Spock is the Vulcan that comes to mind when we think of the word Vulcan. Spock is a character from the original 1960’s Star Trek TV show which spawned generations of Trekkies (fans who are gaga over all things Star Trek and sometimes don’t get along with Star Wars fans). The thing about Vulcans is that when they first were introduced, they were the epitome of who the Modern man was supposed to be like.
Captain Kirk was all rough and tumble, shooting from the hip, kissing the girls and making the boys cry. Spock was the one who tempered back Kirk. He advised Kirk. He brought the logic and emotionless objective insight truly need “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” Pure logic. Love it. Spock to this day is held up in high esteem.
Now, according to Star Trek lore, Vulcans weren’t always like this. They once were savage brutes controlled by their emotions. That is, until the Vulcan philosopher Surak began teaching about controlling ones emotions and living by logic alone. This is all well and good. We admire that, right? Being able to be purely logical, detached, emotionless, and able to see things from an objective point of view, right?
But something happened over time. In the mid to late 1990’s we met the Vulcan Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager. Tuvok spoke of having to meditate and focus on keeping his emotions in check and not letting them override him. He was shown multiple times meditating, working on controlling his emotions and only living by logic.
And then, in the early 2000’s in the short lived (and ill fated if you ask me) Star Trek: Enterprise, we meet the Vulcan T’Pol. Through T’Pol we learn more about the spirituality of controlling one’s emotions and focusing on logic. Star Trek: Enterprise chronicled the early years of Earth space exploration. And you begin to see more about what makes a Vulcan a Vulcan. Their philosophical emphasis on removing emotion and living by logic alone evolved through the franchise into a variant of spirituality. It began to be explained as a form of spirituality with Surak the Vulcan philosopher becoming a spiritual guru with an immortal soul (called a katra…long story, maybe for another post some day).
Vulcans were spiritual people with a spirituality revolving around the control of emotions, detachment from this world, and trying to see things through logic. And meditation was the main way of doing this.
A lot of times when we think of spirituality we think of things like this. Spirituality has become a form of meditation and detachment. It has become a way of dealing with the world around us. Even though the Vulcans were seen as atheistic (that is, no system or pantheon of gods or afterlife like the Klingons or Andorians) they still were spiritual. Today, even in our own thought and philosophical system, we have spiritual elements to it. Many times it is detachment. There is some author or authors or teacher (who really are gurus) that fuel one’s spiritual and philosophical belief system (Carl Sagan, Steve Jobs, Huh Hefner to name a few). And we consider ourselves spiritual.
Spirituality is not detachment it is engagement. It is not something that is held personally but something that is practiced actively.
Psalm 1 says it well
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the Lord and who meditates on his law day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2
A true spirituality is not a detachment but a living different, living unique. It is meditating on what God has said, not on emptying oneself of emotion. It is embracing what God has created and made, not removing oneself from it. The idea of meditating here isn’t just sitting around doing nothing. It is pondering, thinking about, and then putting into action what you have read. It is in working with and walking with God.
Paul writes in Galatians
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
Living by the Spirit of God is true spirituality. Keeping in tune with the Holy Spirit is truly meditating and living out God’s word and direction. It is truly being alive, not detached but engaging. Not removed and remote but interacting. In Jesus, through the Spirit, we are able to engage and interact in true spiritual vitality. But it begins with pondering, thinking about, meditating on what God has said, and then living it out. True spirituality involves action, not detachment.
The Vulcans will always be awesome. Yet the idea of what a Vulcan is has evolved over time as we have begun to try and understand the world around us. When the original series first came about, there was a desire for detachment, pure logic, and objective view of reality. Today there is a desire for something more. And the Vulcan spirituality that has evolved has reflected that. Yet to be truly spiritual we are not to suppress ourselves, but embrace who we are in Jesus. We are to ponder, think about, meditate on and then live out what God has called us to do in Jesus, living like Jesus and becoming like him in every way.