I recently came across some ideas about spiritual naturalism. I found them similar to my writings and teachings on how one's spiritual life is as natural as breathing. So, I encourage others to relax and be their natural, spiritual self. Know that we are connected to a Source greater than ourselves.
Religion is not required for an adequate explanation of the seemingly "eternal" part of the self. Here are some thoughts from the underlying thinking of spiritual naturalism. I attribute these explanatory ideas of spiritual naturalism to online discussions and postings: There are some philosophers who believe the human self is an individual, unique entity that is constantly changing. For example, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated, “you cannot step in the same river twice.” This idea of an impermanent self is similar to Buddhist teachings. However, this notion of the self doesn't account for a part within us that seems to remain constant, unchanging. Heraclitus recognized this and later wrote “you both can and cannot step in the same river twice.”
Many ideas are offered to explain the constant, enduring part of ourselves. In the West, many believe we each have an eternal soul. In naturalism, the enduring quality is attributed to the “laws of nature”-the regularities we observe in the world expressed in mathematical form. Nature works with fundamental parameters that include various particles and forces within the sphere of space and time resulting in a self-organizing cosmos. From the naturalistic viewpoint, every individual life arises out of the larger processes of nature, is sustained by them, and in the end is absorbed back into them.
If a human life is viewed as a process, the experience from conception until death involves constant change, both physical and mental, yet there is a regularity to this change. The physical body of a person at age six is very different from the body at 60, yet there is a continuous narrative history of that body throughout it's life. The constant flux of a life seems to take place in an orderly and patterned way. This process of life is part of other process. The human body is part of metabolic processes which integrate with ecological process. Energy we metabolize from food is affected by nuclear processes in the sun; the sun comes from galactic processes which originate from what is currently thought of as “the big bang.” Each cell in our body is a form of little self in constant, orderly flux. The cells comprise organs which comprise systems. The body itself is like a little universe of inter-related processes. Our selves are also a part of cultural processes too.
The human self appears to be rooted in things other than itself, in otherness, though this is not a common naturalistic idea. The idea that we are rooted in otherness is a common notion in many spiritual traditions. Christianity holds that we have an eternal soul that is independent of the world and its processes. Within the mystical writings of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, there is the notion that the kingdom of heaven is within us, to be experienced here and now, not after death. To enter this kingdom of heaven, one must give the self over completely to the otherness which some call God, of which one is ultimately a part. The great religious traditions of the East teach something similar, some with and some without a personalized deity. For example, in Hinduism, union with self and the Divine is Samadhi.
Perennial Philosophy includes the idea that the spiritual goal and fulfillment of a life is for the self to merge with a timeless reality. Aldous Huxley has written about Perennial Philosophy and how this philosophy is contained in the great spiritual traditions. In his writings, he includes an expression from the Upanishads which translates to “That Art Thou.” “Thou” represents the individual person. “That” refers to the ultimate, enduring reality, an otherness. I believe we are completely rooted in this otherness. And I refer to the otherness in terms of a personal spiritual worldview.