Monday, May 29, 2017


I was surprised to learn that an animal will not outgrow its cage or fish-tank. This is because its growth is limited by its space.

I was also surprised to learn that we not grow beyond our ideas. As space imposes its limitation on physical growth, our beliefs impose their limits on our personal and spiritual growth.

The Psalms are in harmony with this idea:

·       Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. (Psalm 115:4-8)

We become what we believe and are either exalted or degraded by them. The way we think about ourselves (and our deity) will be the way we feel about ourselves. Psychologist James Hillman observed that we can deaden our lives through the way we interpret them:

·       We dull our lives by the way we conceive then… By accepting the idea that I am the effect of…hereditary and social forces, I reduce myself to a result. The more my life is accounted for by what already occurred in my chromosomes, by what my parents did or didn’t do, and by my early years now long past, the more my biography is the story of a victim. I am living a plot written by my genetic code, ancestral heredity, traumatic occasions, parental unconsciousness, societal accidents. (The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, Random House, 6)

To think of oneself as a result or a victim will affect the way we feel about ourselves. It will also affect the way we regard and treat others. If we believe that they are no more than a wet machine, we will treat them as such and throw them on the dump heap when we feel that they have outlived their usefulness.

In “Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations,” Vishal Mangalwadi applies this same principle to nations. He observed that the beliefs of his Hindu India and the Christian West were radically different:

·       Acharya-turned-Bhagwan-turned-Osho Rajneesh, who gave widespread publicity to the tantric idea of salvation through sex, summarized the Indian as well as the postmodern Western worldview in similar terms: “We have divided the world into the good and the evil. The world is not so divided. The good and the evil are our valuations [not God’s commandments]. There is no good, there is no bad. These are two aspects of one reality… The data collected by Transparency International shows that the least corrupt countries are overwhelmingly those whose soul was nurtured by the Bible.

It should be no surprise that if we do not believe in an objective right and wrong, we will begin to act in concert with this belief. Immediate gratification will inevitably triumph over moral truth and hard honest work. Mangalwadi reasoned that Hindu philosophy is directly related to the impoverishment of India:

·       India’s religious philosophy taught that since the human soul was divine, it could not sin. In fact, our most rigorous religious philosophy teaches that everything is God. God is the only reality that exists, and therefore there is no ultimate distinction between good and evil, right and wrong.

Who would want to enter into a business deal with someone who doesn’t believe in right or wrong! Wouldn’t we rather affiliate with someone who has such a high commitment to moral truth that honesty would govern his life? Therefore, Mangalwadi reasoned that economy is inseparable from our beliefs, the fish-tank within which we dwell:

·       Their chronic poverty proves what Adam Smith, a father of capitalism, knew: real- world economics are the result of the kind of morality you have, which in turn is a fruit of the kind of philosophy you have. For example, why have health care costs become so obscene in America that they are destroying the very culture of compassion? Insurance and pharmaceutical companies that sustain health care are blamed only because the intellectual elite can no longer calculate the economic costs of academic godlessness that separates economics from moral truth.

If we do not truly believe in an objective right and wrong, business will inevitably focus on short-term gains – profit – and not on quality and promoting the go

The growth of nations will only be as big as the fish-bowl of its beliefs. If its beliefs extend towards heaven, so too will its growth.

Mangalwadi asked some American tourists how to get tickets for the Amsterdam tram. They responded”

·       “Why do you want to get tickets? We’ve been riding around for a week. No one has ever come to check any tickets.”

Mangalwadi was startled more by their hardness of conscience than by their theft of service:

·       Their shamelessness shocked me more than their immorality. They represented the new generation, liberated from “arbitrary” and “oppressive” religious ideas of right and wrong. University education had freed them from commandments such as “You shall not steal.”

Someone has to pay the price for sin. Eventually, the Dutch will have to hire additional personnel to collect the fares. Who pays for them? Everyone! I too have met many such travelers. They are intelligent, likeable, knowledgeable, highly educated, and even sensitive to victimization in its various forms, but they were unable to connect the dots to their own behaviors. Not a twinge of shame!

The West has built for itself a narrow cage. Although it hasn’t embraced physical idols of wood and stone, it has embraced other idols in place of God – immediate gratification and the denial of freewill and objective morality. There, it hopes to find refuge from their demanding conscience.

Mangalwadi marvels West’s intellectual myopia:

·       This good news [of the Christian faith] became the intellectual foundation of the modern West, the force that produced moral integrity, economic prosperity, and political freedom. If moral integrity is foundational to prosperity, why don’t secular experts talk about it? The reason is that the universities no longer know whether moral laws are true universal principles or mere social conventions made up to restrict our freedoms. And why don’t they know? Economists have lost the secret of the West’s success because philosophers have lost the very idea of truth. Why? The truth was lost because of an intellectual arrogance that rejected divine revelation.

Their quest for absolute freedom and autonomy has made them slaves to ideas that have deprived them of their dignity as human beings. They live in cages but believe that they are hiking on the mountain tops.

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