Originally written in February 2012
The biggest flaw in spirituality in my view is its exclusive focus on the inner. In spirituality everything that needs to be fixed is inside the person.
Suffering is intrinsic to our existence. There’s no escape from the human condition for anyone, and a spiritual person is no exception. He also suffers. As long as the spiritual person suffers (which is always, like any other person) his focus would be fixated on the inner, that is, himself. When there is always something to fix on the inside, naturally, one won’t be interested in the problems external to oneself. A spiritual person looks at the problems of the world, and internalizes them. Meaning, he views everything that causes man to suffer as man’s inner weakness. If you are suffering in love, he would tell you: you need to develop from the inside, get rid of your ego. Feeling anger and jealousy? Develop from the inside. The more a spiritual person suffers, the stronger his obsession with the self gets.
What is this focus on the inner? Spirituality views the world as a part of the whole. A spiritualist believes that his true nature is not his ego/self which is just an illusion created in consciousness. His true nature is the nature of the universe or the whole. Any man trapped in his consciousness, i.e. having ego-identity (which by the way includes every normal, functional human being) is imperfect and needs to develop. The state of perfectness is when one loses one’s ego/self and experiences oneness or unity with Nature or the universe or the whole, whatever that means. Both “true nature” and “the whole” are terms so fuzzy that one must be stupid to take them seriously.
Spirituality’s focus is so much on the whole that it never really connects with the problems of the world. The only (non-)remedy it offers is for people to stop being people and merge into the whole. Spirituality therefore is hokum.
So called enlightened people are not free of suffering. If anything, they have built thick walls around themselves cutting them off from every element of the human world. Through reclusive practices they have mastered the art of deluding the self. At best, they have achieved unwavering focus on the self, and their obsession with the self has overridden every other drive they might have. They appear to have concern with the problems of the world, but not really. For every suffering they encounter, they view it as a sign of their imperfectness and obsess more with the self, through isolation and meditation and what not. And they offer the same to others. That’s not really a concern for the world but their self-affirmation. They have effectively noting to offer the world but their own madness and narcissism.
It is impossible to care and not suffer. If there is a truly “enlightened” person who is free of suffering (which I don’t think is possible remaining a normal, functional human being) then he must be a narcissist of the highest rank. He cares squat about life, the world, and other people’s suffering. He is happy in his delusions. The king in the empty kingdom. He is no more alive than a piece of vegetable. Pinch him and he will crawl ever deeper into his self.
Existential awareness does make one strong from inside by enabling one have a right perspective, and that’s important too. But that is philosophy. Spirituality is different in that it involves obsessing witdevelopment of the self to the point of viewing the world as illusion and seeking the end of suffering. That is bullshit. Since there’s no such thing as oneness with the whole or perpetual bliss as long as we are alive and conscious, he who believes he is there is deluding himself. And his apathy towards everything but the inner/self reeks of narcissism.