What is secularization (and by it, profanation) – as expressed in the fields of law, art, thought, religion, politics, and the like – but the unholy manifestation of the deterioration of the family and, more broadly, “the community” as the irreplaceable, inseparable, and most basic moral unit that might constitute a people; secularization which is the societal, social, cultural, and civilizational phenomenon that not only arises as a byproduct of the emergence of “the Self”, but facilitates the ongoing “evolution” of the concept “Man” as distinct and apart, as in Man “The Individual.”
Perhaps the most salient and striking indication that the internalization of consciousness – expressing itself as complete and irreversible self-awareness – has consummated itself in and among a people is the moral transformation of a culture from one of Shame to one of Guilt; Shames which is the moral expression (and in this sense is not conclusively “moral”) of an entity in whom consciousness and by it, self-responsibility, which is to say, the burden of existentialism (i.e. the practice of meaning-making), does not entirely reside; Shame which compels a man toward moral responsibility only when the consequences of his external actions are discovered by external actors (those principally led and controlled also by the same Shameful cultural forces as he), and those consequences are consensually believed to have discredited not the lone individual who caused them but the familial or social unit to which he associated; cultures of Shame, though they may be at least partly self-conscious, nevertheless attribute ultimate responsibility of their thoughts and actions to external, unseen forces, to the gods or familiar spirits that hold such people under their immaterial sway and persuade and sometimes coerce these men to their every whim and deed; Shame which is accused of and attributed to and evoked by the external when the external is not meticulously followed, complied, and carried out with sufficient zeal or fastidious attention; fastidiousness and care that is alone worthy of the glory of the god who first compelled it.
Guilt, by contrast, can only fully be expressed when self-consciousness is completely internalized into and by the hearts and minds of a people who – within such a cultural context – are only loosely, or else, “explicitly,” considered as such; internalization which, in turn, transforms a previously homogenous group into a heterogeneous conglomeration of individuals, each one ultimately responsible for and to himself alone, whether in thought, deed, belief, or existential purpose; Guilt which – fearing little the scorn of other individuals to whom a man is now existentially separate and morally disassociated from, fears instead the offense of his internalized god, which it must be stressed is his own personal interpretation and rendition thereof*; the nexus of his internalization which matches and judges his every move and thought, whether public or private, and compels men to personally atone for this guilt to his god and not, primarily, the externalized other.
*Unless, of course, that God chooses to reveal Himself to man through personal, intimate, specific revelation.
The movement of Shame to Guilt – both expressions which indicate an advanced stage of consciousness in man (with the latter being more advanced than the former) – is the movement of externalization to internalization, and irresponsibility to responsibility. As such, this movement can in this sense be seen – among much – as the evolution of “life” itself, which is to say, “conscious self-aware life” and, most crucially, “moral life,” the practice of internalized responsibility which alone makes possible existential meaning, purpose, and significance that allows for the highest and most emotive expressions of life, whether demonstrated in the ways and deeds of a single individual or his society and culture at large.
We call this practice, “spiritual.”
The spiritual eternally strives for the physical, while the physical strives for the spirit.
True “spirituality” therefore, as the highest and indeed only expression of man that renders him worthy of both his physical body and its lofty celestial stature, can only be realized in a fully conscious individual who has internalized self-awareness to the point where such ones have freely assumed the weighty burdens and eternal responsibilities of a moral life dedicated to the development of character, never mind the futilities and impossibilities that so often pockmark and pitfall its tragic path.
The primitive man, therefore, as one who has yet to fully and completely internalize his own consciousness to the point of irrevocable self-awareness and by it, existential self-responsibility, is in no way “spiritual” nor can he freely practice any act of thought demonstrative of the same, insofar as such a one has no other choice but to do and be what he inescapably is, namely, primitive and self-irresponsible.
For only a man imbued with the freedom to freely choose between two different options can ever hope to become something he is not, however rare and intermittent.
No, the primitive man cannot transcend himself. He cannot be “spiritual” but only peddle in what has hitherto been loosely considered witchcraft, sorcery, divination, prophecy, soothsaying, spell-casting, alchemy, applied hermeticism, or practical Neo-Platonism, all of which arose from those people who had either not yet attained complete consciousness, universal morality, character-derived and character-driven self-awareness or had willingly crucified their self-awareness because they could not continue to bear the existential burdens that self-responsibility necessarily applies (as in the case of the late-Classical Greeks); cultures – stunted to the degree of that their arrested internalization has rendered them – could not spiritually progress beyond primitivism, beyond the “merely external”, beyond the manipulation of ancient symbols and arcane objects, beyond the exploitation of the supposed laws and processes of nature, beyond the oracles of virgin ecstatics, beyond auguries and the flight of birds, the shape of desiccated bowels, the dance of firelight, effigies, the color of livers and spent tea leaves on porcelain saucers, beyond the stars in yonder orbit, the dealings of the tarot, beyond incantation and proud oath taken before army and priest, all of which the primitive believe has some sort of occult power in and of themselves, power “for its own sake” without the middling concerns of self-responsibility, character, or the sacrifices that are always needed to attain “the spiritual.”
Devil walks into bar. Orders drink. Asks Philosopher sitting next to him: “And what do you do?”