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Spiritual Evolution

The Human Civilization In Search of Wholeness

By Aisha Rafea

"God has endowed human with the merits of mind, spirit, and body. Human is not following a proper path until he makes full accomplishment of these merits. The three of them, mind, spirit, and body have marvelous potentialities for attaining sound knowledge, sensibility, and fulfillment. When man is trained to give them the chance to work harmoniously, he has taken the first step in the long journey of wholeness."


"The secret of life is to be found in the proper exercise of the spirit, mind and body. It is wrong to dwell only on the spirit and ignore the responsibilities of the body. It is equally wrong and foolish to concentrate on the body and ignore the responsibility of the spirit. You must learn to establish concert, rhyme, harmony, balance, and wholeness. "

Lack of wholeness in our modern global civilization expresses itself on many levels. Humans are captured in the limitations of the minds which create illusive goals, and exhaust their lives in fulfilling them leaving no way for themselves to listen to the spirit while inviting them from within and around to a richer and more meaningful life. Heedless of their real spiritual nature, the instincts of the body are getting so savage that selfishness, greed, and lust for superiority became central motivations for behavior both on personal and collective level. The more the mind and body became the absolute masters of the human life, the more insecure and miserable people have become, and the more insensitive to each other. Regional and international wars; pollution; draughts; starvations; epidemic diseases; manipulation, domination and exploitation of the strong to the weak are few signs the lack of wholeness. . Without seeking healing “the world may face irreparable environmental damage that could ultimately end life on this planet.
….the calamities which man would bring on himself were of so awesome a character that unless the power of the spirit could effect its bridgeheads everywhere, man would destroy himself physically and the world in which he lives.
The basic principles of the present civilization per se are short of bringing cure to those maladies because they lack the catalyst for allowing human beings experience the harmony that can exist between mind, spirit, and body.
Humans in our modern time are confused, and unable to understand the differences between personal growth and egoistic approach. Egoistic approach hinders our personal growth because it limits our energy. It directs it to serve the narrow circle of individual interests. Most energy is lost in competition and worry. Personal growth is seen as part of collective processes where goodness of others becomes a person’s prime goal. Channels of loving heart and peaceful mind overwhelm one’s existence and multiply one’s energy.
By ignoring the spiritual dimension of life all the achievements of the modern civilization will be the very causes of fatal destruction. Materialism is just like a “malignant cancer that poisons and erodes all the time. It is the parasitical growth which has to be destroyed because it is making humanity sick in body, mind and spirit .”
In the middle of the dark moments which our planet passes through we should not miss saluting the beam of light that is slowly but confidently rising worldwide inviting humankind to open themselves to deeper consciousness. It is from the bottom of darkness that the sun shines announcing the coming of a new day and a new chance for a more human life. However, it cannot be an over imposed utopia but rather a voluntary inner experience that leads smoothly and gradually to bettering our quality as human beings.
The very fact that we are here together (whether in person or through the internet) and that similar gatherings exist in different parts of the globe working for bringing spiritual evolution to the human family is but a sign that the seeds of transformation are already planted in the souls of many, taken care of and shall blossom in time.
This paper aims for sharing in the present attempts for enhancing spirituality in our human family by trying to give answers to these two key questions:
First, what are the roots of the shortcomings of the modern civilization?
Second, how can humanity build up a new civilization based on the spiritual treasuries existing in all cultures?
1.1 The Shortcomings of the Modern Civilization
Humanity cannot but show gratitude to those who, in the modern European Renaissance liberated people from many superstitions, humiliations and manipulations practiced by religious authority. That reform gave a great push to the real potentialities of man to unfold. However, the Renaissance did not bring up full wholeness to humans because the age of the scientific and technological revolutions has been creating its own dogmas that also hindered wholeness or balance of mind, body and spirit, and led to many crises of the modern age.
Scientific rationality and technology were central to creating the mechanisms of production and consumption as well as the mind-set that sees the world as a resource for endless consumption and that has contributed mightily to the world’s ecological crises…..Scientifically oriented economists and technical business managers have created organizations of exploitation that concentrate wealth and impoverish significant sections of the world’s population.
Cancer is the perfect analogy for individual egos that lose their sense of balance and begin to expand themselves at the expense of others.”
As a severe reaction to what happened in the dark Middle ages from the side of the church in the name of religion, people gave absolute authority to the mind and body alone and were deprived from the chance to experience themselves as spiritual beings. We can have a look at the historical background that brought the modern man to the present spiritual voidness.
Before the eleventh century man viewed himself as defiled with sin. He did not trust his reason and thought that it would inescapably lead him to destruction. He believed that all his mundane life should be dedicated to the Afterlife; a belief that led him to scorn all his physical needs and desires and to be ashamed of them. Belief was mixed with superstition and legends, building up a barrier between Europeans and the new trends of thought coming from the Muslims, and the Knowledge of the Greeks.
In the fifteenth century Renaissance in Italy man's conception of himself started to change. He discovered in himself the ability to see beauty inwardly and around, and that he had tremendous powers. The idea that man's intelligence and will inevitably mislead him became less and less believable. In previous times people admired a life of contemplation, or meditative withdrawal. Now the humanist Leonard Bruni could write in 1433, "The whole glory of man lies in activity".
In the sixteenth and seventeenth century man became more dignified when Francis Bacon (1561-1626) and Rene Descartes (1596-1650) had developed scientific methods of inquiry to reach "factual knowledge". With observation and empiricism man can reach from the particular to the general; from the concrete to the abstract. That is the inductive method that Bacon and Descartes defined to reach "reliable, truthful, and usable knowledge." At that stage the gap between people and the church widened because they could no longer accept a kind of knowledge that could not be verified.
In the seventeenth century man was described as "genius". It is the age of modern science which witnessed a dramatic clash between rigidity, dogmatism, backwardness on one hand; and creativity, dynamism, openness on the other hand. The climax was the trial of Galileo in which he was extremely humiliated and obliged to refrain from supporting the theory of Copernicus that the sun is in the center of the solar system and not the earth. The same year of Galileo's death was Isaac Newton's birth. Newton was the first scientist to present a coherent theory of the physical universe. It was such a jump when man could make use of scientific knowledge in developing agriculture, industry and human health. Science, in that stage, provided Europe with a faith in itself. Up to this stage- and despite the gap between people and the Church- scientists were not looking for disbelief, but new means for distinguishing between true and false, reality and illusion .
Scientists themselves did not find any conflict whatsoever between faith, on one hand, and reason and science, on the other hand. Galileo, for instance says, the Bible "is not chained in every expression to conditions as strict as those which govern all physical effect; nor is God any less excellently revealed in Nature's actions than in the sacred statements of the Bible." Isaac Newton also declares his deep feeling of the existence of Supreme Power working through Divine Law. He says, ", All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing."
In the seventeenth and eighteenth century named the age of Enlightenment man expressed absolute trust in reason. Voltaire (1694-1778) assures that reason per se can distinguish right and wrong; good and evil. He claims that man is not in need of supernatural revelations and insisted that they made men intolerant, stupid and cruel. Voltaire presented what is called "natural religion" and "natural morality." With progress going on all old Christian virtues, such as humility, chastity, or the patient bearing of pain and sorrow, ceased to be regarded as significant. The best virtue was to be socially useful. People then started to be comfortable and happy in "this life". A new "tone" started to find its way stressing the inevitable conflict between faith, on one hand, and reason and freedom, on the other. David Hume, in 1757 confirms that "religion" and "reason" are two extremes that can never meet. He describes religious feelings of people as associated with some deep roots in them that long for superstitions. This tone grew higher and higher in the second half of the nineteenth century and the first one of the twentieth.
In the first half of the twentieth century man conceptualized himself as having not only "reason" but also an "unconscious mind." Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) presented the role of the unconscious mind in human behavior; a factor that decreased man's trust that reason alone can reach fully objective facts to be accepted by all. Individual differences interfered to possibly color things according to each person's psychological state.
Man's conceptualization of himself was so much influenced by Freud's finding that sexual drives are the strongest motivations for any behavior. His ideas have been so much appreciated and believed that satisfaction of man's "sensual pleasure" was regarded as a top priority in any behavior. That widespread inclination to make the physical existence the focus of man's existence has been accompanied with a trend of thought that directly associated "religion" with "superstition". Freud himself describes people's aspiration for religion as chronic "neurosis" that humanity is obsessed with. Fredrick Niche, on the other hand claims "the death of God", and says man is motivated only with the aspiration for power. Bertrand Russell traces back man's inclination to have faith in God, to the primitive man's fear of nature. Now that science supplied him with knowledge about most phenomena he was ignorant of, it gives him protection of the unknown, and there is no need for religion, he writes.
The discoveries of Freud were so overwhelming that other school of ideas did not receive equal publicity. On top of these were Carl Justav Jung's discovery of the "static point" in man, his "Self", truth, or the "divine" within. Jung says that man can not reach inner peace, psychological maturity and stability unless he is aware of that point and gets it developed.
The whole world knew Albert Einstein as an outstanding scientist but they did not bother to know his opinion on religion. Einstein says, (A scientist's) religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compare with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection."
In the last decades of the twentieth century man is suffering from a feeling of spiritual vacuum.
The great difficulty of people who live in your world is that they look at life, through no fault of their own, from wrong perspective. They see life only in earthly and material terms.” “So many people are unconscious of their higher nature, which is the reality and the mainspring of their existence…Even though they believe they have a soul or a spirit, they think of themselves in terms of a body with spirit, whereas they are spirits with bodies. The real you is the spirit, the soul, the divine, the eternal.
To conclude, human beings world wide have been exposed to different kinds of cultures that deprived them from connecting to their innermost spiritual part and give it a chance to unfold and be fulfilled.
1.2 Building up a new civilization based on Spirituality
Having a deep look into the essence of all revelations, natural and prophetic, we can safely say that all of them give humans the means and tools for attaining wholeness or balance of mind, spirit and body.
Why then has religion been itself a source of lack of wholeness?
Can we approach religion in a way that heals humanity of the existing maladies caused by materialism as well as mal practices in the name of religion?
1.2.1 Religion Evacuated From Its Essence
Awareness of the spiritual dimensions of life helped humanity in experiencing wholeness in some given times of its history. By mentioning one or two examples I do not mean to initiate nostalgia to the past or make of any old civilization a model in itself since we have to go forward and not be captured in the past. I only mean to say that the balance between the two dimensions of life, the spiritual and the physical led, once upon a time, to the rise of great civilizations, and it still can inspire humanity now with many other ones. The Egyptian civilization is a good example.
The Ancient Egyptian approach to life was not theorised; rather, it was lived and expressed through their work, and it was this that they bequeathed to later generations. They were able to overcome layers of earthly illusion by opening themselves up to the natural world and beyond. Their thorough observation and interaction with nature led them to build their knowledge and beliefs without contradiction. Ploughing, sowing, and reaping were viewed as earthly symbols of divineness. It is important to realise that, for the Egyptians, every physical fact of life had a symbolic act of expression. At the same time, every symbolic act of expression had a material background (Gadalla, 1997: 21). … By focusing on the after world, they learnt much about the nature of this one…..When man is in peace from within, he will spread peace around. If man succeeds in living in harmony with his original pure nature, his behaviour will reflect this stage of oneness. He cannot harm anyone or any creature.
The 42 negative statements of confession mentioned in the Book of the Coming Forth by Day (known as the Book of the Dead) express what is expected of man in order for him to be saved in the afterlife. Among those statements, we read the following:

  • I have not uttered evil words
  • I have not caused pain
  • I have not caused shedding of tears
  • I have not caused terror
  • I have not worked grief
  • I have not acted with insolence
  • I have not done either harm or ill
  • I have not spoken scornfully.
Self-denial, service and teamwork were highly valued in the Egyptian civilisation. The process of building the Pyramids, for example, reflects those values” .
When balance disappeared the ancient civilization collapsed.
The Islamic civilization in its early renaissance is another example. That civilization was possible only because “Islam gives the Oneness of God a living dimension. “There is only One God” is not an ontological statement, it is a living experience, for it means that man should not surrender to any other form and should discern truth from illusion. To shoulder the Oneness of God is to struggle from within to rid oneself of all the constraints that pull one down and tie one to false deities. False deities could be anything belonging to the temporal realm: traditions, ideas, hopes, desires et cetera. Surrender to Allah (and that is the meaning of the word Islam) means, in its deepest sense, that man is completely free. Within this context, he will be committed to Him alone, but not to any other authority ”.
On the practical level faith in the oneness of God led early Muslims to discern the oneness of humanity and to treasure the meaning of life as an experience of attaining spiritual liberation of the limitations of the lower self. Devotion to God meant for them continuous evolvement of the real Self making of every individual creativity in science, art, and literature a means of service to all human beings and not for personal glory or gaining power to manipulate others. To serve God meant for them to be in service of all creation: nature and the human family.
The best of you is him or her who can be useful to others
However, that spirit did not last for long and the Islamic civilization collapsed when that sense of wholeness was lost.
Turning the guidance of the great Teachers of humanity, in general, into dogmas and stagnant traditions evacuated the great revelations, prophetic and natural, from their essence. While all of them meant to support man to uncover his spirituality and give him the means and tools to develop it, followers of those revelations now “cannot isolate the original from the wrapping. They worship the wrapping as being divine. If they have become fossilized mentally and spiritually, nothing can reach them. ” In the name of religion many misconceptions and superstitions put false layers and layers that hindered the unfolding of the real human nature. While all spiritual Teachers of humanity revealed a path to humans to realize wholeness of the mind, body and spirit, people created conflicts and disintegration. This applies to followers of most revelations.
The repercussions have been tremendous. While all teachings advised humans to tame their egos and give the lead to their inner pure nature to guide their steps, religion was abused to push people to feel superior over the others and create unnecessary conflicts. Since the ego is fed on all kinds of negative feelings people became more greedy, miserable and full of lusts for having more and more. They are deluded by a misconception that consumption of food, drink, fashion, entertainment, sex …etc. could quench their inner quest for happiness.
To put it short, sticking to religion or any kind of faith did not save people from falling victims to the allurements of materialism since religiosity turned into dogmatic thinking and behavior and almost stopped to be a means for spiritual transformation. Rather, religiosity led the accumulations of many false and superficial values and did not save people from being selfish, ego-centric, greedy and materialistic. In the name of religion, the mind is so many times insulted, the spirit is deprived from expressing its beauty, and the body is given upper hand even if that was denied. Lack of wholeness is generally overwhelming. That is to say that people who regard themselves as religious and attend places of worship (and) have no contact with spiritual reality. So they are dead spiritually to all the richness and beauty, to the exultation that life can offer to those who live on more than one plane of being. They are unaware of the earthly purpose, they have no knowledge of what it is they have to achieve before they leave it. Their values are wrong, as are their priorities, their perspective is out of focus, their standards are false. Their lives are sterile and barren, they do not fulfill themselves and they have lost their way. They live in a constant maze and cannot find the path out of it.
1.2.2 Spiritual Consciousness Can Lead to Global Transformation
Spirituality herein is used to mean: awakening the primordial nature of human which is conscious of its spiritual origin or embedded divinity. That awakening leads humankind to realize that material needs and transient goals should not receive absolute values but rather be means for serving more sublime goals. Spiritual guidance supports human beings well estimate the value of being ‘human’ and look to life from a deeper and more proper perspective. We need to build global cultures that, in their diversity, can raise people’s consciousness of themselves as spiritual beings. The fruit will be leading to healing the damage that materialism has been doing to our planet and to our souls.
Spiritual awareness “is meant to address people to take necessary steps to play a role in creating a new world culture that uproots hatred, prejudice and prideful superiority from the heart of the citizens or the world. ”
Spirituality would help in liberating people from religious dogmas and get fresh interaction with the essence of all revelations as living experiences that can inspire them infinitely. It is not an easy task.
We have a gigantic system of misrepresent-action to oppose. We have to undo the work of centuries. We have to destroy the superstructure of falsity that has been built upon the foundations of creeds”. “We are striving always to teach the children of matter how to be free and how to bask in the sunlight of spiritual truth, how to cast off the serfdom of creedal slavery. That is not an easy task, for once the trappings of religion have mastered you, it takes a long time for spiritual truth to penetrate that thick wall of superstition.
Cultures to be built on spiritual awareness can also lead humans to turning the treasuries of knowledge we have in the direction of more humane goals. We need to spread the spiritual awareness on several levels. To be human is a potentiality and also the ultimate goal of life
The most precious thing that human can attain is to realize being really human.”
Spirituality gives a chance to people to get rid of the distractions of the modern civilization and be accessible to a cultural environment that raises their consciousness that to be ‘human’ is not for granted; it is a quality of being to look forward to attain. Guidance of all Teachers of humanity can be presented from the approach that they meant to support people to realize that they have the potentiality of being ‘human’ since divinity is their dormant real nature. “It is the pure primordial nature, Buddha nature, the Christ within, the fitra (as Islam calls it), the higher Self, the Center, the highest consciousness or the spiritual intelligence that dwells in the texture of every soul. Heedlessness of the pure zone rooted in the very souls of each and every one of the humankind, many people go further and further from the source of all peace, and violate the very law stamped on their own deep nature. Consequently, they have nothing to offer to themselves and to others but turmoil, chaos and conflict.
When people look at themselves from that perspective, they understand that all their capabilities are gifts from the Supreme that would help them realize being human. While so doing they discover their belonging to one spiritual origin and that they are connected to each other. They shall discover how much they need each other on all levels. And the sense of fulfillment will be directed to means for helping, not crushing each other.
We have one, and only one, infallible guide: the eternal spirit that penetrates each and every one of us in unity and fills us with the ambition to attain that which we ought; it is the same spirit that urges the tree to grow towards the sun, the flower to drop its seed in autumn, and which urges us to strive after God, thereby uniting ourselves.
Spirituality can gradually change the education systems and mass media strategies that breed in competition and violence. In education children need to have programs that help them discover their spirituality and grow it instead of being molded according to pre determined social prototypes. They are to be encouraged to experience their individuality and their integration as well.
With spiritual awareness enhanced, mass media will not be addressing the material desires and creating new ones every day. There could be other ways for supporting themselves without necessarily addressing the lower side of humans which lusts for superiority, competition and excessive consumption.
Spirituality helps people live in harmony with nature and not mastering or exploiting it. “It’s only through the fight for new definition of productivity, efficiency, and rationality that we develop a majority ready to put environmental consciousness above the expansion of material production.”
Spirituality helps people be aware that their transient goals and spiritual evolvement are not contradictory:
If you have the right perspective, if your focus is true, if your daily outlook is balanced, you give to the requirements of matter what is their due and no more. Then you allow the spirit to work its will, to permeate and flood you and fill you with that dynamic which can transmute the whole of daily life, until you reach the stage where you know that nothing material can really touch you….I am not suggesting for a single moment that any individual in your world should falter in duty, or neglect a single responsibility, What I am saying is that the common fault, even with those who have knowledge, is to forget the underlying important spiritual truths on which the whole is founded There are means and tools for keeping our humanness alive:

When people’s inner conscious is awaken, they shall be ready to read in the teachings of great revelations means and tools for supporting them to more grow and flourish spiritually, and express themselves more in deeds permeated with creativity, love and guts of service. They would approach religion differently:
“Religion is the living of a life, not the acceptance of sectarian belief. The laws that control life are universal; where there is universal understanding, religion will be of mutual service. Whether it is called Spiritualism or not is unimportant. What is important is the spread of truth which destroys ignorance; the erasion of superstition when wisdom flourishes.”
Religion, is not a list of forms that we hold on to, nor is it a set of shapes to worship or rites to practice with no awareness or understanding. Religion is sincere work that bears its results on us, changes us, and renovates us.”
“Any approach to Religion should start from our realization of who we truly are, what is the true essence of our life, and how we can gain our lives.”
“Heavenly Revelations came to help man to listen to the voice of truth within, to discern the truth within, and to attain insight into the truth within.

In that sense the concept of “serving God” as presented in Prophetic Revelations (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) will be absorbed as a path of liberating the soul of the devotion to anything in the transient world rather than a tendency to idle their minds and souls under the label of ‘religiosity’.
Through that approach they can discover that the path to spiritual evolvement, guided to in all revelations, comprises two dimensions which a human being needs:
a) Connection to the divinity within and around.
Spirituality gives us new insights into the meaning of worship guided to in all revelations. They can be experienced as a spiritual training system that man needs to nurture his soul . Training systems in all faiths comprises many forms that all makes it possible for human beings to be connected to the divine power, the illuminated energy or the great Intelligence within and around. The essence of Prayers in prophetic Revelations and all practices of mediations old and new is to connect the soul to the higher source of energy needed for its nourishment:
Retire when you can for a few moments from the earthly scene with all its hustle and bustle and allow the inner spirit to manifest so that the tremendous latent dynamic power of divinity within yourselves finds expression…. The overwhelming majority of beings in your world can register only the tiniest fraction of all that power because they do not provide the conditions to allow it to receive them. You have to learn, all of you how to open your hearts, minds, and souls to receive the fullness of the divine benediction which could be yours. To do so, you must learn to cultivate confidence, trust, faith, peace, tranquility….In that atmosphere you become recepient of the vast riches that infinity has to offer. That is the law. That is how it works. The power is limited to your capacity to receive and assimilate.. Increase the capacity and you will receive more. It is as simple as that; qualify and you receive. The amount to be received is infinite. What restricts it is your capacity….In essence all techniques (of meditation) are concerned with your withdrawal from the maelstrom of matter into the silence of spirit…..There are certain processes of concentration designed to achieve the one object of allowing inner potency, which is seldom expressed, to take control for a while and establish its closer and more conscious contact with the hidden but very real power of life. As you achieve growing success, you find that you become the recepient of greater inspiration.
b) Transforming every action in life into an expression of love (service)
The other side of the coin of spiritual growth lies in man’s endeavor to express that illuminated energy in a loving action. While so doing human grows because the illuminated energy transforms all his motivations into noble ones. The more he is liberated from the domination of the lower self, the more spiritually evolved he becomes, the more capable to give more, and the more focused he is.
The self, who is manifested in the earthly existence, is like “clay”. It is so dense that you can never see what is inside the “pottery”. But if it is melted and made so delicately see-through it becomes transparent like clear crystal. It is no longer a veil that hinders you from seeing the Light of God within.”
“When you live aright, when your thinking is right, when the spirit, mind and body are harmonious, you will be healthy. The stresses and strains of your earthly life, its tensions created selfishness, wrong thinking, greed. These are the poisons that choke the whole physical existence.

Conclusion: To build up a new civilization based upon new understanding of what ‘humanness’ implies we need to elucidate the journey of humanity in its search for wholeness. We need to discover the roots of the maladies of the modern materialistic global civilization. The vision presented in this paper assumes that those maladies go back to two broad reasons:

  1. Many values of the modern civilization have practically imprisoned modern man in the limitations of matter. As such it deprived him from a deeper dimension of knowledge that is embedded in the very texture of his soul. Absence of the spiritual dimension has given upper hand to the lower part of man to grow and bred in him: selfishness, greed, violence, and animosity to his own self, others and the natural world.
  2. Religion as presented through the traditional institutions and as practiced for centuries have led to the accumulations of many dogmas, superstitions and misconceptions that also led to covering the inner divinity of man that is capable of spreading love, peace, compassion, and freedom.
Because of these two factors modern man looks to life from a materialistic perspective. The way out is to enhance diverse cultures that encourages people to realize the spiritual aspect of life without insulting the findings of the scientific knowledge or humiliating the physical needs. Wholeness shall be the fruit because balance is the core of the natural laws that control the whole creation both on the physical and the metaphysical level. Living in harmony with those laws shall always be subject to man's experience, knowledge and discoveries.

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