Tier 4 – Spirit-centred Self
The final fourth tier (Spirit-centred Self) is by far the most contentious of all the tiers. Hence, the reason why the adoption and use of tier 4 is deemed to be “optional”. Contentious, because it raises the fundamental question “Is there God or not?”. Science can never prove there is no God, nor can religion or theology prove there is. But interestingly, both science and religion are based upon “faith”, which is at the heart of tier 4.
Science gathers its knowledge by repeated experiments and mathematical calculations, etc. to explain much of the physical (Tier 1). But as soon as a scientific conundrum arises (and there have been many over time like dark matter & energy), the limitations of scientific research are exposed. The “science” answer always lies in having “faith”. In the fact most scientists believes that they will eventually find an answer to any conundrum. The “fine tuning” science conundrum is an excellent example, for it exposes how both the Deity/God believers and Atheist/Science believers all end up needing to have “faith” in their respective beliefs.
For the last 50 years physicists have become increasingly aware that various fundamental parameters of our universe appear to be (miraculously) “fine-tuned” to allow for the emergence of life. While there are several examples of this specific conundrum, probably the simplest one to explain is the precarious existence of hydrogen within our universe. At the time of the creation of the universe (“Big bang”), if the nuclear force created was ever so slightly stronger or weaker than what it turned out to be, all the hydrogen atoms in the early formation of the universe would have fused with other hydrogen atoms to form helium. There would have been no hydrogen left. As pure hydrogen is essential to the formation of water, then life as we know it anywhere in our universe would not have been possible ever because of life’s total dependence on water. So why did these parameters lie in such a narrow range, which just happens to be that which is essential to life and our existence? Physics doesn’t care about life?
So far there are three identifiable answers to this scientific conundrum – “hydrogen fine-tuning”:-
- There might be some as-yet-unknown physics that requires these parameters to be what they are. But why should the laws of physics care about the need for life to exist? This answer is, therefore, most unlikely.
- God created the universe and willed that life exist. As no one can prove or dis-prove the existence of God, we must accept this claim on “faith”.
- Our universe is one of zillions of different universes, each with a different set of starting parameters to their nuclear force. Some harbour life, some do not. In other words our universe is simply an accident. As no one can prove or dis-prove the existence of other universes, we must accept this claim on “faith”.
Another scientific conundrum has arisen since the scientific discovery of “dark energy” and “dark matter” some 15 years ago by the Australian Nobel Prize winner, Brian Schnidt. This was discussed in an earlier section on our “Precious Life”. What if the scientific other “universe” in answer 3 happened to be the spiritual universe Deity/God believers know as “heaven”, then possibly they are both referring to the same unprovable conundrum :-))
Its all about Faith
So “faith” truly is required to believe in either science or religion or both. In tier 4 you need to believe in both; faith that there is a God and faith in science’s contribution to better knowing about the physical and the mind associated with our physical brain (tiers 1 & 2). Interestingly, science has less and less to say about the remaining tiers 3 (not being in-scope for physics and outside our taxonomy for the “physical”).
Most altruistic atheists and agnostics do not believe in the concept of a soul; especially a soul that has a spiritual connection. Most accept they have an inner personal life, sometimes euphemistically referred to as the “heart” and “soul” of an individual. It not a physical heart, it’s those heart-felt feelings buried deep within the mind of ordinary people, no matter what their persuasion. For example, “He has a heart of gold”. “A heart felt congratulation to you on you promotion”. The altruistic atheists and agnostics I know (and there are many) regard religion as irrelevant to them but accept that those that do embrace it generally have a positive influence in the community. They also accept that most religious teachings advocate charitable behaviour in-line with the age old rule of treating others as you would have them treat you. So in not wanting to discourage any of the many fine altruistic atheists and agnostics in our community from participation in tier 4, nor rob them of the opportunity to considering its potential benefits, tiers 4 is designated as “optional” in recognition that it may not be for everybody.
All ordinary people are encouraged, therefore, to consider and explore the benefits of tier 4 to self and to others in our society. Being the “claimed” tier that delivers the greatest benefits, by its very nature it is well worth exploring even if you decide not to take it any further. The more you become aware of the spiritual tier and understand it, the more you are able to experience its inherent benefits in your own way. Trying to perceive of the benefits derived from the spiritual tier 4 without a deeper understanding is difficult, as you are unlikely to “get it” from that perspective. Unless you have the faith to experience it (just as atheist agnostics and religious people have faith in understanding science), you will be constantly looking for “the why nots” and the “gotchas” to justify your current position. By parking any such fears of some hidden agenda (of religious conversion), you are encouraged to simply open your mind to its possibilities, just as you are encouraged to be mindful and reflective of the other 3 x tiers.
Unlike all other tiers, tier 4 is the core layer we identify with self-perfection; where our spiritual side calls us up and out along the spoke wheel we discussed earlier. Being a layer of spiritual perfection, there is nothing we as imperfect human beings can contribute to this tier 4, only learnt from it. All previous 3 x tiers of self, call us ever downwards into our self and then back upwards to apply what we have learnt in our every day experiences with others and the outside world that surrounds us. The Spirit-centred tier 4, beings at the centre, forms the core to who we really are and in contrast calls us up and outward only. Here we seek to transcend our human experiences that kindles passions and brings vitality into our life. The Spirit urges us to step out into the darkness and to soar into the realms of the previously unimaginable. The world of endless possibilities. The Spirit encourages us to let go of our safe havens, shake off the protective barnacles of life’s experiences and enter a new place, even rationally unknowable by normal mental processes. It’s a leap of faith!
Early Christian theologians used to say the “soul” is a kind of sailboat on the sea of life, whereas the “spirit” is the wind that fills its sails and drives it forward. The gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. In lacking this impulse, tier 4 explains that is why we struggle to go forward. The Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drives us to the very outskirts of our existence in order to proclaim our life in God. “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love. Amen”
In tier 4 we move further inward from the Soul-centred self where being true to one’s self-authenticity is considered. In tier 4 you consider being at one with one’s self integrity as the planks of consciousness. The identity of the essential self; to know self as the limitless “I am” and in caring for others as the “We are”. We often hear of saints and mystics having awakenings (an epiphany) and subsequently having trouble finding the words to describe their experiences. The inadequacies of normal language can struggle to hold or communicate these deep mysteries, these inner realisations. This reminds us that it is not just our minds that are enlightened but also our heart and soul. For if we are to experience our God, we must see, not only through the eyes of our mind but also, through the eyes of our heart and soul. Clearly these are typically very personal awakenings not necessarily for sharing, but for deep reflection. Nothing here is written on the awareness step, as this awareness comes from God (in the Bible, Kahran, etc). The awakenings arise through the knowledge we have of God, extrapolated from what we read and experienced. Some awakenings may be too precious and personal to be communicated or communicable. They should simply be cherished. Such is the respect we give to such deep spiritual wisdom. The “I am” and “We are” simply fills us with wonder in the simple joy of being. For ordinary people of faith, the awakening is that of the divine self. The process of knowing yourself naturally evolves into an examination of your relationship with others, your social context, your God. The shift to “We are” is illustrative of a love for others and care for our community and the society that we form. For love given or received must involve our engagement with others and our surrounding environment. Just as our love of God evolves in life with God; “We are at one with God”.
Nelson Mandella proclaimed when released from 27 years of imprisonment and reflection – “I am the Captain of my Soul”. This “I am” awakening reveals a deep relationship between self and his God. His love for his people and his country were the essentials to his county’s rejection of apartheid and the subsequent transformation of a nation. This was exemplified in his statement “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronisingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”
In this tier, people of faith (such as Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhist, Islamists, Judaism, etc.) might draw the foundation for their inspiration from documents such as the Bible, Koran, Thoras, etc. Documents of this nature enjoy a large scale sharing of common beliefs expressed in a manner for individual interpretation. Used, as intended, they are seen as a safe foundation able to support their being of the essential self. An ideal to inspire the most inner “I am”. This tiers calls upon us to be more than we are ie. to be God-like. To experience the God within us. To be at one with God. It is within this tier that we discover so much more than what we previously thought of as “me”. It is in this tier that we become aware of our God in all things and in all people. We see God in everything. Our self-identification is recognising God within us and in all things be it the atomic world, the celestial universe, the pure wonders of nature or life itself (be it animal, vegetable or mineral). Our understanding at this tiers must always be held with humility and constantly updated to reflect your unique and personal beliefs, which do shift and change over time. Tier 4 exposes our imperfections as imperfect beings living in an imperfect world.
So where might an agnostic sit when identifying with their “spirit” tier. An agnostic believes that the existence of a Deity/God is either unknowable in principle or currently unknown in fact. When, or if, an agnostic undertakes an investigation into the nature and reach of human knowledge, it usually ends in the conclusion that the existence of God is incapable of proof. So he/she ceases to believe in Deity/God on the ground that he/she cannot know it to be true. Such individuals are an agnostic and also an atheist. Agnostic atheists are atheistic because they do not hold a belief in the existence of any Deity. It is erroneous to identify agnosticism and atheism. It is equally erroneous to separate them as if the one were exclusive of the other. An agnostic therefore believes that human knowledge is limited to experience. Hence, it could be said that the F4L for the agnostic/atheist are contained to the materialistic experiences of life and the feelings they have regarding their life’s experiences and what their conscious tells them (in tiers 1, 2 and 3 only).
An agnostic atheist can know what it is to have our identity grounded and centred in our being and to have self-distilled this to its essence. But to know his or herself as “I am” or “We are” becomes a challenge because of their non-belief in the Spirit and the spiritual. Up to this point, through all the other tiers (1,2 & 3) discussed, we have limited our being to be equated to some object, experience or state (my body, my thoughts, my community, my shadow, etc.). But for the agnostic atheist there is no definable object to point to that which represents their “spirit”. A Diety-believer can say “I am at one with God”. To an agnostic atheist seeing God in everything and everyone is confusing to say the least. The agnostic atheist argues that Diety-believers are fearful of death and will go to any length to avoid accepting that death is a terminal experience and nothing follows. To deal with it, they say the Diety-believers create the notion of a God that will continue their life forever into eternity, if you live a good life. So now they know there is nothing to fear and can get on with their life without worrying about what is to come when their life ends. They also believe that some Diety-believers become so obsessed in their belief that they delude themselves into believing they are in fact God themselves.
As discussed earlier the notion that when a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to witness the event – it makes no noise! To embrace this notion, there needs to exist a sufficiently intelligent beings (a life with Consciousness & Psyche) to recognise the existence/possibility of a spiritual life. In much the same way, from a human perspective you could say God cannot exist without the existence of a species like human-beings, with the necessary intellect, mind and intent to recognise this possibility or not to recognise this possibility.
While the major proportion (2/3) of human-being’s believe in some God, there is also an ever growing proportion that do not. The more knowledge ordinary people gain from scientific discoveries about the real world, the more agnostic atheists become convinced there is no God for them. Hence the level of attention given to this group here.
The notion of a single God (Allah) that everyone should worship was first proclaimed by an Egyptian pharaoh, called Aechnaton around 1,300 BC, some 3-4 thousand years ago. This notion was subsequently copied by Jewish prophets and later taken over by Christians & Moslems alike. As far back as the 14th Century the philosopher Pico Della Mirandola pointed out the importance of the Spirit-centred Self. “Man was created by nature in such a way that reason might dominate the senses and that by its law all rage and desire of passion and lust might be restrained, but when the image of God has been forgotten …. we begin to serve the beast within us….”.
Within the “Christian” faith there is an excellent example of what tier 4 expounds. In the Christian faith, Jesus Christ is “the Messiah, the son of the living God”. When this (quoted) explanation was provided by St. Peter (a disciple of Jesus), it was in response to a question from Jesus himself “Who do you say I am”. Hence, no authentic Christian has the luxury of creating Christ according to their own personal tastes and preferences, as is possible in the other tiers (1, 2 & 3). Jesus wants a mutual love-relationship with believers in him, in which they open up their hearts and let God in. The name of that openness to God’s love on the part of ordinary people is “faith”.
Another disciple of Jesus, St. Paul (letters to the Corinthians 2:6-10) put it this way:-
“We teach what scripture calls: the things that no eye has seen and no ear heard, things beyond the mind of man (kind), all that God has prepared for those who love Him. These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God.”
Its all about Love and Hope
It is only when we get rid of our false life that we discover our real life which is not centred in self but in God. In dedicating our lives in totally loving and serving others and in letting go of oneself, then one can only really find one’s true self with the God who loves us. Love sets us on fire. To be loved by someone else makes all our tough times durable; it makes us believe in ourselves because someone else sees something worthwhile in us. The challenge is that we are to love all people – even those who make our lives difficult and unpleasant. As Jesus said “Love one another as I have loved you”. There is a wonderful line from the musical, Les Miserables, when the hero Valjean is told “To love another person is to see the face of God”. Christian’s believe every person is created in the image and likeness of God. To look upon another person with love and compassion is to see the face of God revealed. When we are called to love, we are called to recognise that every single person is worthy of love and every single person is in fact made in the image of God – even Yourself. Every person on earth is of equal value – which is priceless. Loving is the only way for communities and individuals to experience genuine life. Believers in God consciously and deliberately commit to a way of integrity. Believers accept being so transformed as to love oneanother and the world with the same love. Union with God in love moves to a shared commitment to a life of dedication, compassion, justice and forgiveness. This journey of transformation is not reluctant but their commitment to a life that is free, life-giving and joyful.
For Christians it is through the empowerment of the Gospel that makes us aware of Jesus Christ’s dying and rising from the dead that awaken us to make God’s glory dwell on Earth. Our hope for the future, inspires us in a respect for the present moment, to be mindful of both our strengths and weaknesses. Our desire for heavenly realities should never allow us to neglect our work on earth. The Gospels were not written to convince or to eductate unbelievers, but to foster the faith of Christian disciples.
So the Framework for Life (F4L) is all inclusive – for believers in God and non-believers alike. Non-believers in God are invited to explore tier 4 if they choose to do so. It is optional. There is no inferred sequence to the order in which these tiers should be considered. Depending upon the driving problem/issue domain you may be interested in, you may start with any tier. However, the journalising of self in regard to any such problem is not seen to be complete until all 4 tiers are considered. It completes the 4 tier taxonomy for a complete life.
Thank you for taking the time to better understand the underlying knowledge structure and guiding map that is shaping of your own YourSelf Helper’s “Framework of Life” (F4L) from the same common framework.
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