What Is Spirituality Without Ethics?

I spend a lot of my time thinking about holding myself and others sacred – what that means, what practical steps can be used to achieve that state of being, and how that looks and feels. Underneath it all, there is an awareness of the miracle and sanctity of life.

I grew up with a religious background that, as I moved toward adulthood, I rebelled against. I disavowed many of the religious beliefs and training that had been pounded into me and had impacted my childhood and my psyche in some very negative ways. I kept the principles that made sense to me, that resonated with my Inner Self – and as a young teenager, I started saying, “I’m spiritual, not religious.” That remains how I think of myself.

Some of my early training remains deep in my cells. Thou shalt not kill, for example. And the Golden Rule, of course: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. While I have rejected many of the religious beliefs I was taught, I still embrace some of these tenets that do resonate with my deepest sense of right and wrong, and with my assessment of what it means to be a “good” person.

There are endless different paths available as one explores spirituality and our connection with the Divine – whatever we want to call that essence, whether it be God, Goddess, Allah, Source, the Universe, Life, Holy Spirit, Higher Power, or any of the many other names of the Life Force or Organizing Principle of the universe. I don’t believe it matters what we call it. For that matter, many people believe in all kinds of Deities and Spirit Guides and Angels and otherworldly beings of all names and identities.

I don’t believe the names matter. What I do believe matters is that our spirituality is founded upon basic principles and ethics that include the sanctity of human life, as well as love, respect, reverence, kindness, tolerance, generosity, forgiveness, and all of the qualities one would expect in our higher nature. Basic human decency. Compassion. Empathy.

Part of the reason that I rejected religion in general, is that I often see the above qualities missing. Instead, I see judgment, condemnation, and many forms of hatred being taught. Fear being pushed. I haven’t believed in an angry, vengeful God since I was about 14. The phrase “God-fearing” feels so discordant to me. I believe in a Presence of Love and Light.

So many atrocities throughout human history have been committed in the “name of God.” Somehow, I thought we’d move beyond that in this century, but I’ve watched with some horror as religions/churches have grown increasingly political, hostile, and aggressive. I saw the other day where Michael Flynn had declared there should be only one religion in the United States. How scary is that? These fanatics are trying to force their own religion onto everyone. It’s not okay. The concepts of “one true God” and “one true religion” are not only disrespectful of people with all other beliefs and experiences of the Divine, but also dangerous.

I was distressed to see a video a few days ago where a “spiritual” teacher/leader couple used their platform to spread divisiveness and conspiracy theories. They went so far as to advocate for an insurrection/revolution, portending that blood would spill like never before on American soil. They were very “righteous” in their cause. They also spread insane conspiracy theories about the Covid vaccines. Their words had the intention of dehumanizing people who’d been vaccinated, saying that the vaccines created “trans-humans” (no idea what that even means), and that people who were vaccinated could no longer think clearly, but were merely government pawns who’d lost their free will, and would be much more susceptible to demonic possession and such. Basically, they were spreading hate, the willingness to kill their fellow citizens over ideology, and dehumanizing and demonizing anyone who had different perspectives than they had.

The threats of violence and the lies were bad enough, but what made this particularly appalling was that they justified all of this with their false “spirituality.” She tilted her head at one point, listening to her “Guides.” She acted like all of this was channeled through her from some higher vibrational awareness – and that she and her listeners were warriors in a mighty cause – to take over this country and run it how they believe the Higher Realms dictated. What can one say about the delusional, incredible egos of these unbelievably narcissistic people, who sincerely believe that their way is the only way – so much so that they are willing to literally KILL people to force that way on everyone? It is terrifying. They are domestic terrorists pretending to be spiritual leaders.

How do I know their spirituality is false? Because true spirituality spreads love, kindness, and goodwill – not hate, intolerance, and fear. True spirituality demands reverence, compassion, and empathy – not dehumanization, judgment, and indifference to the lives and suffering of others. True spirituality espouses humanitarian ethics. Peace. Love. Helping those who need it. Caring. Any spirituality that lacks these things lacks any credibility. They are simply attempting a power grab.

I will never understand why people cannot just live and let live – why “An’ it harm none, do what ye will” isn’t a normal value that everyone carries. Or why some people stick their noses in other people’s business and try to control them. Yes, some rules make a society function better – traffic laws, for example, like driving on the correct side of the road. But why does anyone care who anyone else loves? Why create hatred for people who choose to live differently than they choose to live themselves? Why be so stuck in one’s own sense of “right and wrong” that they’d be willing to kill another human being over something that is none of their business in the first place? Ideologies are not more important than people! How did people ever abandon the concept of the sanctity of LIFE?

The thing I most don’t understand, though – is how anyone falls for these hate-filled missives as being even remotely “spiritual” – or a duty to “God/Spirit/whatever Name is invoked.” It is so very clear to me that a spirituality that is not rooted in the ethics of love, kindness, grace, compassion, empathy, etc. – is not a spirituality at all, but rather someone’s ego trip – and perhaps an “excuse” for other people to follow along and trot out their worst instincts and aspects of themselves, while pretending to be “righteous,” “spiritually guided,” or some other such nonsense. No true spiritual leader would ever advocate violence or harm against others.

Many of us are spiritual seekers. We find our connection to the Divine in many different ways – and while some paths may resonate for us while others don’t – and the Divine journey can be unique for everyone – the common factor of authentic spirituality is that it helps us to feel more connected to Life, more respectful of everyone’s innate value, individuality, belonging, and path – and more aware of the humanity and sacredness of every human being, including ourselves.

Published by freekat2

I'm choosing as much as I can to be curious rather than afraid, to be open and willing to learn, to express myself as authentically and vulnerably as I can manage in any given moment, and to enjoy this journey of life.

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