Keep bodies to a minimum.
That is use them to the hilt with discipline and a certain spartan attitude which must be reversed from time to time with the pursuit of pleasure. The simple aim is not be encumbered but as reversals apply when you shrink from the whole, this is how truth spirals down to its opposite. (Reflections on Religion)
There is a contradiction between the West and Islam (using Islam as an example of Theistic culture) which is really between the 20th Century culture of materialism underpinned by Freudian theory. Simply put the purpose of life is pleasure, but pleasure has true and false aspects. If creation (as described previously) draws from a wider well than oneself in the isolated sense, then one can be more than oneself, but this is a different mode of being. But should we go too far in this direction, selflessness, it would represent invalidation of ourselves, which would just mean putting others above us. Why so? Are we not equally of merit?
It could be said that Freud promotes the doctrine of the self. We have many movies that tell us the loner wins. This is a dead end and bad advice for life. When one focuses on the self there is power, but many wrong directions which will stop that power. When one is God only there is the problem of invalidating that which is part of God essence itself. If Man is created in the image of God, then self abnegation is invalidation of God. But foolish pride is also error as it denies God.
There are others who fall by the wayside in the spiritual quest, they were asked much of and could not measure up. They fill themselves with justifications and resentments. All this is irrelevant, that is just a case of beingness falling short. They become very individualistic.
Individualism is the error of the age. It is a state of being shut off from the wider self. Worse, the individual doesn't even know their own self, they search for meaning. People who operate socially and spiritually do not need to search for meaning or identity, it falls naturally. The relationship between a man and a woman is analogous to ego and God. In a relationship there is a certain element of surrender of self, of course this is fluid and not a fixed state. Controlling only or submissive only is robotic. The two find a wholeness. What we mean by God is a totality of viewpoints or the motivating essence.
Freud can possibly be regarded as a turning point in western society from the infinite, to the self. While religion had regarded the self as something to be overcome it now became the central goal. The effect on society has been profound, from a diverse range of thought leaders from Freudo-Marxism to advertising via his disciple Ernest Dichter and a change of perspective via the Sexual revolution toward sex as "self gratification", rather than an institution of marriage ordained by God. Almost universally these changes are seen as liberation but they could also be characterised as a breakdown in social responsibility. Ego (spirituality) was not a new concept, Freud made ego both a science and a cult.
fact Freudianism was criticised as a form of pagan religion, a
"Dionysian sex-idolization" by a contemporary Viennese
intellectual Egon Friedell (Cultural History of the Modern Age).
And for that, the role of celibacy in the Christian Church was not in
the Bible but became an obsession afterward, and also goes back to
Pagan religion and Greek philosophers including Pythagoras.
Things were quite different before Freud, people had faith in their spiritual supports. People in Iran for instance, are much like this and see the West with horror and askance. The ego driven society is based on cravings, it is run through advertising which exploits these urges based on psychiatric and psychological theory and is about manipulation and control. It can be quite seductive and hence has been rejected by conservative Moslems.
But a spiritual life without individual life is also error.
Dianetics spritual healing technology, developed by L. Ron Hubbard, frees the self and then opens one to God (or Gods), through Scientology applied philosophy. This transition through progressive realms of activity is known as the eight dynamics.
But no matter your belief, in broad terms, there needs to be a balance, neither all self or all God. And in between the extremes there needs to be flux, a fluid position so that one is not stuck in all "oneself" or all "others".
Note: for people without a belief in God one could substitute the higher ethics, such as Honour. Ego vs God can be expressed in another way for those without spiritual reality: life is a balance between Freedom and Responsibility.
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Copyright (c) David R. Griffiths 2012