A comment by Moose Thompson on Bruce Charlton's previous post set me thinking. The gist of it was that, while we are certainly living through a time of great spiritual apostasy, there are many things about the modern world which are a great improvement on the past. The abolition of slavery and the reduction of physical cruelty were cited but these are just the tip of the iceberg. There is less injustice in the world now, in the West, at least, and, of course, we live in considerably more comfort, materially speaking. The advances of science have brought relief and greater freedom to huge swathes of the population. Enlightenment values have also resulted in political liberation, and so on and so forth. The list is long.
This is a serious point which cannot be ignored. There have undoubtedly been many improvements in the world over the last several centuries. You might even say that things have always been getting better. And not just materially. There have been moral advances in several areas too, and even those of us who are interested in spiritual things have much more access to a much wider variety of spiritual teachings than would ever have been possible before.
No one could possibly deny any of this. And yet I would still go along with Bruce and say that we do now live in very evil times. Indeed, the two things may well be linked. The obvious improvements blind us to the subtler evils. What has happened is that the improvements on a material or humanistic level have obscured the spiritual collapse. They may well even have been partially responsible for the spiritual collapse. When you focus on one level of being, let's call it the worldly for convenience, you will clearly improve the state at that level. But if, in so doing, you neglect higher and more fundamental levels, you will be considerably worse off in the exchange. This is what has happened. We have concentrated all our energies on outer things, things observable to the mind and senses, and abandoned what is not so discernible. So inevitably we have made many improvements on the material and merely human levels. But at what cost?
Never before have human beings not regarded the spiritual world as primary. Perhaps occasionally you could find times like that in history but you would have to look hard and even then the spiritual rejection would not be to such a degree as it is now. Present day public morality actually enforces an anti-spiritual attitude. Whether this be in the fields of science, art and education, of culture in general, in matters of marriage and sexuality or the relations between the sexes, almost everywhere prioritises this worldly concerns over spiritual realities. Everywhere sees man, as in man and woman, as a creature primarily of this world and not as a visitor to this world from a higher plane of being. Even much contemporary religion does this. Other times and places, however corrupt in many ways they might have been, would not have thought like that and this is the primary reason for seeing the present day as the most benighted time in human history. We have forgotten who we are. No, it's worse than that. We actively deny and reject who we are. And in doing that we totally ignore our reasons for being here.
Note: It's occurred to me that Jesus' saying "He who is not with me is against me" has a bearing on this present time. Previously in the Christian world we may have been great sinners but we were at least with Jesus, outwardly so anyway. Now we are not even that which means we are against him. There is no neutral option.