It really isn’t an either/or choice, in fact, each can be enhanced by the other. However, one of these ‘tarians’ has a far greater impact than the other. You already know that a humanitarian is devoted to human welfare, certainly a noble and worthwhile pursuit. But what is a spiritarian? You may not have heard the word before; it’s not in the dictionary. We wanted a word that could be used to describe someone outside of religion, yet devoted to spiritual welfare.

In our world, the body and soul are divided in some areas of life, and are lobbed together in others. Science and religion have cleanly divided the two and each has claimed a piece, but many feel that when they are caring for human welfare they’re treating both body and soul. Some believe we have a soul/spirit within the body, others that we are a soul/spirit having a human experience.

A spiritarian takes a different view. The ancient pagan, Porphyry, realized through gnosis, “My true Self is remote from the body, without color and without shape, not to be touched by human hands.” The Bhagavad Gita agrees, saying, “The Self is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundations of eternity.”

To the spiritarian, the Self, the immortal child of Source, has never been, and will never be, a body. Quantum physics backs up this truth with research that demonstrates that material form is a virtual reality projected by consciousness that exists without form.

Buddha recognized this fact when he said, “Remembering that this body is like froth, of the nature of a mirage, break the flower-tipped arrows of Mara/illusion.” The result? “Freed from illusion … they have renounced the world of appearance to find reality. Thus have they reached the highest.”

We’ve all gotten sucked into a dream that felt absolutely real, yet no matter how convinced we were while the dream went on, we woke up and realized nothing real had happened. A spiritarian realizes that we’re all in a much deeper sleep having a dream that’s turned into a nightmare.

And this is where we see the difference between the humanitarian and the spiritarian. One wants to make the dream more comfortable, the other wants to assist you in waking up and escaping it. As Rumi’s teacher Shams-iTabrizi explained, “All the veils are one veil. Other than that one, there is no veil. That veil is this existence.”

Jesus was both humanitarian and spiritarian. His heart was pained by the misery he saw, so he fed the hungry, gave to the poor and healed the sick. But Jesus was no longer asleep. He woke up, and he became an example of what the waking state looks like. He was no longer fooled by material form and did his best to encourage his followers to see past illusion and “seek first the kingdom.” He made it clear that he was “no part of the world” nor was the kingdom that held his allegiance.

Unfortunately, the majority of Jesus’ followers were more interested in material solutions to their problems and followed him for the immediate aid that he gave. These followers distorted his message as they focused on the ‘doings’ of the body. They didn’t stop to realize if they were fed, they would get hungry again, if they were cured, they could easily succumb to another illness, and even if the body was raised from the dead, it would eventually die again.

Jesus recognized the problem he had inadvertently created when said that others would do “greater works than these.” It’s extremely difficult to think of anything greater than raising the dead, but a spiritarian knows that the greatest work lies in awakening minds caught in the dream of continuous birth and death.

Until we wake up and realize we are not the body or its personality, we will be unable to know our true immortal Self. As the Kena Upanishad explains, “The Self is realized … when you have broken through the wrong identification that you are the body, subject to birth and death.”

Humanitarian efforts are worthy because they awaken love and the realization of our innate oneness. But they also fail because they keep us in the prison of virtual reality. In effect, they are like a person who works to improve prison conditions but fails to tell the prisoners that the doors are unlocked and they can leave anytime they wish.

No matter how much conditions are improved, it is still a prison and can’t compare with freedom. And no matter how much humanitarian work is done in this world, it can never begin to rival or replace Reality. But Hafiz recognized the role of the spiritarian when he said, “the sage … keeps dropping keys … for the beautiful rowdy prisoners.” In actuality, we each have the key in our hand and the way out has always been available. Rumi explains:

“The second you stepped into this world of existence a ladder was placed before you to help you escape. When you pass beyond this human form … plunge into the vast ocean of consciousness. Let the drop of water that is you become a hundred mighty seas. But do not think that the drop alone becomes the ocean. The ocean, too, becomes the drop.”

If we’re humanitarians but not spiritarians, we’re prisoners who are sharing blankets with other prisoners, trying to create the illusion of freedom. If we’re spiritarians, we can put love into action by helping others on a material level, while always remembering that the best help we can give is to live in a way that clearly demonstrates the prison door is wide, wide open.

~ by Lee & Steven Hager Dec. 4, 2011

Humanitarian or Spiritarian?

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