The world would be a poorer place without religion, secular culture and spirituality. There is much to appreciate in the diversity of religious, secular and spiritual experiences. Yet concerns about such experiences and the exaggerated interpretation of their value deserve examination in the light of Transcendence.
Transcendence refers to that which reveals the conventional, the relative, the ordinary and then goes beyond the mundane. Transcendence here in this text expresses metaphysics in terms of its original meaning. ‘Metaphysics’ comes from the Greek – ‘beyond the physical.’ Metaphysics today usually refers to abstractions in philosophy.
Religion, secular culture and spiritual practice can point the way to Transcendence. The path of meditation and inquiry can reveal Transcendence. Transcendence reveal a truth which liberates from entrapment in the mundane. There is no guarantee if one settles for stress reduction, repetition of forms/techniques and reliance on institutional standpoints.
Western religions have traditionally confined Transcendence to a single word – God. The holding to a single concept has obscured the richness and significance of Transcendence.
The variety of ways Transcendence reveals itself matter for humanity.
Religion, Secularism, Spirituality
Religion has often wrapped its beliefs around Transcendence with its rituals, ceremonies, dogma, sacred books, gurus, prophets and saviours. Transcendence becomes hard to realise in the mists of the orthodoxy of religion.
Secularism/humanism has generally confined itself to the conventional alongside views and opinions around morality, values, progress, achievement of goals and science. The world of self-interest, family issues, profit, society and the nation state often govern the mind.
There is little knowledge or realisation of the importance of Transcendence in secular culture.
Authentic Transcendence fails to have a significant relevance in religion or secularism. There is little interest to dedicate one’s life to seeing and knowing of Transcendence.
The mind’s construction of purpose and meaning remains confined to a field of human interest rather than any direct relationship to Transcendence.
We have witnessed decade after decade the emergence of spirituality. In recognising the limits and pitfalls of a life confined to religion or secularism, the quest for purpose and meaning continues.
Spirituality also finds itself entrapped with specific definitions that hold an attraction in the cult of individualism.
Religion, secularism and spirituality has resisted diversity. Religion is patriarchal and monotheistic. Secular confines the young to a rigid and abusive educational system and life as wage slaves. Spirituality becomes an appendix to daily life, a forlorn belief in self-help.
Has the self-help world become a profitable industry, along with a plethora of celebrity status for the Masters, Spiritual Leaders, their organisations and foundations?
Definitions of the Spiritual
The spiritual can become confined to experiences in the nature. A response to an expression in the art/culture/humanities.
The spiritual gets defined as being in the Now with a view that being in the Now is the truth, the real, the ultimate.
Others proclaim Oneness the Truth, as the Real.
Others proclaim the experience of the Non-Dual is the Truth, the Reality when the mind has no leaning in one direction or the other.
Others claim we have a True Self – beyond body and mind.
Others proclaim we are Pure Consciousness. These spiritual standpoints have a growing appeal. Various ‘enlightened beings’ offer their teachings to advocate one or more of these spiritual postures. Others proclaim Mindfulness as the new Renaissance rather than a very basic tool adopted widely by the self-help culture.
The here and now, oneness, non-duality, mindfulness, true self, radiant awareness, consciousness etc belong to the relative, the conventional. The highlighting of one or more of these concepts does not elevate the concept into having a Transcendent significance.
Do these standpoints show Transcendence? Do these terms simple enhance views through applying such statements to certain kinds of experiences?
The sheer frequency of expression of certain spiritual based terms lends itself towards the magnification of the terms, Is the self-help culture infected with self-interest to the point that its bear little relevance to Transcendence, nor directly concerned with the plight of humanity, animals and the environment?
The endless reification of these terms makes no difference to their status since they remain wrapped up in the field of human experience and the interpretation of such experiences.
Transcendence shows the limits of the mind not a means to invoke a special meaning to life.