One set of rules for all time. Is that possible? If not – if the rules must change – on what basis should be those changes be made? In this excerpt from George Lowell Tollefson’s longer work, Unbridled Democracy, he explores why developing a spiritual awareness is essential to the evolution of a society’s moral principles.
George Lowell Tollefson, a former philosophy professor, lives in New Mexico and writes on the subject of philosophy.
HUMAN beings have received two gifts: courage and understanding. There is nothing else.
THE world is full of beautiful things: nature, art, fine craftsmanship, the human form. But the most beautiful thing is an open heart. This is not an easy thing to achieve. And few people attain to it. The reason is that one cannot reach such a goal starting from the normal adult condition. The disposition toward an open heart is something kept over from early childhood.
THE collapse of faith is the greatest tragedy of man. Everything good which has ever come from the human mind has been in some sense a product of faith. Faith is the means of pursuit, knowledge its conclusion. Yet the world is ever pressing in its insistence that fact is supreme. It seeks to convince people that what they conceive in imagination, unless immediately confirmed in the concrete, can never be.
SINCE facts can be called into question, sincerity is the locus for truth. For this reason, humanity’s hope of salvation in truth lies in relationships, whether with a universal being, a person, or fact. But such is the nature of the world, with its ever-present encirclement of fears, that every relationship has an element of falseness in it. Thus the burning realization is often that there is no truth.
ALL religious doctrines and scientific laws are questionable in that they are always provisional. Religious doctrines become harmful to the extent that they interfere with spiritual growth. Scientific laws are negative in character to the extent that they are held to be final. Otherwise, both are powerful tools which, like all practical human instruments, must be set aside when better ones are found.
LOVE is respect. Where there is no respect, there is no love, And nothing can substitute for respect in a relationship between people. Love professed without respect is hypocrisy. The world has been struggling with this simple and obvious fact for a long time. A kingdom of decency could be built upon it. But people repeatedly choose not to because they do not respect themselves.
IT is easier to recognize selfishness in another person than in oneself. For the judging person can always find reasons for what he does, but not for what another person does.
MUCH has been said about the selflessness of love. It would be better to speak of the sincerity of it. Where love is sincere, the right balance of self-regard and regard for others will exist. What is more important, sincerity generates an honest character. And where the loving expression of that character is unfeigned, it generates sincerity in others.
In other words, where sincerity is exhibited among people, trust begins to grow. Where trust exists, there is freedom based upon mutual respect. For where there is mutual respect, there is the ability to act without fear of censure or harm. Where there is such a balance between self-regard and regard for others, love will follow. Where love is exercised, a person can afford to be emotionally honest both toward himself and toward others. He is free to be sincere.
AN open heart is universal spirit expressed within material limitation. A closed heart, which is the normal expression of material limitation, cannot bear the exposure of a comparison to an open heart. To show such limitation up, to bring it into the light of day, is to announce the deathly progress of a living being. For a closed heart is a limited heart, which is an expression of death.
An open heart is imagination unencumbered by vanity. It does not seek . . .