At no other time in recorded history has mankind possessed such power for general annihilation. Technological advancement enables a myriad human activities, including those of genocide & self-destruction. Naturally we must appreciate modern dentistry & spaceships as wonderful conveniences. Nevertheless, the destructive potential of technology dictates that this enterprise is a volatile one. Evidently, a moral evolution must transpire in direct proportion to the technological one if our civilisation is to endure. Otherwise, anthropological investigations in the far distant future will compare the budding human race to a child who received a chain-saw for his sixth birthday, or a nuclear warhead, & hoist itself with’s own petard. Material progress will not deliver us from this threat—only moral progress. Let us then inquire into the nature of moral progress. We will begin this inquiry with a brief survey of our circumstances & the historical process that caused them.
Religion & law have served through history as mandates for moral action. These two authorities are not so distinct as they may initially appear, as religions provide laws, & secular law-codes depend on a degree of nationalism that differs only from religion in that their mythology is relatively pale & vapid—only compare even an embellished political history behind one of these said law-codes with depictions of Ragnarök, or Lord Shiva dancing the notorious tāndava to herald cosmic apocalypse, or the crucifixion of universal Logos incarnate before a crowd of idiots. We should, however, establish that religion & law relate to moral action not as essence but as accident; religion & law are circumstantial & provisional—fungible even. “Many pools, one moon,” we could say. We might call religion & law the codification of moral action, the latter whose expression might just as well have taken other forms. Religion offers a prescription for the virtuous individual while moral action describes her conduct; the latter is the result while the former is a method thither. It is even so with secular law.
Though in the preceding epoch, religion & law have induced morality by compulsion, the evolutionary impulse of globalisation dictates that we must move beyond this arrangement. To codify the law is only to encourage a litigious spirit; rules tempt their own transgression. The result is a fractured factions humanity with bloated & bureaucratic political systems together with a caste of criminals.
Hammurabi’s Law Code or Moses’ Ten Commandments represent emblematic expressions of this patriarchal society, which in our day is already decadent. As Mahatma Gandhi observed, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”—how much more so today when a random miscreant might push a button & usher in a nuclear holocaust!
We may cast our imaginations further into the fogs of history & conceive of an original matriarchal culture, whose adherents were sustained by umbilical connection to Mother Earth. We can intuit the connection that our fore-bearers felt by the archetypal form of the Venus figurines. This matriarchal culture represented the thesis to which the patriarchal culture that we directly inherited was the antithesis. Our time demands a synthesis—an union of Mother & Father in synthesis to beget the Son. Consider indeed the contrast between the Law of Moses & that of Christ:
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Even twenty centuries after this revelation, the world at large has yet to apprehend the Christ impulse. Nevertheless, the fate of our civilisation depends on our general apprehension of a new morality founded not on justice but in mercy; not on Law but on Love. Mercy and Love together both depend on human freedom as their ground. The law and justice imply an imposition to mandate morality from without; love is an expression of “my cup runneth over,” and “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.” Though many projects & institutions have passed under the guise of Christianity, the truth is that humankind has yet to understand & realise the Christian revelation of two-thousand years ago. The latter remains like a seed, poised to burgeon into full bloom when the soil of humanity is ripe, fertilised by the compost of so many senseless wars & violence. Few individuals in history have achieved a more supreme insight into this truth than the Persian sage ibn ‘Arabi. He describes this metamorphosis:
There was a time, when I blamed my companion if his religion did not resemble mine. Now, however, my heart accepts every form….Love alone is my religion.
We shall subsequently look to his words to guide us in this enterprise & invoke his wisdom to deepen our understanding. In this piece we have attempted to provide the context for our inquiry. In the piece to follow, we will continue our exploration into the dynamics of Love & its place in the world.