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Nirvana, Satori, the divine, the sublime. Spiritual masters strive for ideals beyond the capacities of mere mortals.

Yet are these the ideals we should strive for, or are we becoming something ‘less than human’?

The topic of spirituality is a contentious one. How’s its defined depends entirely on who you ask, but carefully examined, I believe most religious and spiritual beliefs reveal a final form of person that can be considered somewhat less than human.

By this I do not mean a homo sapiens sapiens DNA, but the essence of following the natural instincts of primal humanity. The ‘sinful’, basal being that lurks within us all — aggressive, vicious, perpetually power starved.

Many atheists and agnostics today believe that this primordial being is our “true nature” and to follow its instincts is be “truly human”. Or, as the liberal individualist movement would have it, “being yourself” is your true being, seeking your dreams and your pursuit of happiness.

To be spiritual, to some of these individuals, is to deny your “true self” and to be dehumanized. To seek spiritual enlightenment, disciplining yourself to act only on core principles, rejecting the culture around you by living with God or Gaea or simply oneself — these choices are abhorrent, deviant to the extreme in the hegemonic fold.

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It is an illusion to believe in the ‘primal self’ or in the individual ‘being itself’. We are intrinsically, inevitably shaped by the environment around us, by the subtle genes within us, by their invisible interactions thereof — and by our own thoughts themselves. The ‘self’ shaped a hundred thousand years ago could never be shaped ‘naturally’ in our society. The person ‘being themselves’ in our society is being nothing more than the sum of the influences around and within them. Nothing more…

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The spiritual person seeks a different form of freedom. In discipline, in rejection, in non-action, they seek to settle the influences around them, to clear away the webs of cultural, familial, and genetic knots which bind them. In simply sitting, a spiritual master can exercise one of the greatest forms of free will.

They have not rejected humanity, but have evolved personhood. They have rejected our selfish biological roots for an entity formed in our dreams highest state.

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Down low, where people deal with the terror, and despair, and anger. Here is where humanity’s denizens lie. Even in spirituality, the grasp of emotion loosens, but does not release. The pursuit of art, science, industry, of country and creation. These arise from the whirlpools of ambitious anxiety eroding our souls. Humanity fundamentally deteriorates, decays, wrinkles and falls. We are human. Our string of fate drops within the hourglass of time before the universe has time to blink.

We must deal with both. The pursuit of our hungry, short life, and the blissful pillow of our highest ideals.

To ignore this is to dehumanize. We are the sum of the world around us — and us.

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