Wanting to embrace the concept of spirit and life in a single context, as presumably happened during the gylanic period, a time in which there was solidarity, civil commitment, awareness of the environment, fatigue and dangers but at the same time carefree, and wishing to bring that unitary experience back into our daily lives, I found myself having to decide which word could best indicate that thought.
During an exchange of letters with his bioregionalist friend Stefano Panzarasa, a convinced matrist, he suggested using the term “religiosity of nature”, as proposed by the philosopher Thomas Berry. The word itself is very evocative of a re-union with the natural soul.
At the same time the meaning of religion (from the Latin religio) is “to re-unite” but it cannot be said that life has ever had separations in itself .. If it had undergone a separation it would no longer be life … In fact, in the matristic period also death was considered a stage in the life process. So talking about nature religion can be misleading. Because in nature it is already a united whole, a unicum. I would perhaps prefer to use the word “biospirituality”, an old and new neologism to describe what has always been and always will be….
Sometimes, it seems that words are born to create discord among men… The incomprehension that arises with the diversity of languages, wanting to understand the other through language, is at the basis of the antipathies that human beings perceive towards each other… Proof of this is the Negro who speaks to us in Bantu is seen with suspicion and fear, let’s say that the same Negro starts speaking in Italian, or even in our family dialect, suddenly he becomes one of us, a brother of a different colour.
I was able to experience this truth several times in Calcata where the ethnic community is very varied, however since we all spoke in the same way, at most with a slight foreign accent (among other things each of us had a slight accent of origin being all foreigners), here we all became Calcatese, regardless of whether Sicilians, Romans, Venetians, East-West Europeans, North-South Americans, Africans, etc. etc.
The common language unites and at the beginning all humans spoke the same language, the “nostratic” is called in glottology, then from that root, in the planetary human diaspora, increasingly different branches and twigs arose. The mythology of the tower of Babel is symbolic but truthful. The men who had just saved themselves from the universal flood instead of going to re-inhabit the planet, which had become fertile again after the cataclysm, all concentrated in one place and began to erect a monument of thanksgiving to God (perhaps however at that time it was the Goddess), symbolically this zigurratic tower rose higher and higher (to reach heaven) but man was made for the earth and so God (or the Goddess) confused the languages.. and the men who could no longer understand each other moved away in homogeneous groups to conquer the world.. who here who there, who up and who down, until the whole planet was inhabited.
Of course this is a fable but it makes us think how the difference in languages distances man from man. Could it be for this reason that in every age an emerging power seeks to establish itself through a language? Surely it happened like this.. Sanskrit, Greek, Latin… and now English, as temporal vehicular languages, are proof of this.
But wait wait, I didn’t mean to make a linguistic semantic discourse, on the contrary, I wanted to talk about the only element that is able to unite and make man recognize himself and others as a manifestation of the same vital matrix. This element is the “consciousness-intelligence”, which unites all living beings and -in latency- also the inorganic world.
This consciousness/intelligence has since time immemorial been referred to as “spirit” (as opposed to soul which implies an individual personality). The spirit unites us all and “lay spirituality” is the syncretic understanding that everyone shares in the spirit. Spirit and life are consequential and inseparable. Therefore spirit can never become the preserve of any religion, as religions are created by and for souls, for people who consider themselves separate. For this reason I often define true spirituality as “secular” (from the ancient meaning of the Greek “laikos” outside any social and religious context).
This term, secular spirituality, is not liked by many .. or some try to explain it in their own way, as a form of para-religious belief, Masons, Christians who lead a secular life, adherents of the new new age religions, etc. While others, completely opposed to the concept of “spirit” deny that there can be any spirituality in any form whatsoever.
In short, to clarify and definitively establish the indissolubility between spirit and matter, it occurred to me to explain this secular spirituality as “biospirituality”, so that everyone is happy and content, knowing that life and spirit are the same thing . And what is meant by biospirituality? It means that the highest attainment is here and now, not in some other place or at some other time. We are not in it every moment of existence. The Supreme Reality is not elsewhere and apart from this existence. The Earth, the Universe are imbued with it.
Biospirituality is the expression, the subtle smell, the intrinsic message that transpires from all matter.
The feeling of constant undivided presence.. the awareness of the inseparability of life, recognizable in all its forms and components, starting from the perceiving “subject”, this is the stable practice of the biospiritual being. Supreme knowledge means knowing that all that “is” is as such. Because the existing is one, there can be no “other”…
And in fact the obstacle posed by religions is precisely that of imagining an “other” state to obtain, whether superior or inferior, different from the present one. But as the obscuration is removed from the heart of man, we are suddenly Home. We can define this state as “liberation” from the illusory sense of separation, since biospirituality cannot admit separation but only diversity in expressive ways and outward forms.
At the right time each of us will feel the urge to recognize ourselves in who we are and always have been.. and this is the purpose of biospirituality. And it is a way to move towards the new ecozoic era advocated by Thomas Berry.
Paolo D’Arpini – Italian Bioregional Network