The Realm of the Spiritual
This is the realm of the Holy Spirit, who works within us all but whose work is invisible. In the original Greek, the term used for “spirit” is pneuma, which means the wind, the blast, and divine inspiration. It is the realm of the divine and the invisible. It is the realm of truth. Spirit is the force that makes life and awareness possible and which will always remain hidden in mystery, no matter how far science takes us.
The Realm of Heaven, Awareness, and the Divine
The realm of the spirit is the same as the “kingdom of heaven,” which is a statement about the superiority of the spirit to the other three realms. There are clear differences between the spiritual realm and the physical, mental, and relationship world.
The spiritual is as real as the physical world, but it is different because it cannot be observed and tested. Though the body itself is in the physical realm, the life within the body comes from spirit. We can learn the physical realm by looking at the universe, but there is a limit to what we can see because the spirit is invisible. A dead body looks like a live body. The difference is the missing spirit. As a scientist, I would describe “the spirit” as an “emergent property” that arise from the underlying forces we cannot perceive, and because of the rules of nature, we will never perceive because there are limits on our knowledge. Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is one such constraint, but there are many others, such as our inability to probe into a black hole or before the Big Bang.
The spiritual is described as information but it is different from the symbolic, coded information of the mental world. Spirit is the secret of our awareness that makes thought possible, but self-awareness is most than just thought. Thoughts are symbols we use to capture things in the real world, but the symbol is not the thing itself. Symbols and simplifications and generalizations. The true nature and information content of the thing itself is always much greater than the symbols we use to think about them. Most of that information remains always beyond our reach. While we are aware of thoughts, symbolic representations of the world, our awareness itself is not a thought, a symbol for something, it is something real in itself.
We see evidence of the spiritual from its relationship to the physical and mental processes, but the spiritual is not just a relationship. Though the Holy Spirit is sometimes described as the relationship between the Father and the Son, this is never how Christ defines it. Christ represents both the mental and relationship realms in his dual role as God and human. The spirit comes to us through our relationships and is perceived by our mental processes, but it is beyond a relationship. It is the divine, the source underlying everything else.
Symbolized by Heaven, the Seed, the Air, Inspiration, and the Invisible
In the Gospel, Christ symbolizes the spirit in nature with the sky, seeds, yeast, our breath, and the air.
Heaven is, of course, the primary symbol for spirit. The term used in Greek means literally “the sky,” but in includes the ideas of the whole universe and the underlying power of the universe, that is, divine power. The sky is, of course, the source of weather and water, that is, power and life. Water is a symbol for the physical world. The sky is also the realm of light, the sun, moon, and stars, but the spirit is often represented by blinding light, light that has so much information that we cannot take it all in. The spirit is hidden in the heavens because it is too much for us to take directly and understand so it is embodied in the physical, mental, and emotional.
Other than the sky, the seed is his most frequent symbol for the spirit used by Christ. A seed is the pure essence of a thing. A seed is a small package of information from which big things grow. In relationships, seed comes from the father who is, otherwise, not a part of the birth process. The cycle of growth which produces more seeds represents the process of spirit generating more spirit.
Christ also describes the spirit as a “yeast” because though it is invisible within the dough, it changes the very nature of thing it is within as yeast changes the dough. Yeast within a dough creates more yeast. Originally, people didn’t have little packages of dough. They kept a small bit of dough with yeast in it as “as starter.” Mix this starter into dough and let is rise and you can take any part of that new dough to act as a new starter. Life creates more life from the essence within itself. This essence is the spirit.
The mental world is symbolized by the element of air. The air is the breath within us. Like the yeast, it is invisible, but necessary for life. The air seems like nothing, but the wind proves that the air has substance and power when it moves. The term used in the Gospels for spirit is pneuma, which means literally, “the wind.” The tongues of fire in Acts are misunderstood as symbols of the spirit, but they are symbols of the mind apprehending the spirit. The spirit is the wind blowing.
Christ also uses the birds of the air, preferring the term peteinon, winged ones, as evidence of the fact that, despite it is invisible, the air has substance. In the Gospels, the spirit is symbolized by a dove for this reason, but the bird is a messenger (the real meaning of the Greek term angelos, or angel) of the spirit rather than spirit itself.
Unlike the other three realms which are equated to the human sense of sight, hearing, and feeling, Christ does not use a sensory key for the realm of the spirit. The point is that spirit is beyond our senses. We are aware of it from its affects on our mind, body, and relationship.
The laws and the words of the prophets are part of the mental world. Like the birds of the air, they are evidence for the existence of spirit, but they are not spirit themselves. They are important but confusing religion with spirit is one of the chief things that Christ teaches against. Like we have physical, mental, and needs for relationships, we also have a spiritual need. The practice of formal religion in human institutions meets our need for relationships, but it doesn’t meet our spiritual needs. Christ makes a clear separation between our personal relationship with God in pure spirit and our social relationship with the priests, tradition, and other church members. In personification, prophets are those who experience divine inspiration directly while the observant (the righteous, in KJV, from the Greek dikaios) personalizes those who follow tradition and practice religion. These religious relationships are good for society, but they are not spirit simply because they make us feel good. Feeling is the realm of relationships. Spirit is beyond feeling.
Religious tradition is often superseded by other considerations. In a discussion of the Sabbath, Christ makes it clear that both physical needs (eating consecrated bread), feeling for others (sharing consecrated bread with others), and personal wealth (rescuing an ox, property, from danger) take precedence over following the religious traditions of the Sabbath. However, the spirit in its pure form of the universal rule is the beginning and purpose of life. we can blaspheme (argue) against Christ as a personification of caring, but we can never blaspheme the spirit.
While the other three realms have a dark side, the spirit is never a negative. Even the lack of spirit creates a greater need for spirit. This is what Christ says in the first Beatitude, “the poor of spirit” is literally, those lacking spirit. There’s is the kingdom of heaven because it is in the nature of spirit to spread everywhere, through everything.
A Part of the Cycle of Mind, Body, and Relationships
Spirit is both the starting and ending point for the cycle, but a cycle is defined by the fact that it repeats itself rather than simply ending. Each ending point is a new beginning.
As a starting point, spirit is the source of both our minds, our bodies, and our relationships. In the mind, it is awareness. In the body, it is the breath or spark of life. It relationships, it is the recognition of the spirit within us as within everyone and everything else.
As an end point, the purpose of spirit is to recreate, multiple, and spread itself through everything. Every cycle in the universe, from the life cycle of star to the generations of people exists for the purpose of spreading spirit, the essence of things.