Reflections on the Basis of Morality

Must religion and morals go together? Can one be taught without the other? Those questions proposed by Annie Besant in her 1915’s book “The Basis of Morality” are perhaps even more relevant today than at her time.

Annie notes that “religions based on revelation find in revelation their basis for morality, and for them that is right which the giver of the revelation commands, and that is wrong which he forbids. Right is right because god, or a ṛṣhi or a prophet, commands it, and right rests on the will of a lawgiver, authoritatively revealed in a scripture. Now all revelation has two great disadvantages as a basis for morality. It is fixed, and therefore unprogressive; while man evolves, and at a later stage of his growth, the morality taught in the revelation becomes archaic and unsuitable. A written book cannot change, and many things in the bibles of religion come to be out of date, inappropriate to new circumstances, and even shocking to an age in which conscience has become more enlightened than it was of old.”[1]

Although I don’t find Christ’s biblical teachings outdated, I certainly believe it is of utmost importance we outgrow scriptures by developing a genuinely fraternal and autonomous morality that enables us to distinguish right and wrong from a cosmo-ethical perspective. This is for me a natural step in the process of gaining spiritual maturity. It is not sufficient, as to attain morality (and please understand that by morality, I mean the practice of the highest possible levels of virtues and ethical values – free from corruption, selfishness and vices), to follow rigid, inflexible, rudimentary guidance from a book or a messiah. No, morality per se, can only be pursued (as we might still be far from “attaining” it) through a voluntary search for the highest levels of resonance with the “truth”. This “truth” is what is at times called “spiritual development” or “evolution”. It is the state of deep connection with the self and the cosmos, to the point of being non-reactive and in plain exercise of love, freedom, and justice.

“Revelation as a basis for morality is impossible. But all sacred books contain much that is pure, lofty, inspiring, belonging to the highest morality.”[1]

This suggests the question: at a time when so many are awakening to their spiritual life, understanding their multidimensional nature and finally breaking ties with scriptural teachings, how are we nurturing and developing our moral grounds? What should and shouldn’t we do to achieve this? How can we develop a fraternal society, a society where everyone has freedom of thought and at the same time respect the freedom of others? Collective awakening may certainly propose its own challenges and we cannot stand mesmerized by the desire for a bright future, believing this mystical state will result from others adopting “my/our” paradigms. No, I suppose the democratization of free thinking brings with it a state of higher diversity of ideas and ideals. In such scenario, we must be able to gain intellectual and moral flexibility at levels never practiced on Earth. So, how to get there? Not simplifying the matter by proposing a single and simplistic answer, it is natural that we care more deeply for the ethical grounds of our moral values and behavior.

“(…) understanding conscience, we shall not take it as a basis of morality, but as our best available individual light. We shall judge our conscience, educate it, evolve it by mental effort, by careful observation.”[1]

When I do this, I see that many of the social, supposedly moralizing movements of our time seem to have lost sight with their target, became desensitize to fraternal values and instead are now leading us to separation, rage, privilege and unsettlement. Well, I do not support such values and therefore feel compelled to claim that all of those who do care for a bright future join me to claim for #OneHumanity.

What is #OneHumanity

“To overrule the conscience of another is to induce in him moral paralysis, and to seek to dominate the will of another is a crime.”[1]

Every human interaction with other intelligences and the cosmos around it may be observed as a more or less complex system. In a balanced state, all elements of the system interact with each other in perfect harmony. Long-term sustainability, relative freedom and autonomy, love, ethics and justice are exercised to their highest degree. This state of equilibrium is disrupted when one or more of those elements are out of balance, resulting in physical, emotional, mental and/or moral consequences proportional to the degree of the imbalance. If you understand that darkness cannot drive out darkness, than it is clear to you that justice, love, fraternity and freedom cannot be achieved through coercion, brutality and vengeance. There is beauty in diversity. It is not necessary to wipe it out to achieve balance with ourselves, each other and the universe. It is sufficient to evolve in moral grounds to a state where the bounds of love are not based on “conditions” – I suppose this is called unconditional love. #OneHumanity does not see color, race, gender, religion, origin, you name it. It stands for the search for unconditional love as a cohesive force of balance in the universe. Love not as the romanced version preached in pulpits, but as a mature, fraternal, ethical, rational force only understood by those that are starting to at least grasp the concept within its own consciousness.  Unconditional love knows responsibility, but knows not guilt. It doesn’t need to forgive as it does not take offense. It is flexible and coherent, patient and intelligent. None of us on Earth have attained this, yet if you are in this path; do not seek separation, do not seek to eliminate our differences… simply stand for #OneHumanity


  1. Besant, Annie Wood. The Basis of Morality.

2 thoughts on “#OneHumanity

  1. The problem is that given man’s fallen or flawed nature – as evidenced by his selfish egoism – he cannot easily find a basis for morality within himself. What you are proposing above is subject to abuse by those who will rationalize their behavior that is injurious to others. If you do not have some moral absolutes, and adopt a moral relativist approach where each individual makes his or her own morality, you won’t achieve this vision of yours of true fraternity.


    1. Hi Larryzb,

      Thanks for pointing out areas where the text above could have been more clear and precise! I hope you don’t mind if I address a few points from your comment above as to clarify some underlying ideas not covered by the original reflections. The topic is complex and most likely cannot be covered well with quick texts… in any case, let me try to make a few counterpoints. Please don’t take it as criticism, but as alternative standpoints for reflections…

      1. The “man’s fallen or flawed nature” is only “given” in religious setting – such as original sin or wheel of samsara. I myself and in my spiritual practice do not buy this at all! Simply put, if god is “perfect”, then everything that comes from it must NOT be flawed. Man’s “selfish egoism” as an evidence of its flawed nature is only a relative truth. It is no “evidence” of its “fallen” nature. For instance, couldn’t we have been created simple and unlearned, while evolving through multiple lives towards perfection? In this case, Earth’s humanity may still be in a rudimentary stage of evolution (by cosmic terms) and indeed still have vices to overcome. Still, this doesn’t make us flawed by nature, right?

      2. I am also skeptical about man not being able to, easily or not, find a basis for morality within himself. How do we evolve then? The human history has been that of moral progression. For instance, not too long ago, cannibalism was a common practice that today would be highly immoral to even the least developed society on Earth. Just looking at our recent history, we have abolished slavery, and are, to the most part, fighting for health, social justice and sustainability on a global basis. In fact, we have fought abuse and misconceptions (mysticism, dogmatism and other isms) in religions themselves, so they cannot be the basis of morality. So, if not within ourselves, then where is our “compass”? In my opinion, it is within ourselves, yet we on Earth are still just leaving the childhood phase in spiritual terms… as every child, we don’t quite know ourselves (our spiritual nature) yet and haven’t yet developed emotional or intellectual maturity as well as sharpened our human faculties (extra-sensorial). So, perhaps – and I might be entirely incorrect, we are not perfect but PERFECTIBLE!

      3. I am proposing that we confront abuse disguised of fair and equitable movements. That we simply see each others as #OneHumanity instead of label and classify each other by our differences. By no means I am supporting the idea that to be moral one must be complacent and apatic. No, quite the opposite… in our development path, we must exercise both mercy, – for example, forgiving nonest errors along the way – and justice – for example, presenting an opposing force to injustice. Here, I agree with Annie Besant that “overrule the conscience of another (…) is a crime”.

      I hope this clarifies a few points about the reflections above and I apologize again for not being clearer about those points in the text itself! Thanks again for your engagement!!


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