Tuesday, 23 August 2011

HUMAN SPIRIT: What makes us human? (52 meditations)

HUMAN SPIRIT:  In what are we human?

If you are busy just do Part A the breath-mantra/s - repeated as often as you bring the centreing and healing nature of the breath into consciousness, supported by your 'reminders'.  

If you have more time do contemplative study on Part B using the Personal Study Method or the Group Study Method (if you have one or more study-buddies).

PART A)  This week the breath-mantra practice is to raise our awareness of how the life-force/the human spirit flows through us - in our caring, our creativity, our criticality and in our life in our communities.  

In-breaths as 'My humanity...' and the remainder of each of the 4 mantra statements as the out breaths.

My humanity is my caring
My humanity is my creativity
My humanity is my criticality
My humanity is my community-life


If it feels more right some other form of breath-mantra that gives you the experience of the same thought-feeling.



Q. What does  


The first 3 represent truth (as science), beauty & goodness.  The fourth is Community as represented via The Incredible Human Journey, presented by Dr Alice Roberts on BBC TV.  This wonderful documentary (available on DVD) showed the great diversity of human cultures AND the oneness of the peoples of the world since we are all 'out of Africa'.


A. The human spirit - science, art & the humanities -  truth, beauty, goodness - objectivity, subjectivity & morality -  IT, I & WE voices - 4Cs (3 inner and 1 (Community) outer)

The first 3 arise from within us, but have outer counter-parts in the artifacts and methods within the arts, sciences and humanities. 

The 4th, Community, is how we live together with others in the world.

The ultimately mysterious life-force we call the human spirit Essentially we are human via the 4 Cs.  That is we each have the three inner modes of being, and corresponding forms of truth-telling expression - we do science, make art, act caringly - and do these 3 in Communities.  The 4 Cs.

the 'IT' mode of science & philosophy - objective truth-seeking and knowledge ('left-brain') -This is stuff we can demonstrate, repeat and support with reason, logic, maths.

the 'I' mode of art - subjective truth-seeking and knowledge ('right-brain') - This shows what it's like to be me, seeing things from where I stand and encounter and experience my world.

the 'WE' model humanities - essentially the caring and moral mode - its the expression of what societies have decided matter in caring for each other and the world.  It draws upon IT and I modes.

The fourth 'C' is this.  We learn & express the I, WE and IT modes in the world with others i.e. in the 4th C - Communities.

All 4 Cs are necessary vital expressions of the human spirit.  Understanding their strengths and limitations as truth-telling forms is vital.  All draw on each other.  We switch between one mode and the others - sometimes in milli-seconds.  They are NOT ways of thinking they are modes of being and expressing 3 forms of truth.  We are foundering the inability to understand the difference between thinking and the overall awareness of the heart-mind.  Strictly speaking thinking applies to the IT mode - I am thinking here of the distinction between thinking and 'non-thinking awareness' as taught e.g. by Eckhart Tolle.  The same distinction is the foundation of mindfulness - as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh, amongst others.


We need to teach this model to every teacher and every pupil - as the basis for education generally and human-centred education in particular.

All three are about the human condition.  Without this model there is unending, very destructive confusion - people don't realize that there are these 3 distinct truth forms, they look to each truth form for answers that are more appropriately gleaned from one of the other truth-creating ways.  For example science isn't about morality - but it needs to be conducted in a moral context (if we are to survive). The arts aren't about objectivity - we can study them objectively, in which case we are no longer having and arts-aesthetic experience

Nowhere is there greater confusion generated by failing to realize the strengths and limitations of each of the arts-sciences-humanities truth claims than in the religion versus science domain. 

Science can't give you religious experience any more than it can give you experience of acting caringly/morally.  It might count types of religious affiliation in a population or map brain wave patterns in people upon being shown religious ikons - but that's the stuff of science.  On the other hand spirituality/religion is quintessentially subjective experience - it isn't about ticking beliefs from a list.  Nothing matters more than helping yourself, and others, to be true, beauty-creating and actively good.  If religion helps in this it is worth having.  If it leads to falsity, hypocrisy, ugliness and hurting others stay away from it.  The only value in religion is in it's ability to enable us to be more fully ad wholly human - including reflecting the higher-order 'divine' qualities.  Religion is story, stories of subjective experiences that, ideally, not only enable us to be more moral but also to see into the reality of ourselves and of the communities and world in which we live.  The truths of religions are conveyed via metaphor, metaphor is the language of the spiritual.  The stories are intending to create relationships and action - not belief box-ticking.

Two final points.

Truth beauty and goodness i.e our Criticality, Creativity & Caring are conditioned by one other supreme virtue - justice.  Justice, as a quality of our heart-mind, is what enables us to self-evaluate as well as conditioning our relationships with others, notably our compassion and our living by the Golden Rule.

The 3Cs are NOT primarily ways of thinking in the narrow left-brain sense that we have deified because of the rise of science - they are modes of being and acting.  Thought, servant not  master, can come in as a support activity.  By his own account Einstein arrived at his theory of relativity riding on a beam of light, the maths came later.  Relativity is a translation from what was essentially a mystical experience into the laughter of mathematics.

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