The Function of Spirit
It was discussed in the previous essay (Part V - Young Soul, Old Soul) that we are spirit, not soul, nor are we just a functioning physical body. This keeps getting stressed in each teaching simply because it is radically important to understand. The ability to recognize ourselves as separate, yet integrated with our thoughts, emotions and senses, is central to understanding our true nature or self. The soul has been described, with its capacity for will, reason and emotion, and the physical body with is five senses as tools of the spirit. What, however, if anything, are the capabilities of ourselves, a spirit? As mentioned earlier, all spirits have one nature and one nature only, Love. Spirit is love. Not all spirits exhibit this nature in a positive manifestation for a myriad of reasons, but mainly because they have allowed or have chosen to allow darkness (obsessive self-interest) to obscure their ability to see themselves and the rest of HaShem’s creation for what it truly is; the manifest expression of the One True Spirit, Adonai Eloheynu. While the nature of spirit, our true self, is love, we do have three powerful capabilities or attributes: knowing, believing and expectation with anticipation. These three capabilities of spirit are known simply as intuition, faith and hope.
They are the way in which our true selves function at all times whether as a human or when we are in our real home. The greatest difference is that while human, there are some who see these as aberrations that must be relegated to the background and conquered or “put in their place” by the domination of the intellect, emotion, or even to the senses of the physical body. When we recoil from these mortal shells then these three eternal functions of our true nature of love work in perfect harmony and we are always perfectly guided and directed by them. However, while in these clay pots, one of our goals is to become aware of these functions and allow them to become master over the lesser tools of reason, emotion and body. A continued lack of this awareness only makes the accomplishment of our other returned for goal(s) more difficult to achieve, thus creating one of the reasons for making it necessary for more reincarnations. To be honest it is not the only reason for more incarnations but it can be one of the major causes.
Spirit knowledge is one of the hardest things to explain if we try and comprehend the information only with that tool of the rational mind. Spirit knowledge does not always appear rational or logical by human standards. It simply is! It is revealed information without the benefit of secular understanding. However, to facilitate this awareness of spiritual knowledge the study of Torah is imperative. The spirit acquires information in no other way. It knows. What’s more, the information it knows is generally the type that reason would not, and in most cases, could not ever have on its own. For example: a mother adamantly refuses to allow her teenager to go on an innocent country drive with his friends. It is a beautiful dry sunny day, not a cloud in the sky and yet she knows beyond all reasonable doubt that the vehicle they will be riding in will be on a wet surface, swerve out of control, careen over an embankment killing everyone in the car. She can’t explain this to her son and she doesn’t try. She just tells him she has a “bad feeling” about the day trip. He storms off to his room with anger towards his mother for being so inconsiderate of his needs and feelings. The mother calls the parents of the other children and tries to persuade them of her concerns and asks them to keep their kids’ home today. She fails to convince them to heed her apprehension. Two hours later she receives a phone call with the terrible news that the car her son would have been in hit a slick spot on the road left by the leakage of a truck. The boys were driving too fast, lost control, and rolled over a small bluff crashing into the river below. All were killed on impact.
Stories like these are familiar, been read about and seen on television programs highly dramatized. Many labels have been placed on this cognitive ability. The most recognizable is intuition. Science has and continues to investigate such events. There is a whole branch of science called Parapsychology and Metaphysics dedicated to this kind of phenomenon. The traditional sciences have yet to be convinced that this ability resides outside the confines of the physical human brain because it goes beyond the logic of their empirical scientific minds. For them, anything outside their limited boundary of consistent, repeatable probability simply cannot be. I do not fault them. As someone who had been in the medical sciences for nearly 50 years I appreciate the tried and true empirical method. Yet, I also have come to appreciate, as many others in science have, that study concerning the things of the spirit seldom lends itself to the reducible lab value. This automatically eliminates it from the thoughts of most scientists as a serious field of study. For them it is just a bunch of “hocus pocus.” They remind me of something stated by Martin Luther King Jr., “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” However, some of the most renowned and admired scientists have admitted using spirit knowledge to reveal to them some of their greatest discoveries. In most cases these brilliant people struggled for some time, even years, over a problem. Using their awesome and well-ordered powers of deduction, reason, and calculation they were still unable to uncover the correct answer to their dilemma. Then, in a moment of quiet reflection or routine activity unrelated to their task, they simply knew the solution. Many times the answer was far removed from the direction their original thought processes were taking them. Famous scientist and inventor Thomas A. Edison claimed that most of his ideas came to him whenever he would relax his mind and body, shutting down the babbling noise of his eager thoughts and physical senses and listen to the still, quiet, unchanging, voice deep within himself. Albert Einstein once made the same kind of observation concerning some of his most troublesome theories. He called it imagination but when you listen to his descriptions you realize he is talking about something far greater than mere mental imaginings.
There is no great mystery here. Every spirit has this ability. It is more natural than breathing and more reliable than a heart beat. We are spirit and spirit knows. We cannot help but know. Why? Because we are spirit and this is the only way spirit receives information.
Human language is a necessary thing but it can sometime limit the meaning a person is trying to convey. I stated in the last paragraph that the spirit receives information, and earlier I stated that spirit acquires information. This is not wholly accurate. I simply don’t know how to phrase it better in a language the human brain can assimilate. So let me word it in a way in which a spirit can affirm it: spirit receives nothing in the way of information. It knows. It knows the beginning from the end. It knows in the eternal realm there is no beginning or end. Spirit knows all there is to know and all that is knowable. It simply knows. In the eternal Now this is an experienced reality. However, in the here and now this is not the case. On this earthly plane a spirit still, of course, knows, but, because we are so trained from birth to be identified with the intellect, emotions and body, we are not always aware of this experiential life, especially those spirits that live in a Western influenced world. The keyword in that statement is aware; in order to know we must become more aware of our true self. Knowing should be the natural way we incorporate all information for digestion by the reasoning intellect. This intellect, being simply a tool of the spirit, will receive this information and try, if possible, to make sense of it. That is its job. Reason should never take precedence over what we absolutely know. The fact that something may sound unreasonable does not negate the truth of it. For instance: There is a story in the Tanakh about a general named Naaman who had a debilitating skin disorder (leprosy) [2 Kings Chapter 5]. He was an enemy of Israel but one day while leading his troops he was sent to the house of a Jewish prophet named Elisha. The prophet seeing the physical plight of the man instructed him to go into a nearby river, dip himself seven times in it and he would be healed of his infirmity. The general, after some hesitation, did as instructed and was healed. Why did he hesitate? If I were in his shoes wouldn’t my second thought, after the first of distrust for an enemy be, “what a ludicrous suggestion. I have been to the best doctors in my country for this disorder for years and they could not heal me regardless of their many applications. Now this enemy tells me to dip seven times in this filthy river and I’ll be healed. How ridiculous!” Fortunately for the general after a little coaxing from his servants he closed off his nagging rational thoughts and listened to himself, his true self, and immediately knew the truth of it. He dipped seven times in the dirty water of the river and was healed.
Now, herein lies the danger. A young soul may risk confusing want and desire with spirit knowing and will blindly follow his impulse in spite of spirit using the intellect’s reason to flash all kinds of warning signals. Even old souls are not totally immune from this. The major difference is that an old soul knows better but, by choice, succumbs anyway to the pull of soul or body. King Solomon likened it to an ox being led by the ring in its nose to the slaughter (Proverbs 7:22). Since the ox can feel the pull on the small ring, he forgets what incredible strength he possesses within himself, and he follows the impulse to allow himself to be led away and mastered by the inferior. Knowing, however, is seldom an emotional impulse, it is enlightenment!
The need for awareness is the highest priority in any incarnation if goal accomplishment is to be perfected. It will take some time and effort but becoming aware of what we eternally know is possible in the physical plane. While we are clothed in clay we will never know as fully experientially as we do in the Eternal Now but we can certainly raise the percentage. Science says most humans only use about three to five percent of their brain’s capacity. That is like having a state of the art CGI program on a computer but still drawing by using an old 286 graphics card. Since the awareness of spiritual knowledge is made manifest to the mind, then the same analogy can be used for it. By raising our awareness, or mental equivalent, then more of what we know will be made available for use in the attainment of our life’s goal(s). Freedom and order rests in knowing. What it will set us free from is the shackles of backward thinking that can only lead to doubt, fear and unhappiness. It doesn’t matter if we are an old soul or a young soul or somewhere in-between; increasing awareness of what we know is imperative.
Spirit knowledge is not only freedom; it is vision, order and enlightenment. It was said over 3000 years ago that a people who lack knowledge would cast off restraint and perish, but happy is he who keeps Torah [Proverbs 29:18]. It still holds true in this highly technocratic world of today. Perhaps, just for that reason alone becoming aware is of utmost importance. Awareness removes confusion, dissolves chaos and is a harbinger of light. The one who knows and knows that he knows is never at the mercy of even one with a good, well-reasoned argument.
The other two functions or attributes of spirit are faith and hope. There are those who think them to be the same thing, but they are not and each plays a vital role.
A heretic once described faith as “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Every time I see this quote or hear it used by someone to describe faith I’m left thinking there is so much more. While on the surface his statement to human reasoning may seem brilliant, but when examined more closely, it doesn’t really say anything worthwhile or helpful. Fortunately the Torah takes it up several notches and reveals the meat on the bone. Faith is not just a substance nor is it only some kind of evidence. The Torah states clearly and emphatically that faith without mitzvot is not faith at all. Real faith is revealed in obedience to the commandments of HaShem as revealed through Moshe Rabbenu at Sinai. Faith is an action taken based upon the revealed Law of Moshe and the knowing of its truth. The action is taken even when it appears against all reason and all the odds. The general with a skin disease or the mother not allowing her son to go on the drive are perfect examples of this knowing-faith-action connection. They knew and they acted upon what they knew. In other words, the true self should always be in full control of its reality while the duty of the intellect, emotions and body is to obey their master. Faith then can be properly defined as the cooperative action taken based upon what spirit knows. The spirit knows and it acts according to the laws and commandments of HaShem. Faith is not passive it is all action.
If spirit can be said to have emotion, and I only use this term to help the intellect get itself around what follows, then hope is the emotional function of spirit. Hope is the force behind the actions. It is the motivating drive and it springs eternal. Spirit is never without hope and hope never fails. Whereas, in the realm of the soul reason and emotions can sometime be in conflict, however, in spirit knowledge faith and hope are always in perfect harmony. The spirit knows, acts on what it knows, while hope is the underlying expectation of the realized goal or outcome of the act.
Intuition, action, and expectation are the eternal functions of spirit (Love).