J. Randall Ory
08 - Our Spirit Center of Being
Updated: May 17, 2020
I’ll admit from the beginning; I’m not going to do a very good job describing the Spirit Center. It is the most elusive, and hardest to capture with words. It is literally beyond words, and can mostly be understood through metaphors and comparison. That’s why it’s problematic to get bound in a particular language or tradition when talking about the spirit reality. All words are too small to describe it, and can only point to it in distant ways. I hope, as we discuss the Spirit Center, you can set aside your preconceived notions and attempt to grasp the picture I’m painting, even if it falls outside what you currently think. More than likely, the language you’ve been given only hits upon a small part of this reality, and can sometimes actually get in the way. There’s nothing like religion to make us think we know something we’ve never experienced at all. That’s why all the spiritual mystics teach that, only in a place beyond words, do we come to encounter God and the spiritual at all. We simply don’t have the words, but we do have a spirit, and it is by that spirit that we are able to do what words cannot; that is, experience the spiritual for ourselves.
Let me start by saying that we can understand our spiritual self in comparison to our physical self. Just as our physical body has needs and functions, so does our spiritual. Our spirit self has many of the same functions and needs as our physical, only in a spiritual sense. We have spiritual eyes and ears, and spiritual needs too. We have a spiritual stomach which must be fed, with spiritual food. It is not a matter of needing to keep it from dying. Our spirit is, by nature, eternal. But it is a matter of feeding our spirit what it needs to revive and thrive. The fact that we do not know how to do this is in large part why our spirit self is so dormant and out of touch. We are not that aware of our spiritual self and its senses because they are numb, having been neglected and starved for far too long. Part of the work of personal transformation is bringing this side of ourselves back to life, or perhaps better put, learning how to help it awaken, thrive, and come back into play as one third of our being. The process by which this happens, though, is much more elusive and unclear than the care of our physical bodies. Because our spirit is invisible, it is also by nature much harder to get in touch with, and understand. Even in my Christian upbringing, I can’t say I was taught all that much about my spiritual self, how it worked, and how to help it awaken and thrive. I was mostly taught a very physical, behavior-oriented religion, which talked a lot about what do with my body, feel in my heart, and think with my brain, but not how to get in tune with the spiritual through my spirit. And that is at the heart of our spiritual self.
Just as our physical self is meant for interaction with the physical world, so our spiritual self is meant for interaction with the spiritual world. Understanding a bit about that world will help us understand our own spirits. Often, the spiritual world is overly mystified and turned into folklorist superstition. In many ways we’re not taught that much about it, just a few empty rituals or beliefs that allow us to feel like we’ve effectively avoided anything bad there. But the spiritual reality is not inherently bad. Just like the physical world, it has it’s good and bad, and the more we learn about it, the more we are able to avoid the bad and lean into the good. So, what is this spiritual world? It is basically the realm in which our spirits are able to interact with other spirits. What are these other spirits? It’s basically just us and God. We could also more comfortably talk about the spiritual self as our hidden energy. It’s something we can feel, in a way, but not see in any physical way. That’s why it’s always foolish to attempt to understand the spiritual world through the lens of the physical sciences. The physical sciences are for the physical world, but there is also a science to the spiritual world. There is an ordered way this world works. Keep in mind, it is primarily a space that is meant to contain the interaction of spirits with other spirits, our spirit with the spirits of other beings, including humans, animals, plants, and of course God and what we might call angels. It’s really that simple. We have spirits in order to connect with all life on a spiritual level. Remember my dog story, where I was able to sense his fearful energy and then speak back to the dog that I was there to love and not to harm. A lot of the energy I felt, though translated through my body, was actually spiritual energy. Think of it this way. Spiritual energy allows for a connection between physically isolated beings that transcends their physicality. It's kinda like the force in Star Wars. It is the invisible energy which surrounds us, and allows us to connect and know others in ways that defy the simple confinements of our physical selves. We can actually have a sense of people and environments through this spiritual energy beyond what we could through the physical. Does that make sense? It is in getting more in tune with our own spiritual side that opens the door for us to be more in tune with the spiritual energy flowing all around us. We all experience this energy on some level, whether we are in tune with it or not, and cannot help but react to it. Being in tune with it simply keeps us from being blindsided by it. When we can see, hear, and feel things with our spiritual self, then we can understand a lot more about the world in which we live, and thus be much healthier in our reactions to it.
Let me try to get more practical here. Through my three-day panic attack and subsequent recovery, which is still ongoing, one of the big things God showed me was that I am extremely sensitive to this spiritual energy. As a child and adult, I simply translated this sensitivity as an energy of anxiety and depression, and tried as best as I could to numb myself to it. It was really the best I could do, given my ignorance to the spiritual world around me. But what my three-day panic attack did was to pull the lid off that numbness, and restore me back to the original intent of my sensitivity. Of course, it was very painful to go through, but it has become a great strength as I’ve learned to walk in it, use it, and understand it. As a result, I am able to sense in very specific ways what’s going on inside and around me. It’s given me the ability to understand a lot more about how this spiritual energy works and why. The why, I think, is the most important part of all. The purpose of our spiritual self is the deepest kind of intimacy we could possibly have with ourselves, others, and the whole world around us. Just as I was able to sense the energy of that dog, and understand not only what it was but what to do about it, being in tune with our spiritual self helps us connect with people and places in the most direct ways. That’s the point. We were made for connection. Think about it. If I could literally feel the consequences of my actions in the spirits of others, how much do you think that would change how I treat others. I can tell you; it is our disconnection from others that allows us to be so unhealthy and unkind. The more numb we are to how our energy effects the world around us, the more we are able to harm the world without understanding or caring about it. I believe that numbness is the cause of most human problems in the world. It seems that humans above all else are the most disconnected from the universe. We are able to seemingly detach and elevate above the rest of creation in a way that allows us to abuse and misuse it without thinking we’ve done any harm. All other life in creation seems to know and do what it’s supposed to, in harmony with its environment and world. The fox knows only how to be a fox, a tree only a tree, and so on. It is only humans, it seems, that know how to become less human, by becoming less connected to the world in ways that allow us to harm the whole system without thinking we’ve harmed ourselves. This is actually not possible, but our disconnectedness allows us to miss this truth. This is, perhaps, what is meant by the Christian concept of the Fall and sin. It speaks to the reality of our human disconnectedness, which causes the world great, and stems in great part from a disconnectedness to our spiritual self. If I understand my true power and connectedness to all living things, then I will understand my true identity and place as a part of all things. Then I will no longer see myself as an individual acting only on my behalf for my own good. I will see myself as an important and powerful part of all living things, and the necessity of living in such a way that benefits all life, because it also benefits me. Then I will understand that I cannot truly harm anything without also harming myself, and that will change my life. And it has. All this speaks very clearly to why it is so important to get back in tune with our spirit self, and understand much more clearly how this spiritual energy works.
I know all this can sound very fantastical, and I’m definitely struggling to bring it down to something we can begin to understand and work with. But the one thing I can say, is that none of us has any good ability to work our way through this without guidance from God. I can give you no practical formulas to understand and work with all this, other than the need to get more in tune with the Spiritual personality behind it all. You can call that personality whatever you want. You can really begin any place you want. The important thing is to begin, and to start attempting to get in tune with God any way you can. I can assure you, much to the chagrin of the uber-religious, that God is much less concerned about you getting it "right" than just getting to it. God’s primary desire is to reconnect with you, and to reconnect you to the spiritual world; not to teach you some good rules and words. Much of religion is focused on right rules and words, instead of reestablishing a right connection with the Divine. Religion can provide some truth about reconnecting to God, but also some obstacles, so just beware. Still, as I’ve said, we have to start somewhere, and we have to do something poorly before we begin to do it well. So, don’t get to hung up on finding the “right” religion or religious truth. Perhaps it’s best to just start with what’s closest to you. That may be Christianity, it may be Buddhism, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is maintaining a focus on getting in tune with God. You can actually sort out a lot of bad religion by that one litmus test. Is it helping you experience God? Remember, experiencing God is what this whole contemplative thing is about. I hope you can keep hanging with me as we discover more together about how to do that. There is real life, healing, and wholeness in getting back in tune with your spiritual self, and the spiritual energy of the world. Hang on to that belief, as we continue learning just how to do that better.