I had hoped we were ready to move past the point of defining terms and such, but I guess we had forgotten the most important term. This term is actually in title, no it isn’t running or art. Confused? Well it is actually in the series title – Spirituality. Keeping in mind that Warren Kay is a Christian, but is writing to a much broader audience I really liked his definition of spirituality.
The way you live your life in light of your beliefs and values is what I call spirituality in a general sense.
This definition actually pulls together several elements of the definition provided by Webster. It is simple and broadly applicable. Kay comments on the spiritual experience – making it clear that it doesn’t have to be dramatic like Paul’s conversion in Acts or the Angel speaking to Mohammed but that they are “far more common… and are usually something much more down to earth.” He says that a spiritual experience can be something as “simple as the appreciation of beauty and friendship.” Again I would agree with his ideas about the spiritual experience.
Kay devotes several pages of Chapter Two to talking about reductionist points of view. He offers several arguments against reductionism, including a running one. The thrust of his point is that reducing running to a simple biological activity takes away much of the experience itself. The runner’s high – simply a biological process. While the biology is accurate it does seem that there should be something more. I may be a little biased by my WASP point of view but I don’t want anything reduced simply to neurons and microbes. Every living thing was created for a purpose, every chemical reaction has a reason, including the runner’s high.
Taking a look through history Kay claims that:
Running has been an activity of necessity and enjoyment for thousands of years, and in a number of cultures, running has had a close association with spirituality and religion.
I’ll assume these are correct. He claims that the Olympic Games were originally created as a religious ceremony. He also talks about a group of Buddhist Monks in Japan called “Marathon Monks” who were swift and able runners taking on a 1,000 day running challenge, which is quite extraordinary, as their ultimate spiritual prize. His final example come from the Lung-gom-pa runners of Tibet who often run 200 miles in a day and can run for 48-hours nonstop. Either of those two groups would be quite amazing to see.
His closing thoughts for this chapter are good so I’ll go ahead and quote them here:
… running, unlike many other sports or human activities, doesn’t need external tools or devices: you have your body, and that’s all you need.
Running encourages simplicity – a principle that tends to foster spiritual growth.
This, [simplicity] in turn, helps you experience a feeling of freedom and joy when you run, a feeling that is different from anything you experience through any other purely human activity.
I can’t agree with that last point enough. Whenever I slip off the watch and mp3 player and just go out for a run it can be a totally different experience than any other run. My run this past weekend at the Louisville Swamp is a great example of one of these moments.
[tags] Sacred Art, Running, Spiritual, Warren Kay [/tags]