Spirit Part 1: Spirit In Action

Balance is fundamental to a healthy life. When we are off-balance, emotional or physical dis-ease eventually follows.

Efforts made to achieve and maintain balance are richly rewarded. A life well-lived is built of such routines.

Our life is comprised of three elements, mind, body, and spirit. These elements, like the legs of a tripod, support our “Being.” If one of the legs is weak, we become vulnerable. 

The development of mind and body is straight forward, but what about the spirit?

Spirit is usually associated with religion. Used as a proper noun, it refers to a diety. Those who don’t practice religion, or believe in God, assume spirit has no relevance in their life. This is unfortunate.

Spirit, in the context I use it, is the active ingredient in relationships, a felt connection, rather than a thought or belief. 

Spirit leads us away from separation, towards union. It counter-balances our natural self-centeredness. Developing spirit is about growing our “presence” to the grand ecology of existence. 

Scientists claim the universe is an entangled whole, meaning virtually everything is connected. Mystics claim the evolution of consciousness proceeds from I, to we, to one. Both are saying we are not alone; existence is, in essence, relationship.

But life doesn’t feel that way. “Me” feels like a separate thing. 

This illusion arises when “Self” is our point of reference. 

Think about when you’ve been totally part of something. Maybe a sports team, a school, or an organization. When we belong, we feel accepted, included, and valued. We feel like “one.” There is great power in this. Think of the championships won by lesser qualified players who set aside individual glory and played as a unified team!

There is a reason we are energized by union. It is our natural state. When “connected,” we are “whole.” The spirit in that “whole” is palpable.

We dismiss spirit because we can’t see it. Singer-song writer Ben Harper refers to it as “diamonds on the inside.” It is experienced daily in the “miracle of we.”* 

“Self” is blind to spirit. To fully experience spirit, we must “boot up” into a new operating system where relationships vs. “Self” is the central point of reference.

Practices to develop such an “operating system” have been known for millennia. Religious seekers find union in contemplation or “centering-prayer.” Secular approaches include meditation or mindfulness. The central feature of these practices is the development of stillness sufficient to see the “overlooked wholeness in things.”**  

I appreciate how strange that sounds. Words only point in the direction of spirit. 

Spirit is found everywhere. A flower naturally turns to the sun and is nourished. Union, enabled by spirit, sustains us.  

Here in NW Wisconsin, lake temperatures are plummeting. Recently, I watched snowflakes meet an ephemeral mist of warmth rising from the lake—a visual display of the union of existence.

Like acquiring knowledge or becoming physically fit, strengthening spirit requires intentional effort.  

Future posts in this series will point in that direction. 


More information including background principles, suggested reading, and a library of previous posts can be found at http://tim-coats.com

* Term used by Ken Wilber in an unpublished online manuscript

** Taken from “The Divine Dance,” Richard Rohr

2 Replies to “Spirit Part 1: Spirit In Action”

  1. From your description, it is interesting how different our experience of spirit is. For me it has more to do with submission and release—like waking in a raft floating down a powerful river. Where does the river begin; where does it end? Is the river concerned with our understanding it? We may fight the current or attempt to steer the raft, yet the river flows regardless of our efforts. Like Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s description of flow or Richard Rohr’s exploration of the naked now, the idea of control is as far as the beginning from the end of the river. And this says nothing of the land through which the river flows. Sometimes the river is placid and other times treacherous. Controlling it or the land through which it flows are illusions. What I can do is submit to it and trust that I—that we—are somehow part of it. At least, this is my experience of Spirit.

    Keep up the writing…


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