This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest by J.D.
Most of those who live providentially (a.k.a. preppers) have gone to some lengths to stock up on food, water, and other essential supplies and equipment. However, one thing I believe most preppers may be neglecting is proper spiritual provision.
Let me be very clear: I am NOT talking about denominational religious structures; and I’m not talking about new age religion. I am talking about recognizing potentials and adopting attitudes and actions that manifest those potentials – those which separate us from all other mammals.
In order to fully examine these differences, you must be willing to look outside any religious box you may be in and look into others. That’s step one. No single belief system has all the truth and no single belief system is a total lie. So, exercising discernment is the second step in spiritual prepping.
For many of you who would consider yourselves conservative and who would label yourselves as Christians, I sound like a raving liberal. However, I would like to point out that according the original translation from the oldest manuscripts of the Peshitta, the Bereans were some of the first “liberals”. (Acts 17:11) If they had not been “more liberal that the Jews who were in Thessalonica” then they would not have “gladly heard the word daily and searched the scriptures (the Torah,) to find out if these things were so.” (II Corin. 8:2 & 9:9 put in more good plugs for being liberal.) So, if by “liberal” you mean broad-minded and generous, then you would be correct. I am a liberal. I am willing to consider and analyze all new information and share what I have with others who are in more need than myself.
If you’re going to be conservative, you need to carefully consider if what you want to conserve is really true and right. And conversely, if you’re going to be liberal, you need to carefully consider whether or not changing a view or belief is the right and best thing to do. There are times to be conservative and times to be liberal. It is up to you to decide when that is. That is part of your spirituality and part of what separates us from other mammals.
What We Share With and How we Differ From Other Mammals
For insight on this, ancient eastern philosophy has some merit. Far and Near Eastern medicinal religions identify six centers of energy in the human body, which they call Chakras, arranged vertically through the center of the trunk. Starting with the bottom three, reproductive organs, bowels, and navel, there is virtually no difference functionally between us and other mammals.
The key differences lie with the top three: the gut (stomach), heart, and brain. While other mammals share these same organs, the functions and potential differ.
The gut is sometimes referred to as “the second brain.” There are as many neurons surrounding the gut as there are surrounding the brain. The expressions “gut feeling” and “go with your gut” both reflect this fact. The difference between human gut and animal is the difference between intuition in humans and mere instinct in animals.
The heart of an animal pumps blood, as does ours, but the human heart is capable of love and compassion, while the animal heart is not. The term “heartless” reflects an attitude of lovelessness, not an absence of the actual organ. I risk offending animal lovers, but the truth is, animals do not love. They only respond in ways that best guarantee their survival, and we tend to interpret that through our own heart as love.
In nature, unless it’s their own young, you don’t see other mammals sacrificing their individual lives to save another individual, especially one from another family group or herd even of the same specie. On the other hand, stories of a policeman, fireman, or bystander risking their own lives to save the lives of people they don’t even know are not uncommon. When such people are asked what motivated them to risk their lives for strangers, they inevitably reply that they couldn’t have lived with themselves if they had stood by and done nothing, and insist that they are not heroes. Only a heart that loves is capable of feeling guilty for neglecting to act to save another.
Animals and humans alike have brains, but they function in different ways. Humans can use their brains to reason and make choices that go far beyond just preservation of their race. While many species of animals have the ability to analyze, learn, and adapt, those efforts are dedicated to survival. Animals do not produce art or pursue fun for the sake of fun. Animal play serves to develop skills for survival not for sheer entertainment.
Yes, I am aware of the elephant that paints recognizable and interpretive images. I know that dolphins have inexplicably interacted with and come to the aid of humans. However, we still assign human emotional motivations to these actions. The truth is, we have no idea what their motives are. These are isolated incidents and not typical behaviors by any stretch.
Other than the basic instinct to survive that all animals share, why should we prepare? Most spiritual disciplines promote a higher plane of existence after this life. Why not just let it come then? If everything will be vaporized or changed beyond our ability to counter it, why bother? True enough; but that assumes you will be at ground zero in the case of a cataclysmic event. While passing on in the “twinkling of an eye” would certainly be preferable, what if you’re not at ground zero? What if you actually survive the initial crisis? Then what?
What is it that makes life worth preserving if not love and compassion? Without those aspects that are the essence of humanity, what is the point?
Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst assumes the likelihood (and statistically, it’s still quite high,) that you will survive the initial crisis. If you are well trained and prepared to survive physically, what are you doing to preserve your humanity – your spiritual nature? Have you really thought about what comes after this physical earthly life? Have you given any thought to or study of how you might prepare for whatever transitions you believe might be coming?
These are intensely personal questions that you must answer for yourself. While you’re working through those answers, you must also be aware that other people’s answers may be vastly different from yours and you’d best prepare for how you will deal with them. How will you recognize and deal appropriately with people who have lost their humanity – whose love and compassion are dead – without jeopardizing your family and in the process losing your own humanity?
Amid concerted efforts to prepare for you and your family’s physical needs, don’t neglect emotional and spiritual needs. Balance is essential for a life worth living after survival.
This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:
First Prize) Winner will receive a Stealth Body Armor Level II vest courtesy of SafeGuard ARMOR™ LLC and a $150 gift certificate for Wolf Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner.com A total prize value of over $600.
Third Prize) Winner will receive copies of both of my books “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness” and “Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution” A total prize value of $28.
Contest ends on June 5 2012.