Part I : The Copernician revolution
vs the spiritual ego
(the moral comparison of science and
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
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
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
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
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 ?
- Taoism which has some
interesting clues; Confucianism
too (except that it lacks the place for freedom or other
- Some light form of Hinduism,
for its deep tolerance, respect to nature and the diversity of
people and views. It would just be better cleaned up, ending all
forced marriage, updating its cosmogony to scientific data,
revising its methods for respecting nature towards more global
and structural approaches, and taking away or at least
downgrading the importance of
- varnas (caste system)
- idols, avatar stories (as no human is more divine than
others) and other superstitions, except for their cultural and
- other errors as we shall explain.
- Unitarian universalism,
Spiritism, and other humanisms
- Many other folk religions (neopagan,
Native American; why not
even include Judaism here...), to be preserved as a cultural
heritage, especially as concerns their connections with nature.
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
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
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:
- a careful rational work needs to be done to check any
spiritual claim whenever possible (indeed, many such claims can
be proven false);
- 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;
- 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
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
This can be seen as a virtual Copernician revolution that defines an
essential character of the opposition between science and
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
(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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- the analogue of the inevitability of tragic crash after being
dropped without a parachute, is a much more complex phenomenon
making it much harder to predict in the eyes of the uninvolved
- the unfair difference of initial chance (the unequality of
chances between those dropped without parachute, and others not
dropped or dropped with a parachute), does not come from any
obvious voluntary discrimination procedures, but from some
unplanned law of the jungle and random events, or very subtile
differences of circumstances (abilities, tastes, family context,
a wrongly designed, falsely neutral education system not as
suitable for all, and so on).
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
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
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
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
- Either the trouble was presented as having an exterior cause
(material or relational), which is dismissed by the claim that
being affected by rawly material circumstances, or being
resentful against anyone, it is a sin (or something like this).
- Or, it does not have any material cause, so that it is
dismissed even easier, by calling it an imaginary problem purely
produced by the wrong feelings of the victim.
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.
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
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 capitalize 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 their means of living, but would accuse of greed those who would
not give them what they want. 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
See also this caricature
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
You can note the fundamental difference between this principle of
ignorance-based happiness, and the first mentioned sort of
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
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
- They are switching the subject, as they are talking about
something else (a special form of happiness) than what they
promised (the truth).
- 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.
- 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;
- they automatically dismiss all criticism by rejecting as error
any opinion of an unhappy person
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 ;-)
II. Explaining reason
Main page : Antispirituality