In a primitive culture, cooperation and mutual support are naturally required for success in the close-knit group. This gives rise to the cohesion that is essential for survival. Then, as large, diverse, social structures developed in the world of civilisation and science, religion took up the imperative of maintaining guidelines of human action. Love thy neighbour as thyself. This is the principle of enlightened self-interest – doing well by doing good. But this was never entirely successful, and religion is now in decline. The moral guidelines have been largely abandoned, even by many who self-identify as religious.
In the absence of religion, morality is simply a practical set of guidelines to further social cooperation. But with the atomisation of the culture in the Internet age, we are seeing the consequences of the increasing breakdown of this vital component of society. A great tide of egoism and separatism is flooding our societies. This is not just of concern to us as moral citizens. As we are just beginning to fully realise, this is a potentially devastating loss for humanity as a whole. As environmental advocate Gus Speth famously said:
I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that. (2013)
But now we do.
This selfishness greed and apathy is egoism in action. This is exactly what it looks like in practice. As we witness in so many ways, this is destroying the human culture. Classic end of empire stuff, except this time we have nukes. We need the world to be a more peaceful place, while so much seems to point in the opposite direction. Crucially, we need what comes next to be different to what has gone before. In other words, we need a transformation. As Alexander King points out:
The wisdom we desperately require can only come through inner transformation. (2006, 22)
But as has become clear enlightened self interest cannot be coerced. Caring about others cannot be instilled by decree. As he goes on:
All religions have, in their purest aspirations, attempted to induce such a change, with very little success. (2006, 22)
Nonetheless, as he states, for us to survive we must somehow engineer such a change. At present in 2022 it seems rampant. And the inevitable result the destruction of our ecosphere. As John Holdren, scientific adviser to President Obama, reports on climate change:
The current situation of the world … is that we are in a car with bad brakes driving toward the edge of a cliff in the fog … prudence requires that we try to stop the car. (Friedman, 2008, 160)
But the crazy level of egoism has been keeping the foot on the gas. And this may not be the least of our problems, much though we might wish. Several other Armageddons are brewing, stoked by narcissistic selfishness, greed and apathy.
The new worldview produces just the cultural transformation we so desperately need. This demonstrates that egoism is disastrous for the individual because karma is a real phenomenon in the personal world. The major change is that this is no longer just an issue of belief, hope and faith, but of hard logical science. It makes sense. And it means there is no conflict with evidence because the major effect operates in the transition to the next life, just has held in the major religions.
In this case it becomes clear what most of us have been doing wrong, and how to do it right. Positive expectation is everything, but ‘right action’ is absolutely essential. The ‘Noble Eightfold Path‘ of Buddhism is the instruction manual for exactly this kind of world. This is how to live long and prosper in a personal world, and hereafter. Enlightened self-interest is the only sanity as held in all the great spiritual traditions.
This is not religion in the traditional sense. This is spirituality. The two must not be conflated. A number of major spiritual principles are confirmed as real. Dogma, however, is essentially incompatible. This is described in Spiritual Principles.
Our modern civilisation has drifted a long way from the ideals of enlightened self-interest. Ecological breakdown is just one of a number of potential Amageddons that are entirely man made. Collectively, the human culture is exhibiting the hallmark symptom of severe clinical depression – contemplating suicide.
As Speth concludes, the scientists don’t know how to solve the problem. Egoism out of control. But all we have to do is acknowledge the reality of the new physics. This new worldview changes the conceptual basis on which we run our lives, and it does so in an entirely beneficial and remedial manner.
When we let resentment build we are kicking at the pricks – biblically. Hurting ourselves. Every action that disadvantages another person is a wound in the personal psyche, the mind that defines the future probabilities.
In this case, the only sane and sensible approach to life is taking the other people in the world into account, at least in principle. If one accepts the implications of the new physics, we all would like to be good. Naturally with the least loss. We are all dealers at this level, however subconsciously.
The Good Life
To take on the personal world as reality is to wake up to a new age of enlightenment. In the modern world egoism has come to be seen by many as not only natural but good. But in the personal world it becomes clear that egoism is always ultimately disastrous for the person.
When we understand the nature of the personal world, we very much want to operate karma in our favour. So we would all want to be ‘spiritual’, altruistic, simply because we would see clearly that this is what makes luck run our way.
As King states, the wisdom we desperately require can only come through inner transformation. He goes on to describe a possible avenue of approach
… we should strive, through deliberate efforts of inner development and new insights into consciousness and the working of the mind, to cultivate an enlightened communal sense. (2006, 22)
The instinct of enlightened communal sense is what gave our human race the unique level of coordination to develop civilisation, and the power to take over the planet. Derived out of necessity, it dwindled when the necessity was no longer there. Hence the atomisation of the modern world.
But a transformation, an extraordinary inner development, is the direct result of the new worldview. The immediacy of the connection between self and world becomes apparent. All this world is not alien but personal. How well my world is doing is how well I am doing. And at the same time it is shared. By doing the best for each other we do the absolute best for ourselves. This is what has been lost for most of us, outside of family and friends. That is the carrot. Karma is the stick.
This returns to us the type of communal sense fundamental to life in small isolated societies. But now it has a profound rationale. This makes real the statement of the modern sage Krishnamurti on a rational basis:
You and the world are not two different entities. You ‘are’ the world, not as an ideal, but actually. (Lutyens, 1983, 74)
If we can accept the new worldview, implied by our best science, we can regenerate this power of deep community. And our human race will have a very much better chance of surviving the challenges of this century. If we can take this on there is a good chance our fractured and atomised societies will heal, hopefully swiftly. And the various man-made Armageddons heaving into view will get less and less likely rather than more and more.
The New Age
With this in place nothing is impossible. All kinds of new opportunities become real, possibilities currently unimaginable. This is the ideal society of order and inner peace endlessly imagined, a fabulous, mythical, supposedly lost age. But the culture of enlightened self-interest is a perfectly feasible future. It is a natural consequence of understanding who we really are and how reality actually works.
But we are going to find it hard to change the course of history in time. We are going to need a broad and radical shift if we are to snatch salvation from the jaws of the ongoing societal and ecological breakdown that threatens our prosperity and even our survival. A further extraordinary revelation from the new physics provides the incentive and the inspiration for just such a transformation.
As described in Quantum Karma, the new physics leads to the discovery we are effectively immortal. And it is here that karma really bites. This leads to the reinstatement of a deep morality. But there is no dogma here. Right living is self-defined and self-imposed. And of deep and endless personal reward. It is these profound implications that give the new worldview the radical power to change and heal our fragmented culture. The basis of this revitalised human world is a new understanding of ourselves, as described in The New Culture.
The next main section is The Avant Garde.