The word ‘spirituality’ is usually used as a way of avoiding accountability by those whose premises can not be substantiated by measurable evidence.. But preachers and gurus would no longer be able to use the word so effectively as a means of negating material evidence if only we could get through to those seeking spirituality that what they are really seeking has nothing to do with said spirituality, (whatever that word really means) but is really an attempt to return to the same state as, say, an eagle or beaver, for it is the creatures other than we who really live in the here and now they pine for, animals who have neither regrets for the past nor are worried about their future.
When free from human intervention, they respond obediently, unthinkingly, spontaneously, to the universe’s edicts. The natural instincts that nature programs them with direct their actions and one can presume they are at one with the universe.
We, too, at one time, must have, like the deer and the antelope, gamboled freely, unashamed, free of inhibition, alert to the moment, acutely aware of ourselves and the world around us. But, as Erich Fromm once said: “The dilemma of the human condition is that it can never again be one of harmony with nature; only the animal condition is that.” For once we developed the ability to delay our immediate, instinctive response to Nature’s demands, we had time to evaluate a situation, to choose a course of action, to, in other words, think. And thinking, of course, led to knowledge and the rest is history – – (cast out of the Garden of Eden, so to speak.)
But, strangely, despite the tremendous advantage this ability has given us — to be able to hold the universe at arm‘s length to better examine it– many seem magnetically drawn to this earlier, pristine state when the only book we had to read was the sky at night. We still like to return to nature, are still awed when alone in the silent forest or looking up at the stars at night, we still enjoy the uninhibited play of a puppy, still go to the zoo to see our fellow creatures. Our literature abounds with examples of this angst–even the religious Eliot was moved to write:
“I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”
Self help books like the “Power of Now” are selling like hotcakes, Yoga, meditation and any other means of tuning out our acquired awareness of past and future by stemming our stream of consciousness- by focusing on the moment– are in vogue. And while most of these techniques might give us momentary release from modern day pressures, there would be a lot less disappointment , and a lot less chicanery, if we kept in mind that what we are really trying to reclaim here is not a spiritual state at all but rather simply the wordless, innocent (animal) state we once enjoyed. In other words, the euphoric language these gurus extol is, as I see it, the very thing we are trying to escape from when we seek temporary oblivion from our complex world through mind numbing mantras, talking in tongues, focusing on the immediate– anything , anything, that blocks out our stream of consciousness.
Cheers Andy Mulcahy
T.S. Eliot: “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock”