A Problem with Ethics
Aug 18, 1994 11:24 AM
by Gerald Schueler
I have a problem with all of this talk about ethics. In fact, I have a
problem with ethics per se. I have tried to discuss this many times.
Apparently I have not yet been successful. So, I will try one more
time, and then I will shut up about it.
Most Christians are taught to be ethical. In fact, church attendance
and ethics are quite sufficient to get most Christians into heaven.
The problem that I have with ethics is motive. Most Christians (and I
shouldn't really pick on Christians, because it is true across the
board) are ethical because they believe that this will get them into
heaven. In other words, ethics are a means to an end, and this end
involves the inflation of ego. Theosophists are not supposed to be
interested in inflating the ego, but rather the opposite.
As a theosophist, has the thought ever come to you that by being more
ethical you will move toward spirituality? The thought often sounds
something like this: "If I am ethical, I will tread the path, I will
become enlightened, I will increase my good karma, I will further my
spiritual evolution." Has it? If so, then please tell me the difference
between the theosophist and the Christian. Are not both on similar ego
trips? Even the tiny little thought that by helping someone, I will
lessen my karmic burden and thus my next life will be better, is an ego
trip. And yet I hear this kind of stuff in theosophical literature all
the time. I submit that it matters very little whether we seek to
enter heaven or seek a better future life on Earth - both ideas are
The problem that I have with ethics, is that it is all too easy to use
ethics as a means to further inflate the ego, which for most of us is
already quite large enough.
Ok. So what is the alternative? I am not suggesting that we throw out
ethics, or subscribe to DO WHAT THOU WILT (a Crowley law) or even AN'
IT HURT NONE, DO WHAT THOU WILT (a Wicca law which is only a little
better, simply because you can't do very much in this life without
inadvertently hurting someone somewhere in the process).
What I am suggesting is that we emphasize compassion and concern for
the welfare of others, together with respect for all living beings. If
we do this, then ethics will be a natural fallout, and will tend to
take care of itself. In fact, every occult and magical organization
that I am aware of teaches the importance of compassion. The ego
cannot pass safely through the Ring-Pass- Not that separates form from
formlessness. Thus in order to perceive the spiritual formless realms,
we must eliminate the human ego. Compassion for others is a good
technique to use for deflating the ego. Not ethics.
Helping others is a good thing. But inflating the ego is not. If we
can fill ourselves with compassion, then we will help others simply
because we cannot do anything else, and not because it is the "right"
thing to do, or because it will give us good karma or will eliminate
some of our past bad karma. One's motive is as important, if not more
important, than one's action.
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