A couple weeks ago, I defined the terms Mind, Body, and Spirit as I’m going to be using them, and how they differ.
What I want to talk about this week is, in part, how they are similar.
To recap: the Mind, the Body, and the Spirit, are the three elements of an individual; the physical, analytical, and motivational elements respectively. The more aware you are of these elements, the better off you are. None of them are more important than the others, because none of them are at full potential in isolation. It’s a symbiosis. The example I gave was, of course, a motorcycle: the physical parts (Body) couldn’t even be built without intellectual analysis (Mind), and neither one of them is worth a collander full of soup without the desire, the motivation, to ride it somewhere, or even to build the damn thing (Spirit). Nothing supernatural about any of it, just some of it we as a species spend more time understanding and developing than others.
Which brings me to the main thrust of today’s thesis: the exercise of the Spirit.
It’s something that gets neglected, since that third of the individual, when it isn’t being dismissed as “imaginary,” is usually considered a subset of Mind, just a part of the intellect. However, to say that Spirit and Mind are the same is to say that Brain and Intellect are the same. They are related concepts, but not quite the same animal, and it is as important to exercise the Spirit, as it is the Mind or Body.
The trouble is, I can’t show you how to work out the Spirit, the way I can show you a bodybuilding routine, or a quadratic equation.
It’s like when someone asks me to show them how to draw. I can show them the pencil moving across the paper, but knowing how to draw requires that you know how your hand should feel, to make the pencil move that way. It requires that you have a desire to draw an image that has arisen inside you for some reason, what Wassily Kandinsky called “the Inner Necessity.”
I can’t show anyone those things. I can’t impart a sensation. I can’t demonstrate a motivation. Even if you dig telepathy, all that would do is transfer some definitions, but not the feeling. It’s the feeling that is the ability, and feelings are subjective.
“Subjective” is kind of a dirty word these days. Subjective things will not win you any arguments, for example. The not-objectively-provable is dismissed as fantasy, of no logical import.
But we, as I pointed out before, are not logical creatures.
And when you stop to think of how many of the most important things in our lives have no objective reality, then you see that “subjective” does not necessarily mean “imaginary.”
You can’t, for example, examine a cup of love. The desire to draw a picture is not measured in kilowatts. Honor is not something that can be held in the hand.
But all of these things are real.
They can be faked; someone who hates you can caress you just as tenderly as someone who loves you. Paul Jordan-Smith was more successful at pretending to be an artist than I’ve ever been at actually being one. People have been substituting righteous indignation for honor since the dawn of humanity.
So if someone looks at me meditating and insists that all I’m doing is sitting there, and that sitting there is all it is possible for me to do at that moment…I really don’t have an ironclad argument to refute them.
But that’s fine.
Because refuting someone else’s misperception is not the important thing.
I know what I’m doing, and I’m not nearly paranoid enough to doubt my own senses, because they’re all I have to go on.
Just like you. We’ll get more into that at a later date; right now, I’m just saying that there’s more than one way to look at things, and I’m giving you some options in the perspective department. Stay with me a little further, even if I do call myself a lunatic.
If all this is as clear as mud, let me give you another example: Have you ever heard of Carlos Castaneda? If you have, let me say that yes, I am aware that there is a certain amount of evidence that he made everything up. Of course, I keep stating that fiction does not necessarily imply “devoid of truth,” so that doesn’t bother me at all.
If you haven’t heard of Carlos Castaneda, the “everything” to which I refer is the series of books he wrote about learning shamanism from a Yaqui Indian sorcerer named Don Juan. I read two or three of them back in college, or thereabouts, to see for myself if there was anything useful in them.
Of all I read, one passage stays in my memory. In one of the later books, Castaneda asks Don Juan why the hell he didn’t just come out and say whatever it was they were discussing, back when they first met, and save years of time and effort.
Don Juan tells him, “I could have told you everything I know in a few hours, but until you had the power to understand it, it would have been meaningless to you.”
…or words to that effect. It’s been a while, and I don’t have the book.
But the point is, no matter how much or how little of those books are hokum, that above passage is a fundamental Truth of the Universe. The ability to understand things requires a symbiosis of Mind, Body, and Spirit: the sensory apparatus to receive new information, the intellectual capacity to sort it out, and not only the desire to understand…but the self-belief to know that you can understand things, plus the ability to “get” them.
Like I said in a previous post, there is a difference between intellectually understanding how a motorcycle is ridden, and actually knowing how to ride one. That knowing is the province of the Spirit.
And it takes time and effort to develop, just like your muscles or your intellect.
How much time varies–some people take ages, some people, like the Dalai Lama, are quite literally born to it. Here, too, the Spirit is similar to the other two thirds of an individual.
The problem is, it’s a lot easier to fake spiritual development than it is to fake lifting hundreds of pounds or being a mathematician. That’s a big problem, since you can wind up faking it to yourself, if your ego or inexperience get in the way, never mind falling prey to would-be Rasputins.
That risk is no reason to to neglect your spiritual development, any more than the risk of muscle cramps is a reason not to work out.
No more than the risk of being a pavement smear is a reason to avoid the motorcycle.
But use your head. You might not be able to bench-press 300 pounds the first time you walk into a gym, and you might not be able to become One With The Universe the first time you hit a lotus posture. Maybe you can, but there’s no shame in starting small if you want.
Years ago, when I bought my first bike, just a few weeks after passing the Safety Course, I had a friend of mine haul it back to my house in his pickup truck, because I knew how green I was and I didn’t want to even pretend that I was already capable of maneuvering through rush-hour traffic for miles.
Honesty is very important to a Biker. Especially honesty to oneself.
I was right; when I first fired up that little Vulcan 500 and made to set off on my maiden voyage, I stalled the engine. Three times. The fourth try, I got the bike all the way out of my driveway before stalling again and falling over.
If I had tried to ride it back, I would have been humiliated, possibly killed. I might never have believed in myself again, because I couldn’t do this one simple thing.
But that didn’t happen.
My neighbors across the street, by an amazing coincidence, happened to have a visitor at that moment who happened to be a biker, and just happened to see me falling over, through my neghbors’ window.
He came over, helped me bring my Kawasaki upright, took one look at the self-doubt in my eyes, the fear that I had wasted my time and money, and he told me, “Listen, we all fall down at least once at first. Anyone who tells you they didn’t, is lying. Just get on and try again. Give it some gas, you’ll get the hang of it.”
And I got on, and he gave my rear fender a shove like I was a little kid trying to ride a bicycle without training wheels for the first time…
…and I rode off.
Wasn’t the last of my screw-ups, but it was the beginning of the end of all my self-doubt. That moment fed my Spirit, which blossomed over the years into a very real, if subjective, self-confidence and awareness. The bike has made me who I am, in a very real sense. And that gentleman gave me just the push I needed, at just the moment I needed it.
I never saw him before that, never saw him again. I don’t remember his name, or even if he ever told me what it was. For all I know, he was an angel.
But angel or man, he was a Biker. Giving you the push you need, at the moment you need it, is what Bikers do.
I’ve said before that the bike is a perfect place to meditate; not only does it help put everything in perspective, your problems and ego trips and other distractions, not only does the knowing how, as opposed to just understanding how, to ride give you that satisfaction which nourishes the spirit…but you can’t fake doing it.
Not for long, anyway.
With the bike, with your Spirit…Admit when you need a push, and accept a push when it’s offered. Above all, just be honest with yourself. You do that, and you’ll know when you’re “getting it.”
That is the Truth.
And Truth rides a motorcycle.