finding peace by balancing the life matrix of body, mind, heart, soul and spirit
By balancing 5 attributes of the life matrix I have found greater sense of peace and equanimity.
The interconnected nature body, mind, heart, soul and spirit, when cohesively connected, help with the transformation of depression and anxiety towards peace and contentment. Seeking to find some answers to my disenfranchised state of existence, I created a system of discovery and understanding.
Life is an interconnected hub of 5 attributes which create the foundational matrix:
This is what I know so far. (Well, I actually know more than this but I figured you would rather have the short version than the long one.)
The Matrix Wheel
Here are the five spokes in the matrix wheel:
~ Body ~
~ Mind ~
~ Heart ~
~ Soul ~
~ Spirit ~
In comparison, Buddhism has the aggregate model symbolized by the Dharma wheel. Taking elements from symbol:
Body — material form
Mind — volition
Heart — feelings
Soul — sensing the world empathetically and intuitively (soul)
Spirit — consciousness (spirit)
the dharma model
Buddhism provides a different number of spokes commonly presented in the Dharma wheel ranging from 4 (Four Noble Truths) to 31 representing realms of existence in ancient Buddhist cosmology. If you picture a wheel, normally the rim contains the spokes but in Buddhism, the spokes poke through indicating penetrating insights.
Yet, the rim of the wheel holds it all together. It represents mindfulness, insightful awareness and meditative concentration. The hub represents moral discipline—a level of responsibility in personal growth and in the world which is a source of existential fear for some.
Following the Noble Eightfold Path leads to liberation in the form of nirvana:
“Just this noble eightfold path: right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. I followed that path.
“Following it, I came to direct knowledge of aging & death, direct knowledge of the origination of aging & death, direct knowledge of the cessation of aging & death, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of aging & death.
“I followed that path. Following it, I came to direct knowledge of birth… becoming… clinging… craving… feeling… contact… the six sense media… name-&-form… consciousness, direct knowledge of the origination of consciousness, direct knowledge of the cessation of consciousness, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of consciousness. I followed that path.”
— The Buddha, Nagara Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya
Comparing my path with that of the Buddha’s is a bit of a stretch in more ways than one. But suffice to say, I have not yet come to direct knowledge or understanding of aging and death.
It is also highly likely won’t be able to reach the cessation of either. But, I am finding greater ease in being true to myself as I better understand the five attributes of my matrix.
Each attribute is an interconnected but unique source of answers to my existential questions. Further, my identity-narrative is becoming more cohesive and clear. Cognitive dissonance is decreasing and productivity, contentment and joy are increasing.
5 Guiding Principles
I, at least try, to use these 5 guiding principles in all circumstances. It helps to promote this functional holism.
And here are the 5 guiding principles:
~ know thyself ~
~ consciously seek knowledge, understandings and truths ~
~ find balance and connections ~
~ live passionately and compassionately ~
~ be authentic, with integrity ~
Through an archaeological dig of sorts, I continue on my journey, to seek understandings of each of these ‘spokes’ of my matrix of life wheel. The principles keep me in tune to my genuine self (as I know it so far) with an openness to stay keep the learning curve moving upwards.
The A. R. T. Framework
And this is the A. R. T. Project framework or rather, it’s more like a helix intertwining through each thought, challenge, or situation I experience. It is a very simple structure that helps to keep my authenticity in tact and the distorted thinking at bay.
And, here are the 3 A. R. T. processes:
~ Accepting ~
~ Reflecting ~
~ Transforming ~
Moments of awakening and even moments of spiritual enlightenment (more nirvana-like if you are so fortunate) happen in different ways throughout our human experiences–not just at the end. We are more connected to these life experiences by integrating rational thought, logic and my heightened state of intuition
A Closer Look at Each Part of the Matrix
Let’s look at each attribute of the human matrix from a philosophical or historical standpoint:
Looking at the philosophy of the body
We can’t really conceptualize the body, philosophically, without considering monism, dualism and the mind-body problem. Some argue one came before the other (like the chicken or the egg scenario) and some say they evolved together (me).
Some philosophers believe the body is like any material object we observe through sense perception. It is potentially an isolated phenomenon and each part is also divisible. This is leaving the mind, heart (symbolic), soul and spirit out of the picture.
Cartesian dualism is a substance dualism which strictly separates the mind and the body.
Descartes found an understanding of nature and realization of certainty by first separating a particular element from the natural world. Then, he applied precise measurement.
This is a very empirical point of view. Accordingly, we would need to must first detach ourselves from the substance or material and then give it an objective, thorough-going over.
Looking at the philosophy of the mind
The mind–body problem is a paradigm issue in philosophy of mind. Chalmer’s hard problem of consciousness this issue is further complicated by other perspectives such as those around.
Willam James also recognized the difficulty dealing with the subjective sense of a privately owned stream of consciousness. Thus, despite the material mechanisms of the brain, ‘Consciousness’, like a narrative-distance tool used by some writers like Murakami, seems to be overseeing the situation.
Kant saw a world of a priori forms which would be the mind. Accordingly, these mindful a priori forms are necessary preexisting conditions such as space and time that seem to be pre-programmed into the brain. Jung’s archetypes would fit into this, in a way. When we are not paying attention, ‘a prior’ and archetypal directives take over.
Thomas Aquinas focused on our ability to reason as indicative of the mind and that which takes precedence in life. Calvin focused on the soul which formed a bundle with the mind and heart. And, Augustine on the mental capacities of memory, understanding, and will. Augustine argued that our reasoning mind is our preeminent or most important feature.
For Aristotle the mind is a faculty of the soul. They are one and the same. When the body dies so does the soul. I believe the soul is an energy that changes form.
Dostoyevsky writes that the more we focus on knowledge the less we feel, and vice versa. He saw the body, mind, heart, the soul, and spirit, as recognizable through the heart, and not through the reason.
Were we spirits, he wrote, we could dwell in that region of ideas over which our souls hover, seeking the solution. But, he suggests that we are earth-born beings, and as such, can only guess at the reason for existence — not grasp it by all sides/‘spokes’ at once.
The guide for our intelligence, is living this temporary illusion, insightfully, to gain understanding into the innermost centre of the soul, which he called reason. The soul or spirit lives on the thoughts which are whispered by the heart.
Thought is born in the soul. Reason is a tool, a machine, which is driven by the spiritual fire. The human matrix finds connections through both reason, logic and passion.
When we reason, writes Dostoyevsky, we penetrates into the domain of knowledge. This, in turn works independently of feelings, and consequently, independently of the of the heart, although it is communicated through the heart.
More recently, the philosophers of the mind deal with questions of consciousness, as with James and Chalmers, and how it interacts with both the body and the outside world. As philosophers, we can all ask, not only about what mental phenomena are and what gives rise to them, but also what relationship they have to all parts of our human matrix.
Atheists and theists have fundamental disagreements about the nature of the human mind, with almost all atheists regarding it as material and natural while theists insist that consciousness cannot be physical. Instead, the mind must have a supernatural source in the soul and in God.
Looking at the philosophy of the heart
Aristotle, on the other hand, viewed the heart as the seat of intelligence, emotion, and sensation. An observation of the heart, in the late twelfth century, was that it was the primary “spiritual member” of the body.
“The heart of man is a gift of the gods, beware of neglecting it.”
—nAmen-em-apt: The Instruction of Amen-em-apt, chapter 24
While the brain, as “sensus exterior,” deals with manifesting superconsciousness, the heart, as “sensus interior”, is the actual seat of the “Imago Dei”—image of God.
In Hindu Kundalini Yoga, the brain is associated with the Crown Lotus. The abode of the Deity, the “âtman” (one with Brahman) is found in the Heart Lotus.
“Smaller than the smallest, greater than the greatest, this Âtman forever dwells within the hearts of all. When a man is free from desire, his mind and senses purified, he beholds the glory of the Âtman and is without sorrow.”
—Katha Upaniśad, 2.20
Accordingly, only in “the space of the heart” can the path leading to transcendence be found. It is the house of the very subtle mind of Clear Light or Buddha-dharma.
The heart, as the organ of the spiritual potential of human consciousness, acts as receptor, storing what has been acquired. This relates to the focus of the activity of the higher, very subtle mind. For some, this is achieved by way of holy love the yearning of consciousness for the absolute. For others, it is rooted in a variety of powerful feelings like joy, love, compassion & equanimity.
The direct experience of this Divine Presence occurs in the heart, making it the temple, tent, synagogue, church, mosque and lodge of the indwelling of the spirit. In this sense, the human heart is the foundational centre of mystical perception.
In Middle Egyptian, the word “maat” (“mAat”) is used for “truth” and “justice.” In Arabic, “al-haq,” is both “truth” and “reality”. Through the heart, the human being participates in maintaining the balance of the cosmic as well as human functionality.
When the matrix is balanced and blocks (baggage) are cleared, this allows the free flow of life. Pictured as a vase (), the heart can receive and pour out Maat.
Maat is both a concept and a goddess, the daughter of the Sun-god Atum-Re. As a concept, she represents truth, justice, social order and ethical values based on the cosmic order. Her ostrich feather is a symbol of the heart.
The ancient Egyptians believed that to enter your afterlife your heart had to be light. They had a god who would weigh your heart on scales opposite Maat’s feather of truth. And, you needed to get that heart back in order to go into the afterlife. If the feather weighed less than your heart, well, that was not a good thing.
The heart then, is the seat of free will and hence responsibility for a person’s evil deeds or acts against Maat. These cause the heart to become heavy and dull, burdened by the weight of immoral deeds.
In Buddhism, the Eight-fold path guides us towards a healthy heart with the thinking of right actions, thoughts, intentions and so on as a means of wise balancing of the wheel or the matrix.
We balance the heart with righteousness. In a sick, evil heart, coordination, balance, connectivity and communication is disrupted and so consciousness, without a strong focal point, becomes diffuse and isolated.
Looking at the philosophy of the soul
Philosophy of the soul cannot be looked without considering our immortality and the potential immortality of the soul, specifically.
The first pages of scripture in the Bible allude to the nature of the human soul when the inspired writer tells us that God breathed a living soul into each of us. Accordingly, we are human vessels for a soul as a representative of God.
Aristotle uses his familiar matter/form distinction to answer the question “What is soul?” At the beginning of De Anima II.1, he says that there are three sorts of substance:
– Matter (potentiality)
– Form (actuality)
– The compound of matter and form
Aristotle is interested ‘living’ matter, not just humans, as having souls. They are living because they have souls..
Aristotle’s picture is definitely not Cartesian. There is no inner/outer contrast. The soul is not an inner spectator as having direct contact only with its own perceptions and other psychic states.
Soul has little to do with personal identity and individuality until it is linked with a human body that is conditioned in life. You and I have different souls because we are different people. And, we are different human beings/bodies because we are different compounds of form and matter.
In this theory, different bodies both animated by the same set of capacities, by the same (kind of) soul, and then differentiated through life experiences. With intentional effort and mindful living, we can get ‘closer’ to the truth of our most genuine self—as a matrix of mind, body, heart, soul and spirit.
Looking at the philosophy of the spirit
To understand the philosophy of the spirit as it has been considered over time, we should take a look at the thinking of Hegel’s work called the Phenomenology of Spirit, although it is also the Phenomenology of Mind. The six major divisions —Consciousness, Self-Consciousness, Reason, Spirit, Religion, and Absolute Knowledge, give us a good idea of what spirit meant in Hegel’s mind.
The true is the whole.
— The Phenomenology of Spirit
With this notion, we ventures into Hegel’s famous dialectical process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. This seems to me to be much less spirit and much more mind.
“The Church has consistently and justly refused to allow that reason might stand in opposition to faith, and yet be placed under subjection to it.
“The human spirit in its inmost nature is not something so divided up that two contradictory elements might subsist together in it.
If discord has arisen between intellectual insight and religion, and is not overcome in knowledge, it leads to despair, which comes in the place of reconciliation. This despair is reconciliation carried out in a one-sided manner. The one side is cast away, the other alone held fast; but a man cannot win true peace in this way.
The one alternative is, for the divided spirit to reject the demands of the intellect and try to return to simple religious feeling. To this, however, the spirit can only attain by doing violence to itself, for the independence of consciousness demands satisfaction, and will not be thrust aside by force; and to renounce independent thought, is not within the power of the healthy mind.
Religious feeling becomes yearning hypocrisy, and retains the moment of non-satisfaction. The other alternative is a one-sided attitude of indifference toward religion, which is either left unquestioned and let alone, or is ultimately attacked and opposed. That is the course followed by shallow spirits.”
—Hegel Lectures on Philosophy of Religion
Hegel sees the linear process of evolution as a spiritual one, teleologically oriented towards an ultimate purpose or destiny. Natural evolution is then underscored by a predetermined end with the soul using the body as a vessel of travel.
“Poetry is the universal art of the spirit which has become free in itself and which is not tied down for its realization to external sensuous material; instead, it launches out exclusively in the inner space and the inner time of ideas and feelings.”
—Hegel, Introduction to Aesthetics
The empowering elements of a well-balanced matrix
The extent of your empowerment can be expanded with some critical thinking and creative explorations with an intentional attitude empowering your potential joie de vivre.
In this process of discovery, we accept the light and the dark, chaos and order, and the imperfect nature of being human. Then we reflect, through meditation and insightful contemplation, with creative and critical thinking. By doing so, we balance opposing forces and connections become clarified.
Transformation is the evolution and adaption of the way we were, in history or minutes ago, towards an identity-narrative and core values that fit better. It involves lessening the role of the ego and liberating the soul.
This is the path which guides and inspires enlightened, meaningful existence. Easy, peasy. Maybe but usually not.
if you car is out of alignment….
The point is that this human matrix is meant to be in balance and it can not be without intentional contemplation and action.
The car is out of alignment. It is wobbly and the ride is bumpy. This car needs attention to correct the wobble or is causes other problems and a potential breakdown. We need to first accept the situation. Then we can more accurately and honestly reflect and correct the problem for transformation.
The rest of the system suffers directly and indirectly if we do not take care of the parts. By balancing 5 attributes of the life matrix you can find greater sense of peace with body, mind, heart, soul and spirit.
We have some special qualities of human nature which allow us to have a conscious recognition of being an active part of the creation and destruction, affecting ourselves and the world around us.
I am a more effective planner when I interact with my thoughts and the world, consciously, creatively and with reason.
Further, the moral implications of this level of responsibility means, well, we need to be more aware of how our actions affect others. This extends to spiritual self-awareness and the capacity for spiritual and moral reflection and growth.
Yet, it is an empowering freedom. I have found much greater contentment and fulfilment through intentional attitude and a passionate embrace of my values and identity, authentically, with integrity.
The ability and desire to understand and love one’s genuine self and others, can become neglected and even opposed. But, the quest for a wholeness, or to find one’s essential, true nature, offers the opportunity for reconciliation. We find peace when we better balance the 5 attributes of the life matrix.
~ a guide to healing mind, body, heart, soul and spirit.
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