The Spirit in Our Midst
1. Rising Up from the Common Woe
The experience of the human condition varies immeasurably among individuals; some seem to dwell beatifically in a lifelong Heaven on Earth, while their neighbors in the same habitat and similar circumstances go daily through the torments of Hell. On a larger scale, the variations in the collective experience of the human condition are likewise subject to deeper factors than geography, economy, and the cycles of time, though these provide the stage on which the drama is played. The wisdom of all ages and cultures holds this experience to be basically negative; summing up the consensus, Chaucer said:
The common state of man is one of woe,
And in the end we all must take it so!
The key to this hard maxim is that it specifically describes the common lot of humanity. There are better lots available, the uncommon state of communities which have risen above the collective sea level. There are many living examples of this phenomenon, and many more in the historical record. To understand it, and to learn how to make it happen for us, we must first turn to the Source.
The Source of all felicity lies in the Supernal Realm, the glorious sphere where All is One. The divine consciousness which comprises this realm is recognized by most humans as God, but it may also be called Supernal Spirit. This Spirit can be directly accessed by living people in religious/spiritual/mystical experiences which may fill them with the love of God (Caritas) or cause them to become enlightened (moksha, satori, jnana). Such experience is sought by means of many paths, and when the seeker becomes a finder the path goes on through stages where Supernal Spirit is cultivated and deepened until it becomes a permanent part of the person’s being. People who accomplish this are those for whom life is the greatest blessing.
This is how the problem of the human condition is solved on the individual level, and it points the way to a solution on the larger scale: a community, a country, a society, or even a civilization can rise above the brutish baseline of the human condition if Supernal Spirit manifests among the people collectively.
Each of the great religions was founded by an infusion of living Spirit into a group of people. Sometimes the foundation did not hold, but the spiritual essence usually survived in symbol, myth, ritual, and scripture. One of the best of such vessels of Spirit is the Bhagavad Gita. Its yoga teachings serve as an explicit instruction manual for the attainment of Spirit by the individual, as do many other Hindu scriptures; but at its heart is the key to the secret of how a collective can also become filled with divinity.