Headline Policies for a Spiritual Society
The material in this article was previously published on my website spiritualityinpolitics.com. There it consisted of two articles, but here I am combining them, for the sake of completeness. My purpose is to offer some suggestions about how a spiritual society might be organised, without going into details at this stage about each topic. Longer articles will follow.
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1. Political and Economic Philosophy:
Arguing for politics inspired from the centre, thus against both Socialism, and unfettered Free Market Capitalism. Arguing for a common-sense balance between the two, a synthesis of the best of both, inspired by (Taoist) spirituality.
2. Role of the Citizen:
One individual as part of the Earth as a superorganism. Relevant ideas are:
James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis
Arthur Koestler’s concept of the holon
Spiritual, not Socialist, internationalism.
This should lead to a radically new understanding of politics from a spiritual perspective. Every person is part of an ongoing cosmic process, not a separate individual.
3. Leadership and government:
The need for leaders, but leaders whom the people respect and trust. Against Anarchy, which is too idealistic.
Since it is a spiritual society that is being built, the old idea of a priest-king is interesting. The word “king” is mentioned because that is what the role was called in the past. Obviously in modern times this term is outdated, and my use of it should not be interpreted as an attempt to remove democracy; the political leader would always have to seek reelection, and would therefore be closer to a modern president. He or she would be a leader not motivated by ego or power, rather by the maxim “to rule truly is to serve”, which means serving the people, at the same time as being guided by the realm of spirit.
“How to be good, how to be creative, how to respect himself and how to acquire self-realisation. This was the essence of education in ancient Egypt. All children were tested at the age of five in the temples, in order to direct their destiny according to their own natural inclinations”. Ramses Seleem, Egyptian Book of Life (Watkins Publishing, 2004, p17)
The most important policy area in any society is education. In a spiritual society, the overall context would be the journey of the soul of each individual. The main tasks would be to discover the purpose of this incarnation, and to retain a connection with the Higher Self. A focus on self-realisation and personality development.
Encourage and promote a connection with the magical and the mysterious. The reading of fairy tales (Bruno Bettelheim: The Uses of Enchantment is especially relevant, Penguin, 1991), ancient myths, and fiction like the Harry Potter series.
Encourage a belief in ESP, and the idea that such talents are normal and exciting. Identify children with psychic abilities. Conduct experiments.
Dreams. Children should be encouraged to tell their dreams and consider them important, even if they do not understand them. Studies in dream interpretation can follow later. Parents may have some insight into the meanings, and be able to use such information to guide the lives of their children.
Music, Art, and Drama should be priorities, not luxuries dispensed with in financially difficult times.
Sometimes weird things happen (the paranormal). Many adults are too embarrassed to share their stories for fear of ridicule. Children should therefore be encouraged to tell their stories, learn at an early age not to be ashamed of them.
Secondary school, adolescence:
At this stage the educational process should focus more intensely on a connection with the spiritual, discovering the purpose of the student’s life, vocation in the deepest sense of the word. Therefore…
A study of dreams and divination (Tarot, I Ching, Astrology etc, and synchronicity) would therefore be appropriate.
The ideas of initiation and the vision quest. Tribal societies had a deep understanding of this. The need to separate from the parents in a psychological sense — in the language of Freud and Jung, the overcoming of the mother and father complex.
Trials of strength and courage, physical challenges. Martial arts. Sports.
A study of symbolism in general. This can start with dreams, then move on to mythology and fairy stories, how the hidden meanings of the stories might be relevant to the student. Especially relevant to the journey of the soul would be the Hero’s journey, as understood by Joseph Campbell (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Bollingen Foundation, Pantheon Books 1949). Also the symbols of spiritual art and sacred geometry.
The academic content:
An attempt to reunify science and religion. Insist that both are engaged in a search for truth. Therefore a study of spiritual traditions, the various religions (without any attempt to indoctrinate), cutting-edge science, including Transpersonal Psychology and Parapsychology. Especially important are the implications of quantum physics for other sciences.
Much of the modern scientific worldview is profoundly limited (dare I say completely wrong?) because of its obsession with material explanations. I would especially single out Darwinian theories of evolution (see my articles The Selective Lure of Darwinism and Has Darwinian Evolutionary Theory Been Scientifically Established?), and some of the bizarre statements of neuroscience (see my article The Folly of Modern Neuroscience). Pupils should be expected to read widely, to be open-minded and to think critically for themselves. The teaching of controversial theories should therefore be banned (I am thinking especially of Darwinian evolution), unless students are exposed equally to the opposing arguments, and allowed to judge for themselves.
A course on the nature of the inner world, especially the reality of the psyche as understood from a Jungian perspective, the personal and collective unconscious.
A course in practical psychology, the traps and pitfalls. How consciousness is not the same as the mind. How consciousness can be taken over by contents of the mind — the tendency towards illusion. (This would be especially important for those intending to pursue a career in science.)
Pupils should be encouraged to think that education is a life-long process. If any of the above proves too difficult at the level of secondary school, similar courses should be introduced at universities. There should also be investment in Adult Education.
Focus on the psychological health of the nation; we need more contented citizens, since reports about increase in depression, addiction, anxiety, self-harming etc. are frequently reported in the media. What follows is a suggestion for how to bring this about. There is a great need for more spiritually aware people, since it is claimed that people are becoming increasingly non-religious. This is hard to achieve by the power of argument; people tend to be predisposed to a certain worldview. The method most likely to instigate a change is a powerful personal experience. Two simple examples: there is no point trying to argue with people who are convinced that ESP is impossible, but it would take only one experience of ESP to persuade them of its reality, and after that they would be lying if they continued to deny it. Similarly, some people may refuse to believe in ghosts, and think the whole idea ridiculous. It would take only one encounter with an actual ghost, however, to change their minds. It is therefore vitally important that citizens should be given the opportunity to have experiences to persuade them of the truth of spiritual ideas. Two examples which tend to have such an effect are near-death experiences (NDEs), and spontaneous out-of-body experiences (OOBs). These are for obvious reasons rare, and cannot be produced frequently in a controlled way. Historically the most effective way of triggering a spiritual experience has been the use of psychedelic drugs, for example soma, ayahuasca, peyotl (mescaline). In more recent times the synthetic LSD has been used. I therefore propose a state-organised controlled programme of psychedelic drug taking, LSD being the most obvious candidate. The primary inspiration and reference source for this would be the life and work of Stanislav Grof, who led psychotherapeutic drug programmes in Czechoslovakia and the USA, until these were made illegal. He then devised an alternative method of achieving similar results through intensive breathing. His most significant books on this theme are Realms of the Human Unconscious, and LSD Psychotherapy. He has also talked about his life and work on a fascinating series of audio-cassettes, called The Transpersonal Vision.
This is obviously a very controversial idea, and would provoke much opposition. I believe, however, that all objections can be quite reasonably answered and rebutted. Participation would obviously be on a voluntary basis. It would be open to anyone, since its primary purpose would be to explore the inner world of the psyche, to help people to become more spiritually aware. However, the expectation would be that many people with mental health issues would gain greater insight into their problems and more easily resolve them.
6. The Environment:
Much of the above should help to develop a connection with nature and love for the planet. People would then be inspired to act in an appropriate way from this perspective.
Originally published at spiritualityinpolitics.com.