Spiritual Arrogance

Spirituality in motion

Clash of world views

The foremost front of modern science is pushing forward into areas which were to date the arena of philosophy and religion. Serious discussions are taking place about the possibility that reality could be a simulation, that all particles are perhaps only one which moves over time to and fro, a myriad number of times, thereby producing numerous apparent copies of itself. The possibility that there could be 11 dimensions and an infinite number of parallel universes, that time as we perceive it might be an illusion and many other ideas one might easily mistake for science fiction are being considered as well.

An increasing number of fascinating overlaps of ancient wisdom with current findings are also evident. However, instead of a breaking down of the fronts and a willingness to re-think the universe, this merely results in a deepening of the rift between the supporters of the clockwork universe and those who unquestioningly believe just about anything as long as it is presented in rainbow colours.

Today we will concentrate on the second enormous New Age half-truth which is encouraging a truly appalling, spiritually-veiled mercilessness.

You yourself summon every experience in your life and are only ever faced with challenges you can master

Really? Those who commit suicide and the homeless, the addicts, the depressed and severely mentally ill people have all, therefore, simply not paid enough attention when life offered them an important opportunity to grow? Unlike the majority of this special brand of  ignorant yet sententious callers for more gratitude for the universe’s lessons, these broken people did not receive an encouraging spank from fate, but rather a right hook with a large digger.

Tell someone who has lost their entire family that this experience was necessary for their growth. Tell that to a starving child, a single parent with cancer, the countless global victims of mutilation and mass rape.

It may or may not be true that, in the course of many lives, and, therefore, in a much wider context, the souls involved could learn something from the experience of untold suffering. This, however, does not change the fact that they are exposed to real torture, agony and adversity and that we absolutely must face them as people who are living in the here and now, not as untouchable ethereal higher beings who possibly inhabit their mortal shells. Sitting in our comfortable living rooms, simply brushing aside the suffering of others because they “still have karma to clear” is in any case cold-hearted, cruel and simply disgraceful – yet such atrocities pass the lips of many a seeker of enlightenment, entirely unquestioned.

Lack of sympathy based on a spiritual assumption

As tough as this comparison may sound, the justification of the Inquisition for its conduct was a result of the same type of reasoning – active torture is merely the far end of the inferable spectrum of behaviour. The inquisitors were of the opinion that, through the atrocities that they committed (defying all imagination), they put their own souls at risk in the attempt of leading others to repent and thereby making the greatest imaginable sacrifice. If they should be wrong, they would have to accept their punishment in the afterlife. Probably there was the hope that they, because of this noble sacrifice, could ultimately count on a divine pardon.

What they, however, never considered was the possibility that their entire system of beliefs could be incorrect. How should the thousandfold torture and killing of others be judged if there is no life after death but rather the existence of every individual is unique and irrevocable?

Modesty in the face of one’s own inadequacy

In every respect, the willingness to consider one’s own mistakes is the quality which distinguishes the seeker from the fanatic. As the only reasonable and responsible approach, it poses for us clueless little human beings the appropriate attitude. What someone believes is his/her own business – but where others are affected, our arrogant conviction that we have found the truth has to unconditionally cease and instead decisions have to be made based on reliable facts and the best possible appraisal system.

Questioning, thinking and doubting forbidden

Of course, all religions, just like the New Age movement, prevent this type of humility even though, in the light of our obvious fallibility, it should clearly be a given, by instead making unconditional belief a condition. Why might this be? What teaching free from deceit and lies would find it necessary to forbid critical questioning? Their truths would, on the contrary, be experienced even stronger and more directly if examined by questioning doubt and then confirmed as true from one’s own consideration or even experience – the critical exploration, therefore, would have to be encouraged and even supported because, inevitably, it leads to a deepening of comprehension.

Not so in religion and New Age: in what might be called esoteric conjuring, the penalty for doubts will be a failing of your wish and even the attraction of negativity (you have to fully accept it!), while in religion it is eternal damnation to hell, no less.

Insecurity is the only true gateway to spirituality

As such, everybody who has given up on critical thinking will, in a sweeping blow, missionize, preach, ostracize and ignore. Whoever thinks to have found their grain of truth will feel even more justified the more relentlessly he takes on the totality of a teaching and declares it not only as his, but as everyone’s life maxim.

Bolstered with the names of a whole host of wise people, martyrs and saints and an as long as possible tradition, the words of wisdom, repeated in a parrot-like fashion, will appear even more weighty. (Which, partly, they might even be – but only if you recreate this epiphany personally and understand it fully which, however, is only possible in the soul of the eternal student. Whoever believes to have already arrived is wrong and, at the same time, with this very conviction, breaking the connection to everything good that the knowledge system might offer).

We are living in the here and now – and our tasks lie unmistakably before us!

As long as the call is spread that we should not shoulder all the problems of the world but rather should work on our own happiness and repress the rest, when (peaceful and constructive!) calls for action would be much more to the point, we will remain hopelessly stuck – at least if we allow ourselves to be lulled by the tempting message of absence of responsibility.

Spirituality does not mean breaking away from the world – quite the opposite!


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Spirituality in motion Spirituality in motion Maria Signore CC BY-SA 4.0