Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Nature of Modernity in Spiritual Insight

“When we use the term ‘modern’ we mean neither contemporary nor up-to-date… Rather, for us ‘modern’ means that which is cut off from the Transcendent, from the immutable principles which in reality govern all things and which are made known to man through revelation in its most universal sense. Modernism is thus contrasted with tradition…; the latter implies all that which is of Divine Origin along with its manifestations and deployments on the human plane while the former by contrast implies all that is merely human and now ever more increasingly subhuman, and all that is divorced and cut off from the Divine source.” ……… Professor Nasr, Studies in Comparative Religion.
I was recently listening to the talk by contemporary philosopher Ken Wilber and one key factor that I could note is the progressive stages of human consciousness which was initially classified by Jean Gebser and later refined and reclassified to contemporary stages which are: archaic, magical, mythological, rational. Pluralistic, integral and super-integral. He clearly indicates that these stages are not totally superseded but evolve as an integral pattern of the human physical growth. Advanced stages of consciousness are available to humanity today as against what would have been available in the past. Human evolution has to be seen not in isolation as survival of the fittest but as a lock step process where higher levels of consciousness added the necessary advantage to the fitness regime.
Even today as we develop from a child to an adult. We have the potential to leverage the higher realms of knowledge and wisdom but inhibit this process through belief systems and social and cultural conditioning.
When St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, who were a very intellectual Greek society, he says:
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” …..1 Corinthians 13: 11-13
This is a clear indication of the necessity of transcending our limited perceptions from the archaic, magical and mythical levels to higher levels which are available to the higher mind. This would enable us to move beyond seeing the image to seeing the reality face to face. This full knowledge has to progress through a belief (faith), then a longing (hope) and then an unconditional response (love). The final stage can be reached only through integral or unitive consciousness. If we divest our progress from the earlier stages of consciousness and define our current knowledge as ‘Modern’ or ‘Postmodern’, then we move away from the richness of the past, which had deep roots in ethnocentric worldview and position ourselves in dualistic mode of operation. This results in pure rational level of consciousness and inhibits our growth beyond this stage. This need for openness to all that ancient spiritual traditions can teach us is expressed by Joseph Epes Brown who was an American scholar whose lifelong dedication to Native American traditions helped to bring the study of American Indian religious traditions to a larger audience.
“It has long been necessary to situate correctly the so-called primitive religions in the context of the world’s historical religions, and in so doing to recognize that in spite of many elements unfamiliar to the outsider, Native American traditions, at least where there has not been excessive compromise to the modern world, are in no sense inferior, but indeed are legitimate expressions of the philosophia perennis.” ……………..Joseph Epes Brown, …..“The Question of ‘Mysticism’”
A true ethnocentric worldview can be developed only when we learn to appreciate and imbibe all good things that are available to us through various spiritual traditions. As social creatures humans have to evolve to our higher potentialities only within our limitations of social, cultural and religious upbringing but as St. Paul says in every one of us there is a stage when we have to move away from seeing the reflection for reality and directly grasp the nature of higher reality through our inherent capacity for higher wisdom.

Love to you all.

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