In his book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, Charles Eisenstein works through a variety of topics, such as hope, despair, and science, and how they relate to our understanding of our lives in the physical world, and what exists beyond what is visible to us. Most prominent and poignant to me, however, was the chapter on “Spirit,” where Eisenstein explores the complex relationship between the physical and spiritual worlds.
The chapter begins with the hypothesis that spirituality is an escape from the difficult universe in which we exist on a daily basis. He quickly, however, acknowledges that spirit helps us reflect and better ourselves, rather than run away. “Without deep work on yourself, how will you avoid re-creating your own internalized oppression in all that you do?” he asks. Eisenstein quickly contests this statement by noting that this would mean “the goal of spirituality becomes to transcend the material realm and ascend into the spiritual,” and that one of these “worlds” is superior or inferior to the other. He then raises a battery of questions regarding people’s seemingly unavoidable desire to understand what is on the other side, and to escape the material world. He explores the idea that science and religion are often presented as opposing ends of a paradoxical spectrum, when in fact, maybe they can work together to help us understand the world in which we live, and come to terms with the unknown. He agrees with Alexander’s Proof of Heaven that a certain variety of spirituality resides in each one of us, and that science and spirit are merely different forms of intelligence. Together, each of these forces can help us find true happiness in the material world and beyond.
Personally, this chapter was extremely intriguing to me, given that I’m continuing to work through my own ideas of spirituality as I digest the remainder of this course’s material. Eisenstein brought to light the ways in which all aspects of our beliefs and lives intertwine by saying “we need to change out habits of thought, belief, and doing as well as change our systems. Each level reinforces to other.” This has led me to an understanding of the idea that the material and spiritual worlds can co-exist and work together. We don’t have to think of the former only as means by which was achieve the latter. That being said, this theory has helped me move closer to an understanding of where my own spirituality falls. While I am still working to define and categorizing it, simply by allowing my beliefs to govern my behavior in the physical world, I will eventually find peace with that in the spiritual world, regardless of what I do and do not believe.