The Spiritual and the Material, What Is the Difference?
We Want to Progress
I am amused by this enigma.
All of us are treasuries of common sense. Or so we think. For I have never come across anyone who seeks more of it. We also hold in abundance, many other virtues of the modern world like adaptability, scientific temper, or open mind, or at least, we try to be so, when confronted with an issue in the material plane. We analyze the issue, weigh alternatives, formulate action plans, monitor performance, learn from mistakes and update ourselves from the experience gained. If we are not capable enough to do it, we will at least catch others if they are not doing it. And the results are there for all to see, human race is on a progress spree. Every day we learn new things. Much of it in fact ends up in disproving some of our earlier notions, which we have come to accept as normal, and a definite sign that the human race is moving forward. In short, events and occurrences of the material world is pointing to a great future.
But We Don’t Want to Progress
But, exactly the opposite takes place whenever an issue in the spiritual plane happens to come before us. First and foremost, we seek absolute submission from all, to whatever issue that comes up. We also oppose with great vehemence, anyone casting doubts on what we call as our basic tenets. We seem to be quite at ease to continue with our conceptual notions of the middle ages. The more reasonable we are in accommodating changes in any of the ‘worldly areas’, like scientific development or economic change, the more unreasonable we seem to be, in opposing any deviations in our abstract world, like moral values. The same thing is true, in the case of all natural or unnatural entities that can’t be known conclusively to be belonging to the realm of the material. And we are not able to realize this, since we judge our spiritual domain in a different manner.
Assessment of ones' performance in spiritual affairs is fairly simple; if the results obtained are not favorable enough, the deity was not pleased sufficiently. The onus of getting a favorable intervention being always on the one who is approaching divinity, there is hardly any room for anything else but total submission. There are no signs of any change, as far as the outlook of our spiritual sphere goes.
We welcome worldly changes like developments in science and technology, and the improvement they bring to our living conditions, however much, the society is shaken by that change. We also adapt to new systems of governance, as harbingers of better things to come. But when it comes to a deviation in our abstract values, like the acceptability of same sex marriage, our view of abortion, etc. the more ancient the view, the better we are. And we are quick to portray such initiatives as bad omens - a warning of the imminent end of our race.
A Universal Dichotomy between The Abstract and The Real?
When we observe any changes in the appearance, behavior or constitution of living or nonliving objects around us, we generally react in an appropriate way. The aim always will be to find the cause, study, reflect and take appropriate action. Sometimes we go wrong, but on all such occasions, others are welcome to point out our shortcomings or omissions. We also acknowledge, at least partially, the fact that our forefathers would have made quite a few errors in their appreciation of material objects or phenomena around them. And we get those errors corrected. Thus all things go towards the better, the makings of a happy life.
Whereas when we observe any changes in the appearance, behavior or constitution of our abstract tenets, ceremonies or other conceptual entities, we either react in an unthinking manner or take a dogmatic approach, the aim always being to hide, discredit or kill the cause. We also acknowledge with great vehemence, the infallibility of our forefathers and the need to correct whatever deviations that might have happened to our tenets. The strongest push always reserved for correcting or nullifying any such changes at the earliest.
And we seem to be traveling farther into our dark past. All the progress we have made in our material life coming to its aid, both in accelerating that journey and in camouflaging the true destination. (I think our forefathers forgot about the ‘true destination’ many generations back, and we have come to accept its disguise, progress, as the true one instead of ‘reverting to societal control of the ancients’, the ultimate destination. What necessitated such a disguise has been discussed in my book, ‘The Unsure Male’. However, for the sake of this discussion, let us consider progress as the true destination of mankind)
This, I think, is a good summary of this dichotomy: the more fastidious (while looking for conclusive proof, say, for a physical phenomenon) we are, in the material plane, the more naïve we turn out to be, in matters spiritual. In fact our natural or initial approach is one of immaturity and lack of good logic on all matters that can’t be termed as fully belonging to the material sphere. Or, in other words, on matters that can be termed to be belonging undoubtedly to the material sphere, people are encouraged to approach with an open mind. The cardinal difference between the material and the spiritual is this: we might approach strictly physical entities rationally, but to everything else, we show a rather opinionated face, that too, with a closed mind.