The Spirit of Compassionate Love by Meryl Ann Butler
Our scientists are renowned. We know so much. But more about the universe and about bacteria and viruses than we know about ourselves. Certainly, we know more than ever about the functioning of our physical selves. We have multiple imaginations about who we are and where we fit into the biosphere, for instance. But somewhere we have lost ourselves as humans. We, meaning the western "we," assume and accept that we are totally apart from the earth and all other creators. We believe we own the planet.
Humans everywhere have rituals and beliefs that strengthen their cohesion as a cooperative community. We westerners, modern humans, have grandiose and unreal beliefs about our unlimited power to do what we want. What we do with all our power endangers our own survival and that of many other species. I think that is because we know so much about matter, and so little about the spirit that is the essence of life.
We have come to think that "spirit" is unmeasurable and therefore not scientific, not worth thinking about. Perhaps because we think spirit is religion, and so outside the realm of science that deals only with matter - another form of energy as Einstein formulated. The only rational something to pay attention to.
But to me the word "spirit" does not mean religion. Religion is the package, what we create around spirit. Religion is a form we give spirit and we can make hundreds, thousands of forms.
I'm not sure that only humans have spirit. I wonder what animals feel at sunset: usually no wind, fading light, birds who chatter loudly in a tree suddenly silent. Even the roosters here stop crowing. I remember a time when a friend and I were at a rocky beach. Her dog could not stop bounding from one rock to another sniffing and playing with the waves. Until it began to get dark. When a blood-red sun lit up the sky at the far horizon the dog sat frozen at our feet, as enraptured as we were.
Hiding, ignoring, or denying spirit makes a cruel culture. It leaves us searching for ideals. Something greater, more important, than the fear which drives us today. A majority of "We the People" chose the ideals so eloquently spoken, but some politicians did not hear and perhaps had more power through worshipping money.
The irony, of course, is that money is an illusion. A piece of paper printed with the words "ten dollars" is not worth anything but the price of a printed piece of paper. But seller and buyer accept the belief that it can buy ten dollars worth of stuff. History is full of occasions when suddenly people woke up and no longer believed the worth of a piece of paper. The wealth of the super rich is as illusional, it consists of numbers in a computer that we let it intimidate us.
Maybe you think spirit is as illusionary as money because it does not buy anything. Oh, but it does! It does not buy material things, but spirit makes us human. Spirit is what gives compassion. Com-passion: with-feeling. Not doing to others what we do not want others to do to us.
Isn't that the exact opposite of what our current culture does? We do to others what we don't want them to do to us. It is a law of nature, a law of the universe perhaps, that the more we kill others the more the others will kill us.
But what do I know? I'm a 20th Century man, I don't understand this century.
Now we are plagued with the disease of mistrusting people of another religion, another color, other thoughts. Distrust does not a healthy society make. We have lost the human. Humans are not all alike, humans have unique qualities and talents; that make ours a unique and talented society. We cannot forget or ignore that humans have spirit even when it is hidden behind one or more masks.
Anyone remember Dune, by Frank Herbert? Famous science fiction of the second half of the last century. This is from that book (the first, the original):