Saturday, September 19, 2020

On Medium: The Dark Secret of Spirituality

This article is about going beyond the platitudes of spirituality, especially the one about the need for unconditional love. What would really be involved in spiritual love? Should spiritually enlightened people be expected to love everything?


  1. Good article. I would only suggest that it's possible that agape might pertain more to action than feelings; maybe even a sort of Kantian imperative that we act on in spite of how we feel. But I admit this is a stretch & is probably just my way of trying to rationalize something that was never meant to be practicable.

    When it comes to empathizing with our fellow men (& women), I think that Arthur Schopenhauer gave the most practical advice:

    "When you come into contact with a man, no matter whom, do not attempt an objective appreciation of him according to his worth and dignity. Do not consider his bad will, or his narrow understanding and perverse ideas; as the former may easily lead you to hate and the latter to despise him; but fix your attention only upon his sufferings, his needs, his anxieties, his pains. Then you will always feel your kinship with him; you will sympathise with him; and instead of hatred or contempt you will experience the commiseration that alone is the peace to which the Gospel calls us. The way to keep down hatred and contempt is certainly not to look for a man's alleged "dignity," but, on the contrary, to regard him as an object of pity."

    1. Certainly, any kind of love would motivate a type of behaviour. A behaviourist concept of love would be something else, though. But sure, selfless, unconditional love would be associated with charity, with helping others. The idea would be to improve the lot of others, to help realize their potential or their ideal form or to express their spiritual essence. Again, that selfless conduct would indicate the true object of the love, which would be complemented by relative contempt for the actual, downtrodden person, the one who hasn’t fulfilled his potential. Thus, I think I can run the article's argument in the context of behaviour, too, not just in that of feelings.

      Schopenhauer’s advice seems wise to me. I’ve just written an article on the existential basis of morality, which makes a similar point, although I also tie the sympathy and pity needed for morality to recognition of our original childhood innocence.