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Consciousness of Higher Morality or 'Spirituality': Its Biological Function

     Theme: So-called ‘spirituality’ is consciousness of higher morality and a concern of human psychology and therefore of human biology. Spirituality has an important biological function as a fundamental aspect of intuitive creative intelligence or ‘true’ intelligence required for the creative, effective and therefore adaptive resolution of human problems as they emerge in the continual process of adaptation to the complexities of a constantly changing social environment. Cultivation of intuitive intelligence is a function of the progressive integration of two naturally interrelated processes occurring during normal psychological growth and development from infancy through childhood and adolescence to mature adulthood. One involves development of cognitive abilities associated with analytical thinking, development of the intellect or ‘mind’, that is ‘intellectual development’; the other involves development of higher moral or ‘spiritual’ insight of ‘higher intuition’ associated with the higher moral or ‘spiritual’ values of higher consciousness, the ‘higher self’ or ‘intuitive self’, that is ‘moral development’. Successful integration of both intellectual and moral development depends on a healthy learning environment which provides appropriate conditions required for the realization of human potential.

     There is a common misunderstanding that spirituality is about ‘working on oneself’ to overcome the ego. And what is the ego? The word ‘ego’ is Latin for ‘I’ and refers to the mind-made thought-based self of personal identity, the ‘mind-made self’, ‘mind-self’, ‘personal self’, ‘ego-self’ or ‘self’ which is the sense of personhood or ‘persona’ necessary for functioning in the world. The ego is the thinking mind or ‘conscious’ mind, a construction of thoughts of the mind, a ‘mind construct’ which enables the individual to function in the ‘life-dream’ of everyday - 'I am so and so', 'I am such and such'. The mind forms an illusory image of itself, a ‘self-image’ which is based on conditioned learning of programs downloaded into the subconscious. The ego is the ‘conditioned self’, the ‘illusory self’, the ‘false self’ or the ‘lower self’. Although ego is an illusion it has a very important biological function as a psychological survival mechanism. The ego maintains the personal sense of identity or ‘self-identity’ needed to ensure the individual’s self-autonomy, self-protection and self-preservation. The ego is necessary for the individual to engage those cognitive abilities which are required for working out the practical problems of life.

     As a survival mechanism the ego has a great deal of power. Depending on the nature of its sense of identity, the power of the ego can be used for either constructive purposes, that is, goodness or ‘good’, or it can be used for destructive purposes, that is, wickedness or ‘evil’. If the sense of identity is based on expanded awareness involving consciousness of the human values which leads to the construction of a mature, rational conscience making for a ‘healthy ego’ which is able to make creative, effective and adaptive decisions based on love, harmony and happiness, then it can be used for constructiveness and creativity or ‘good’. Construction of a healthy ego is a function of normal psychological growth and development in a healthy social environment. If on the other hand the sense of identity is based on contracted awareness involving ego-based consciousness, egocentric perception and deficiency of human values and leads to the construction of an irrational authoritarian conscience making for an ‘unhealthy ego’, then it is can be used for destructiveness and wickedness or ‘evil’. The so-called ‘problem of evil’ is a problem of incomplete or arrested development, abnormal or pathological psychological growth and development, neurotic development in an unhealthy social environment. Varying degree of neurosis are characteristic of the pathology of ‘psychopathy’. Behavior of human wickedness or ‘evil’ results from the failure to construct a mature and healthy ego.

     It is unnatural and unrealistic to try to resist, protest against, fight or suppress the ego. War with the ego is unwinnable because it is a survival mechanism which will continue to devise defensive strategies, project unwanted aspects of itself and blame others for its problems. Trying to overcome the ego creates disharmony and conflict within oneself. Internal disharmony and internal conflict translate into external disharmony and social conflict. So, spirituality is not about overcoming, judging, criticizing or rejecting the ego and the personal life of separateness, that is the individual personal life. Nor is it about denying pleasure or retreating from the world. If the ego is overwhelmed as in the process of psycho-spiritual crisis, the person finds it difficult to function in daily life and depends on a respectful and supportive social environment as a container for the long and gradual transformational process during which the ego becomes aligned with the transpersonal dimension of the ‘higher self’ or ‘soul’ and is able to engage in creative and effective adaptation to the complexities of a changing social environment. Clearly the issue is not about working on oneself to overcome the ego but it is about the relationship between the personal consciousness or ego as the ‘lower self’ with the dimension of human consciousness which lies beyond ego, the transpersonal Self as ‘higher self. The real problem is concerned with the relationship between ego and higher moral consciousness or ‘spirituality’. And whatisspirituality?

     Spirituality is about understanding that the ego does not constitute one’s real nature. Ego is the mind-made ‘self’ conditioned to think ‘who you are’ but it is not ‘who you are’. Who you are is not who you think you are. To know who you really are, you have to break the spell of beliefs which have been downloaded into the subconscious, break down the barriers set up by social conditioning, forget everything you think you know about yourself and become aware or ‘conscious’ of your deepest ‘human core’, ‘essential nature’, ‘essence’, ‘essential self’, ‘true self’, ‘real self’, ‘authentic self’, ‘higher self’ or ‘Self’. The Self or ‘soul’ is the source of the biologically-based intrinsic higher moral or ‘spiritual’ human social values, the guiding values or ‘divine ethics’ of higher morality - justice, truth, compassion and so on. As consciousness of higher morality, spirituality is the experience of knowing ‘who you really are’. It is the experience of direct knowing or ‘gnosis’ that ‘I AM’, ‘I AM THAT’, ‘I AM THAT I AM’ in the sense that ‘I am conscious of my being as the creative intelligence of ‘higher moral consciousness’, ‘god-consciousness’ or ‘God’ as ‘God immanent’. To experience God is to experience ‘enlightenment’, to be the ‘light of consciousness’ or the ‘light of the world’ to be spiritually awakened’, ‘wide awake’ or ‘deep awake’ in the sense of waking up to the sense of’ oneness with nature and humanity. It is to be ‘one with the world’ and yet to be able to create a balance with one’s personal life, to embrace one’s personal story as a separate individual in the world, attached to the world yet at the same time, detached from it, not lost and uncaring but free and deeply caring. As an ‘enlightened self’ one is conscious of being integrated with the oneness of everything, with the flow of life or ‘Tao’. One sees how life naturally unfolds and flows as a continual flow of appearances which just ‘happen’. One appreciates the aliveness of everything within in the body and without in the surroundings. One becomes conscious, aware or ‘mindful’ of the breath, of the energy flow in the body, of the miracle of life and the intelligent functioning of the universe. Every action becomes an end in itself and not only the means to an end. The gateway to this level of consciousness is the meditative contemplation of the present moment which reveals the depth of one’s being or ‘presence’ as the ever-present stillness from which everything arises, the space of consciousness within which one is the conscious but not thinking eternal subject or ‘witness’ of thoughts, emotions and personal experiences. As witness, one becomes the awareness that one is aware, the consciousness that one is conscious. One realizes that the creative intelligence of all of nature or ‘God’ as ‘God transcendent’ manifests in different forms including the form of higher morality or ‘spirituality’ as the ‘essential love-nature’ of the natural human personality or ‘human nature’.

And what is human nature? Human nature is a moral or ‘spiritual’ nature which is specifically adapted for the function human socialization. As a biological species, the human species is a social species, the human organism is a social organism, the human brain is a social brain specialized for social intelligence as ‘intuitive intelligence’ which involves the integrated functioning of cognition of mind, that is ‘intellect’ with intuitive knowing of moral or ‘spiritual’ insight, that is ‘higher intuition’ which is required for the creative and effective or ‘adaptive’ resolution of social problems. Social intelligence is moral or ‘spiritual intelligence’ and human nature is a social nature defined by the inner core of intrinsic higher moral or ‘spiritual’ social values, the ‘Being-values’ by which the organism operates. Human ‘operative values’ are the biologically-based intrinsic and instinctive moral values which define human nature as a ‘spiritual nature’. Higher moral or ‘spiritual’ values, are the social values of ‘love’ as loving-kindness or ‘compassion’, ‘justice’ as social justice, ‘peace’ as social responsibility, ‘knowledge’ as understanding, ’truth’, ‘goodness’, ‘beauty’, ‘wisdom’ and so on. Human social values function to create feelings of solidarity between individuals and groups of individuals and thereby facilitate mature socialization leading to social cooperation which is necessary for both individual and collective self-preservation and survival. They emerge naturally in the process of normal psychological growth and development from infancy through childhood and adolescence to mature adulthood depending on the provision of the appropriate conditions of the learning environment or ‘education’.

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