What I am. Maybe.

I was raised with a Sunday-school metaphysics that made spirit out to be some sort of otherworldly substance separate from matter and mind. I never saw the stuff but was inclined to believe in it because of a class of experiences I called “spiritual” — experiences where I felt connected to something timeless, indestructible, and good. I liked those experiences so much that I became defensive when people said there was no spirit because I didn’t want those experiences to go away.

Recently, I’ve become interested in the question of exactly what is the mind. And the deeper I dig the more it seems to me that mind is mysterious in all the same ways as spirit. Like spirit, mind is invisible. Like spirit, it seems to power experiences that I also enjoy — experiences of intelligence, memory, emotion, creativity, relationship — and probably those spiritual experiences too.

So now it seems to me that mind and spirit are the same. And sometime after coming to that conclusion I looked up the word psyche where I found that it can mean mind, soul, or spirit; or all of them combined. So apparently I’m not the only one finding these concepts converge.

Another recent reformulation is my growing conviction that the universe is definitely up to something. Namely, it is expending a great amount of energy and time increasing in complexity. A long time ago the universe was just tiny particles and energy, till some of those particles got together and formed atoms, and some of those atoms got together and formed molecules, and some of those molecules got together and formed stars and planets and water and skies and cells and tissues and organs and plants and animals, and more.

And where the complexity is most concentrated, I find myself: a living, conscious thing having spiritual and intellectual experiences.

So mind and matter and spirit have become the same, and they’ve just become words to describe the funny way matter and energy behave when arranged in very complex ways.

And with the lines between mind, matter, and spirit all blurred I am again reconsidering just what I am — and I have had a lot of different notions of what I am. I was taught by my childhood religion to think I was an otherworldly, supernatural, creature who was only visiting this dimension for a little while. Later I stopped believing all that and considered myself a total accident burped up by chance in a purposeless world. And now I find myself some distance from either of those, viewing myself as a rare and intentional speck of concentrated complexity where the universe itself is aware.