Man is fearfully and wonderfully made we read in Psalms 139, but how many have really pondered on the true meaning of this statement. We seem to be generally obsessed with our physical nature and we believe all we see is all that exists. Very very few if at all are aware of man’s spiritual nature.
The purpose of this discourse is to bring us to the awareness of our spiritual dimension, beyond what the stethoscope can pick, and what the surgeon can see with his scalpel, upon dissenting a man either as a living being or cadaver. This is for the patent fact that it is through the recognition of our spiritual nature could we really worship God in Spirit.
In one of the ancient creed I culled: “MAN TO MAN SHALL SPEAK, SOUL TO SOUL SHALL REVEAL.”
The meaning of this statement is; Man can only speak to someone at his physical level. By the same token, only the soul, which is the core-man and of divinity can reveal itself to the Oversoul, which we refer to as the Creator, God, Supreme Being and by other names in different climates.
Parri-pasu man being wonderfully made, we read in Psalms 46 vs 10: “BE STILL AND KNOW AND I AM GOD.”
Plainly, this chapter gives us the indication that we wouldn’t find the Lord in the hustling and bustling of the earthly life, but in the serenity of our inner closet, as emphasised by the Messiah. Communion with God is a One-on-One affair. It is for this reason Jesus will leave His disciples and go to meditate in the wilderness.
God nonetheless loves our assembly, but this has its limitation. Its purpose is simply to remind us of our mission in this world. To listen to good sermons on how we should love fellow beings without which we cannot truly worship God. Upon this, we must worship the Lord in Spirit. This is not a congregational affair.
Meanwhile, very negligible percentage, if at all, know about the spiritual dimension of man, as a result of which human lives lack balance. How wouldn’t it, when man is not conscious of the vital aspect of his four mutually related attributes. which are the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions. The very best of humans that we referred to as men of intellect may know of the first three, which are the characteristics of the mind. But the real essence of his existence, the spiritual, which is of the soul, remains unknown and unexplored.
Unquestionably, modern man through the mind has made tremendous progress in worldly and external things, particularly in the last 50 years, but the body, which housed his soul, he knows little or nothing beyond the physical aspects. It is like we haven’t even bothered to read its manual.
Yet, in order to live a purposeful life, a life of equipoise and experience our full potential, we need to develop all our four dimensions. These four dimensions of man may be compared to the four tyres of a motor car. If one of the tyres is flat, the car cannot function properly. This portrays the plight of man operating with one of his tyres flat out.
Ironically, the secret of a balance, meaningful and harmonious life lies in developing our spiritual dimension. To do this, however, we need to reorient ourselves. This new orientation borne of clear thinking and towards spirituality, will earn us a new perspective – the spiritual perspective. It will affect the way we view and respond to the world. It will assist us define the way we approach daily life, redefine our values and priorities.
By so doing, we will be able to discern the true picture of who and what we are. This understanding will offer us the key to a deeper and more constant happiness, as it will open the door to a more balanced and complete life, in the manner a vehicle with four good tyres runs smoothly, better than the one with a flat tyre.
Just as we had hinted in previous discourse, the fish needs fresh water to survive and the lion the wilderness to thrive. Human beings also require spiritual life to feel well and to develop their full potential. The key to true happiness lies in bringing back spirituality into our lives. Likewise, the key to a happy, carefree and true living is to make spirituality our first priority.
Oblivious of how to search God within as taught by Christ that we should enter into our inner closet, and emphasised by other Saints that came before and after Jesus, that transcendental meditation is the only way, most of the known religions have continued to point to externalities. We will explain what is meant by transcendental meditation as we continue.
Meanwhile, every religion has its own idea of how to realise God. Certain similarities, however appear in most of their objectives. Patently, they show evidence of:
1. Rituals and Ceremonies
2. Holy Places of Worship
3. Temples and houses of worship
4. Holidays and Festivals
5. Fast and Penances
6. Formalised Prayers and Recitations
7. Identifying dress and symbols
8. Most importantly, a priestly or ministerial class
The problem we encounter when confronted with the various external ideals of worship is how to determine which one contains the essence of truth. We have to individually scrutinise before embracing any religion otherwise, we are simply sheepish followers, who blindly continue with what we met our parents doing. NOTHING qualifies any parents and indeed anyone for that matter to choose a religion for us. At the end of the day, it boils down to a personal cross, which no one can carry for us.
In trying to determine which religion to adopt, we found out that the Muslims feel we must make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in our lifetime. To the Christians, Jerusalem is where the holy land is. The Sikhs prefer Amritsar to both Mecca and Jerusalem. Other countless religions across the globe have their different holy places.
Should we believe the Lord who fathers us all would feel strongly about Jerusalem over Mecca or Amritsar over Jerusalem or vice versa? Or in the manner of dress the Lord prefers those who cover their heads to those who go bareheaded to worship Him?
In all of these, we seem to forget we have overtly introduced customs and traditions into these religions. Or how do we explain a situation where Christians think it is sacrilegious to enter Church barefooted, while some sects of the same Christianity, particularly the Celestial Church of Christ, would insist wearing of shoes into their Church is a taboo? Some say Friday is a day that is holy to the Lord, while others think it is sinful to work on Saturday, Sunday or Monday.
All these continued in spite of the fact that the Messiah deprecated such beliefs in Matthew 12 vs 11 by performing healing on a Sabbath day, saying: “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on a Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and pull it out.”
Does this not clearly tell us every day is holy and indeed every second of the day.
And jocularly, we all want to have electricity everyday, including Sunday or any holy day. If the operators of electricity don’t work on our fabled holy days, can we imagine the catastrophe in some of the developed worlds that can’t do without electricity for 10 minutes? Patients on the surgical tables will die, while their worlds would stand still more than what COVID-19 has wrought the world over.
To push forward, we have heard of thousands of zealous seekers who have suffered untold deprivations such as rolling on the floor, sitting on hot plates, standing in one place for hours on end, refusing to take drug during illness, while some have allowed disease to ravage their bodies thinking any of these would bring them nearer to God?
These austerities such as penances, pilgrimages, rituals, recitations and the likes may to a good extent purify thoughts somewhat or lull us into a feeling of attainment, but all of them are a far cry to the ultimate desire of merging the soul into the Lord. It is against all these Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 1 vs 1 admonished: “For what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me sayeth the Lord. I delight not in the blood of bullocks, of lamb, of he goats. When you come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; Incense is an abomination unto me; the new moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquities, even the solemn meetings. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth. And when ye spreads forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea when you make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.”
The truth of the matter is that in all we read, and daily listen to as sermons, we can only succeed in sifting the truth from them, even discern what seems contradictory in the scriptures, when we are able to realise how wonderfully and fearfully man has been created.
To underscore the extraordinary nature of human beings, in the days of yore, it was written: “Gnothi Sauton” on the doors of all the Greek Temples. The meaning of Gnothi Sauton is: “Know Thy Self.” The charge then was: before you worship God, you must first and foremost know thyself.
Other sects put the same charge differently, in unison they concluded: “SELF REALIZATION PRECEDES GOD’S REALIZATION.”
That is bluntly insisting that we cannot really worship God without primarily determining who we truly are. Similarly, all laws such as love thy neighbour, do good to fellow beings et al, are easily doable, once we come to terms with our true nature.
We will only discern divinity in fellow beings having discovered it in ourselves. Discovery of our true nature neutralises our self importance and neither would we ascribe superiority or inferiority to fellow beings, as we will come to the understanding that we are all working out our lot or deal, in the evolutionary scale of our souls, otherwise known as the school of Life.
Knowing oneself will earn for us our homosapiens status – that being that has been fashioned in the image of God. Then and then only would all the achievements of modern science and invention, in control of the earth and nature’s forces pale to insignificance to what man could achieve with mind and soul working together under the full light of spiritual illumination.
Only by true worship can we subjugate our passions, not by any other means all of which sums up to the covering of a burning fire with ashes. True worship is the worship of the Word. It will make our soul stand unfettered, its light undimmed by sins and attachments. Only at this stage we could say eureka, when we begin to get some idea of our exalted birthright.
How do we discover the true nature of Man?
. To be continued.
. Aare Oyefeso, a businessman and philosopher, writes from Lagos.