Much of Western Christianity has viewed the body, mind, and spirit as separate entities in practice - giving minimal attention to them as a functioning whole. In fact, it's even been discouraged. Separating our wholeness doesn't serve or honor what we fundamentally are. It limits it. We are body, mind, and spirit. We are complex living systems operating as one. Being dualistic about ourselves by negating one part of ourselves; or emphasizing that one has more value than another minimizes the miracle of being human.
The South African and British statesman, Jan Smuts, pioneered the study and understanding of holism in 1926. Holism is most often described by the idea that a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, 1 + 1 = 3. Yet, it is only in it's wholeness that it fulfills its greatest potential.
Duality divides and limits. In our consciousness, the ego part of our mind (commonly referred to as the false self, as Paul mentions) works to control its own desires, instead of giving our higher mind, which is receptive to the spirit, center stage. When we operate non-dualistically, we remove the ego from the leading role and driver of our thinking and behavior, and put our soul - influenced and connected by the spirit - in the driver's seat of our consciousness.
Operating from non-duality doesn't judge from the position of good or bad, right or wrong; but rather sees things as they are. This is the observational and compassionate mind. The spirit/mind of Christ is non-dualistic. In Christ's humanity, he didn't operate from a position of legality, but rather, from compassion and truth - by seeing things as they are.
The only anger he expressed was towards those who oppressed others. These were people of influence - dualistic in their thinking. When those in positions of power (rabbis, etc.) oppressed people in a weaker position through rules and top-down authority in the name of God, he turned the tables in the temple. (I'm aware of only one exception to Christ being in a non-dualistic frame of mind. It was on the cross when he experienced separation from God - My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? - a perfect example of dualism which equates to separation.)
Oppression and dualistic thinking were not the practice of Jesus Christ.
The integration of body, mind, and spirit; along with gaining a deeper understanding of how cultures older than western Christianity have learned to honor the whole person by disciplining the body and the mind to work in harmony has, for the most part, been missing in western Christianity. Neglecting this aspect of our personal and spiritual growth is denying the wholeness we are born into - and the possibilities that might surface by honoring this beautiful complexity that is each of us.
God is complete and whole by nature. Being made in the image of God infers wholeness. Why wouldn't we learn how integration of body, mind, and spirit has helped others grow and transform?
To separate ourselves from learning because spiritual experience or understanding differs is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Every human being is our teacher if we step out of fear-based thinking and open ourselves to what might be hidden in plain sight.
Yoga is a perfect example of what the east can teach western Christians about integrating body, mind, and spirit. This ancient culture is steeped in these traditions and practices. When yoga is practiced with an integrative approach, it strengthens and opens the body, mind, and spirit creating a significantly more fluid, flexible, and powerful energy flow into everything a human being manifests in the world.
Our wholeness is our expression. The world is full of wholes within wholes too. The Christian body is one whole within a greater whole of people with different practices or spiritual understandings. This doesn't mean we're separate or disconnected. We are all part of this greater whole of humanity - and we are each other's teachers here.
A whole God said was good.
Happy New Year Unruly Christians! I mean... Happy New Year every one!