A Demanding Spirit
Life Energy Fundamentals
In agrarian society, everything must have a purpose and be put to use. Primeval man marveled at the mysteries of life, but agricultural man needed to explain the mysteries systematically, to bring order and predictability to the world.
This is quite outspoken in the old Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish, where the god Marduk (see the image above) declared that mankind should be created to serve and bring offerings to the gods. Genesis 2, the second creation story of the Bible, is another clear example of this. God let all the creatures of the world parade before Adam, so that he could name them and regard them as his, to do with them as he pleased. But when he broke God's rule, he was forever condemned.
The plants and the beasts were easy enough to make use of, but the immaterial life force was something else. There had to be an immaterial use for it.
The primary concern in agricultural society was order, and obedience to it - for the purpose of cultivating the land, but also to govern the thousands of people this society was able to feed. Everything in this society was formed to propagate and affirm that order.
So, the life force became something that needed and fostered discipline - a force aimed at conforming man to society. The Indian life energy prana is a good example, accessible only to the appeased mind, mainly by meditation and similar exercises of controlling the mind as well as the body. The life force was something that you had to work to get, and you got it only to the extent of your effort.
Also, the life force was becoming less personal. It was an ether existing all over, of which people could feed much like the animals of a farm were fed by their owners - if they conformed to the terms. The life force was believed to have a will of its own, working its ways through man, and not the other way around.
To Homo rudis, the life force had been a tool for the mind, but in agrarian society the human mind was a tool for the life force. This is very distinct with the Holy Spirit of the Bible: it belongs to God, who is the ruler of all, and it acts on humans according to His will (see the illustration on the next page). The humans were no longer free to utilize the life force according to their wishes, but had to obey in order to receive it at all. The most obedient ones got the most of it. Humans could do nothing but stay pious and pray to receive it.
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About meI'm a Swedish author and historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths. I've also written books about Taoism, the Tarot, and life force concepts around the world. Click the image to get to my personal website.