What is morality? Philosophers have discussed this issue since the beginning of time. We want to do the right thing, and be the best that we can be. But sometimes doing the right thing for us means that we also judge others for not being or doing what we expect them to do.
The problem with our morality is that it is totally arbitrary. But no one seems to think that it is. Oftentimes people tend to think that their moral codes in particular are the best and most elevated ones.
To me, morality is a fiction. There is no universal good or evil in my opinion. There are only more or less selfish acts. I get that you might get triggered by this statement, but nevertheless this is my conclusion. If we want to raise our consciousness and be truly selfless, we have to go beyond our conditioning. But very few are really ready to do that. It’s convenient to believe that the other person is wrong or that the other religion, belief etc. is inherently evil. But we have to start putting ourselves in other’s shoes in order to gain understanding for someone else.
To judge someone else is the easiest thing; the only thing you have to do is to decide that the other person is wrong, and that you are the hero of your story. That way you can easily construct a story around who is the good guy and who is the bad guy.
But of course this leads to all sorts of problems. How is it that you think that someone else’s perspective is the wrong one and yours is the right one? Think about it. From the other person’s perspective, you’re the one with the wrong opinion. Pretty obvious, right? But still, it is so hard to let those moral codes that you have imprinted in you go.
Why do we need morality in the first place?
Morality amongst humans has been useful for such a long time that we can’t even imagine how it would be like not to have it.
Why would you want to let morality go?
According to zen, there is no morality in the world. Take a look around your room. Do you see it? Of course not, it is a 100% construction of the human mind. Why would you want to let morality go, you might ask. Isn’t this the one thing that separates us from the rest of the animals? Yes, but the problem is that when we hold a moral belief about something or someone, we also in the same time separate ourselves from each other. In order to gain understanding, we have to approach the other person with love and an open heart. It might sound cliché but nevertheless: If you were truly in the other person’s shoes, wouldn’t you behave exactly like them?
Morality is a construction
Think about it. You only think the way you think and have the certain set of moral beliefs because you have been born and brought up within a certain community. You can’t do anything but to take on the beliefs that are taught to you.
Hundreds of years ago, slavery was totally fine for example. No one would object to the “obvious fact” that owning slaves was a moral thing at the time. Luckily, we as a collective let that thought go and nowadays it would be an abomination to state that it is morally right. The same goes with feminism, animal rights, sexual liberation, the LBTQ community and a lot of other things in the world that are changing. We as a collective change, and therefore our moral codes have to change. As we mature, so does our morality. But we do it in tiny baby steps all the time. Morality is constantly changing with the society and with the collective.
The societal moral constructions also differ from country to country, from society to society. This means that you have a totally different set of moral beliefs if you are born in Canada than if you are born in the Middle east. Nothing is wrong per se, the difference is that as we evolve, so does morality.
If you want to dig deeper into this I highly recommend that you check out Spiral Dynamics and Integral philosophy. It is a model of the human cognitive development, and it comes in handy when you are working with topics such as morality. it also humbles you a bit if you discover that you are not on top of the model 🙂
How to let morality go
To help you start letting go of your moral beliefs in order to gain higher understanding and selflessness, I have a little step-by-step exercise for you. You can find many key insights if you look into what triggers you. Triggers often act as a “gatekeeper” to your mind and ego, if someone or something is threatening your beliefs.
- You need a journal or some paper to write on, and a pen. Sit with the journal.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
- Think of your trigger points. Think of as many things you can come up with. Why do they trigger you? If the answer comes to you, write it down. If it doesn’t, let it be for now. The answer will come to you when the time is right.
- Sit with one trigger issue that you have, and try to analyze it thoroughly.
For example: “I get triggered when people correct me, because it feels that they don’t respect me.” Why do you get triggered? Why do you think that people feel that they have a right to correct you? ARE you wrong, or is it something that is in the other persons mind? Try to get down to the bottom with this. When did you feel that trigger for the first time? It’s ok if you don’t remember. Oftentimes our morality is set long before we even have any memories at all.
- If you get triggered by someone else’s behavior, it might be a sign that you have some aspect of this behavior hidden in your unconscious shadow. Contemplate and try to see where you might hide this behavior in yourself. This exercise can be triggering in and of itself, but it can also be very beneficial for your personal growth.
- Think about the other person’s perspective. What are their trigger points? What are their fears? Even if it’s hard to do, try to forgive them. Not because you think that they were right, but for your own sake.
What does this exercise have to do with morality, you might ask. Isn’t morality something else, like how you are supposed to behave in a society? Codes, rules and stuff? Can you really let go of the rules that you have in your society? Of course I don’t encourage you to go and break all your society’s rules in one fell swoop.
But think about it: isn’t it because of the courageous people that refused to play by the rules, that we have changes in our moral beliefs? Think about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Mandela and other people that saw beyond the rules of the society. It was because they had a different set of moral values that they were able to show the way and help change the world for the better.
Morality really isn’t anything else than a societal projection. And what kind of projection we see is the level where the society is at. In the times when it in most people’s minds was totally ok to separate people depending on their skin color, Rosa Parks and other brave people had a different, more evolved set of moral codes. And in order to implement the new set of codes, we always have to let the old ones go.