• Eric "Aspen" Marley

Our Sacred Attention: A Thought Experiment (Part 1 of 10)

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

It’s thought experiment time. And this time we’re looking at a spiritual concept.

It’s tricky business, performing thought experiments about spiritual matters because the realms of thought and spirit are not necessarily the same. They can intersect to an extent, but we could make the argument that a lot of the world’s problems, a lot of war and a lot of confusion, has come from the practice of forcing together these separate worlds. Religion is famous for reasoning the what’s, why’s, and wherewithal’s of spirit with the mind. The practice of reasoning out our spirituality is one of the biggest reasons that religion, once the go-to for spiritual people, is in a free-fall. With the accessibility of less-dogmatic and more experiential spiritual practices such as eco-centric or indigenous spirituality, and the proliferation of plant medicine modalities (however flawed), people have less patience for a man standing at the front of a congregation, telling his “flock” how it is. People want to know and experience God on their own terms, from within their own skins. This is one of the reasons for the massive cultural and societal changes we’ve seen since the early 1960’s. We want to feel our spirits and spirituality, rather than be told about them. And where the dogma departs from the experience, we’re choosing the experience.

Still, we’ve been given minds to use in constructive ways. A wise man once told me, “don’t confuse the finger with what it’s pointing at.” What he meant is that, when used constructively, the mind can help point to the spirit. It can never replace it, but it can point. The backbone of the art of using the mind to help open potential doors to spiritual ideas can be summed up with one phrase, one piece of advice. It’s the same advice we’ve heard about the ego. The advice is this: don’t become identified with ideas the mind has – particularly about spiritual matters. Acknowledge them, sure. But be careful acting as if they’re “true.”

Why? Because the mind is finite, yet it’s always capable of learning. That means that truths it focuses on are, or should be, subject to change. The spirit, on the other hand, is eternal. The truths that the spirit knows don’t change. Can you see why it’s tricky business, using the mind to ascertain spiritual truths? It has to do with the nature of the subject. If we do this, we’re essentially using something finite to “understand” something eternal. The problem with this is that there are, with all certainty, things that the mind cannot understand that the spirit does, but that are inaccessible to the mind alone. If we identify with the mind’s ideas about spirit, we will certainly miss truths and will find ourselves acting according to the mind’s ideas, rather than the truths the spiritual side of us understands.

Above all, experiencing truth is the key to deeper spirituality. Why? It involves the body, mind, and spirit together. Done effectively, the body is placed in a proper position to receive truth. This can include special diets, it's true. Some plant medicine ceremonies require it. Aside from that, however, any healthy "temple" is going to recieve truth differently, and more completely, than an unhealthy one. Regarding the mind, it's important that it's both open and malleable, and ready to process what the body experiences; emotions, subtle communications from spirit, the arrangement of a proper setting, etc. The spirit then teaches as much as the mind and body are ready and willing to receive.

Make sense, so far?

Stay tuned for more (or sign up for my blog at Don’t forget to check out for classes, ceremonies and events!

(artwork by Alessandro Bianchi)

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