This article reflects on the vicissitudes of spirit and spirituality during the course of time. In the
early phases of human history until fairly recently, spirit and spirituality were essential to their
history and shamelessly confessed and promoted. Examples of this attitude are apparent in the
works of Aristotle, Augustine, Spinoza, Hegel, and the philosophers of the spirit, Bachelard and
Gadamer. They generally see spirit as the organizing, fundamental and forceful principle that
guides and inspires humans towards many great achievements, the principle responsible for
organising all special attributes and qualities of humans such as psuche, phusis and logos –
science, art and religion.
Gradually this self-evident and taken for granted presence and force of human spirituality,
responsible for making human history and establishing great and exciting human achievements,
has been quietly but sometimes even ruthlessly eroded in diverse ways. Its fate is multi-faceted.
It is either simply forgotten or pushed aside, or active efforts of despiritualisation became effective.
From another perspective it becomes emasculated and loses its force, or becomes seconded to
machines up to the point of complete elimination in the sciences of various kinds, until eventually,
in some circles, an aggressive antagonism towards the idea of spirit and explicit rejection of this
idea emerged. Merely mentioning spirit becomes a shameful event, a laughing matter, and even
a subject of jokes.
What goes relatively unnoticed in these processes is the extent to which these dismissive
attitudes regarding spirituality bring about catastrophic and barbarous consequences, with
devastating implications for human existence, human societies, scientific endeavours, social
initiatives and aesthetic expressions. World wars, unbridled violence of humans against humans,
exploitation of humans by humans, the absence and loss of meaningful human existence, the
development of symbolic misery, the emergence of dis-affected individuals, the sociopathologies
that reign in societies, the darkening of the world manifested in the flight of the gods, the celebration
of mediocrity, the standardisation of humans and the destruction of the earth are some of the
devastating and ruinous consequences.
According to some these developments pose a serious
threat to the future of the human race – humankind may be on the edge of disappearing.
If this scenario is true and real, which clearly seems to be the case, deep and serious attention
should be given to these developments in view of the future not only of specific individuals but of
humankind as a whole. This creates the imperative that there needs to be a reawakening of spirit
and spirituality; it should be reinvented for the contemporary milieu, circumstances and demands
which differ extensively from previous times. What is required is the creation of a milieu that will
facilitate this re-awakening and re-invention of spirituality: a deep rethinking of the notion of
community; extensive efforts to pursue without hesitation the battle for intelligence; a serious
embracement of comprehensive and compositional thinking; a rediscovery of the deepest possible
understanding of what knowledge really means. The suggestion is that the re-invention and reawakening
of human spirituality, through attentive thoughtful listening to Being, will enable
human communities to deal constructively with the huge problems with their catastrophic
proportions that threaten humankind, enabled by the concurrent re-awakening and re-invention
of human attitudes of friendship, love and care with socio-therapeutic consequences on a wide
scale and pertinent for our unique situations and conditions. This calls for the deliberate, explicit
and communal development on a continuous basis of “the art of being” with Being.
In hierdie artikel word besin oor die lotgevalle van gees, geestelikheid en die geestelike soos dit
oor eeue heen beslag gekry het. Die vanselfsprekendheid van gees en die aanvaarde manifestasies
van gees in individuele en sosiale situasies was eeue lank die mees natuurlike houding. Hierna
volg prosesse van despiritualisering wat lei tot die verdwyning, aftakeling, ontkragting, verplasing
en vyandige vernietiging van gees. Die gewisse moontlikheid van katastrofale en nie onverwante
barbaarse en in meer as een opsig vernietigende gevolge vir mens en samelewing, wat selfs die
verdwyning van die mensheid mag behels, word geïdentifiseer. Hierdie besinning lei tot ’n hernieude
besef, wat al hoe meer veld wen en bevorder word, dat gees tot ontwaking behoort te kom,
herinventeer moet word vir huidige situasies en die hedendaagse wêreld volgens bepaalde
denkmatige benaderingswyses, tot by die punt dat dit die mensheid van baie leed en selfs ondergang
kan red en vrywaar, met die volle verwagting dat ’n nuwe toekoms blootgelê mag word.