The essence of morality

I believe that morality is this: to see people and the world we live in as one’s highest value. The direct corollary, of course, is that “the good” begins by valuing one’s own life supremely. After all, we take the best care of what we admire most. Who can truly attend to spiritual development who has little regard for their own life?

Paradoxically, religion – its essential mission being the welfare of mankind – often interprets its writings in such a way as to violate this underpinning of morality. By preaching us to disregard the world, and perceive souls rather than individuals, our moral decisions become more and more a thing of theory, proceeding from the mind instead of the heart. And since we then find ourselves living a life contrary to lofty values, there can be no peace. We are souls at war with the bodies we find ourselves in. No matter that God created both, we choose to thrown one away while still in it.

Since the life we live is thus split between actual considerations of a contemptible world, and potential realities of a world beyond perception, no wonder we fall into a lackluster approach to morality: even finding ways to subjugate it altogether to temporal interests (of course feeling guilt about it, or maybe no guilt at all). This may be why, although religious scripture underscores patience, kindness and truthfulness as the most important values in existence, we find everywhere war, hatred and duplicity in the ranks of the churches. How to explain it other than that these organizations have inwardly come to despise their own being? The being we know, after all, must be of a material nature; and this is exactly what the clergy vociferously attacks. We are a being divided, with only hate to bridge the gap.

But I believe, looking at the scriptures themselves, that love alone is the byword of faith. Rather than employing hatred to separate our dual natures, love is meant to unify them in a harmony. When such a harmony exists, morality becomes the natural expression of one whose values are dear to heart. Observe anyone who truly loves his work, and you will see how much honesty and compassion he pours into it; he can’t sleep right if some flaw mars the overall composition. Then what if we regarded ourselves this way? As a spiritual work of art? If we loved all of ourselves – and others as ourselves, the way a poet admires fine composition from any hand – wouldn’t this sustain a moral attitude toward humanity?