritual. There has been debate over the centuries concerning what it is which constitutes or characterizes the spiritual. Is it contemplation of pure forms (Plato), or is it purest intellectual thought (Aristotle)? In our theistic science, the spiritual is that concerned with love and in particular with that fundamental or principal love of our life which comes from God, permeates our entire being, and defines the nature and purpose of our life’s work. This love is contained in our spiritual being, in something that may be called our soul.

Spiritual love is placed as the highest degree, over thinking in the mental degree, because our ontology makes love the substance of which thought is a property and thinking an activity. We do not follow Aquinas, in making the intellectual form a supreme aspect of our existence. Neither do we follow Descartes, who made the essence of our soul rational thought and not love. In fact, Descartes made the same mistake concerning both mind and physical natures: if their essences were to be rationality and extension, respectively, then they would be correspondingly missing exactly love and substance! Something whose essence is extension would be pure form and no substance. Similarly, a mind whose essence is rationality would be pure form and no substance. But minds do have substance, namely love. We therefore do not subscribe to Cartesian dualism.

According to theism, love is the first degree since it is that part of our mind which receives the love of God and is hence the image of God. This image holds first in the way that spiritual love is related to our mentality and physicality, in the same way that God’s Love is related to his Wisdom and Action. The image also holds in that, since God is present as a whole in all parts, the spiritual degree will itself have sub-degrees that repeat the same triadic relation of love, wisdom and action. The function of the spiritual degree, as indicated in the first paragraph, is to provide the initial substance of our being and to motivate all our thoughts and actions. Love therefore is something that influences what thoughts are most favorably considered. In turn, the thoughts in our mind are able to guide the actions that produce the effects originally desired by our loves.

Another practical reason for the importance of spirituality comes from the great number of people generating reports of ‘peak experiences’, including those called visionary, mystical, out-of-body, near-death, heavenly, and spiritual. On the basis of the repeated evidence presented in these reports and in the absence of visible intentions to deceive, I am convinced that there does indeed exist a realm about which we are normally unaware. I claim that this is the spiritual realm being discussed in this chapter. The actual content of this realm remains to be carefully determined, especially since the manifest thoughts and visible contents in our mind are influenced by our loves, sometimes very strongly and very thoroughly. Despite the frequent lack of visibly deceptive intentions, investigators of the spiritual realm must always consider the principle and underlying loves of the various observers since these necessarily influence the nature of their reports.


Previous: 23. Spiritual Discrete Degrees Up: 23. Spiritual Discrete Degrees Next: 23.2 Common misconceptions

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