There is a prime directive, a raison d’etra, a rationale for this existence. There cannot be a universal standards as we experience different epochs, start from different points and face different obstacles. While there cannot be a universal starting line and finish line there can be a universal direction or evolution.
So the Prime Directive for individuals, groups, society and perhaps others (non-humans, flora, geologic formations, etc) is to move as far along the universal direction as possible. Understanding that rate of movement and the distance travelled by an individual is greatly influenced by their environment. Also understanding that the rate of movement and the distance travelled by a group or society is greatly influenced by their constituents.
The understanding of a universal direction or universal evolution is hierarchically by design. So by definition there is a higher and lower or a pre-during-after. As it applies to a universal direction, the higher includes the lower. A metaphor for the universal direction is a ladder. Each rung of a ladder moves you to higher awareness and each rung is dependent on the previous rungs. The Ladder metaphor has been use in certain spiritual traditions to explain hierarchies of awareness. Many of these traditions go on to describe each rung as increasing levels of awareness. Once one reaches the top rung, these traditions state, one realizes that they are more than a series of rungs they realize they are the Ladder (ie Enlightenment).
One of the most important truths to understand is that the meaning of statement, situation, perspective, event, etc is based on its context. In shorthand, the meaning is dependent on the context.
Tangible versus Conceptual
Some items can be measured using common tools and can be described as a collection of their sub elements. Other items such as love, hope, faith, tenacity attempt to describe human conditions thought
to be fairly universal, albeit difficult to measure. It is these latter items that we consider to be conceptual. Items that are conceptual are interpreted by everyone who encounters them. Societies attempt to define or normalize concepts and even build institutions around them. As much as we attempt to treat conceptual objects as tangible objects we are limited to the reality that conceptual objects are always filtered through a person’s subjective lens.
The understanding of how the perspectives or worldviews of individuals and groups evolved has expanded greatly in recent years. For millennia philosophers considered personalities, and by extension perspective, to be static over a persons life span. Abraham Maslow, father of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and Jean Piaget made remarkable breakthroughs in developmental psychology only in last 100 years. Societies have not largely integrated hierarchical perspectives into their institutions.
The hierarchical model that has impressed me the most was developed in the 1950s by Dr. Claire Graves. His The Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory described personal evolution as it moves various stages. The Theory was extrapolated to describe the evolutionary stages of groups.
Does God Exists?
Yes of course, however I’m not sure that it matters. God is conceptual, so two people’s definition of God will inevitably differ. Stepping back we observe that there has been a trend of global religions moving from polytheistic towards monotheism. Throughout this religious evolution spanning thousands of years the true source of our existence (God?) hasn’t actually changed- only our perspective has changed. Graves and other developmental psychologists have identified the evolutionary stage where people yearn order and structure plus interpret concepts literally. So it is no surprise that many Christians and Muslim view their creator in literal terms-Christians personifying God as a old man with a beard and the enlightened Jesus as his literal son.
You can see that just asking someone “whether God exists” may be too vague of question to really matter. A clearer understanding of a person’s perspective, hierarchically, may be to inquire if a person interprets religious text literally or metaphorically. That may at least give you insight whether the person’s perspective resides in one of the various hierarchical levels defined by Graves, Wilbur and others.
Morality and Sin
The determination of what is acceptable to a group or society is done for various reasons.
Group stability-Laws against encroachment on others (theft, assault), Rules to settle disputes, rules to encourage fairness and limit jealousy (taxation), modesty rules to limit temptation.
Group preservation- Encouragement of human procreation (marriage), discouragement of activities that limit procreation (homosexuality), discouragement of substances that harm health (smoking, drugs, dangerous foods)
Individual bias-Modesty mandates that affect sexes differently.
Spiritual Concentration-Mandating prayer (days or times)
Let’s group all of the above examples as “Pragmatic Concerns”.
Christianity has defined seven deadly (“mortal”) sins, Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, Sloth. It is believed that left unchecked these fairly universal drives will separate man from his/her relationship with God.
Over time Pragmatic Concerns and timeless human drives have been merged, given equal weight and labeled as sins. Covering your hair, eating pork, mixing meat and dairy, operating machinery on certain days, and so on are time-specific, often arbitrary, guidelines that have little to do with ones understanding of God or the Ladder.
I’m fairly certain that evil as an organized force directed by an sentient entity does not exists. I believe evil incarnated in its present form to answer the question “if God (kindness) created the world then why do things we dislike occur”. Instead of evolving the definition of God in the face of this question (to include kindness and non-kindness) Abrahamic traditions created an anti-God which embodies evil.
I believe there is a level of synchronicity in the universe- to what extent? I’m not certain. I also believe that the things we deem to be evil (murder, abuse, hatred, etc) when viewed from a higher perspective is part of this synchronicity. From viewed from perspectives lower on the Ladder evil is explainable though biology, psychology, socialization and individual drives (outlined in seven deadly sins).
Mainstream religions in the 21st century occupy a blue to orange blue space. The bluest of orders are considered fundamentalist which emphasize rigid piousness and structure. They tend to interpret religious doctrine literally. Religious organization which have evolved to the Orange perspective place more emphasis on individuality and frequently preach a doctrine of wealth and prosperity. Additionally
Orange level groups have a locus of control closer to the self so are less likely to just rely on God’s will. Religious doctrine tends to evolve as the societies that incorporate them evolve. There is a tendency for those lower in their religious evolution to attempt to reel in groups and individuals who are perceived to have “evolved” too far or too quickly.
Do We Even Think?
It’s easy to observe that humans have a multitude of opinions on every imaginable subjects. It’s harder to discern whether a specific sentiment by an single individual is ever a new, unique thought. On the continuum of the likelihood of originality, online commenters on news events are mostly on the “least likely” end of the spectrum. Theses online commenters are typically regurgitating talking points published by researchers, think tanks, marketers, propagandists and the like-many stating their opinions like they are subject matter experts.
The process of a sentiment or concept moving from its source out into the greater environment was described by Richard Dawkins in his seminal book “The Selfish Gene”. Dawkins called individual sentiments or concepts “memes” and described how memes spread through society. The fact that individual sentiments can be tracked moving through cultures similar to a viral pandemic implies that at least some portion of people’s thoughts and words are merely rebroadcasts of a meme they have ingested.
What about inventions, can inventors be credited for coming up with at lease one new, novel concept or perspective? Look into patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark office you will see several patents granted for very similar designs. Perhaps on the leading edge of peer reviewed science you may be able to identify an entirely new thesis. Even these theses are likely incremental gains on large established bodies of information (Greater Man theory).
So every thought you will have today, every sensation you get when you see a fellow human is likely an experience shared by many. It’s interesting to hear people insist that their perspective, experience or biology is completely unique to them. If all perspectives, experiences or biology was unique then medicine, psychotherapy, group counselling would not be effective.
The Oneness describes how events often unfold with a common theme. Often what appears to be distinct forces acting and reacting to each other is actually the same theme playing out among different actors. To see the Oneness it is helpful to diminish the defined roles of the actors involved and step back, observing the “scene” from a neutral perspective. For example if you watched the play Romeo and Juliet and strongly identified with role of Romeo, the play may mean finding love at any cost. If you
identify with one of the feuding families, the play for you could be about honor and loyalty. However, if one steps back we can see that most of the actors involved (the lovers, parents, Prince) are seeking stability. It is stability playing out on various levels.
The understanding of Karma has been interpreted in a variety of manners. When the understanding Karma if stripped of judgment it is similar to the understanding of the Oneness. That is the universe sends cause and condition in waves with a common theme. Seeing these themes as they unfold gives us tremendous power to resolve the apparent conflicts.