The Lost Music of the Spirit
Every living human individual is endowed with what the ancients called the “spirit,” or quite literally,
.” Everyone has a spirit insofar as they move, bleed, feel, think and
continuously and automatically, draw breath. They are alive.
This seemingly intangible force is a harmony like a melody from a piano. An organism creates a sort of music when it interacts with the outside
forces, as would the vibrations of a guitar string upon air around it
, or the
effect of percussion on the atmosphere. With it the blood flows through the veins, the air moves through the lungs, certain notes are hit, and the
piano keeps playing. This harmony and relationship between the individual and the outside world, the air, the temperature, the light, the sensations,
vibrations, the feeding and drinking, the interactions, and being in the surroundings among all else that does the same thing—this great song—is
Of course life as the spirit, and the spirit as a song, is an overly simple way of explaining it—not an original way of explaining it
the truth is much more complex; but I think it’s fair to admit that when the instrument of the body, the individual, the organism, becomes untuned
or broken, the resulting song, and thus the spirit, suffers.
Luckily for us, spirituality has evolved
culture of humanity. In modern times—perhaps because our lifespans
have almost doubled
since when we first described it—no
longer do we concern ourselves with the original meaning of the spirit, and the relationship between the individual organism and his surroundings,
paradoxically, has become maybe too boring, or at the very least, of less value. We can thank Plato
Plato saw a new song, a new instrument to play with, and conceived of his realm of ideas
place outside his cave
, away from the rabble of the senses, the body and the
suffering of the material world from which he wished to escape. Escape further he did, but deeper into his mind, deeper into his ideas where he
imagined things were brighter, eternal, and separate from the world, separate from the cave where everything decayed—somehow outwards, yet back
into, his own thoughts.
All the time, and luckily for Plato, his instrument, his body, himself, kept on playing its song, while the abstraction of Plato (Socrates?) danced
free in his eternal world, his playground. Here was where Plato was happy.
It's not clear whether Plato actually endorsed this view, but his students sure did. His
and were adopted by and helped justify the dogmas of
religions and future philosophers for 2500 years.
Platonism had a profound effect on Western thought, and many Platonic notions were adopted by the Christian church which understood Platonic forms
as God's thoughts, whilst Neoplatonism became a major influence on Christian mysticism, in the West through St Augustine, Doctor of the Catholic
Church whose Christian writings were heavily influenced by Plotinus' Enneads, and in turn were foundations for the whole of Western Christian
His teachings are a great foundation from which many schools of thought have grown. This inundation has evolved the original idea of the spirit, the
breath of life, into a figment, a memory, something that cannot be found, and something separate from everything else—an idea. Ideas are the part of
us that live on after we die.
What was once important—the body, the flesh, the world, the very relationship between an organism and everything around him, it’s song—is now
old news, original sin
, and even despised among those who seek to
. Forever they yearn and yearn for the eternal world, forgetting about, and even
disparaging themselves, in favour of an imaginary world
they can only hope to
They call their yearning Spirituality
, and their eternal idea—a mere
abstraction of themselves—The Spirit
. But all the while, and luckily for
them, their instrument, their body, themselves, keeps playing its song, like the piano of which they’ve tuned out long ago.
In summary for the lazy:
What we call spirit today, is the surplus
of life, life being that which we used to
call the spirit, which is the result of a higher
life expectancy and thousands of years platonic thought. In the process we have forgotten the body, the world and the worldly in favour of this
Great reads for you bookies:
- The Republic Plato
- Phaedrus Plato
- The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition Jaroslav Pelikan
- A History of Western Philosophy Bertrand Russell
edit on 1-2-2013 by TheSubversiveOne because: (no reason given)