“The end goal is a world free of artifice, hypocrisy, and excess desire, where humans live in simple harmony with each other and the natural world and there is no need to talk about morality because kindness and goodness flow forth from people spontaneously, without the slightest effort or thought.“ – Edward Slingerland
In most religions there exists a goal at the end. For Christians it is to reach heaven to live with God, for Buddhism it is to attain a state of nirvana that marks the realization of non-self ending the cycles of rebirth, and for others it is something in between.
But for most of the religious people out there there exists some state of being that marks having “made it.” And it seems that most of these goals are very similar to this message brought forth by Edward Slingerland.
There is always a reduction of effort and a production of goodness and oneness.
However, if we share a common goal then why is there so much difficulty in obtaining it? How many people tell you that they really just want to live in anger, disagreement, and struggle with other people? No one, at least not anyone being serious or honest. It seems to be an innate desire to be welcomed, known, and appreciated by others; yet something gets in the way.
What is it that holds us back from this goal?
Well, that depends on the worldview that you hold.
For some it has a lot to do with a garden, an apple, and original sin. For others it is simply the act of desiring something that leads to the brokenness we observe in the world. Furthermore, there are some who would blame it on religion in general holding us back from achieving the “true” potential of humanity.
I would posit this: the consciousness of humanity is evolving.
We have evolved from creatures and beasts that depended on their self-sufficiency to survive. If they were not selfish, they did not reproduce. If they could not defend themselves and defeat competition, they did not reproduce. Over many many years of evolving to survive, through natural selection, we have developed these instincts; these tendencies and habits to look out for ourselves and those close to us in an effort to further the propagation of our own DNA.
These instincts have been deeply engrained into what is called the reptilian brain as well as the mammalian brain within our own. So, in an effort to understand these predispositions, the religious have developed stories and myths to explain the origins, they allow us to put language on them.
But our consciousness is still evolving. We are beginning to see the deficiencies of these once helpful habits. We now see, both through religion and education in general, that a life lived by our reptilian and even mammalian brain leads to suffering and chaos in the world around us. So we evolve.
We are evolving to a state of being where kindness and goodness offer protection and survival. Evolving towards a world where love not hate dominates our psyche. Evolving to a place where our struggle is not to place ourselves in domination over one another but to love one another better.
The hope of the Christian tradition is that this is a worthy goal and we are worthy of the struggle.
We belong exactly where we are at in this world, pushing forward with the privilege of participating in this process, in furthering the evolution of human consciousness. At its core, the Christian tradition tells us to be aware of the sea of grace that exists all around us, that we are forgiven, loved, and enough as we are.
This end goal may not be attainable at all but through the pursuit of it we push forward the state and current understanding of our own consciousness and thus participate with the ground of being, the forces of the world, in the ongoing creation of the world.
Grace and mercy ⇒ peace and love.