“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” ~~Maya Angelou
"We are all in it together", “put your self-interest to one side, and seek the good of the greatest number of people”, “neither selfishness nor self-sacrifice”, “love your neighbor as your self” etc. are great precepts to create a balance between self interest and that of others. These admonitions are lovely and great. But in spite of their grandeur and long history, they have had limited impact. If they had reached deep into human consciousness to make a noticeable difference, we wouldn’t be having this discussion today. When push comes to shove in the face of our narrow self interest, we forget them. Why?
In my humble opinion, humanity has failed to communicate them effectively. They were in the domain of religion to propagate, and that vehicle has proved ineffective for various reasons too complex to explore in detail in this post.
The class of precepts that includes the above is too valuable for the cause of humanity and we must make renewed efforts to propagate it. It is too valuable to be entrusted to the institution of religion alone when we have extensive modern public education systems in the world reaching huge masses of humanity and for extended time periods in the formative years. Such an opportunity has never been available to any institution whatsoever.
Historically, spirituality has been associated with the institution of religion. Perhaps because of the meaningfulness of spirituality to humanity, religion has been in a singular position to define human identity. Spirituality explores great questions of human origin, existence, condition, life, connections, relationships, dependence on each other and the source. This subject is so very meaningful to us all and the academy for various reasons has chosen to underplay it. It is now imperative that we correct that situation.
Reza Shah-Kazemi in a landmark publication entitled Paths to Transcendence (2006) discusses the thought of Meister Eckhart on spirituality in these terms, “Everything pertaining to the spiritual realm is inclusive and unitive by nature, whilst matter is by nature exclusive and implies separative particularity; the more spiritual a thing is, the more inclusive and thus universal it is, and the more material a thing is, the more it excludes other things by the very rigidity of its specific contours.”
Spirituality is characterized by unity, inclusiveness and universality – the qualities that make for inclusive global identities as compared to exclusive limited identities that have been the gift of religion to humanity. Religion unfortunately for humanity has assumed form characteristic of the material realm and given up on unity and inclusiveness of the spiritual.
That in a nutshell is the situation facing us today. The remedy seems to lie in taking steps to promote global human identity to a position overarching all other limited (and therefore limiting) identities whether religious, national, regional, racial, gender or others. The proper vehicle to achieve this goal appears to be the educational system.
It is imperative that we reform the educational system at all academic levels to include core spirituality. We then will be in a better position to see our neighbor as our self which is a prerequisite to loving our neighbor as our self. We need not only to blur the line dividing “us” from “them” but totally efface it. Then only we will all be in it together; until then we remain “us” and the others “them” and the twain shall never meet.
(“I and my Father are one”, Joh 10:30; “There is one body, and one Spirit”, Eph 4:4; “[For] there is one God; and there is none other but he”, Mar 12:32; “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you”, Joh 14:20; “Everywhere you turn, there is Allah’s face”, Holy Qur’an 2:115; “That thou art”, Upanishad; "Behold but One in all things; it is the second that leads you astray", Kabir; “I am you and you are me”, Jalaluddin Rumi; “Neighbor and associate and companion - everything is HE”, Maulana ’Abdurrahman Jami)