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Mehis Heinsaar


Vilen Künnapu

Mathura (Margus Lattik)

Harry Pye

Udo Kultermann

Rael Artel



Spirituality as the Antithesis of Intellectuality

Many people pursue spirituality or call themselves practitioners of spirituality, yet the understanding of this thought by various people may be very different. In the circle of culture people, spirituality and intellectuality are two phenomena that are probably more often seen as equal than contrasting one another. From a usual perspective this can therefore be surprising or even incomprehensible how it is possible to put them as opposites. However, they are situated away from one another in a diametric distance and although spirituality may use an intellectual form, an intellectual form itself never embodies spirituality.

What is spirituality – this of course depends on how the spirit is defined. In other words, the question is what kind of creature a person is. Usually questions of such content are divided into categories – a person is a body or a soul. Unfortunately this dualism can be misleading, especially in the case when a person’s thought processes are also thought to belong to the spirit. Thinking processes are rather a part of a person’s physical functioning, an expression of his brain activity. Thinking is not an inevitable phenomenon, and the result of the suspension of thinking shouldn’t mean that animal instincts take over, but rather that there is a clearing up of perception from the flood of thoughts, which is also often full of residue and trash. By considering the mental level a person’s spiritual aspect, a great thinker is considered a spiritual person, and the culture created by thought is considered spiritual culture.

Another frequent mistake is the linking of spirituality with religion. Religion in its original institutionless shape could be an expression of spirituality; however, this isn’t a prerequisite for it. Moreover, many churches throughout history have also changed and held preserving their own status more important than pure and unblemished spirit. So, in this way the members of their churches have focused rather on the attachment to their former existence, not on the transformation of it. For the one defining spirituality, the factor which is inevitably connected with each person may be that spirituality can never be divorced from his identity, something which is so deep in him. One of these factors is existence. It is impossible for a person to not exist, and even if we believe that a living creature truly dies with a bodily death, existence in him is still an aspect which is not dependent on his belonging to society or philosophical convictions. If we consider existence as a person’s spirit, his most basic and unchangeable core, then spirituality is that which affects directly the quality of his existence – a quality which doesn’t depend on external factors. When a person perceives his existence in a way which brings him to a deeper experience of this, then this leads to a deeper and clearer perception and sensing of everything inside and around him.

Spiritual culture and creation isn’t born so much from thoughts and emotions, but is directly connected with a person’s existence, or in other words – soul. This also doesn’t spur the recipient – the listener, viewer, etc. – to think so much as to dive into the depths of existence. The key words of spiritual culture are for example perception, cognition, de-structuralness (possibly independence predestined from structures), inner openness or in other words freedom, often also apoliticalness and timelessness. Intellectual culture counters them with idealizedness, consequentialness, structuralness, systematizing and often also with being up-to-date in the short or long-term perspective. In addition intellectual culture in general is aware of tradition. This is not however an obligatory need for spirituality. Obviously just any kind of opposition to intellectuality doesn’t mean spirituality. For example mass culture is opposed to both of them most of the time.

For the purpose of dissension, spiritual authors are often treated as rebels or revolutionaries in the context of the cultural image that is formed. The classic Indian poet Kabir wrote: “That, which you see, is not the truth. That, which is, cannot be said.” To his society, where the tradition of truth had been respected for thousands of years, this was startling. Just like the fact that he abstained from declarations of belonging to one particular belief. Mirabai, who lived about a century after him, was startling everyone solely with the fact that a woman decided to leave the customary scheme of society. In the end there was a spark and value in both their spontaneousness, which was not possible to think up. Their creation was not born of anything else but an inner need to express themselves for themselves.

One curious example from modern times is French painter Paul Gauguin. Gauguin likewise rejected all familiar social, philosophical and moral structures and achieved that which he felt as the most important task of life, which was to experience the most from his own life. “It was so easy to paint everything just how I had seen it. I put all kinds of red and blue side by side without weighing them. Golden images in streams and on the sea coast captured me. Why did I hesitate to put all this sunny brilliance on my canvas? Oh yes, old European traditions! The degenerated self-consciousness of the self-expression of the races!” He wrote this in his diary on far-away Tahiti.

Also an interesting example is the painting of the 20th century abstractionists, above all the expressive abstractionists. The brightest example of these is namely Mark Rothko, who practically forbade the titling of his paintings or the explanation of them. He argued that his paintings described pure experience and that all predetermined definitions (like titles, for instance) would only get in the way of their acceptance by the viewer. There were people who broke down and cried in front of his large-scale abstract color surfaces, though those didn’t directly carry a message of plot or emotion or content.

The more immediate a creation is, the bigger the possibility for its spirituality. The spiritual creator is rather the intermediary of a pure existence than just some creator, in the direct meaning of the word.

We can hope that a broad culture and society will be born for the future, which will be led not by those who can analyze and discuss the best, but rather those who can live in every moment to the fullest and the joy of being as well as see an unrepeatable gift in the long and fleeting days. Second of all, spirituality hardly ever needs this itself.

Photos of the presentation of the book “Mirabai Songs” and Kirtana Rasa’s concert photos: Paavo Eensalu

Mathura (Margus Lattik)

Mathura (Margus Lattik) was born in 1973 in Tallinn, Estonia and finished Tallinn Secondary Science School and Tartu University. He has published three poetry collections, put on various personal exhibitions and written articles about literature and culture. He is a member of the literary group Erakkond. He has added to his experience in Sweden, India and the Philippines.