Part I : The Copernician revolution vs the spiritual ego

(the moral comparison of science and religion)

Do Near Death Experiences have anything to teach us ?

Somehow, we are living in wonderful times. Thanks to the recent progress of technology, we have new opportunities to find the truth on a large diversity of subjects, that truth seekers of the past did not have. Do you want to know what happens after death ? It's easy. You just need a computer with internet access, and the initiative to type there "Near Death Experience" as a search phrase.

This way you can explore thousands and thousands of testimonies of people who visited death for a few moments before coming back to their earthly life, as well as the results of many studies that were made from the collections of these testimonies. You can see that some of these people had the time or chance to visit wonderful realms during their experience, that you might like to call a "meeting with God". Or, as they would usually not use it themselves, at least you can consider this expression as a good approximation for qualifying these experiences, as compared to anything else we are used to in this earthly life.

When I took this initiative of reading such testimonies (at the time of my deconversion from Christianity), even though it was other people's experiences and not mine, it overwhelmed me with one of the most tremendous feelings that I can imagine to have in this life, without reaching there myself; I can only compare it, for example, to the tremendously negative feeling I have when hearing how humanity is destroying the planet with its biodiversity. It appears so naturally coherent with some intuitions that many people have or can hope for about the mind/body duality, the meaning of life, our responsibility in this life, what is there after death, and that there exists a higher perspective on this life that we will have the opportunity to discover once finished. And, eventually, the existence of reincarnation. That these experiences quite positively changed the lives of the people who had them, and gave them some deeper and more authentic values system than they had before.

At first sight, these testimonies may seem to confirm some teachings of religions and spiritualities that were there since millenia. Such insights on life and death were carried by spiritualities, not by science. So, does it mean that these spiritualities really carried any deep truths on essential questions, that science missed ?

Be careful not drawing too fast and easy conclusions. The observed similarities can as well be explained in other ways that make this conclusion unnecessary. The natural intuitions on soul and death, together with NDE testimonies (such as could already be reported long ago), may as well (together with further social or logical mechanisms) have motivated the development and popularity of the traditional spiritual teachings, and account for the first sight compatibility of contents that teachings have with intuitions and testimonies, not requiring any further revelations (mysterious and reliable sources of truth) at the origin of spiritual traditions and creeds.

Therefore we still need to examine things in more details.
What lessons are precisely given by NDE testimonies, or can be reliably deduced from them (apart from the influence of unverified beliefs, subjective reinterpretations or any bias by anyone who may have selected, presented and commented these testimonies) ?
How do these lessons differ from spiritual teachings, and what can be deduced from these differences ?
Are there any contradictions between both ?
Do spiritual teachings carry any important added information in comparison with those natural intuitions and experiences, and can we check how true and reliable is this added information ?

Considering these questions, the answers I could observe, looked rather strange and surprisingly disappointing at first sight. The most interesting NDErs, who seem to have met God and touched universal knowledge, usually forgot nearly everything of this universal knowledge while coming back, and do not have any Universal Truth left to teach us. They do have some quite nice and interesting things to tell us, but no very specific revelations of truths that we would need to know, beyond some relatively natural remarks (that we shall meet the effects of our acts to others, so we should care for each other, and similar things).

Another possibly surprising observation, is that no correlation could be found between the contents of these experiences, and prior religious affiliations of these people. One experiencer as I could read, even explicitly reported from his life review, that God does not care about our religious beliefs.
And while a few testimonies can be found of people who converted to a specific religion after their NDE, these are small numbers compared to those who left it, became more liberal about it or came to consider it irrelevant. And even though someone converted to Christianity just after his NDE, I do not remember of any testimony of someone with regrets during his life review, for not having converted to some religion earlier.
This observation directly dismisses any claim for a currently established religion or spiritual teaching, to be necessary or even useful for people to access heaven after death, as the access to heaven turns out to not be affected by it (remaining open to hardcore atheists as well).

Another remark, is that many of these people with a fantastic encounter with God in their NDEs, complained that they could not find the words to express their experience. So, while it is somehow visible that their experience (and the Universal Knowledge some of them could touch), truly went far beyond anything describable with words, they still did not get from there any significant Truth of a type that that can be taught to us but that we could not easily guess ourselves based on some basic natural intuition, nor (with possible rare exception ?) any specific new mission for them to fulfill. Maybe, there would be some hidden reason for this, that we would not know. Is it a will of God to leave us manage on this planet without any instruction from Him, as some testimonies may indeed suggest, or any other kind of impossiblity for such a revelation to be done ? This remains unclear at first sight. Still, some testimonies do suggest a sort of answer to this question: that we came to this Earth in order to make a life and manage things on this Earth, rather than for remaining obsessed about the heavenly things that we left behind and that we will recover later, once this life will be over, as these heavenly things would be of a so different type, that they would be here completely irrelevant.

Now, compare this with how it goes with spiritual teachers.
Despite their repeated claims to be speaking about more essential realms beyond words, I did not notice there any complain of a difficulty for them to express what they are meaning, and overall the spiritual experience they are putting forward, seemed quite less extraordinary than those of the deepest near death experiencers who had no message for us.
This inspires me a big distrust towards any claim by spiritual teachers to have got from their spiritual path "beyond words" any essential truth for us that we would need to know.

This does not mean that there is no truth worth caring about, but obliges us to relativize and reformulate the question. So we shall continue the study through other types of considerations.

Can a Ultimate Truth exist, and do people need to know it ?

At this point, the information that seems to be deduced from from the above consideration, may look quite strange: that there seems to be, finally, no message from God (or other Universal Truth from a supernatural origin) for us on this planet. This looks quite strange, because it contradicts a conviction that some of us may feel, along the same type of metaphysical intuition that met confirmation in the study of NDEs, that God should not have let us orphans here, but should have had something to tell us, because right and wrong do exist and our moral sense needs to know what it is that we should be doing here.

And the above argument to claim that there would be indeed no message for us from beyond, does not seem very reliable yet. Therefore we need to test this strange claim against more arguments and observations of other types, to get more reliable knowledge about it.

First, we can notice that not a majority of people really care for the truth. Many people just care about what they do in their life, without any higher consideration, even if they happen to be in a religion just because it is the religion of their country that they follow without many questions. You might call this regrettable, expecting things to be better if they cared more about the truth. However, sorry to disappoint you but, after all my experience of vain tries to talk with religious and other people, I don't deplore this indifference of many, once put in context. On the contrary, I do approve the right of many people to not care about the truth, may it be Universal or specific, if they are not naturally interested with it, provided that they don't oppose it either (either the information of what the truth is, or the actions it shows to be needed).

My problem was that, many of the important truths that I could discover and try to share with people around, turned out to be of a too complex type for these people to grasp and accept. It would just have been a too big work for them.
I explore many subjects just like I do mathematics. If I tried to share my thoughts about high mathematics with people around, they just would not be able to follow. This is not a trouble as long as they do not care about mathematics, because in this way they are letting me in peace and free to develop my mathematical ideas in myself and share them easily with any of the rare other people that would be interested (visiting my web site). The troubles come when the involved issues are of a kind that people do care of. Indeed in such a case, many people are strongly believing something, that is in fact false. There is no solution to make them accept the truth on the subject, which is too complex for them to grasp properly. Thus, there is no solution either to stop them from strongly believing false views and trying to propagate them. And their attachment to a false view naturally leads them to scorn anyone who disagrees, even if the other person is in fact right.
Thus we arrive to the following paradox:

The more a majority of people care for the truth in intention, the more this makes them oppose it in practice.

Looks strange for you ? For a scientist, this remark is usual. This phenomenon is a significant part of the explanation how science could succeed in its search for truth, while spiritualities failed.
Scientists managed their search for truth through the opportunity they had to exchange ideas in priority with the small minority of other skilled specialists in their research field, without disturbance from anyone who does not have the necessary skills for bringing a useful contribution to the issue being worked on.

On the other side, spiritualities were all focused on the same question of the "ultimate truth on life and death", and based their "success" on their popularity, i.e. the acceptance of their teachings by the large public. And the problem is that the design of a teaching aimed for looking credible in the eyes of a large public, is not usually compatible with a strive for conformity to the truth.

These remarks, that will be developed later, will not be here for claiming that this world is going well (indeed, science aims for progress, which is based on the assumption that the world still needs to change), nor that it would not be in need of new important truths, but that we should be careful of what sort of truth is needed, which should not be required to enter some predefined format and criteria that some may expect.

Concretely, while I do wish there existed manier clever people able to discover and understand deep truths, I do not believe in the sustainability of a world made of such people, as I know life depends on the works of many people focusing on other, more mundane things, that pure truth seekers would not be ready replace.

Finally, how can spiritualists ever pretend to want or expect the truth about life and death to be universally understandable and acceptable ? Very many times, debates have been ongoing between spiritualists and atheists, about the existences of God, the mind/matter duality and the afterlife. While it might be arguable that the ones had good arguments that the others failed to undertand or to answer, it is not possible to completely resolve and close the debate in a mere book. Here will be presented an extensive proposition, with important clues on diverse issues, but with no unrealistic claims of completeness of answers or of proof.

Thus, I'm going to imitate heaven's indifference with respect to metaphysical faith and its reluctance to leave us any important information about itself, by dedicating most of the following sections to truths about life, most of which will remain equally acceptable and arguable independently of mind/matter duality, afterlife and its details - though some arguments on these points will be presented too. For, ifever there was indeed a good reason (whether it be an obstacle or a purpose) why on this Earth we don't naturally know much about afterlife, and why God did not leave us any revelation about it, then we must do with it. And indeed, as we will see, many important truths about this life are readily accessible anyway, in need to be taken care of by rational means.

An ironical tale "The sense and nonsense of life and its waste" was moved there.

Vocabulary note on the word "Spirituality"

When preparing to write the next sections, I guessed there would be a big risk of misunderstanding unless I develop in advance the following explanation on the use I will make of the words "spiritual" and "spirituality".
Indeed there is a sort of paradox, but I see the source of the difficulty as coming from the cultural context of this world.
In a sane cultural context, there would be no such problem: it would be possible to use the words "spiritual" and "spirituality" to name the sorts of things and qualities that these words naturally suggest.
These could range, for example, from aspects and supernatural realities observed in near death experiences, to a diversity of higher-than-usual activities of the human spirit, like science, philosophy, arts, litterature and mutual understanding.

Unfortunately in the present world, the use of these words happened to be captured by a wide range of traditions which used them specifically to qualify their own teachings and practices (or aspects of it).
Precisely I found quite deep flaws in the main religions and forms of spirituality that have significant popularity in the Western world: all over the "big religions" (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism), much of the New Age movement, and the "spirituality" of many other independant individuals.

From a quick glance (but no detailed examination), I admit a chance of more respectability (less "serious errors", compatibility with rational thinking...) in
Outside these, the effect of this circumstance is that in the present world, trying to learn what is Spirituality and how to become more spiritual by hearing the teachings and testimonies, and observing the behavior of, people who often use and highly value these words, is something like it could have been to study and observe what is a democratic Republic by visiting and living in countries of the Soviet Union. You see the misunderstanding trouble: in these countries, criticizing the regime in force was interpreted as meaning to be an ennemy of communism, of revolution, of democracy, and of the people. How could it be possible to claim to be a Democrat while opposing the People's Republics ?

Thus for spirituality, there is the following dilemma: should we use "spirituality" to name its ideal meaning, or its traditional use ? It turned out to me that, given the circumstances, the only practical option was to stick to its traditional use, and claim loud that I oppose Spirituality, despite the risk of misunderstanding of such a claim at first sight. This will have quite odd consequences, such as making "false spirituality" a pleonasm, "authentic spirituality" a contradiction, and making "spiritual" roughly mean "ignorant and proud of it".

What is the problem

Sorry, I know that this explanation will make all spiritual people imagine that I'm wrong in doing so, so that they will expect my explanations to be worthless, and they will be about to stop reading at this point.
Indeed, all spiritual people will claim that they agree with me to the fact that, most of the time, spiritualities and religions are bullshit; will imagine that I abusively generalize from an unfortunate experience with the wrong spiritualities, different from their own; that I failed to take into account their own spirituality, which they think is completely different and uncomparable with any other spirituality.

I already heard this very argument thousands and thousands of times, and I even don't remember of any spiritual person who did not put this agument forward: all spiritual people always accused me of not having done my homework of discovering the difference between the true spirituality that is supposedly the summit of all truth and virtue, and the false ones which were unfortunately the only ones I happened to review from a limited experience. The problem is, those people who despise me for not having "made the difference" which they think is essential to make, always turned out to not having made the difference themselves. I did not just arbitrarily assume they were all with roughly the same flaws: I did check it. Every time someone required me to consider the possibity for a true spirituality aside the false ones I could observe, I noticed once again that all his arguments and ways of thinking were full of the flaws and wrong things I'm used to among spiritual teachings. So, how the hell can they dare to teach me a lesson of distinction between true and false spirituality, when they cannot make this difference themselves ? Indeed they clearly have no clue themselves of what precisely are the flaws of spirituality I could observe, as they are practicing themselves these flaws that keep them so far away from any sane understanding of the world.

So, you don't need to come and repeat that argument to me, please. It would only confirm that you are exactly repeating the same fallacies as all other spiritualities I know of.
Indeed: who do you think you are ? If you admit that so many people before you failed on the path of spirituality, and especially if you think that spirituality should be something accessible to all (thus, including to the people who failed), how can you know that yours is really better ? Precisely, you do need to understand in details what made spiritualities so usally fail, if you want to have reasonable chances to not repeat the same mistakes.

So in the next sections, I will list a number of negative features of spirituality. This does not mean to claim that all kind of spirituality will necessarily have all these features (though I would be surprised if any particular spirituality was not full of such flaws). But that means that, before claiming your own spirituality to be an exception, I invite you to examine in details, for each negative feature of spirituality I mention, whether it applies or not to your case, together with my explanations of why this feature is indeed negative.

Generally, this world is not a decent place to live in for many potential scientists, and is definitely not a science-dominated world, but rather a spirituality-dominated world (champion of deluding itself into believing itself to be a science-dominated world with poor persecuted spiritualities) with all its heavy illiteracy in the field of rational thinking. Not all potential scientists were offered the chance to get a scientific job. And no decent truth finder that dares to deal with any subject differing from those of the traditional scientific subjects, was ever taken seriously by any large number of people, especially not the "spiritual" ones.

Now this is a work I will try here. Still I cannot promise that many people will ever take it seriously, following and understanding these rational evidences I will present, just like hardly any unscientific person can follow and understand a scientific discovery.

Spirituality and the ego problem: introduction

It is astonishing how it could be possible for many spritualities to teach and hold as a sort of unquestionable evidence, that [reason = ego], whereas [spirituality = selflessness, dissolution of the ego]. Indeed, as will be developed in the next sections of this Part I, all the evidence I could observe showed that the real correspondance is the other way round.
However, such an absurd belief can still be explained: that spiritual teachings first developed that kind of view when science did not exist yet, with in its place some elaborate strategies of war or unfair quests for wealth and power that catches so much the attention of the people; then, it kept propagating with no problem in the modern world across the vast majority of people who remain unfamiliar with science (their mind not direcly concerned with it), and for whom the scientific method remains a sort of UFO.
Ignoring the depths of science, they would easily mistake science's use of the mind with other, wrong uses of the mind.
Easy reaction: from the observation that there exist people doing wrong things with some ability (here: with the ability of thinking), some deduce that it is wrong to do anything with this ability.
As if anyone could do anything significant in the world without using one's mind.
Such a reaction is explained here.

Or to be a little more elaborate, some draw this view from the external connections currently linking science with untrustworthy actions or institutions (administrative connections, matters of technological innovation, and the ways in which technology has been used, which was not always wise and fair).
Or they can just relate the mind to the self-interest motivating anyone bothering to use one's mind for productive work.

Let us mention the reply that spiritualities would do for their defense, that is, while it is true that the universe is big and very complex, our souls are still very important beings there because of their special value and the special depth of their essence; and that their study and training (rather than studies of material things) would be of special importance because of the benefits produced by the spiritual knowledge and practice.

I can admit that, so that I do accept some sort of spiritual research as having its own rightful place among the diversity of activities and searches in the big puzzles of life and truth. I would just like to say on this subject, that:
  1. a careful rational work needs to be done to check any spiritual claim whenever possible (indeed, many such claims can be proven false);
  2. no matter whether such claims can be checked or not, many more crucial truths for mankind can be scientifically discovered and established, as will be developed in the next sections, unaffected by this issue;
  3. anyway, the object and stakes of any search remains restricted to the limits of this earthly life, which is (as seems to be expressed from NDEs and as many spiritual people themselves claim), but a small part of the universal path of one's spirit in the supernatural realm; this larger path turned out to remain generally unaffected by this kind of work (as is suggested by testimonies, and which would need serious observational results to be dismissed); while, on the other hand, searches for what actions can provide important benefits to the life on Earth of many other people (which have more important, selfless and undeniable value), are best done by reason.

The Copernician revolution

An important step at the start the scientific era, was the discovery (or rediscovery) that the Earth is not in the center of the Universe. This idea shocked the Christian establishment, whose doctrine was saying that man was created by God in his own image. Indeed this doctrine could fit well with the view of the Earth at the center of the universe, but was harder to defend otherwise.

Then, progressively, science discovered that the Universe is extremely big, that the Sun is not the center of it either (and generally, the Universe has no center). Also, humans are not essentially different from animals; that time is large, so that human history is but a small part of the global history of life on Earth. Life evolved very slowly based on a large accumulation of random events and natural selection in a wild environment. Humans emerged through a series of events that seem accidental.

Then, the scientific exploration of the universe happened as an exploration of a universe of knowledge, which clearly did not have the question of the sense of human life in its center. From a scientific viewpoint, the universe of truth and knowledge is an immense universe with no center: our own lives and our conditions of happiness, individually or collectively, are no more at the center of the truth, than is man or the Earth at the center of the Universe.
Scientifically, there is not one Truth, but an illimited landscape of specific truths: there are a potential infinity of questions that can be raised, and there may only be a unique truth to be discovered on every specific question, provided it is a well-defined question.

This does not mean there would not exist more important questions than others (indeed, science is full of examples of specific unifying truths that are quite more important than others). This does not mean either that the current disperson of science is always good. Indeed I find it sometimes regrettably more dispersed than it should be, and that some more general and important questions or research domains were pitifully neglected.
But this means that, if we want to find or understand important and useful truths for our lives and duty on Earth, then it requires quite a deal of intelligence, work and luck, and the right way to the most important truths for our lives may be not a direct one.
In particular, scientists'ability to form a global understanding of life and the universe was based on the large diversity of independent research works that each brought a different piece of the puzzle.
This can be seen as a virtual Copernician revolution that defines an essential character of the opposition between science and spirituality.

The spiritual anthropocentrist conception of the truth

Spirituality always focused its interest on who we deeply are and what is our own deep interest, either by forms of introspection or from any other source: our deep feelings, motivations, values and duties, and what is after death. Spiritual teachers usually view their own teaching, their own life and/or human life in general, as the navel of the truth, forming a more or less an anthropocentric conception of the truth that may be characterized by the following:
(1) That the truth should be reliably accessible to anyone sincerely searching for it
(2) That knowing the truth personnally should be the key to one's personal happiness
(3) That its plausibility should connect with the public impression of respectability of the one who professes it.

The problem is the temptation (sometimes unconcious) for many people to be influenced by such expectations as if they could be useful hints to distinguish the truth. For example, to assume that personal happiness can be accepted as the sign of having the truth.
But in fact, the truth has no duty to serve us in particular in such ways. Its only duty is to be true. Indeed for example there has been many people who sincerely searched for the truth and could not get it - and denying this would be monstruously unfair towards all the people who sincerely searched for the truth and could not find it. But you can note, for example, that there is no tremendous necessity to consider (1) as always desirable either, especially if we drop condition (2), as, if we admit that sincerity and internal virtue should be rewarded, this does not require by itself the finding of the truth to be a necessary intermediate step on the way to happiness (or heaven).

And why should all these conditions be required to hurryingly apply to all humans now, while they clearly could not apply to our ancestors, and even hardly applied recently ? Who do we think we are ?

Indeed, if you consider that the dignity of life is in its diversity, and the dignity of the spirit is to create new ideas, then you can't wish to reduce the sense of life of a large majority of people, to the role of selectors and propagators of a unique Truth fixed in advance.

First, the main duty of the truth in general is to be true, rather than to satisfy the above or any other requirements. Second, the specific truths of importance to our life (among all questions that may be raised) should be selected for being (and would desirably be) true and useful in the service for other people; while these people, insofar as they did not know this truth in advance (as they would still need to receive it), ought not to have be designed to be the best selectors and propagators in the service of this truth. Indeed: spreading and selecting a specific truth of importance should need to be done only once in the long story of mankind, rather than being a perpetual task to be repeated in automatized, standardized ways by many people !

If only the requirement (1) and eventually (3), could just work at least for a significant enough number of humans so that it would make it possible for them to limit the world's troubles into a relatively safe situation in the short term (that, at least the Earth would not be destroyed), until, hopefully, it would become more universally accepted in a later time, then we should already consider this as a big progress.

How can it be ?
For propagation, machines (formerly the printing industry; currently the Internet) can be much more efficient. For selection, some sorts of social structures where a few people operate the selection for propagation to the many, can be useful, though ill-designed social structures that were dominant until now, did not always do a good job in this area.

Let's go further: do you think there should exist a sort of universal truth in the sense that it should be understandable by anyone, and that its understanding and acceptance by everyone should be useful ? I don't. Consider this:

1) if you really want that sort of universality, while the diversity between humans is just a restricted version of the same sort of diversity as the differences between humans and animals, then you should extend this universal character of the same truth to animals too.
Obviously, you can't.

2) Such a repetitive work of accepting a truth and behaving accordingly, should be replaced by machines for that usefulness.
Thus, there is not even a moral motivation (before looking for any evidence) why any ultimate truth, should be altogether uselful, understandable and acceptable by the majority of people. Just like the deep truth and importance of quantum physics, is not based on its understandability and acceptability by the public.
A lack of universal acceptability does not preclude the possibility for a truth to be universally useful (even to those who can't accept it) as we will explain now.

Openness of rationality and its fruits

When a scientific discovery is made and established, this brings an irreversible progress for mankind, as the knew knowledge becomes available to all mankind forever. The act of discovery will not need to be repeated, and can be useful as a basis for further progress. When some engineers do applied science to innovate and produce a new technology, this technology becomes widely avalable to a large number of consumers. Most of these consumers are non-scientists, that can enjoy the fruits of the new technology with no need for them to study the scientific theories that made these technologies possible and decide if they agree or disagree (for example, the theory of electromagnetism that wireless communication is based on).
In other words, the benefits of a scientific or technological innovation, operated by a person or some limited set of people, are automatic, worldwide, and irreversible.
The technologies based on deep scientific truths, benefit all, with no kind of faith-based discrimination (just like NDEs showed that heaven makes no faith-based discrimination); while faith-based discrimination is characteristic of spiritual teachings, which require people to trust or accept to follow their "truths" as a condition for them to take any benefit from the included promises.

For rational people, ego problems and similar things (bad feelings, insults) are usually not the navel of the problems at stakes. These problems may occur sometimes, and may sometimes be a problem, but are not usually the main problem. Not because scientists managed to conquer any light of selflessness, but because, most often, ego problems were not here (or not significant) in the first place. And even if people may get angry and call each other names, this may be just a normal and useful process for the progress of the debate. For rational people, selflessness can have been a trivial starting point already far behind, or may be not there as well for all of them, but is not the focus of interest anyway - there are much more issues of concern than this.

What the search for truth is about, and that many rational people do care for and are most sensitive to in a rational debate, is whether and how much the debate is progressing in rational terms (and how efficiently does the everyone's attitude contribute to this goal). The search for truth is not about measuring and comparing every other participant's mood in the discussion, and making any sort of competition at this level.
Because the main feature of rationality, is less about being serein (though this may help) than about how one can manage to lead one's understanding and jugements to the conformity of correct rational processes, without being biased by whatever feelings one could have. Moreover, the rational process is something progressive in time while feelings may fluctuate. Thus, when a jugement is expressed with anger, it should not be forgotten that the anger is not always a good explanation for the jugement, because the judgement might also be the expression of the conclusion which emerged from a rational process that previously developed carefully for a long time, in a way unbiased by such feelings.

Large scientific projects can be the place of "utopian" cooperation processes, with no significant hierarchical/domination troubles, while contributors are focused on their use of reason. A physicist developing a theory beyond the Standard Model, competing with other candidate theories to be tested in particle accelerators, would not normally take it personnally if his theory was refuted by experimental results.

The spiritual ego, in practice

Spiritual practice, on the other hand, usually consists in sorts of works for the practioner's own soul.
Spiritual practitioners are often focused on changing their own self, for accumulating there fruits of peace, joy, "spirituality", and... "selflessness" (while managing to forget that they are in this way entirely focused on their own deepest and most personal self). Not only do they focus into the navel of their own self to try to accumulate selflessness in it, but they assume this activity to be the navel of all purpose of human life, and more generally, to be the navel of the Universe's problems.
Especially, they would assume any conflict or disagreement to be a manifestation of ego problems; and their conviction of having made themselves the best work of making their own self selfless and therefore enlightened, and therefore omniscient, provides them the divine insurance that any problem while discussing with someone else, must surely be coming from the other person's ego. Especially if the other person claims to be knowing some subject better - an idea that many spiritual people cannot even consider to be conceivable (their intense dedication to be the best in themselves, immunes them from any "fault": they don't deserve to be the mistaken ones !). Thus, as the disagreement comes from the other person's ego, then there is no point to try to understand anything more about it !

For example, many "spiritual people" (or many people in general) would easily come to teach other people what to think for feeling well out of their own experience of how they could feel, as if the way all people feel should be the same. Thus, a spiritual person feeling well should be taken as a universal example of how to do and what to think in order for anyone else in the world to feel good as well. Therefore, anyone else claiming to feel things differently from this person should automatically be wrong.

This is made especially worse when the required change is not just about trying something, like you can try a medicine or a sport, but also about believing something. Spiritual people would consider it spiritual to accept to believe or think something for that reason (that it makes one feel well), while they would call it "hard-heartedness" to refuse it. But the truth is that choosing to hold something as true for an advantage whatsoever, rather than after a proof of its truth, is the very definition of corruption.

Many spiritual people take it for granted that the best way to help someone in any case, is to give advice on how to think and how to feel. Because, they assume it is not possible to change the way things are happening, but the best to do would be to change the way one perceives them, through a work on oneself. That there should be ways for someone working on oneself to feel better while facing the same circumstances, and that efforts should in priority focus on that change.

There are admittedly many possible cases when this would be true and that such an effort would work for indeed bringing happiness to a person, including in some cases when the person did not believe it at first. Thus, many spiritual people will easily take example of such cases for making it a universal truth and systematically applying it (giving advice) to every person who complains of being unfortunate.
But, while it might indeed be beneficial in some cases, this attitude can also turn out to have disastrous consequences when applied to other cases, of people whose problems and feelings would really not be of this kind, and to which such a solution has no chance to work anyway:

First, no effort is being made to manage and resolve the circumstances that caused the unhappiness. This is a mere short-view treatment of the problem, that leaves the initial material problem unresolved, based on the excuse that it would be too late for this time. Of course it can indeed be too late this time, but the attitude of not bothering to understand the causes of the bad circumstance, for focusing on how to adapt to it, may be the very cause why this trouble happens over and over again. The suffering person may be the victim of the consequences of the attitude of previous similar advices given by someone to someone else, who focused on adapting to the trouble they were having, and did not work to invent a general solution to it.

Second, the victim of the unfortunate circumstance is being insulted and accused by the claim that he is being responsible of his unhappiness, and that the badness all comes from his deepest person. While the adviser would deny being an accusator, the fact is that this claim is effectively leading the victim to lose all self-confidence, and accuse himself for his own unhappiness. Indeed, even if the victim had a strong personal evidence why the view of the adviser is wrong, he may still be unable to explain this evidence to convince the adviser. Because no matter how he would try, the adviser will anyway never seriously consider such an evidence, but will instead hold such an argumentative attempt as pathological, and will accuse the victim of being hubristic, hard-hearted and closed-minded. In short: highly unspiritual. Indeed: how the hell can anyone present a proof for the feeling of evidence one may have, that one has no available chance to get to feel better by changing oneself in the present circumstances as they are ? What could such a proof look like, that the adviser could not fail to understand and be convinced of in any situation that the victim was indeed right on the fact that the thinking advice cannot help ? (Let me reassure him: being qualified as highly unspiritual should sometimes be taken as the best possible compliment, because it just means being sane.)
This will thus force him to assume that the adviser would be in fact right. This way, the victim would be led by the dialectical and logical forces, to hold himself as completely insane (while in fact he was sane, as his evidence was right). This chain of events towards stronger and stronger fights inside the depths of the victim's soul, can result in a multiplication by 10 or 100 of the trouble as compared to the original problem - as it can turn into a desperate turmoil of his deepest self. Maybe, this will push him to suicide.
In all this, the adviser will remain happy, pure, unaffected, and with "no share of responsibility" for having "not forced anything" in the disaster he created by his spiritual advice.

Let's make a comparison: what about dropping someone from a plane without a parachute, with the argument "it should be no problem if he is wise, he should just find the way to land softly" ? Of course, this argument is wrong, as the true wisdom is to understand that there will be no way for him to land softly if he is dropped in such conditions. Consequently, a wise attitude would be to care to avoid dropping him this way in the first place.
The problem is that a number of real world circumstances are similar to this one with the only differences that
See more comments on this subject by another author : Attitude fanatics

Now, let us analyze the real unconcious motivation of the spiritual adviser giving his advice to the victim.

The morality sense makes one feel good to see someone feeling good, and to feel bad when seeing someone feeling bad. And even more precisely when one feels to have possibly contributed to this situation.

Let us interrupt this explanation, to include another explanation about what is at stakes in the remark just done. If we were in a sort God's kingdom where everybody would be somehow omniscient, there would be no difference between the feeling of having contributed to someone's situation, and the reality of it.
But, what spiritual people fail to realize, is that we are not in this kind God's kingdom, and that, in particular, themselves are not omniscient about the possible effects of their own actions onto others.

And, spiritual people usually dedicate themselves to developing their spirituality in such a way that their ignorance of the effect of their own actions to others, and their failure to be aware of any such possible discrepancy, is made more and more systematic. But, to make it possible, they need to be doing this in such a way that they are not noticing that the confusion they are developing between their feelings and reality, is in fact, an error. This is usually accomplished by some very nice-worded spiritual teachings glorifying the values of the heart above the cold reason. That feelings would be more reliable than words in discerning the truth. This way, if the spiritual person morally feels something about his own actions, then he will take this moral feeling as a reliable account of what he is actually accomplishing. This faith in the reliability of one's own feelings, is completed by the feeling that, the good feeling of the adviser would be the sign that he has the truth, while the other, who is having troubles, must be in the dark, mistaken.

Let us now come back to the previous explanation. So, the spiritual adviser A has an acute morality sense. This sense is tied to what he feels to be the other (B)'s problem, and what A feels to be his possible contribution to it.
Then, what the spiritual adviser A needs here, is to precisely manage things in such a way that this feeling (a fruit of A's own belief) becomes the most positive he can - disregarding whether this way in which the he improves the level of his own feelings and beliefs on this issue in front of B, has anything to do with the reality of the help he brings to B.

And the advice A gives to B, is the best possible method that could be found by A to satisfy his own need (of satifying his own moral sense) in front of B. Indeed, it consists in claiming, and requesting B to agree with, the precise belief which is the most comfortable for the moral sense of A.

First, this belief consists in somehow denying the reality of the hard situation that is being faced by B. This denial is operated by splitting it into 2 cases.
Second, the belief cleans up directly any responsibility of A, and gives him the best possible role, that is to have provided for the whole solution very quickly, with no need to bother studying the problem any more seriously, while the rest of the duty to do something falls into the exclusive responsibility of B. And some spiritualities even clear up more extensively such an idea of a responsibility, by claiming that such unfortunate events are somehow unavoidable, and that nothing can ever be done against them, so that no other duty than the advice ever needs to be considered as a form of help.

By making such claims, A easily and immediately achieves the vanishing of any possible moral discomfort he could have when hearing B's problems. Then, by mistaking A's own moral feelings towards B with the reality of B's problem, A naturally expects that this claim should be already enough for cancelling B's problem altogether. It is so wonderful for A to immediately imagine that B's problem was a mere imaginary problem, that ifever B won't immediately join this imagination to agree that the problems were imaginary and thus resolved, then... anyway A will be right to claim to have brought the solution, and B will be wrong to complain that any problem still remains, as it would be his fault to have not applied the solution that A provided.

Let us examine a specific but very frequent and typical example of a claim used as a spiritual thinking advice to deny anyone's problem: "Do you think you are the only one suffering ? There are many people more unfortunate than you in the world !".
Again, the adviser is clearly trying to help himself feel better by denying the reality of (or "trying to solve") the other's problem. This means that he feels better if the other is going well (or rather, is not complaining) than if he is going bad. But, how does he think his victim will feel better ? By believing or remembering about the existence of many people who feel even worse. But, why would such a thought help the victim feel better, while the adviser considers it better for himself to ignore such misfortune in other ? Does he think the victim is going to be better-off by developing sadistic pleasures dreaming about human misery ? But, why does it not disturb the spiritual adviser himself to put forward such a sadistic passion, while he was supposedly motivated by altruism when doing so ?

The key to solve this paradox was magnificently expressed by Stalin : "One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic".
In clear: the spiritual adviser's altruism is exclusively for feeling good towards the few people of the world he has the chance to directly meet and feel the communion with; while any respectful consideration towards the rest of the world (in the trash of which the spiritual person prefers to drop any person met with real problems) is rejected as a mental abstraction with no moral value.

Another common spiritual advice is to claim that everything must go well because everything goes well for people in general anyway. Thus, the exact contrary of the previous argument. Anything as well as the contrary of anything, will always be a good justification to forbid anyone from complaining about misfortune.

You can notice that this analysis of spiritual advice as being exclusively designed to serve the happiness of the adviser, but not of the advised person, is in perfect harmony with the spiritual worldview itself, which says that spirituality and happiness are an individual quest, and that one's happiness is a matter of how spiritual oneself is, rather than how anyone else is.

Spiritual greed

Imagine you receive a letter saying : "You won a million ! Open fast !"; if you open, it tells you a number of instructions to follow in order to receive such a prize. Eventually, among these instructions would be the one to send copies of the same letter to a number of other people, so as to offer these other people the same chance - eventually together with logical explanation how this can be true.

Would it be an interesting news ?

Usually, spiritual people would consider it ridiculously antispiritual to see it so. However, when saying so, they fail to realize that such ridiculous behaviors are very often encouraged by spiritualities themselves - with the only difference that monetary values are replaced by spiritual values, in order to feel much more spiritual.

Take the Evangelical Christians, for example. They want to share with you the Good News of Jesus'sacrifice for your sins, so that God will forgive you and will accept you to heaven if you accept this free gift by having faith in Jesus. They consider this as the most interesting news ever. Then you will have to thank God in advance by spreading the same Good News to others too. And as this news sounds so good, then it must be true. But if you consider it well, how can they even dare to consider it a good news ? It is rather a bad news, to say that whoever does not believe is going to hell, because this is a lot of people.
But for the people you know, well, it should be a good news because you will still have the chance to convert them if you are spiritual enough, and for this, the Holy Spirit will help you ;-).
As for the rest of the world that they do not personnally know, as noticed again before, well, no problem for spiritual people to send them to hell. Again, they love to paint the rest of the world in black in order to view their own way as comparably wonderful.
But... as telling something should not honestly suffice to make it true, announcing to you the Good News should not honestly suffice to convince you. So, you honestly shouldn't believe it a first. Then announcing to you that you are going to hell because you don't believe it yet, cannot honestly be a good news. But usually, it is by the dishonest move that they will push you to believe this at your own choice (corruption, as already mentioned: believing something for an advantage rather than out of evidence), and the fact that the respect for the person in front of you should oblige you to hold all his/her unanswerable claims as true.

Consider also the Catholics. Not only did the Church once sold redemption for money, but still many Catholics collect fortunes in heaven by repeating the rosary.

Something similar is done for example by Buddhists in Himalaya: as I once heard (in some TV report) a monk explain : "one way round prostrating to the ground all the way, is worth as much as 7 times the way just walking". Do your calculations: what is the most profitable method then ? Indeed they even came to industrialize their piety work through prayer wheels.

And why do they do such things ? They say, that man cannot take one's material and financial goods to heaven. This is why they prefer to gather a lot of nonsense, that they think will follow them and make them more reliably rich there.

But precisely, the contrary is true: if you earn and save much money doing some honest business, selling to the public many goods or services they need, paying a lot of taxes and accumulating financial resources that yourself or anyone else will use for investing to business and giving jobs to many people, and finally leave your money on Earth for charity or even just simply to your heirs, then you will have a treasure in heaven.

Some people are doing the exact opposite of this. They only feel concerned with love, equality and brotherhood, and dream of a world where money would have been abolished. They don't bother caring about what to live with, but would accuse of greed those who would not give it to them. They would ruin other people around them with their expenses, or receive public money, and waste it (some even in luxury) without ever being thankful, nor even noticing what others sacrificed for them, nor even tolerating criticism about it. Is this the kind of spirituality you wish the world to follow ?

Thus, many spiritual people are sticked into the desperate and endless strive for selflessness, an inaccessible Graal or mirage that always withdraws as they approach it, until they might manage to delude themselves enough for believing they reached it. Then they might become Masters of Spirituality surrounded by lots of worshippers.

See also this caricature of religion.

Truth and happiness

Seeing connections between truth and happiness is easy. If we imagine God as being omniscient (having the ultimate Truth) and infinitely happy, this already suggests that truth and happiness go together.

Truth and knowledge should be interesting (and indeed are so, at least sometimes) and thus a possibly important source of happiness.
But this does not work for all people: while some have the chance to live a wonderful adventure exploring knowledge, others can't do the same, or happen to fail in trying to do so.
Many even stay without trying the adventure because the necessary thinking would bother them, and indeed this may be the right choice for them, in the case they would have no chance to succeed anyway, or that it would be a too hard work for them in proportion to the expectable benefits. No matter how wonderful a sport can be, you cannot oblige any handicapped person to join it by claiming the absolute truth of how wonderful the sport is.
Also, knowledge does not provide all needed forms or conditions of happiness.

Another connection is that the truth can be useful, by correctly informing on what is the most efficient way to happiness. Spiritual people usually assume this phenomenon to be universal: that knowing the truth should always be the solution to oneself's problems, but would never bring happiness to any different person that the one who gets it (unless that other person accepts this "truth" too).
This way, they are confusing "truth" with "way to happiness", or directly with "happiness".

However, rational people know that neither of these claims is any universal truth.
Indeed there are known mathematical problems that had been "resolved" by the proof that no solution (of a certain kind) to these problems, can ever exist. For the same reason, the truth is not always the solution how to be happy, but it may sometimes be the understanding of the fact that, in some cases, there is no possible way to be happy.
Also, there are possible cases when someone's errors causes troubles to someone else, and that someone knowing the truth can sometimes benefit other people, with no general necessity to require their ideological agreement.
Generally, the way in which any specific external circumstances or internal works (ideas, teachings, desires) can affect happiness, can widely vary from a person to the other, because of differences of characters, abilities, past experiences, more details of circumstances that can never be precisely identical between people, tastes and colors.
Namely, there are ways of being happy or sad that are unrelated with any matter of belief or of knowledge, and thus where happiness is unrelated to the question of "having the truth" (may it be the true truth or a false one). There are even ways to be happy precisely based on ignorance and error. Indeed we just gave a sketch of explanation how this can be, with the example of spiritual advisers.
Precisely, such a way to base happiness on ignorance and/or error, usually consists in joining a belief according to which the best thing to do seems clear. Such a belief will lead to the vanishing of any fear or regret for not doing or having done the best possible thing, by ignoring or denying:
- the knowledge, understanding, possible existence of any significantly better things to do
- the possibility for other options to lead to any significantly better results
- the possibiity that further knowledge or skills that one does not or cannot have, or inaccessible in such or such circumstances, would be useful in finding better things to do, or the best thing to do (or anything closer to it).
- the role of the choices you actually made in the collateral damages they produced.

This was for the assessment of your own (present and future) actions. But your opinion concerning others'actions need to be the exact opposite of this. Namely you need to ignore the positive aspects of other people's beliefs, choices and actions, and why these (as compared to what you wanted them to do instead) were not the cause of troubles in the way you think - the world would go so much better if you took the place of God and everybody did what you think they should do.

At least in the case of Evangelical Christianity, this negative view on other's actions also apply to your own past actions. This makes you feel bad about yourself, but also it makes you feel good by the way it gives you the best possible treasure to accumulate in heaven: the value of repentence (internal masochism). Also promising that from now on, with Christ, all the troubles from your past are miraculously going to be over (or, if they are still going wrong, you must anyway believe that they would still be much worse otherwise).

You can note the fundamental difference between this principle of ignorance-based happiness, and the first mentioned sort of knowledge-based happiness.

Knowledge-based happiness were matters of: how rich is your understanding of a subject, in an impersonal way (in accordance with the Copernician revolution of knowledge), and how well are things really going for you

Ignorance-based happiness is a matter of personal judgement towards yourself, and about fear that things may be going worse or disbelief that they may be going better in other cases.

Many spiritualities are somehow preaching for ignorance, by teaching visions of "truth" and "knowledge" using definitions that are, in fact, the very description of dumbness and ignorance. And of course, dismissing as a form of ignorance any form of intellectual construct, thus including all possible true knowledge, to be confused with all other mental works of the world, which happened to be seemingly dominated by errors, bad actions and false doctrines.

To play the role of "truth", they are emphasizing some specific form of happiness, to which they arbitrarily give the highest value of the universe, also called "spirituality". In this line, they may be saying a number of coherent (and even sometimes correct) features. The problem is their misuse of the word "truth" to name these things which are of a different nature, and are no progress on the way to truth. So, if they come claiming to speak about the Ultimate Truth, and under this name, they come to develop their descriptions of this form of happiness that they worship as their god, it raises several problems.
  1. They are switching the subject, as they are talking about something else (a special form of happiness) than what they promised (the truth).
  2. This leads them to put an undeserved trust into the opinions they develop about it (either connected to their worship of this happiness, or coming as resulting from having experienced that state of mind) while blindly rejecting as false, or at least less reliable (by their definition of "truth") any other possible source of knowledge.
  3. They arbitrarily assume that this happiness will be an automatic consequence of believing their teachings, and can't understand why others can't join and agree;
  4. they automatically dismiss all criticism by rejecting as error any opinion of an unhappy person
  5. When preaching about it, their purpose is not to say the truth itself, but to say what they believe to be the truth about the truth - without any proof that what the things they are describing as a sketch of the truth, have indeed anything to do with the truth, all relying on their convincing power to the ears of the ignorant; as if seducing but unjustified claims about what the truth should look like and how to reach it, could be a satisfying substitute for having effectively discovered, and showing by words and/or actions, any effective and verifiable truth itself (we will explain later why it should be verifiable).
The "truth" they say about what the truth should look like, is shared to the ignorant as a substitute for the truth; its success is based on the willingness it induces in the ignorant to spread it to others, even disregarding whether they indeed succeeded or not to use this "truth about the truth" for having themselves any effective access to this "truth" they think their doctrine is showing them the way to.

But, what are the characters of a doctrine "about the truth" which make it plausible in the eyes of the ignorant ?
In fact, surprisingly (and without even themselves noticing), it turned out that the convincing power of the most seducing "truths about the truth" which they could find (and with which most of them turn out to stay sticked to, if not satisfied with, without reaching their own stated goal), were usually based on quite different characters, and even somehow opposed to those expectable of what any decent truth of importance should look like, including the very sort of one which they believe to be their goal.

Spiritual teachings claim to be a call for change, (precisely, changing oneself, which they see as the only way to change the world). But this call for change remained more or less always the same for millenia, followed by billions of people who maybe could change themselves somehow, but meanwhile succeeding to remain all the same for millenia, taking their change with them to heaven, while the world was not affected by their move. Pretending this old way to be something new beyond the standard use of reason, ignoring the fact that the full practice of reason is the new thing which came after and beyond spirituality, and which did succeed the real changes of the world, significantly reducing conflicts and miseries and finding much more important and reliable truths, based on a much smaller number of practitioners.

Also, spiritual beliefs look serious and fair, are boring and expectable. While this boring, ordinary and expectable belief is a belief about a truth supposed to be wonderful and beyond imagination. They are experts in how to spell some of the densest possible accumulations of superlatives in the universe, but that's nearly all what they are good at. Nothing is ever really paradoxical, disturbing or challenging by any means, either in their (supposedly transcending) claims or behavior.

This paradox can be explained by the fact they are judging things by the heart. By nature, what feels serious for the heart, will usually be quite boring and expectable views. Even if their contents are extremist ones : what I mean here, is that the rational aspect is boring and expectable. On the other hand, careful rational works and discernment made freely from any bias of how feelings suggest things should be, can produce paradoxical and challenging discoveries, both for feelings and for intelligence.

The finger and the moon

A common spiritual theme that they might use as an excuse for their dull appearance, would be the famous metaphor of the finger pointing to the moon. Sorry, but they can stare and fancy at the moon however they want, this won't bring them there. And their claim that I would be failing to see the moon they are showing, plays all the role of an excuse. No matter how I try to stare to the direction they are showing, no matter whether I indeed see something there, or whether it is the same as they see, if I keep disagreeing with them (finally concluding that their way leads nowhere), they can always make fun of me and accuse me of just looking at their finger, which is not letting the debate any chance to go forward.

Moreover, they are making the same mistake of just looking at the finger, when they claim to explain the limits of reason while they have no experience of what reason is really about, and capable of.

When they think that, to judge the validity of the arguments being said, they only need to look at the temper (or what they perceive as such) of people arguing; when they foolishly dismiss the views of a rational person by reducing these views to the (sometimes justified) negative feelings they (sometimes wrongly) perceive in him, as if it was the ultimate explanation for it, and calling for a new, more "positive" feeling-based approach to life to replace this "negative" one - while forgetting that such a positivity measure will always be relative ("why do you have a negative view of Christianity ? - But why do you have a negative view of my rejection of Christianity ?")

When they think they can judge science or claim to know what it is about, merely based on what they perceive of it from this world: from the way it is presented at school, what is said about it in the media or popular science magazines, and some perceived way in which it changed the world we lived in.

So, many people unfortunately misjudged science at the view of this finger pointed to it. But, unlike the usual sayings about the finger to spirituality, let me reassure them: this mistake is not all their fault. Unlike what spiritual people tell about spirituality, I won't tell you the lie that the road to science would be widely open and accessible to all, so as to make you guilty of not having understood it in the proper way. Indeed, different people may have different skills, thus unequal chance to properly understand it. But there is another problem: the fingers to science usually shown to the public, have been defective too. The practice of science, this relatively recent and very efficient road to the progress of knowledge, already made lots of wonderful discoveries and still has a lot more ahead to work on and discover. Unfortunately, some basic and essential tasks, like this one of decently trying to synthetize and explain science to the public, have been pitifully neglected in some ways.

Trying to repair this lack by presenting a hopefully more global, representative and meaningful image of science than the scarecrow usually put at the place of that missing finger to science, by ignorant spiritual people who sincerely had no way to guess how caricatural and disconnected from reality was that image of science they have been so fond of drawing for themselves and teaching each other, will be one of the main goals of the present work.

Science is a road or exploration in the limitless universe of truth and possible knowledge, but a very long road with very many branches, where the diverse parts or branches range over a diversity of importances, depths, difficulty levels, methods, concepts; but all together connected as a large community of knowledge, with no radical separation or difference of nature between them.

An introduction to science (and a presentation of what can be said in reply to those who want "the ultimate truth on life", a "global picture"), can only be made of examples of truths among other truths.
It won't be the most wonderful among already known or accessible truths (many of which would be too hard or out of subject here) and cannot be as good, in the mere text size of a book, as a more extensive personal experience of effectively exploring further depths of science. Indeed, the way from the start to the full extensions of science would be too long for many people to follow (and impossible to shorten to the kind of easiness that some people without the necessary skills would like to require - anyway, there are so many specialized subjects that even no scientist can know any significant fraction of all what "is already known"), so we cannot present much of it here.

Still, the finger and moon of science are the direct extension of each other.
Thus, what we will present of it (the finger of science), deserves to already be a meaningful sketch of science, with similar accurateness and justifications, so that the finger and the moon of science won't be anymore so distant and incomparable with each other as the spiritual ones are.

Reason and feeling, work and leisure

Before fully starting these task of presentation of science and a global picture of life, let us complete a previous argument. We were talking about truth and happiness, and how can we approach the truth about these two subjects. We can rationally provide some clues of truth about them, in a rigorous and justified way, unlike the arbitrary fantasies told by spiritualities. Spirituality usually considers that the highest ends (personnally reaching the Ultimate Truth and/or Happiness) can justify the worst means to reach them (telling bullshit in their name, remaining vague and not proving anything, insulting people in their deepest self by calling them sinners) - even if, in practice, such wrong means are all what actually takes place, the high ends remaining beyond reach anyway.
Science does not do this. Truth and happiness are recognized as 2 different concepts.
And, while the truth can be seeked as an end in itself (and fortunately it happens so for some people, in order to have decent chances of being discovered !), it has a necessary role in the service of global happiness. Namely, there are truths to be developed about what are the requirements for a generally better level of happiness, and the way to implement them.

For, the same rational abilities usually at the service of personal interest (which does not always mean to make it at the expense of anyone else), are also, once sufficiently developed, the necessary tools for understanding and serving the general interest: understanding problems, analyzing their causes, defining solutions and implementing them.

As well at the individual scale as at the global scale, we can see this role of reason with respect to happiness, as the precise role of work with respect to leisure.
Indeed, life would be wonderful if man did not need to work and could dedicate himself entirely to leisure; but this is technically impossible in this world at this time, and pretending otherwise would be a completely irresponsible decision, for, once you try to replace all work by leisure, you either end up to having neither, or to doing it at the expense of others.
Similarly, life might be wonderful (somehow) if we could all focus on love, heart values and equality between people, and easily reach happiness, with no need to care about rationally studying any difficult truths; but it would be irresponsible to just pretend it to be the way, and call for such a move of concern.

Indeed, for technical reasons, such a move would fatally lead to disaster, at the antipodes of what it is dreaming about. For, reason (a certain use of it) is ultimately the necessary tool for shortening the distance separating the heart from itself; to protect human feelings from its risk or fate of being abandoned in loneliness or other misery, in the hands of global disasters and/or a merciless lottery of the jungle, with no available solution nor even understanding of how this happened.

Roughly, we can already see this on the fact that modern prosperity where human work is replaced by machines, requires a lot of science to be developed: the only way to get rid of a part of the hard necessity of work and develop more chances of leisure, is to start by a harder work of scientific and technological research.
We shall explain more aspects of this general situation later.

Joseph Waligore made an interesting criticism of Eckhart Tolle's philosophy ("The Power of Now", to worship the present moment), that explains in other words and meaningfully illustrates some of the previous aguments (worth reading until the end).
As I replied to a Tolle's admirer:
I think you generalize too much from your particular case, as if it was a universal solution to make everyone happy, but it's not.
What you discovered was good for you to get out of the particular mistake you had previously been in.
So your testimony can be very good for helping people who are in the same mistake that you were at that time, to get out of it.

I guess, this mistake may have been the artificial result of the social conditioning in the society, in particular the school system that teaches people they have to work hard and follow rules, schedules and deadlines to make a lot of money before being happy.
If that conditioning was not here in the first place (I mean, for people who would naturally have the necessary sense of responsibility for sustaining their own life in these conditions), much fewer people would still need such a revelation by a book on the "power of Now" for following the way of their natural aspirations and self-fulfilment.
Also, I can't see why call such a thing "spirituality". There is no supernatural revelation here. Rather, these are all the more basic and natural observations.

It does not either mean that it would be pointless to make plans, develop complex projects or make money. It all depends on individual situations, needs, aspirations, abilities, as well as how genuine are specific long-term plans.
There is no universal rule what a genuine long-term plan should be, because genuine work is about creativity, which means developing something new. So, if you tried to model your long-term plans according to the social conditioning around you, there is no surprise that you may have been on the wrong track.

Waligore's criticism even gives an interesting further hint on the whole situation: spirituality, at least Buddhism (but which has much in common with others), is basically an ideology of consumers (monks). Not of wasteful ones, admittedly, but still, people who only consume and do not produce, and thus, live entirely at the expense of others, disconnected from any need of understanding any truth of how to manage and implement a productive, useful work for mankind. In such conditions, it remains a mystery what sort of truth and what sort of reality they might be in communion with ;-)


Next :
II. Explaining reason and science
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