We live in interesting (a thinly disguised euphemism for chaotic and uncertain) times.
We have reached a critical stage in human history as we now face unparalleled existential threats to humanity and the planet we inhabit.
Global ice caps are disappearing at an alarming rate due to global warming. The extinction of many interdependent species of life, accelerated by deforestation and loss of traditional habitats, is increasing at an exponential rate. Excessive demand, greed and over-exploitation are depleting the precious and finite resources of the world’s oceans despite the International Law of the Sea. Conservation and sustainability efforts have not been successful. Man-made pollution including the use of chemical fertilizers have resulted in environmental and land degradation and a consequent loss of the planet’s flora and fauna. Arable farmland is now being lost to rising sea levels. Food and water shortages, due in part to global warming, armed conflict and man-made pollution, are becoming more frequent. Recent generations and political organizations have exhibited little concern or foresight (beyond lip service or aspirational platitudes) for the welfare of future generations. Can an ever increasing and excessively demanding world population be sustainably supported in these circumstances?
We live daily under the fear of nuclear devastation, added to which are the recently developed sophisticated and destructive types of weaponry including drones, space-based weaponry, autonomous weapons systems and Artificial Intelligence. States now engage in proxy wars against each other in an environment which is increasingly disrespectful of the international rules-based order and the United Nations. The more powerful States have replaced diplomacy and negotiation with bullying, aggressive posturing, economic coercion, threatened invasion and cyber-attacks. Innocent civilians continue to bear the brunt of armed conflict, a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law and a recognized war crime and crime against humanity.
Democracy is failing, particularly in the West. Bipartisanship, political good-will and concern for the welfare of the community have been replaced by the tribal politics of fear, negativity, division, polarization, cynicism and hatred. We are now facing a failure of political leadership and a lack of authentic voices. Authoritarian, fascist and military regimes now predominate, suppressing all political dissent and the free press and ignoring the concerns and welfare of the people. Detention centres have been established to ‘re-educate’ or punish those who are considered a threat to the security of the government. The venerable human and civil rights to freedom of thought, conscience and expression and academic freedom are being severely eroded by the evolution of “political correctness” into a “one-think” or thought conformity political narrative in which careers and livelihoods are at risk for non-conformance, with the alternative being a coerced silence of what one truly believes.
In the globalization era, wealth, power, influence and control are becoming increasingly concentrated, co-ordinated and consolidated across the globe, with the so-called and largely unregulated “Tech Giants”, “Big Pharma” and sectors of the international banking system in the vanguard. Billionaires are competitively pouring vast sums of money into space travel for the select wealthy few who can afford it when so many problems at home remain unsolved and ignored.
All the while, humanism and what it means to be human are being devalued. We are quick to criticize and condemn others while conveniently overlooking our own faults. Governments and societies have not sufficiently protected the most vulnerable in the community from child sexual abuse and neglect and elder abuse and neglect. Consider the alarming crime rates and incidences of domestic, sexual, homophobic and racially-based violence, people trafficking for the purposes of exploitative labour and prostitution, illicit substance abuse and over-dependence on pharmaceutical drugs, a food industry which produces synthetic (rather than natural) food, the oppression of religions and belief systems in the name of righteousness, abortion on demand, the use of human fetal tissue in medical research and cruelty to animals. Widening social and economic equity gaps are undermining human dignity resulting, for example, in homelessness. Mental health issues are affecting greater numbers of people. Armed conflict and economic disadvantage have forced many to uproot themselves from their homes, resulting in mass population displacements and refugee movements across national boundaries. Although many well-meaning and well-intentioned individuals and organizations are striving to mitigate these ills, we are losing a sense of community and belonging and meaning in our lives.
And greed is now and truly considered good and ensconced within a First World society characterized by insatiable consumerism and rampant materialism (subject to possible Covid supply-chain interruptions). A lack of self-restraint of the senses has led to over-indulgence and excesses. Weak enforcement by financial and tax regulatory systems has resulted in corporate fraud, corruption, insider trading, offshore tax havens and international money laundering.
We now live in a digitized and virtual world of cyber-space. While the Internet has provided us with a remarkable and instantaneous source of information and knowledge, it carries problems of its own, ranging from social media cyber-bullying, scamming and trolling to ISIS beheadings, live streaming of mass shootings and the so-called “Dark Web”. Internet addiction and gaming are creating a generation which is blurring the line between the real and virtual worlds. Cell phones have enabled us to take ‘selfies’, perhaps symptomatic of our penchant for superficiality over substance and a pathological self-preoccupation. An unsolicited State-mandated digital footprint is encroaching upon our lives, accelerated by the response to Covid, enabling digital tracking of what once was considered private and confidential personal information.
And there is no longer one Truth but many malleable, selective, plausible and relativistic truths, enabling apologists for the most egregious and outright acts of evil. Those organizations in a position of power, influence and responsibility such as the Tech giants and the mass media no longer objectively report the facts but have taken it upon themselves to assume the role as the final arbiter of the truth by selectively disclosing and withholding facts and information and censoring information and views which do not conform with their particular political narrative or agenda.
Is there no end to, or escape from, these woes which humanity now confronts and is largely responsible for? At this point in human history, we must be asking more significant and profound questions as to how we have arrived at this point and how we can avert an impending human and planetary catastrophe. These problems are all interconnected with each other, but so are we with each other, Mother Earth and all other sentient beings.
As the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has observed, we are not human beings having a spiritual experience but rather we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Although materialistic scientific and medical reductionism would have us believe (at least until recently) that human consciousness does not survive physical death, is that really so? For Vaclav Havel, Consciousness precedes Being and that the salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human modesty, and in human responsibility. And increasingly post-materialistic medical science is opening to the possibility that human consciousness survives physical death.
What then is the meaning or purpose to our earthly existence? What should we be striving to achieve during our fleeting time in this realm?
Why have ancient Eastern and Western wisdom and virtue been forgotten or discarded as unfashionable or irrelevant? Have we become empty earthly vessels devoid of all spirituality? What are the places of religion and spirituality in our lives and what is the relationship between them?
Are we contented and peaceful souls? Have we forgotten the beauty of simplicity? Is there too much noise in our lives and not enough quietude and stillness? Are there too many unnecessary attachments, distractions and non-essentials cluttering our lives that prevent us from ‘seeing’ and ‘understanding’? Are we overwhelmed by the ever increasing knowledge and information that we are confronted with on a daily basis and find difficulty processing it all? And has the world learned how to utilize wisdom and understanding to apply to that knowledge and information to make a better world?
Are we separated from God/the Source of all that is, and do we appreciate the consequences of that separation?
The answer to these questions already exists, and may be found in the wisdom and virtue of the ancients and the elders. It is for humanity to rediscover this wisdom and virtue and apply it to address these problems before it is too late.
Transcendental Spirituality, Wisdom and Virtue identifies and explains the meaning of 36 Divine Virtues or Universal Ethical Principles forming the foundation of the world’s great religions, traced back to a single Source unifying and connecting all. It attempts to answer what is the point to, and meaning of, our current existence and what we should strive to achieve day by day during its fleeting term. It reveals in a practical and comprehensible way how ancient Eastern and Western virtue and wisdom may be applied to today’s increasingly complex and challenging world to provide sanctuary, comfort, meaning, contentment and a return to simplicity. Drawing upon remarkably similar universal ethical principles underpinning the world’s faiths, this book provides a sound platform for personal healing and growth and spiritual wealth and a guide to how we can better relate to other sentient beings and the natural environment in our daily activities.
The friction which results from ignorance can be reduced only by the spread of universal knowledge and the unification of the heterogeneous elements of humanity (Nikola Tesla). In a world which increasingly emphasizes, and is racked by, divisions, differences and polarization, Transcendental Spirituality, Wisdom and Virtue identifies common spiritual, moral and ethical ground and knowledge which can unify and reunite a fractious and fractured humanity that has drifted away from what really matters in this our earthly journey. In a world which is tearing itself apart daily in centrifugal negativity and cynicism, this book seeks to build up and edify, concentrating instead on centripetal positive and wholesome influences and desiderata.
If we do not change direction, we are likely to end up exactly where we are headed (Chinese proverb). As Mother Earth growns under the exploitative burdens placed upon her by humanity, this book gently whispers and reminds us of the timeless and dynamic wisdom of the elders and the ancients, providing a pathway to circumvent the impending abyss. In an age when Truth is dismissed as deception and deceit, and falsehood and misinformation are dressed up and afforded respectability and plausibility, this book provides the reader with a criterion for judgment or moral or ethical compass to more accurately assess the vast amounts of information, editorializing and commentary we are presented with on a daily basis.
Transcendental Spirituality, Wisdom and Virtue is an easy-to-navigate, one-stop pocket-guide that enables the reader to dip in and out of for daily inspiration, equally serving the complete beginner and those who are more well-travelled along the spiritual path of awakening.
While the book may appear naïve and simplistic to some, it will be a salvation and panacea to others. Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better (Vaclav Havel). We must therefore now expand and elevate our individual and collective consciousness and realize and appreciate that beauty comes of all things.
Transcendental Spirituality, Wisdom and Virtue by Douglas Charles Hodgson is available from www.o-books.com and from wherever books are sold.