What is a Spirit of Healing?
On this page you will find my musings on a topic very close to my heart–so close, that I have spent several thousand hours distilling my sense of this into what are now three books and soon to include a fourth. Here, you will find some plain-spoken details that are behind much of what I have been writing about. For those of you familiar with my writing, you will likely find alot of help here! Also, my fourth book, “Healing Presence: A Science of Spirit,” will be widely available in April of 2022. My publisher has set up a webpage dedicated to this work, including a free preview available for downloading. For that, you will be leaving my dental practice website and going to www.whatishealing.org.
Many times, I have gotten the question of why have I written the books that I have. None of them, with the exception of some small sections in my first book, Doctor, Be Well deal specifically with dentistry. But each of them, in different ways, deal with questions that I have been pondering deeply for over thirty years: What is healing? How might a philosophy of healing shape the way that I practice? In pondering these questions and looking for answers from both a scientific and a religious/spiritual perspective, I have refined these questions into two new ones: What is consciousness and what would a general theory of consciousness look like? And, would then a special theory of consciousness be able to answer the question: What is a spirit of healing?
As an undergraduate student, long before my dental school days, I came very close to being a physics major. There is an elegance to physics–using this word as a mathematician would use it: to express a beauty in how our universe can be described in fairly simple terms. But this elegance breaks down as structures become less mechanical (like planets orbiting a sun), and become more ALIVE. Even still, our current scientifically based culture tries hard to explain our ‘aliveness’, our consciousness, on the basis of it being what they call, “an epiphenomenon of the brain.” This approach to ‘explaining’ consciousness is like saying that all the neurological impulses taken together, once they achieve a certain critical mass, produce the experience that we identify as ‘consciousness’. What this approach vehemently rallies against is any notion that consciousness it, itself, a force in the universe that is not necessarily tied to matter. In this current, mainstream view, there is an effort to not acknowledge spirit in any form; not acknowledge higher powers (God, spirit guides, angels, etc); and not acknowledge the validity of some pretty elegant scientific experiments having to do with out of body experiences and near death experiences, both, when taken together repudiate the idea that consciousness is just a brain generated thing.
Why is this so important? The idea that consciousness is just brain generated and that the ideas held in religious and spiritual teachings are just quaint superstitions play out in major ways in our culture. First, there is the arrogance that comes from the notion that there can be nothing greater than a human being. This gives license to exploit our planet and all of its life forms, including other humans, that have less brain power than we have. Second, it closes the door on our being able to understand phenomena in our experience that require an acknowledgement of spirit in order to make sense. And, third, in my view, it makes it impossible for our system of health care to really understand what is needed to bring a sense of healing to people.
Here is an excerpt from my third book, Letters to a Young Healer, (due to be published in April, 2018) that, within the confines of the story, speaks to this issue: From the Chapter entitled, “May (on faith and reason)”:
My Dearest Madeline,
It was good to hear back from you so soon but your questions about ‘cleaning house’ must wait until my next letter as I surely understand your wish to know what came between your father and me. But to understand that rift you first need to learn something essential about the times in which we live.
Remember what I told you about how harboring an arrogant spirit or a fearful insecurity closes the window to heaven? And how with that channel closed there is no chance of bringing the energies of heaven into one’s life? There is one other thing that can close off this channel; something that can mimic arrogance and merge into arrogance, but is itself not arrogant. What it is, is a belief that heaven cannot exist because science cannot measure it. And if the god of science is a yardstick then there can be no ‘God’ beyond mass superstition, no ‘consciousness’ beyond thoughts in a brain and no ‘love’ beyond hormones that assure survival. So, then there can be no soul, no world of spirits, no survival of anything following death; and no sense of any profound connection between all people and among all living things. Each person then with their cloistered brain is considered complete, independent and autonomous; the sense of heaven and a window to heaven are simply considered absurd.
And while these beliefs seem to cause little harm to scientists themselves, they have a real effect on practices such as medicine, where doctors are educated to believe that truth cannot exist unless it is measurable in an obvious way.
I think that had your father and I been drawn to sports or art as children we could have remained close but he and I were drawn to medicine. Our temperaments were different—him more the engineer and a gifted mechanic, I more of a philosopher. His interest led him to surgery and mine led me to what is called ‘palliative care’—when a person near the end of their life can no longer be cured of their ills but doctoring can still help them have a good quality of life in their remaining days.
Your father and I had a patient in common, a man named Thomas: your father had done a difficult surgery and it did not go well and I was the one who took care of Thomas in his final days. Your father had done all that he could. It was just that Tom’s body was too weak to recover. Your father had a personal stake in him as he had been his favorite teacher in medical school. But your father was deeply offended when he learned of how I had taken care of him.
Your father, Thomas, and most of the elders of our society hold the belief, whether they realize it or not, that if something cannot be measured then it cannot exist. This principle arose in science hundreds of years ago and divided science away from religion. All at once there were laws that described the movements of the stars and the idea that laws of nature could predict these things created a belief that, in time, everything could be known!
And the mysteries of heaven became quaint in their eyes. And, in truth, this was a needed rift as the Church had grown political and wished to control all knowledge, even knowledge far beyond what its teachings were capable of explaining. But despite this needed change, there was a cost to this split—it caused learned men to dismiss the sense that insubstantial things—God, Love, Consciousness—exist as more than just ideas or chemical secretions.
And with the window to heaven closed, the ideas in these men’s heads, without vent of an opening, grew in intensity as does boiling water when heated in a pressure pot. The rumble of these ideas, boiling without vent, drowned out the fainter, subtler sounds that murmur in the heart; sounds that in a more balanced soul temper the intellect with kindness and wisdom. And science thus fell into the same error that plagued religion: it wished to control all knowledge, even knowledge far beyond what its teachings were capable of explaining.
As the field of medicine grew, it took on this core belief and the world was seen more as a grand clockwork. And the human body was seen this way as well. And to this day doctors are educated to understand the body strictly from this perspective. To one so trained, there can be no God, no soul, no sprit life; nothing except ideas in a brain that cease at death. And the window to heaven that permits the communion so central to healing is sealed shut, not by a spirit of arrogance or a fearful insecurity but by beliefs that shun the idea that heaven even exists.
In your father’s field of surgery his beliefs made little difference as surgical work focuses on the most mechanical aspects of a sick or injured body. But his beliefs got in our way when I assumed the care of this man who your dad held in the highest esteem.
Thomas was an elder in our society and held onto these same beliefs and I had no interest trying to change him. I had been down this road before and knew better than to confront a patient with their own ideas about mortality if they harbored an unshakable opinion that all would end for them at the moment of death. Thomas felt this way and all he needed from me was caring to ease his suffering.
But near the end of his life he had some experiences that he could not explain and could not dismiss. On his last day in a moment of clarity he whispered a question into my ear. “Please,” he said, “Please tell me…. are you going bald on the top of your head?” What a strange question! You see, I am tall and I had always only seen him when he was in bed, so there was no way that he could ever see the top of my head. He seemed desperate to know this trivial fact, but I thought better than asking him why this was important to him as it seemed to take so much of his strength to get his question out—I didn’t want him to lose any more strength in having to explain himself.
So, I told him that yes, I was, and I bent way over so that he could see the top of my head. He then said, “I saw that bald spot from up by the ceiling—I was up there while still in this bed! It must have been a dream! But it couldn’t have been a dream, because I saw your bald spot EXACTLY as I see it now…so it couldn’t have been a dream, it must have really happened.” And with that he became agitated.
I felt obliged to share with him, as gently as I could, that there was good science behind what are called ‘out of body experiences’ and, like him, many have seen things that could not be the hallucinations of a failing brain but that must, instead, be the result of an aspect of awareness that exists independent of our body. It appeared that he was ready to argue with me…that he had defended his world-view on this subject to students for decades and it seemed that my comments had triggered the start of his much-used argument. But he stopped himself, sat up, and said, “But I SAW your bald spot!” And then he died.
When your father learned of this episode he accused me of preaching and trying to convert a dying man. I told him that I was only trying to comfort him in his agitation and besides, I had no religious affiliation to convert him into. But he grew angry with me and said that he would never refer a patient to me again.
I knew that this rift had been a long time coming as your father felt threatened by the prospect of there being any kind of awareness outside of the brain. To him, my belief in the workings of the soul and the spirits it contains, the nature of healing, and of course the way in which a charm carved by your Simon could heal a damaged soul—were all superstition, charlatanism, muddled thinking, and the like. I knew he would not speak to me again and that he would shield you and your brother from my influence. But there was nothing I could do. I tried to see him as he lay dying, but he was clear in his instructions that he did not wish to see me.
Here is a good time to ponder something for your future: Know that there can be no greater, farther reaching healing—not dealing with poverty, war, disease, or ignorance—than if even just a single person can be brought into an experience that wakens them to their own window to heaven. Only then can the steam of their jumbled thoughts escape upward and the murmurs of their heart begin to temper their experiences in ways great and small—that will change their way of being in our world. And if possible, on a second level, that they come to understand that knowing in their heart is not at all the same as a belief in an idea, any more than the experience of a sunrise relates to knowing the measured distance to the sun. And if possible, on a third and still deeper level, that they catch a glimpse in their heart of the connectedness of all living things, not as a concept but as a lived experience. Where their own connection—streaming from above, is felt to be just one of the countless rays from the common source of which we are all a part.
Fostering that kind of healing is only possible when there is a relationship in place that is built on trust, when there is a spirit of compassion securely in place, and when the strength of your presence carries with it the sense that you understand that which is most needed. Then, at a time, a place, and a circumstance chosen only by heaven, it is possible to bring a glimpse of heaven, deeply into someone’s experience; something real that they will not be able to explain or dismiss. Simon of course was a master of this, but so was your mother, who kissed your knee and got you to stop crying!
So, there you have it my dear; now you know. But also know that your father was an excellent surgeon. He was not known for his bedside manner, but when there was a need for a complicated and difficult surgery he was known as the best and you have every right to be proud of him, as I am.
Your loving uncle,
Within the context of this story, Madeline’s uncle James lays out the contours of the rift between science and religion and how that plays out. It brings up the idea of consciousness as being separable from our brain. The question then becomes, what exactly ‘is’ consciousness? Well, no one really knows! There is not even what scientists sympathetic to this idea would call a ‘theory of consciousness’; it remains to be conceived and written. But there are some threads of ideas that some in science have caught on to. Here is an essay I wrote on this subject. You will note that it bears a passing connection to the general story line in my last two books, but it was never written to be included in either of them. Instead, it was written as a stand-alone piece on the subject of sacred space and healing. I submitted it for publication on a few websites but, to my knowledge, this is the only place where you can currently read it:
Healing and Sacred Space
Healing and sacred space are easy ideas to understand but rarely are they defined concretely. But when we ponder them, there is a commonality that ties the two together.
Healing is a broad term that covers everything from a cut finger to a damaged planet and everything in between. For now, let’s just concentrate on healing as it relates to us, as humans. And rather than illustrating every point along this whole spectrum, I will consider to just two points, remote from each other: a bruised knee and a broken heart. Our subject, I will call, “Madeline”.
At age 6, Madeline is playing outside and her mother is watching her. In an instant, she falls and bruises her knee. She cries and runs to mommy, who gives her a hug and tells her that everything will be OK. Mommy cleans up the scrape, puts a bandage on it, kisses the knee, and Madeline, no longer crying, runs out again to play. In this instance mom addressed two separate but related issues: healing needing to begin both at the physical site of the bruise and within Madeline’s emotional life. At the physical site, a fabric of skin cells became torn. Bleeding began and a biological process of repair commenced. Leaving alone the physiology of skin repair, let us look at the instant that this fabric of skin cells became ‘aware’ of the breach.
There is a kind of communication between the cells of the skin that sense every kind of stimulation—temperature, pressure, irritation, pleasure, and so on. Some of the messages of this communication rise to the level of our awareness but many don’t. In this instance, pain is the signal sent to trigger awareness but the signals that remain subtle are what I want to focus on now. The fabric of cells that form our surface have a keen sense of integrity, and one could say that on a subtle level there is a kind of harmonic sound, like a church choir toning a long, harmonious chord, that alerts all the cells that all is well. When there is a breach, this tone changes. Think of this in the same way as in a forest filled with birdsong, if a predator enters the space or if there is fire, the birdsong changes and all the animals are alerted.
Madeline is a strong little girl with sufficient reserves to reknit her skin once the process gets started. And it is not much for the collective intelligence of her skin cells to sound the alarm and to quickly notify all the necessary cells to begin this process of repair. It is just in this notification that healing begins. Think of this as a choirmaster taking out a pitch pipe and sounding a new note for all the choir members to tone to, to bring everyone back into the resonant key. But, for the moment, let us assume that for whatever reason, the collective intelligence of Madeline’s skin cells don’t get out the signal to repair. In such an instance, help can come from the outside, where in some way a substitute choirmaster can sound the appropriate pitch and bring the choir back into resonance.
Every form of healing is a variation on this theme. The nature and complexity of the tone will change, the nature and complexity of the choirmaster will change, but on every level, this is what healing is.
Young Madeline also became fearful and began to cry. Her mom gave her comfort and reassurance. In this instance, there was a similar bruise on Madeline’s emotional body. With enough time, had she just been on her own, she would have stopped crying. But perhaps without the help from her mother, a scar might have formed on her soul— “play is dangerous” or “be afraid of sidewalks.” But her mother served the purpose of choirmaster and sounded just the right tone to heal her daughter’s emotional body, and all without a scar.
Now, Madeline is older, had her first boyfriend, and sadly, it did not end well. Madeline is heartbroken! She feels grief in her heart, longing in her body, loneliness in her loss, and aloneness in soul—for who else could ever understand how hard it is to have lost at love??? On each of these levels healing needs to come. At different times, from different people and from new experiences, each will resolve. At the right time, a tone will sound and that part of Madeline’s being will resonate, “Oh Yes…I remember now…that feeling of wholeness, that feeling of belonging, that feeling of joy in life.” A parent, a good friend, a trusted relative—saying the right words at the right time, or simply being present and supportive—these are the choirmasters that will aid in healing Madeline’s heart.
But what is the first thing that Madeline does when she finds herself in anguish? There is an old church not far from her home; a great old building with soaring walls, stained glass windows and great quantities of quiet. She goes and sits in an empty pew at a time when there is no service. She cries quietly for a time and then she stops, but she stays a while and in a way and without explanation she trades a bit of her grieving for a bit of solace. The walls and the light and the pews themselves somehow understand and are more than willing to enable this exchange.
Healing has begun and the choirmaster in this instance is not a person, but the combined intentions—the prayers—of hundreds or thousands of people who have contributed to this creation: a space where healing can occur. How is it that a space can serve as a choirmaster? Madeline will leave the church with the same areas of brokenness that she had when she first arrived. The difference will be that she will have gained an overarching feeling of wholeness; a feeling distinct from her own overarching feeling of brokenness. And in this broad and general sense, rather than in any narrow and specific sense, Madeline’s condition begins to mend.
The idea that a space can be made to resonate is not news to anyone who has heard live music in an acoustically perfect concert hall. But as I have already said, there are resonances that are not limited to sound. The fabric of cells resonate; our hearts resonate; but there seems to be a chasm between physical resonance that can be explained by physics and resonances in living things that can be explained more or less by biology.
Within the past twenty years some bricks have been laid in building a bridge to span this chasm. In the 1990’s, Masaru Emoto discovered that emotional content was, in some way, captured and stored in water. More recently Claude Swanson has written about some scientific discoveries hinting that within the spinning clouds of subatomic particles—those same clouds that quantum physicists view as containing only random distributions of the particles within them—there exist forces that freely interface with consciousness, imbuing those random distributions with higher patterns of order. And William Tiller has written about many of the scientific experiments that he has performed, showing that trained meditators, meditating with a particular intention within a proscribed space or meditating on a chosen object, can imbue that space or that object with scientifically testable attributes that directly relate to those same intentions.
It seems that in this sense, science is finally catching up with religion—churches and monasteries; grottos and clearings within a forest, a treatment room in a doctor’s office, or just a small study with a chair and simple desk—what is important is that within a space, a clear intention is held again and again and again; over days and years, by a group of like hearted people or by just a single soul.
The principles of repeated intention within a space are not limited to imbuing sacredness alone. The feelings inside an abandoned prison or the feelings inside a former insane asylum will, in diverse ways, test the fortitude of any visitor. And crime scenes with violent loss of life need no series of repetition to leave these spaces feeling defiled.
So, sacred spaces must not have ‘mixed uses’ that include the careless expression of feelings. There needs to be consistency of mood, purpose and intention. The space must be made to feel safe and compassionate, but not overbearing. In this way, a space can resonate a sacredness that can knit a broken soul. And like a choirmaster toning a heavenly pitch, it can signal the start of healing. If a healing process needs help from an outside source it must come from someone, some thing or some space that can hold a particular vibration. And while a person with a compassionate heart and an ample quality of being can bring a very specific kind of help, an object or space rendered sacred can tone-in a healing in the broadest possible way.
 Emoto, M., “Messages from Water” (Tokyo: Hado Kyoikusha Co., 1999)
 Swanson, C., “Life Force, The Scientific Basis: Volume II” (Tuscon: Poseidia Press, 2009) Ch 7.
 Tiller, W., “Conscious Acts of Creation: The Emergence of a New Physics” (Walnut Creek: Pavior Pub, 2001) Ch 6.
This brings us to the point where it starts be get clearer that a link exists between healing and consciousness. My view is that healing is a natural function of consciousness; when consciousness is focused in particular ways. Here, I again will excerpt from Letters to a Young Healer, in this case, a portion from the chapter entitled, “July (On Healing)”
Now seems as good a time as any to enter the subject of healing. But to grasp what healing is, you must first have a sense of what life is. This is a big subject, but for now I’ll confine myself to a simple question: what is the difference between a lump of coal, a diamond, a toasted scone, and a human heart?
Coal is made of carbon. A diamond is made of carbon. The toasted parts of a scone are made of carbon, and the cells of a human heart contain an abundance of carbon. So, what’s the difference between the carbon in the coal, the diamond, the scone and the heart?
The elders will tell you that there is no difference; “carbon is carbon,” they would say. But the pairing of form with spirit is not confined to humans. There is a kind of life in everything, that advances in steps from lowest to highest. The lowest forms pair just with spirits of structure; coal holds just this kind of spirit.
I’ve already told you that spirits swim, and swim hard, and once they pair with us, they feel to us like a current, as their swimming flows through us. From their perspective, they vie for our attention and once they pair with our form, they flow through us. But from our perspective, we only notice that we are being carried. The world of spirit is indeed very strange! But, there is more. The pairing itself is a kind of song and dance. There has to be a kind of resonance, like form and spirit each singing the same song, to bring a particular form together to dance with a particular spirit. For example, the form of a diamond is more organized and regular than is the form of coal, and the spirit of diamond sings a purer note and dances a more synchronized dance than does the spirit of coal.
The carbon in the scone holds spirit on more levels than does the carbon in coal or diamond. Among others, it holds the structural spirit of the dough and the spirits of the plant kingdom and the spirit of wheat. The carbon in the heart holds yet additional levels of spirit. Among many, it holds the structural spirit of heart muscle, the spirits of the kingdoms of animals and of humans, the spirit of its particular human, and under certain circumstances it may hold higher spirits of perception—such as beauty, truth, and love.
But not beauty in the usual sense, but beauty as would be seen through the eyes of God, such as acts of kindness and undeserved generosity; not truth in the usual sense, but truth with the ring of wisdom and genuine moral authority; and not love in the usual sense, but selfless love; what is called ‘love without possession.’
In these higher spirits of perception, the feeling that gives a sense of ‘beauty,’ ‘truth,’ and ‘love’ is a resonance that there is beauty on all levels, truth on all levels, love on all levels. This is different from our common perception, where we may see beauty on one level but be blind to a countering sense of vulgarity, for example, on another level; and similarly, for truth and for love.
Higher perception notices ‘mixed messages,’ and the dissonances they cause. So, when all levels resonate in accord, there is a feeling of complete beauty, complete truth and complete love. In fact, the whole sense of ‘real completeness’ is held in the realm of these higher spirits of perception.
Remember the cleaning lady that I told you about? She sensed that her work was complete when all of her perceptions registered this, and she felt this in her heart. Simon once told me that he knew that his carving of a charm was done when he had a feeling in his heart that told him, “Yes, it is done.” And perhaps you know of the Lord of all Christians, whose last words, uttered as were all of his words—from a source within his heart: “It is finished.”
If all of your levels can sing in accord, you will attract these higher spirits. But without your own levels harmonized first, you won’t perceive if there is harmony among the levels of anything else.
And something more, my dearest niece: there is the possibility that a heart made ready to hold these higher spirits may hold a spirit of healing, as when this spirit is welcome in a soul, this is where it resides.
The pairing of all these levels of spirit takes place in the inner structure of carbon, but carbon is just an example. I could have chosen hydrogen, but that would have led us into the subject of homeopathy, and this is a big enough subject as it is!
Scientists know that groups of atoms, atoms themselves, parts of atoms, and parts of parts of atoms each possess clouds that spin and orbit in unknowable ways. In the levels of these clouds, spirit pairs with form through a kind of singing and dancing; adding synchronizations to the spins and orbits within these unknowable clouds. Spirit swims hard to pair with form and then form flows along in the river of spirit—it is all a dance, my dear.
The carbon of diamond contains a cloud where the dancing is more synchronized than the carbon of coal. To the spirit world, the carbon in the scone is like a dance hall of many levels; each dancing to a different song. And the carbon in the human heart has clouds with dancing on even more levels.
But here there is this additional chance: that the dancing on each level can be brought to the same song and in this more synchronized environment the soul then attracts these finer energies. In the case of the human heart these can be the higher spirits of perception—beauty, truth and love, that only come when there is this greater synchronization. The spirits on all levels must be in accord—singing in harmony and dancing together like a room full of dervishes.
This is how compassion grows and this is what a spirit of healing needs for it to make a home within a heart. When you meet someone, who contains this inner harmony you will sense a presence about them–a feeling of integrity, kindness, patience and openness; Ah! like your old friend Simon!
And though healing is a big subject, there really isn’t much to explain—it’s simple to describe! But, as your father and I learned, ‘the map is not the territory.’
Healing itself is on different levels: the skin on your bruised knee, an illness, your hurt pride, the anguish of grieving…in each a pattern of song and dance is disturbed: where parts of atoms, spinning in clouds, lose their finer synchronizations and revert to the greater randomness found in more lifeless matter. Healing starts with bringing back harmony from where it has been disturbed.
The cells of skin all sing a tone like members in a choir, and a bruise is a clashing note. The music is not of our world; we can’t hear it, but maybe we can sense it. Healing begins when a choir-master of some kind sounds a note and brings the cells back into harmony. This sets the tone for the whole healing process.
It is the same with illness, but the music is more song than note; with liver and spleen singing vitality, and illness sounding a clashing melody. Here a choir-master sounds not a note, but great chords; and the organs begin their path back to harmony.
It is the same with afflictions of the mind and of the heart: Only here, the choir-master must sound entire songs, entire symphonies—to harmonize the more complex dissonances that arise on these levels.
If the cells or organs have enough vitality, a choir-master rises from their own ranks, but if not, help can come from the outside from someone who has harmonized their own vitality and stored enough of it to share.
If the mind or the heart are well harmonized, a choir-master rises from their own ranks. But if not, help must come from a source that can intervene with corresponding complexity. What is called for is someone who in addition to having harmonized her own vitality and stored enough to share, has also so curated the spirits within her soul so that a spirit of healing, a facet of the love of God, can flow through her. And while the energy of vitality can be stored and shared, like water from a dammed-up stream; a spirit of healing is like a breeze—it cannot be stored; it must be received, blowing in through a window from heaven, and shared within the moment.
It is worth mentioning that healing always has these two sources that aid the vitality of the one in need of healing: one’s own stored, excess vitality, and the spirit of healing that comes down from God. In bringing healing to a simple bruise it can be almost entirely the former, but in bringing healing to a soul it will be almost entirely the latter—with one’s excess vitality here only useful, like Simon cleaning his chimney, to keep the channel open and clean.
In this chapter, I’ve laid out much of the framework for how, according to Swanson, consciousness can interface with our biological matter and how, in my own conception, healing is a kind of resonance. My understanding of resonance in healing came out of a lengthy study of homeopathy that began over 25 years ago. To paraphrase my old physics instructor, there is a certain ‘elegance’ to there being a theory of healing that is basically a theory of resonance. Incidentally, my initial fascination with homeopathy had very little to do with how much it helps people (!) Instead, it had to do with the fact that I saw in homeopathy an ideal stumbling block to the present scientific paradigm. Science couldn’t explain how it could possibly work, it could only dismiss its efficacy as nothing more than a ‘placebo effect’ for only so long, and yet it could not, forever, ignore what it could do to help patients. Homeopathy does not directly get into the question of consciousness, but it does get into the whole realm of the centrality of resonance, which, again in my view, is crucial to understanding how consciousness or spirit animates matter.