What do we want more than anything in the world? Maybe it’s to be happy, to be a good person, to be remembered, to love and be loved. Whatever description you resonate with, the fact remains: Nothing about you needs to change in order to make you beneficial. You were born that way.
There is always going to be a tug and pull of forces governing our perception of morality. We are influenced by our parents, peers, communities, governments, and the world. We are also informed by our own experiences, mistakes, emotions, and beliefs.
This tension between internal and external forces makes it difficult to form a concrete set of rules. But instead of falling victim to indecision, we need something we can rely on. We need to trust our own direct experience and free will.
To this point, we’ve relied on a very limited view of morality. We haven’t been able to keep up with all the new relationships and developments of our species. Instead, we’ve clung to dogma, and while dogma can appear to offer stability and connection to tradition, it tends to oppress creativity and nuance.
One of the core functions of morality is that it must be based on universal compassion. The desire to bring benefit to ourselves and others is our basis of morality. So, we don’t need rigid rules. What we need is a neutral, scientific view. Luckily, this is already available to every being on the planet.
Developing our Moral Compass
Every person on the planet is born with a moral compass. Every person is able to make decisions based on what they perceive will bring more benefit. Test this out for yourself. Find out how you make a choice. Find out how you allow your choices to be influenced.
What is the root desire that drives you to do things even when you’ve been told they are “wrong”? Are you acting out of evil? Or is it an emotional reaction? An error of judgment? Or a simple mistake?
We have to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. When a person makes a mistake, it isn’t because they are innately sinful. Good and evil are concepts that can simply be removed from our vocabulary. This kind of binary thinking was the starting point for our species, but it no longer serves us in this expanding world.
We found out in part one of this series that our mind is spacious and infinite. Therefore we need a new kind of morality, one that is also spacious and infinite. Philosopher and professor, Dr. Heesoon Bai explains, “Openness, sensitivity, responsiveness, attentiveness, and empathic imagination are what characterize moral perception” (Bai, Priority of Moral Perception).
This natural approach is developed within each individual. As we learn from our mistakes, we naturally align with our moral compass. That’s not to say we need to have all of the answers, but at least we know where we are coming from.
A Scientific Approach
Spiritual guide, educator, and author, Margaret J. Wheatley, notes that “In Science of Mind, morality is not guilt-based, nor rooted in some rigid set of rules. Rather, it is a heartfelt alignment with our true nature of divinity, and respect for the divinity of others.” This is such a precious reminder. It breaks through concepts like original sin and karma and frees us to our beneficial nature that is forever opening.
No longer does our species see itself as flawed because we know that our only goal in life is to grow into our beneficial potential. This happens in everyday life. No special state of holiness or innocence is required. We are already forgiven. That frees up our mental and emotional capacities to exact lasting change in ourselves and the world, however that looks for each of us.
So here is the crux; the individualistic model does not lead to hedonism as many feared it would. On the contrary, the more autonomy people feel, the more empowered their decisions become.
As spiritual practitioners, we acknowledge our responsibility to do what is in our power to bring benefit. We dedicate our spiritual practice to the benefit of all beings. That is all that is required. Wisdom flows freely through that commitment.
Morality in the Moment
Without a neutral scientific view, cultures and communities rely on stories and beliefs to try to pin down exactly what is right and wrong. While this is a normal reaction to the unknown, it holds no truth value for the individual facing a moral problem. Waves of nuance wash away everything we try to set in stone and still we are faced with our present decision.
No one, not our teacher, not our spirit guides, not our guru, nor our friends and family, can make the right decision for us. In many ways, the lessons we learned in each unique time, place, and circumstance, are more important than the choices we made. Every mistake reminds us of our innate compassion and desire to be good.
Role of the Spiritual Teacher
Who is your spiritual teacher? Can they really make you a good person? Or do you choose to follow their spiritual teaching because you recognize the truth and the value of it within your own experience?
We choose spiritual teachers who encourage self-efficacy and empowerment. We demand morals that are inclusive of all people. We refuse rules that degrade a person’s right to live the way that comes naturally to them and does not cause harm to others.
What is the Result?
Redefining morality does not open us up to murder or rape or theft. It doesn’t open us to anything that we find unconstitutional. Dr. Bai expresses, “When we can see the world as a sacred space, then it is most unlikely that we would violate and exploit the world” (Bai, Reanimating the Universe). Opening up to our natural morality frees our mind from doubt and despair and reveals the beauty of our world.
If you are looking for a practice of spiritual direction, then your moral compass is priceless. Pay attention to your present moment and trust your instincts. Remove the judgment, the hate, and the fear from morality, and you are left with understanding and a commitment to bringing light and love to the situation.
Know that your answers are a click away. Our staff of trained and compassionate ministers are ready willing and able to help. Email them at email@example.com or call the CSLPD office @ 760-346-4649.
It is erroneous to believe that without dogma, we would become sinners. It is wrong to believe that we are born without wisdom or empathy. That is the point; your moral compass is always spinning and you only need to look up from the map to know which way to go.
Dr. Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice, teaches us about the bounty of wisdom that exists in our authentic self. Opening to your true nature is the process of unveiling your moral compass. Rather than plastering your mind with the doctrines of others, you peel back the layers and reveal your big, beautiful heart.
Bai, Hee-Soon. Moral perception in the nondual key: Towards an ethic of moral proprioception.
Diss. University of British Columbia, 1996.
Bai, Heesoon. “Re-animating the universe: Environmental education and philosophical
Brown, Brene. Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice. 2017.