Spirituality is often used as a means, an excuse, to step away from the world. To abandon one’s responsibilities so that one can find a “higher truth”. A truth which is so important that they leave their mess (in life) to be cleaned up by someone else. This is not what any of the major religions, or ancient wisdom traditions teach however. And while you can maintain that the ten commandments were not in fact given to Moses from a talking burning bush, you cannot deny their practical use in the development and maintenance of a constructive, productive and well balanced (and lawful) society as well as their importance in the creation, maintenance and support of a balanced, meaningful and ultimately well lived life.
Much of what we see coming out of the Middle East in the Islamic tradition is a reaction to the West’s inability to recognize these age old teachings and truths. Nietzsche declared, quite correctly, that God was dead, but what did we replace him with? This was his greatest fear, the abyss of darkness, the void, that was left after God was entirely abandoned by the West. But the truth is always somewhere in the middle isn’t it? But we are so arrogant here in the West that we think that our way is the only way, and that if you do not agree with us, if you do not ascribe to our notion of freedom and liberty, then you should be not only reprimanded but punished. Open acts of rebellion are of course handled as appropriate to ensure that the natural order of things, the balance of things, is kept (if you don’t see the sarcasm there I cannot help you).
So what are we bound to then? What is that we must do? What is that is required of us to do? If religion is false, if there is no God, but we know that in truth that this world is in fact the gymnasium of the soul (as Vivekananda tells us), then how should we behave? What is our duty to the world? What is our duty to ourselves? To our families? To society? To humanity? To the cosmic world order? To the universe itself?
One must understand that it is only through proper understanding, proper philosophical understanding, that ethics and morality can be discerned. For ethics is in fact derived from metaphysics, this was all the great seers from the past understood. All the prophets down through the ages. This is (part of) the wisdom that was lost. This is what Kant teaches us, this is the very point of his entire corpus in fact (arguably). This is what Krishna teaches Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita before the great battle. This is what Vivekananda understood and taught when he brought Yoga and Vedanta to the West 150 years ago. This is what Shankara and Buddha teach us. this is what Jesus teaches us. This is what Socrates and no doubt Pythagoras taught us… How many need to die? How many need to come before we get the bloody (no pun intended) message?
We touch on some of these things, and the notion of karma and dharma specially, in this morning’s diary entry. Take a listen or look here.