These past few days I’ve been annoying several people with a recent “Aha!” moment. It’s a fresh perspective, inspired by Anne Lamott’s new book of essays, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. There I encountered one of her personal beliefs: that she is a spiritual being on a physical journey, and not the other way around.
Wow, think about that for a while (as I’ve already said to my husband, my mom and my critique partner)! I may have gone way beyond what Lamott intended to say, but this revelation sprang to my mind: there is a “before” body time as well as an “after” body time. Think about the “before” part. I haven’t always been this “body” person; I was something before. I know and understand things from before. I’m guessing we all do.
This concept brings me an incredible sense of relief. My human body is an intermediate step in total life, not where life begins. Spiritual life exists first. It reminds me a little of Doris Lessing’s Shikasta, the first of her five book Canopus in Argos science fiction series from the late 1970s and 1980s. Shikasta is an allegorical Earth, to which a benign galactic empire, Canopus, sends emissaries to restore SOWF (substance-of-we-feeling) to Shikasta’s Native population. Over time, the Natives have developed a “Degenerative Disease” that puts individual goals ahead of those of the community. The emissaries are born into the world they’ve come to assist; their spirits are literally born into Native bodies. By Shikasta’s 20th Century, in spite of this outside assistance, other influences that are malignant have prevailed; the planet has degenerated into war and self-destruction.
Shikasta, of course, is fiction. But, if the concept of spiritual life before (as well as during and after) physical life is valid, then I believe we all have the answers within ourselves in regard to making the world a better place. We have untapped wisdom inside. All that’s required is a willingness to dig down through the layers of what we are on the outside and recognize that our best, most knowledgeable selves know how to think critically, listen carefully and be kind.
I’m not being facetious, far from it. I am genuinely excited about this fresh perspective and the benefits of enduring spiritual existence. The newly revealed “before” part of being comforts me with a sense of continuity, a new curiosity about living this combined spiritual and physical life and a feeling of trust that I know more than I think I do, if I only take a moment to really think.
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