Image by Jill Dutton
REVELATIONS - April 2016 - Santa Fe
Spirit in Santa Fe, Our 'City Different'
By Scott Seldin
We who live in Santa Fe and love living here know the many reasons why our city is called the 'City Different.' The natural beauty is breathtaking. Just look around: the vast sky, the ancient landscape, the sacred mountains. As Maynard Dixon says: "You can't argue with those desert mountains -- and if you live among them enough -- like the Indian does -- you don't want to. They have something for us much more real than some imported art style."
We are called the City Different for our mountains, our Southwest cultures, our adobe buildings, great restaurants, shops, and hotels, our hundreds of art galleries. But we are also the city different because of something that drew us here and keeps us here, or has kept us here for generations -- a sacred spirit that fills the deepest part of us. Santa Fe: Holy Faith.
Living in Santa Fe, we are affected by Spirit's invisible but powerful presence in our everyday lives. Regardless of whether or not we are consciously on a spiritual path, Spirit awakens us to something infinitely beyond our human reach or control. And yet we continue to reach for it. And we're rewarded for our effort. D.H. Lawrence wrote that in New Mexico, a "new part" of his soul "woke up suddenly" and "the old world gave way to the new."
During my nineteen years in Santa Fe, I have heard people talk about how Spirit drew them here. The mystical Big Bang Energy of Spirit is often discussed as if it was a protagonist in a mystery novel. Though invisible, we feel Spirit's vibrant, life-shaping presence, perhaps more powerfully in Santa Fe than any place we have lived.
What is it that we are feeling? More than two thousand years ago, the Upanishads (Hinduism) offered a bridge to Spirit, depicting universal consciousness as boundary-less, without subject or object, an endless ocean of Atman -- primal, pure, transcendental. Twentieth century physicists researching quantum physics discovered that the Upanishads revealed profound truths. Dualism, the accepted underlying philosophy in the West for thousands of years, is not supported by the cutting-edge-of-the-universe discoveries of quantum physics.
We are not separate from anything or anyone in the eternal now that we all share. Our truest identity is not our psychological self, but the Self of all existence and potential existence, an infinity of Divine imagination.
What are the implications of quantum physics for our experience of Spirit? If non-dualism has replaced dualism as the reality revealed by quantum physics, can experiences of Spirit from a perspective of dualism still be true? Are we experiencing Spirit any differently in the twenty-first century?
I began my quest to find out by asking six seekers and practitioners of the sacred from six religions or spiritual paths -- Native American spirituality, Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Sikhism, Islam,, and Buddhism -- to answer two questions about Spirit: 1. "What is Spirit?" 2. "How do your spiritual practices embrace Spirit, and how does Spirit embrace your daily life?"
I asked that they limit their responses to eighty words or fewer, though some responses ran a little longer.
"Upon awakening, I begin by greeting the day.
I give thanks to our Beloved Mother Earth below my feet.
I give thanks to our Sacred Father rising in the East.
I exchange thru my breath and receive their nurturance.
I invite them in, so our hearts may be as one.
This is how I experience the flow from That which Moves and
Touches ALL: Spirit.
I do this through-out my day. Before bed I greet the Night..."
— La'ne' Sa'an Moonwalker, Native American spirituality, Moriarty
"What is Spirit? Always Spirit is love and acceptance of others, being for others. That complete love and acceptance and being for others happens consistently when there is a spiritual discipline that keeps us clearly on the path. My own path is that of Roman Catholicism within a monastic tradition: much verbal prayer in community, much silent prayer alone, reading of Scriptures of tradition, confession of failures and amendment of my ways--always nurtured by awareness of the presence of the Divine."
— Abbot Philip Lawrence, Roman Catholicism, Christ in the Desert, near Abiquiu, thirteen miles down a rutted dirt road
"Judaism calls Spirit, that which exists but is not material. Spirit is the Soul within us, which is a direct link to the Source of all Souls and life -- G-d Himself.
Through being in touch with our spirit, we rise above our material ego and selfishness to bond with
G-d. Seeing others as the spirit they embody, I find my own spirit and connect to the Source Spirit.
By joyfully practicing Jewish, spiritual religious practices, like charity, study, prayer, Shabbat, Kosher, and tefillin, I imbue my daily life with spirit and holiness."
— Rabbi Berel Levertov, Judaism, Chabad Center for Jewish Life, Santa Fe
"To me, Spirit is the creative expression of God's divine essence, which deeply permeates all life and infuses every molecule throughout this beautiful universe. That life is a precious gift not to be squandered or taken lightly. As such, I owe it to the spirit within me to live a life of caliber, excellence, and integrity. As a Sikh, my practice and daily discipline are the anchors that keep me rooted so this spirit within can soar in the vastness of infinity."
— Guru Kirn Khalsa, Sikhism, Gurward (Sikh Temple), Espanola
"In Islam, Spirit is beyond the power of human knowledge. It is the command of the Lord. The word spirit in Islam is Ruh, meaning the Divine infusion by which life takes place.
Practicing the five prayers with movement of the day over a life time, fasting the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset, giving charity and being in a state of remembrance, forgiveness and gratitude are ways of connecting to Spirit, eternal source of life that gives a human being practicing Islam the strength to be consciously content."
— Zeinab Benhalim, Islam, Santa Fe
"Spirit resides within all of us, connects us, and erases artificial separations. It is both remarkable and totally ordinary, experiential rather than intellectual, beyond dualities, a place of quiet and open-heartedness.
In Buddhism, the mind resides in the heart, not the head. Chanting practices use sound and vibration,incense uses smell, and paintings and statues use sight to open the heart. My practice lets me be more awake throughout the day and a little kinder and softer towards others, remembering what is essential.
— Marmika Paskiewiez., Buddhism, KSK Buddhist Center, Santa Fe
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Scott Seldin taught literature and composition at Baruch College, New York City, and was a freelance photographer.
After moving to Santa Fe. he worked as Academic Coordinator for the College of Santa Fe. His book, Mentoring Human Potential (iUniverse) was published in 2011. He is currently a personal development coach (ExplorationsofSpiritandCreativity.com/Coaching), and proprietor of Explorations of Spirit and Creativity.