The meaning of physical death is soul’s separation from the body and the world. However, as humans we do not experience only physical death, but also a spiritual one, which happens while we are alive.
The concept of spiritual death is linked to the Bible, where the Scriptures mention about humans’ disconnection from holiness. As a matter of fact, the most prominent story about spiritual death is of Adam’s and Eve’s, when God told Adam that he will die the day he eats the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:8). By death, God meant that Adam will no longer have holy light and truth in his spirit, but rather he will live a life led by carnal senses.
Furthermore, the spiritual life is not only defined by the connection between the soul and God, but also by moral values, purity and harmony with the people around us, with the nature and with ourselves.
Following this Biblical description, we wonder if the modern individual is slowly experiencing a spiritual death and if so, when did it all begin?
The past 300 years have been marked by drastic and innovative medical and technological changes, which highly improved the lifestyle of the global population. Such improvement has been achieved through numerous reforms, hard work and dedication of people from different social classes. Nevertheless, this era of change did not only bring positive changes in science, but also many other characteristics that would have influenced the thinking and behaviour of the future generations: nonconformism, individualism, “decadent” art versus bourgeois art, rational versus feelings.
While this change has been embraced by each generation, it was also seen as a “social decadence” by intellectuals and artists. In fact, Italian and French writers like Giovanni Pascoli, D’Annunzio or Charles Baudelaire considered that the modern era will cause a crisis of traditional and moral values, while Edward Alsworth Ross described the infusion of modernism as “..the crumbling of a wall that was once strong”.
More interestingly, Edward Alsworth Ross’s view on modernism’s effects in 1918 seems to match the current social issues: “There are more contradictions among people than formerly and fewer agreements, more discords and fewer harmonies, more clashing and fewer co-operations. Not only has the I-feeling gained on the We-feeling, but the bonds uniting successive generations may fail, so that there is less veneration for forefathers and less care for posterity”.
Thus, it could be assumed that the society as an unit has been in a slow continuous spiritual death for the past 300 years as we notice the same level of disagreements in friendships/relationships or political/religious views today, as well as a misinterpretation of the individualism concept.
The purpose of the individualism was to emphasise and emancipate the inner power that each person poses in order to fulfil their destiny rather than live a life determined by kings and queens. This meant and continues meaning, that individuals should aim to develop according to their needs, wishes in order to remain authentic and as such, to benefit themselves as well as the society.
Unfortunately, the modern individualism translates into selfishness or rebellion, which can be noticed in almost every society’s aspects. Individuals of various ages seem to be more concerned about the image they project through objects they poses or unconventional behaviours, with the goal of gaining social approval or appreciation as a form of narcissism. In fact, psychiatrists report a major increase of patients suffering from major depressive disorders with a narcissistic tendency, who allegedly present an exaggerated opinion of the self, a sense of entitlement, interpersonal exploitation, lack of empathy, strong feelings of envy, and an extra-punitive tendency. Worryingly, we also notice an alarming raise of uncivic behaviours, disrespects of the laws as a misunderstood form of nonconformism to society’s expectations or norms.
It is thus possible to say that the modern individual rarely concentrates on what his/her spirit needs; what values or behaviour should adopt in order to support a better self-development. Instead, individuals are willing to change their behaviour, beliefs and values in order to comply to the trends or they are willing to behave uncivic with the aim to force their values on the society. Sadly, both actions come at a great personal expense as none of them benefit the self-development of the individual.
How To Be Spiritually Alive?
Being spiritual alive means being connected to your soul’s needs, which may also be described as internal individualism. Rather than approaching life through a logical-perspective, it is advisable to follow your instincts. They will warn you when a situation or an action is right or wrong, if it will benefit you or the others.
In order to be in touch with your self, it is essential that you are disciplined. Discipline is not a restriction of your freedom, but rather a process through which you learn to select people, actions, thoughts that again, will benefit you and people around you. Discipline will not only promote a better connection between you and the self, but it also helps you shape skills that will improve your mental and emotional health.
By being in harmony with your spiritual needs, you become an example and a positive influence to the society as your development will contribute to a better function of it.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” -Philippians 2:3