Three Views of Reality and Human Potential

This site compares a number of views on the nature of reality and on the nature of human potential, particularly relative to how they address the problems of human mortality, and human suffering (or unhappiness). The three views on which we focus are:

  • Materialism, the view that what you see (or hear, or touch, or taste, or smell) is what you get (or all that is real), is seen to have many limitations, including its tendency to insist on reducing everything to its own terms; and its inadequate account of human consciousness and human death.

  • Esoteric spirituality deepens human potential by acknowledging the Greater Reality, and providing the means for experientially embracing It. We describe four different dimensions of the greater Reality — animistic/psycho-physical, Spiritual, Transcendental, and Divine and the means for Realizing them.

  • Exoteric religion (such as Christianity, Judaism, or Islam as we commonly know them) is understood to derive from an originally esoteric source (such as a great Spiritual Master, a saint, or a shaman). The practitioner of a legitimate exoteric religion — one that is still in touch with its esoteric roots — engages disciplines aimed at bringing him or her to full human maturity, in preparation for taking up the esoteric practices of his or her tradition. When an exoteric religion loses touch with its esoteric roots (e.g., by being “re-shaped” for the sake of political and social survival), it can devolve into an illegitimate exoteric religion that may be socially and politically influential, but that is nonetheless spiritually dysfunctional.

Comparing the Views of Reality and Human Potential

Each of these three views leads to a radically different use of one’s lifetime: the materialistic view orients a human life toward present-time self-fulfillment and toward being a “good citizen”; the exoteric view of God either orients a human life toward being a good person now, in the hope of attaining merit in the after-life, or prepares one for taking up esoteric practice while still alive; and the practitioner of esoteric spirituality is oriented toward present-time experience of the Greater Reality and, through diligent Spiritual practice — stable, present-time Spiritual Realization.

How do we go about comparing these three basic alternatives? The first thing to point out is that we must be vigorous in our investigation and in our commitment to re-organizing our lives around the results of our investigations because otherwise our choice will certainly be made for us by the social forces that surround us, which are already fundamentally and exclusively committed to the materialistic alternative.

This having been said, if there is a Greater Reality, then certainly we should rule out the materialistic choice as being both uninformed (in being based only on awareness of material reality) and compromised (in that it settles for a destiny far less than is our potential). And if there is a way to have the direct experience of that Greater Reality now, rather than having to wait until one dies, then obviously doing so is superior to not doing so, since our destiny now and after our death will depend on our actual relationship with (and stable Realization of) that Greater Reality. Actual experience of the Greater Reality now provides present-time feedback as to which of our actions enhance our positive connection to the Greater Reality, and which actions do not. Without such present-time feedback, we are only whistling in the dark, when it comes to the after-life, or basing our decisions on myth only.

We will examine the testimony of the traditions that offer direct experience of the Greater Reality, particularly via the firsthand testimony of the great Spiritual Realizers, as well as Spiritual practitioners in general. Such testimony is a key element in weighing our alternatives. Clearly the logic is:

Go for the greatest Realization that is actually humanly Realizable.

A key element of the testimony of Spiritual Realizers is this: The reason we are not aware of the Spiritual Reality right now is because we who are incarnated here materially are precisely those beings who, owing to a specific kind of psychic and Spiritual immaturity, are generally not aware of anything greater than the material. Hence the power of the materialistic view: it is our shared blind spot, our common impediment, and only the help of — not our well-meaning, ordinary, but equally blind friends — but those with greater Spiritual maturity and Realization will enable us to transcend that blind spot.