But we don’t think of ourselves in this way. We view ourselves as human beings with a soul. But what if we choose to engage in a spiritual paradigm shift and see ourselves, and other people, as “spiritual beings alive within a human body?” What would this positive shift in how we view ourselves and other people have on our daily interactions, our relationships, our faith?
Incredible, I believe.
Who we are and our reason for being is an age old question. Since the beginning of recorded time, humans have documented the search for the answer to who we are. How did the ancients comprehend themselves among the points of light in the night sky? Did they feel small surrounded by the majesty of the natural world?
The Greek sage Aristotle wanted to understand our reality and believed all people, by nature, desire to know. Over the centuries, countless scientists and philosophers continued the quest to discover our place in the universe and the meaning of life. Since the mid-twentieth century, physicists have worked on a Theory of Everything, a single formula to answer all of our big questions.
You and I are no different from the great pursuers of significant answers in our desire to truly be aware of ourselves. Each of us is hard-wired to examine and navigate the ever-growing realm of inner and outer discovery. With each new achievement, we seem more certain of who we are.
We are physical beings capable of fantastic feats of strength and endurance. We are intellectual beings who create scientific, medical, and technological marvels. We are emotional beings with an extraordinary capacity for sensitivity. We experience ourselves and our surroundings through the senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.
In addition to the physical, emotional, and intellectual capacities and the senses by which we perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside our body, a higher wisdom exists within us. I have known it from my first memory.
I was two years old. I was watching my newborn sister being carried by two nuns down a long sidewalk. The tips of their hats flopped up and down in rhythm to their synchronized footsteps. I was aware of each step, each sway of their robes as they moved closer and closer. My senses were heightened. The sky was a magnificent deep blue. Seagulls squawked overhead. The air smelled like the sea. A cool breeze raised goose-bumps on my arm.
I watched expectantly from the back seat of our car as the nuns gently placed a bundle in my mother’s lap. I peeked over the seat and saw a tiny pink face, eyes squeezed tight against the bright sunlight.
Unable to have children of their own, our parents adopted my sister and me. Many important events in life have left crystal–clear memories within my heart, but none compares to the special day when my sister joined our family. Awakened to the power of living in the present moment, I received a sister, and with an open heart I became conscious of all we are.
It took years for me to describe what actually happened on that day. As a child, being present and open–hearted is natural. And, as children, we lack the ability to understand how special it is to remain open and present in the moment as we grow up.
I now realize that day was significant because I was aware of observing myself observing the world, its inhabitants, and my surroundings with a wide-eyed wonder. Now, many years later, I am able to express the experience as simultaneously seeing myself clearly and feeling myself fully as both participant in and witness to life. I became aware of a peaceful, present, and patient existence within my being. Connected to this part of my Self, I know we are spiritual beings.
Appreciating ourselves as soul within a human body requires a deep faith in what we cannot see. We may never prove our soul’s existence with scientific, intellectual, or theological theories. Attempting to prove soul’s existence with one’s intellect is like trying to see black holes in space.
“Is seeing black holes important?” asks Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History. “No. What’s important is that we can see a black hole’s paw print. We see them by observing the impressions they leave.”
Our spirit’s “paw print” is also clearly visible through the impressions we leave. When we give to others as we want to receive, when we listen to others as we want to be heard, and when we speak to everyone as we want to be spoken to, the wisest, most powerful part within us—spirit—permeates each cell, each breath, and each beat of our heart. Soul’s awareness surrounds us and fills us with love, which fuels our desire to live an ordinary life in the most extraordinary way by treating everyone and all life as we want to be treated. Living the Golden Rule is proof we are indeed spiritual beings on great human adventures.