All conundrums between Mind, Body, Soul and Spirit are on my mind. The Mind and the Body seem pretty self explanatory to me; most people reading this will have access to both of these, and recognize that these are resources for the Soul to enable sensory perception and interaction with the world.
What the Soul is, may be less tangible. From my lexicography I learn that the Soul is the seat of the Will, Emotions, and Psyche (the id [instinctive self], the ego [idealized self] and the super ego [collective societal imposed self]). When people use the term “pull your self together, man” in general they mean the unifying around one objective of these parts of the self. I guess the spirit is the part where most debate ensues; where most opinion diverges, and where apathy resides and utopia reigns.
The Judea Christian narratives (in which I have been immersed) promote the idea of God in three persons – Father, Son and Spirit. My forefathers in Nigeria activated their spirit by engaging Pneuma via worship/communications with the world around them, the woods, certain creatures and most definitely the elders past (animism).
Two books that have been informing my current thinking have been “Willful Blindness” by Margaret Heffernan and “The Existential Jesus” by John Carroll. For many years I have toyed with the ideas of existentialism, autonomy, existence determines essence … authenticity, choice, courage to be and much more.
Note I make no reference to the absurdity of life or nihilism, because in my view they are not necessary conclusions to existential thought – rather they are conclusions some people come to after an authentic extrapolation from their situational sojourn.
Carroll’s existential Jesus, extrapolated from the Gospel of Mark, strides on to the scheme as a man with no name, no background, no family, throwing around miracles like confetti, showing him to be the master teacher and pre-eminent physician.
Quickly things turn around as he finds himself misunderstood, at odds with all around him, alienated from society alone with his God and struggling to answer the time-honored question “who am I?” Faced with the reality, they may deny your mind, even pour scorn on you body but only you can access the realms of your Soul and your struggle with Spirit.
My inkling is that the Spirit is what comes from God – interacts (worships) with God in all of its facets while we are here on earth … before returning to God when (in old parlance) “we give up the ghost” – we shuffle off this mortal coil.
Heffernan’s New York Times best seller begins with the case of US Government vs Enron before exposing the plethora of examples in Politics, Commerce, Industry and Religion of the danger of “willful blindness.” These are the things we know but pretend we don’t know or worse still, don’t know but can’t be bothered to find out, preferring the cowardice of following the crowd or wallowing in the romance of wishful thinking and ignorant prejudice.
The reader pretty quickly then is confronted with their own cowardice “to be” – to be authentic, to challenge the sacred cows in one’s life, the orthodoxies we all know to be true save for those, in my words, prepared to take the existential path.
Then of course for me there is the challenge of being an African in the Diaspora where “might is right” as recently witnessed in the legal assassinations of – more recently – Gadhafi, as in Sadam before him.
Black, social, religious or political thought is OK only if it fits in with the “enlightened self interest (whatever that may be) of the Caucasian dominated western world,” which allows only “non-white” activists the privilege of independent intellectual social, religious and political thought as long as they remain contained in academia or don’t impact negatively on the commercial modalities of world domination.
I have no such delusions of grandeur; my psyche is well interred. I’ve accepted a reality that I’m of no relevance on the grand scale of things, so I shall enjoy my musing of existensia in religion, life and the pursuit of happiness … and in the Voltaire sense I will be happy to tend my garden until I go the way of all flesh, yet hoping for a liberation “essence of being” in the world yet to come. #utopia