I have been taking an interest in philosophy, spirituality and meditation for some years now.
But only recently in all my reading did I come across a concept which is as revolutionary as it is basic. The concept is – drumroll please – Self Mortification.
The middle class upbringing that most of us have had has conditioned us to seek pleasure, happiness and the respect of society. Indeed, the American constitution has enshrined the Pursuit of Happiness as one of its core principles.
And this emphasis is flawed philosophically.
We can see the backlash caused by excessive materialism in society. Climate change and global warming are the swords of Damocles hanging over our heads even after we have dealt with COVID – 19.
Basically the concept and practice of self mortification is based on the theory that human beings have the end purpose of seeking God or the Divine. If any person is not seeking the Divine he (or she) is not attempting that which he was sent to the Earth to do.
This concept can be justified if we consider the fact that – according to the findings of Quantum Physics – the Universe is an organic whole. Our position – as human beings – is similar to that of cells in the human body. And just as the purpose of the existence of cells is to serve the human body so also the reason for existence of human beings is to serve the whole universe.
And the way to serve the Universe is through seeking God through spiritual practices formulated by traditional religions.
The main obstacle to seeking God and finding Him is the ego. And self mortification is the practice through which we can free ourselves from the clutches of the ego. It is a practice recommended by the Catholic church which has a good track record of producing saints and mystics.
What exactly does this practice consist of?
Here are some results from a Google search:
the subjugation of appetites or desires by self-denial or self-discipline as an aspect of religious devotion.
Below is what Wikipedia has to say on the topic:
Mortification of the flesh is an act by which an individual or group seeks to mortify, or put to death, their sinful nature, as a part of the process of sanctification. In Christianity, common forms of mortification that are practiced to this day include fasting, abstinence, as well as pious kneeling
There are three points that I would like to make on the info above.
First is that self mortification, in itself, has no value. It is useful (maybe indispensable) as a means for seeking God but in and as itself it need not be strived for.
The second point is obvious. Our consumer society is based on awakening and satisfying the maximum of desires in any individual person. This is what is commonly thought of as happiness in our society. As mentioned above, the Americans have enshrined this principle in their constitution. But the whole concept is flawed philosophically and future generations may have to pay for our voluntary blindness.
The third point is based on Srimad Bhagavatam – The Wisdom of God. This book describes how the Universe came into existence. According to this scripture God was completely merged in the bliss of his own Self and Brahma came forth seated on a lotus. God commanded Brahma to create the world which he (Brahma) had often done in times past.
Brahma’s first human creations were saints who immediately upon being created fell into deep meditation finding no interest in things of the world. Thus, through them Braham saw no possibility of the propagation of the human species. While he was meditating upon what course he should pursue his own form divided itself; one half became man and the other half became woman. And from them have sprung all mankind.
This story leads to the conclusion that God or Brahma does not want all humans to be saints. He has deliberately made attaining enlightenment difficult for the average person so that the human race is propagated. And this is why it is not wise to force people to try to become saints against their will. We (as the human race) need to live with our deficiencies and yet strive to do as little damage as we possibly can through intelligent consumption of the earth’s resources.
This is – according to my interpretation of the above story – in accordance with the will of God. You cannot force anybody to climb Mount Everest at gunpoint. He will only fall and break his neck. Similarly nobody should be forced to seek enlightenment against his will. This was the mistake made by the founding fathers of the Indian republic (including Mahatma Gandhi). The flawed goal of socialism was only abandoned in the early 1990s.
I’ll end here. Please explore this website for more articles on Self Help, Spirituality and Politics. If you wish to contact me the link is below.