Human beings are a mixture of the natural and the spiritual, part animal and part angel, and therein lies many of our problems but also our shot at glory. We have the potential to rise to the angel or fall to the animal or below since a corrupted angel has sunk far beneath the natural state. Misused freedom and a misaligned will can make a man the lowest form of life there is from a spiritual perspective.
As part of our being derives from natural earthly processes, worked out over countless millennia, it is quite possible that many of the ideas we hold, political, cultural and so on, which might seem to be reasonably worked out or entertained and that we think we have arrived at by our own devices are actually just rationalisations of instincts based on our evolutionary past. Competition and dominance obviously, but even empathy and sharing as we experience them will be rooted in the natural not the spiritual. They could derive from tactics evolved by the human animal to deal with environmental pressures in the distant past and so may even be said to be genetic in origin.
This means that whether you are a nice or nasty person, judging by the standards of modern society, may simply in many cases be a matter of your genes. If that is right and the form your character takes, to a certain extent (for we cannot push this too far but let's call it your type of character), is something that derives from an instinctual level then where does spirituality come in? I've often heard people say of someone who might have a forceful personality that this person is 'not very spiritual' but this is defining the spiritual by the secular and just means he may not be very congenial or go along with the sentimentalities of the day. Spirituality is not niceness or even kindness. It may include these, especially the latter, but it goes far beyond them because it relates to an attitude towards the transcendent. These qualities of niceness and even kindness are largely just social and do not have much to do with real spiritual values at all.
We live in this world in a body and with a brain determined by our genes. It is primarily this that produces the sort of person we may be though the spiritual self is also a factor especially in what I will call the more evolved person. The test we undergo while in this world is to examine whether we are worthy of conscious spiritual life and this involves us stepping out of natural life, which includes social life and intellectual life, into a God-centred existence.
This doesn't mean it doesn't matter how you behave. It surely does but the primary consideration is the spiritual orientation of the heart. This is what goes beyond the natural, good or bad, to a higher perception of reality. To be spiritual does not mean to be a good person in worldly terms. It means to have the heart open to the transcendent and to orient yourself around that.
Because the potential to be misunderstood in this matter is great, I repeat that this is no excuse for bad behaviour. Indeed, if your heart really is correctly oriented this will obviously effect the way you interact with the world and with others. But it does mean that spirituality is not measured by a worldly yardstick. The great commandment is to love God and everything else follows or does not follow from that.
"it is quite possible that many of the ideas we hold, political, cultural and so on, which might seem to be reasonably worked out or entertained and that we think we have arrived at by our own devices are actually just rationalisations of instincts based on our evolutionary past."
This is an important acknowledgement. Too often Christianity is 'sold' on the basis that it causes people to behave better; whereas a lot of good behaviour (however defined) is due to a combination of heredity, upbringing and current environment.
The best religion, diligently pursued can only do so-much in improving behaviour, when these factors are lacking.
However, I think the negatives are more true: that a society without the spiritual, without any motivating religion, will become worse and worse without any psychological limit. Because there is nothing to stop it, and because evil will often be expedient in the short term.
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