In modernity, spirit and the spiritual are often derided upon the basis of hard logic (scientific reasoning) — the activity itself (spiritualism) is seen as reprehensibly stupid. This attitude tends to prevail even in cases where the word “spirit” is parsed and unpacked into the two most distinctive and linear usages that have thus far emerged. Those being, 1. Spirit as the glimpsing/understanding/internalizing of some literal divine force inherent to being, or, 2. Spirit as a internal contemplation/actualization of man’s highest ideals and manifest states of existence (i.e. ego-separation, self mastery, self transcendence, beauty and aesthetic refinement, the joy of sex, the exhilaration of violence — mental or physical — and near-death experience, ect.).
In the former eventuality the notion of spirit, the soft spirit, is harder to defend from the standpoint of modernity given that faith is inherently supra-rational, that is, not amenable to falsification. But is such literal spiritualism irrational? Before moving on it must be noted that here we are talking only about the spiritualism attendant to the followers of “divinity,” not about religious precepts — that is, we are concerned with the state of being whilst within/adhering to a hermetic/esoteric tradition rather than those state’s formative doctrines. What the reader then needs to take into account is the inevitable syncretism which will always pervade a given religious tradition over a sufficient period of time. No faith, however strong, can ever remain unchanged forever. Orders rise and fall, doubts emerge and subvert and subsume the temple and the spectres of “progress,” multiculturalism and utilitarianism invariably rear their formidable heads. What this means is that, at some point during one’s, lets call it, pilgrimage of the soul, that individual will need to bring his own power’s of reasoning to bear in the shaping of those notions plucked from doctrine and dogma.
Thus, the truth or falsity of a given doctrine does not invalidate the subjective truth of one’s state of being whilst immersed within the given tradition. This is the soft truth (The: “It’s true for me, not merely because I feel it is correct but because it aligns will all hither-to conceptions of interior logic or intuition, of lived-in experience”) and it is no less valid to the application of one’s life than hard truth for it’s unfalsifiable character. It is the water which keeps the camel going, the sand which weathers the stone. The compass which directs the objective impulse to feats of construction.
The second case of spirit, the hard spirit, if you will, is more straightforward — more amenable to the hard logic of pragmatism and evolutionary psychology and thus more widely accepted within the manifold spheres of modern intellectual thought. It is something akin to this notion of the numinous which the layman means when he says, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” A (generally) simple acknowledgement of natures magnificence and beauty, of the manifold avenues and pleasures of being and awe in the face of the inexplicable, ect. This kind of spiritualism is most unfairly derided from, in my experience, the Right rather than the Left (who have grown distressingly attached to their snake-oil salesmen of the soul, i.e. Deepak Chopra). Where the orthodox religious are concerned it is obvious as to why — hard spiritualism is inherently carnal in nature. Thus, to the devout, it is something to be done away with, a poisonous snakeskin which needs be shed. This is a woeful mistake. It is a mistake because it fails to comprehend the inherent feedback loop between the soft and hard styles of spirit. Without carnality one is but a ethereal shadow, nothing more than a voyeur of world events and without a higher impulse, a “guiding light” (this manifestly need not be divine lest we’d have atheists raping and pillaging in the streets at every conceivable turn) man is base, brutal and craven. A unification of both modes of thought lends itself to the internally prosperous and thus outwardly mobile and mentally healthy individual.
Of course, this is merely a guiding precept of spiritual conception and it should well be noted that it is (obviously) completely possible to hold to only one of either mode of realization, to assume the shape of only sand — of only stone. Regardless, what really ought be done is some measuring of one’s derision in relation to the metaphysical, even in spite of, or perhaps because of, one’s predilection towards rationalism. For if a nation is better off in thrall to a tradition of the soul, if this is truly healthier and more invigorating for it’s inhabitants and all their foreseeable line, is it not starkest madness to raise one’s dagger in the attempt of piercing that custom’s still beating heart?