29 September 2008

Spiritual Beings having a Human Experience

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience ... We are spiritual beings having a human experience." - Teilhard de Chardan

Human beings consider a spiritual experience an extraordinary event to be savored and contemplated. Time and space are considered normal and a timeless or placeless experience can be life-changing as it provides a glimpse into infinity and into that which doesn't perish as the following quote testifies:

"Our souls were so assured and uplifted that we, His hearers, did not have to imagine forthcoming events. Rather, we found ourselves experiencing all the bountiful happenings of the future. The eternal glory and ultimate successes of the Cause of God were so vividly portrayed by Him that the passage of time was irrelevant, for we saw the past, present and the future at the same time." (Adib Taherzadeh)

Without these kinds of experiences, or not allowing them to effect deep change in our outlook, it is easy to conclude that this material world is the beginning and end of existence. However, "
The idea that existence is restricted to this perishable world, and the denial of the existence of divine worlds, originally proceeded from the imaginations of certain believers in reincarnation; but the divine worlds are infinite. If the divine worlds culminated in this material world, creation would be futile: nay, existence would be pure child's play." (Abdu'l-Baha)

Growth, however, is a function of time and thus the soul becomes associated with a body and enters into this soul school we call life on earth.
"In this material world time has cycles; places change through alternating seasons, and for souls there are progress, retrogression and education." (Abdu'l-Baha)

Thus the purpose of time and space is to allow and measure growth. The spiritual being considers this an extraordinary experience to be savored and contemplated as time and space are not of the soul, they are not "normal". In a very real sense, the past, present and future happen simultaneously, and none of them restrict or bound the others. The following quote explains this idea.

"Consider thy state when asleep. Verily, I say, this phenomenon is the most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men, were they to ponder it in their hearts. Behold how the thing which thou hast seen in thy dream is, after a considerable lapse of time, fully realized. Had the world in which thou didst find thyself in thy dream been identical with the world in which thou livest, it would have been necessary for the event occurring in that dream to have transpired in this world at the very moment of its occurrence. Were it so, you yourself would have borne witness unto it. This being not the case, however, it must necessarily follow that the world in which thou livest is different and apart from that which thou hast experienced in thy dream. This latter world hath neither beginning nor end. It would be true if thou wert to contend that this same world is, as decreed by the All-Glorious and Almighty God, within thy proper self and is wrapped up within thee. It would equally be true to maintain that thy spirit, having transcended the limitations of sleep and having stripped itself of all earthly attachment, hath, by the act of God, been made to traverse a realm which lieth hidden in the innermost reality of this world." (Baha'u'llah)

Thinking that we are human beings having spiritual visions only traps us in temporariness, in suffering and ultimately death. It cannot be overstated, therefore, how important it is to transcend this by maintaining a clear vision that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Exploring the implications and consequences of this vision becomes our life work.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this reminder! Too often do I appreciate a "spiritual experience" for just that, an experience. And I await, impatiently for my "next one." What a thought, to reverse the idea... we are but spiritual beings having a human experience. I feel uplifted!

iguana said...

Anonymous - It is so great that you feel uplifted! That is exactly the point of this post. The quote from Chardan has become kind of a cliché as people put it on their Myspace profiles... but when you really look at what it means and its implications, it is quite provocative.

Anonymous said...

thank you, Iguana for your response. I wanted to ask you about the quote from Baha'u'llah. In which book or tablet is it found?

iguana said...

Anonymous - The quote is from Gleanings LXXIX. I am really glad that you are enjoying my blog. My name is Justin, by the way.

Diana said...

I heard this statement -> "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience ... We are spiritual beings having a human experience." about 10 years ago or so and it set my mind spinning and my body vibrating. Ever since I've been going around telling people that I know the answer to the question of "What is the meaning of life?". When people ultimately ask me for the answer, I tell them "it's to have a human experience." Of course then the inevitable great philosophical debate ensue, but I stick to my certainty that it is just that simple. We are here to experience human life, then we go back home.
Thank you so much for your post!