The New Mindscape

Week 9

Morality and Spiritual Transcendence

Ethics and morality are crucial topics in major religions worldwide, considering how their teachings guide people on a spiritual, righteous, and transcendental path. This series shall introduce morality in the context of spirituality stepwise, from the dual nature of good and evil in humans to the development and enhancement of morality, finally introducing the founders of religions and their roles in guiding people towards spirituality and transcendence.


Human Nature

Philosophers like Mencius and Xunzi have debated on the inborn human nature: Mencius thinks humans were born good but Xunzi believes humans were born evil. However, an interesting intersection of the philosophies of these thinkers lies in the power of moral education—moral education is essential in developing and maintaining morality in humans. This video shall discuss the questions surrounding moral education and its significance to humanity.

Are humans only selfish?

Philosopher Thomas Hobbes believed that humans are purely materialistic and self-centered. This fundamental theory went on to influence many other theories in economics, biology, social science, etc., even leading to a belief that all human actions are selfish one way or another. Do you agree with such conclusions? Watch this video to learn more about human nature and selfishness.

Religious Views on Human Nature

Most religions have the idea of a dual human nature—a good side and a bad side—and use this to extend into a proposed reality with divinity and spirituality against animality and materiality. They also indicate that human life is a process of making choices, and people have the free will to choose the ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ path. Are you aware of the “fight going on inside you”? Watch the video to understand the religious belief of our dual nature and how to strengthen our spiritual side.

Moral Development

What is the relationship between spirituality and our morality? Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg proposed a possible answer through a six- to seven-stage process of human moral development. The process can be divided into three major stages: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional, plus a possible fourth stage of “Transcendental Morality.” Watch this video to learn how religions essentially follow this framework of moral development in their teachings.

Axial Figures and Postconventional Morality

From the series of moral development discussed previously, we see how morality evolves from following conventions to transcending them. The founders of many modern religions, also known as the Axial figures, also went against many social conventions and established new moralities. Watch this video to discover such phenomena in the various religions of the world.

Axial Figures and Ultimate Reality

Virtually all religions have their own interpretations of an ‘ultimate reality’—a ‘higher power’ that is reflected in our spiritual nature. The religious teachings and the Axial figures aim to strengthen the human spirit and help people realize their connection with that ultimate reality. This video discusses examples of religion founders, like Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad, and how they spread their teachings and inspired people with their lives, forming the religious communities and practices we see today.



Q&A on Symbols, Rituals and Mythology