In yesterday’s post about giving power away to group consensus, I mentioned the concept of “spiritual maturity”. Von made a comment about it, which suggests that he was unclear about what I meant by that term. So today I am going to clarify this issue, which is absolutely vital for the futures of the human species, as I see things. Spiritual maturity does not mean “spiritual evolution”, but is more akin to psychological maturity. Such maturity is not dependent upon one’s worldview. An atheist could have a high level of spiritual maturity, whole a spiritually-inclined or religious person might have a low level of spiritual maturity. Many of the spiritual” folks I have met over the years have had a low level of spiritual maturity.
The essence of spiritual maturity is the capacity to assume responsibility for one’s thoughts and mental projections. This in turn is dependent upon the capacity of the individual to know at a deep level that the world of thought is ultimately an illusion. And to grasp this fully, the person has to develop the right relationship with ego. The current typical level of spiritual maturity on this planet is around four percent of capacity.
The reason it is so low is that the vast majority of human beings are ensnared in the world of thought and its projections. In other words, the ego dominates the personality. Under these circumstances, it is impossible for the average person to have a high level of spiritual maturity, because the ego sees itself as separate, and constantly attempts to manipulate and control circumstances. What inevitably proceeds is "drama", as the ego assumes its favourite roles of victim, persecutor, or rescuer. When it doesn’t get what it wants, the ego typically goes into blame and anger. It does not know its own power, and sees the object of desire as containing that power. The child wants the toy, and sees the toy as the key to its fulfillment. When the toy is taken away, it cries and screams.
The reason why many spiritual philosophies indirectly sabotage spiritual evolution, is because they reinforce the stranglehold of the ego. Many of the philosophies and writings surrounding the law of attraction do exactly this. They fail to address the function of the ego, and the role of desire in cementing the ego’s control over the person. Instead, they elevate desire to a kind of spiritual status, as an end in itself. It’s the manifestation of the car, the house, the job, the relationship that becomes key, not developing the right relationship with self.
My teacher from New Zealand, Jessica, was betrayed by one of her own students, who was supposedly on a spiritual journey. Let's call the woman Lilly. Lilly attended Jessica’s classes, and may have had some private one-on-one sessions with her (but I am not certain about the latter). Jessica’s style was very direct. She was a tell-it-like-it-is teacher, and wasn’t afraid to confront people when the situation demanded it. By whatever process, Lilly did not like what Jessica was teaching. Lilly got a small handful of people together to try to bring Jessica down.
In a certain sense, she succeeded. Lilly went to a local newspaper, and got a journalist to run a muck-raking, double-page story about Jessica, which eventually ran in the Sunday edition. I read the story, and I can assure you that it was ridiculous. The data dragged up by the journalist included such sensational facts as that Jessica had changed her name (as many spiritual teachers, including myself have done). Only two people who even knew Jessica were quoted in the story, and one of them was uncritical of her. The word “cult’ still managed to find its way into the headline, and a criminal-like mugshot of Jessica was included. The whole thing was a total beat-up.
Still, the affair left Jessica rather traumatised, and understandably so. She decided to leave New Zealand.
This sad scenario is a classic case of spiritual immaturity. Lillywas unable to “own” the consciousness that Jessica presented to her. Instead of integrating it, she went on the attack to destroy the messenger. This is precisely what happens, to a lesser degree, with every single argument which occurs on the planet, whether personal or intellectual in nature. We either try to attack the message, or the messenger. The ego, when it sees that the form (illusion) it has created to sustain itself is threatened, seeks to eliminate the source of the threat.Thus beyond the surface of just about all scientific and spiritual debates, there is a secondary level, where egos are attempting to control, disempower and destroy. In the classic ongoing debate on the Precambrian explosion between paleontologist Stephen J. Gould and zoologist Richard Dawkins, there existed a barely conscious agenda for control and power at the level of ego.
Or take a look at the standard skeptics versus proponents sledge-hammer contest on Michael Prescott’s blog. In this week's episode, number 23996 in the series, our friendly debaters go for the throat as they "debate" the validity of James Randi's one million dollar psi challenge.
ProponentJames Randi said before that he will always have a way out also let's not forget he also is a liar misinteprets everything that his worldview can't handle. He is one miserable small old man.Skepticcongratulations! on writing the biggest load of crap on the web today, if i could move things with my mind or talk to the dead, i would have randi's million in a moment, whatever the rules,but then i can't can i?, but then no-one can , can they?. isn't THAT the reason he still has it?!
While knowledge does progress in this fashion, the entire process actually retards deep insight, as well as the capacity for novel perception (i.e. seeing the situation from a different perspective) because the ego becomes so locked into attacking and defending, that it can no longer see the big picture.
Yet the greatest price to pay for this confrontational binary thinking, is that all chance is lost to develop spiritual maturity, as well as a deeper insight into the workings of the mind; and to develop the right relationship with ego. This in turn retards Integrated Intelligence, because developing a softer and more receptive attitude is key to the mystical ways of knowing inherent in the application of Integrated Intelligence.
As William Wordsworth lamented in "The Tables Turned":
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;Our meddling intellectMis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:--We murder to dissect.
It is dissection (control and power) which lies at the heart of western science and philosophy. Western confrontational binary thinking is a function of a relatively low level of spiritual maturity. This is likely to remain so, as long as our education systems, media and the internet continue to valorise intellectual conflict, and fail to value receptivity and equanimity.
Spiritual maturity is not dependent upon genetic evolution. It is more dependent upon cultural evolution. When enough governments decide to implement policies which value and encourage gentle knowing in our education systems, then a great evolutionary leap will be possible for humanity. Till then we will need to continue to weave and duck the crossfire of the battlefields of the modern mind, and its endless need for control and power, attack and defense.