Swear Allegiance to Quality, Not Quantity

We see it every day. Intelligent people rallying to the defense of the indefensible. Rallying to someone who has said something completely untrue, vulgar, or just plain ugly. And rallying to the individual solely because they see themselves as being on the “same side” — usually on the political left or right.

To the higher kind of man or woman, this is strange behavior. Think of the wartime general who expresses admiration for his counterpart, respecting the very man that is intent on destroying him. Indeed, such wartime leaders realized that they had to respect their enemy if they wanted to beat him. To underestimate him was to give him the edge.

But, the higher man or woman instinctively allies him- or herself with quality. Most especially, they are interested in knowing the Truth, the transcendent, the sacred, the lasting, and the eternal.

Though a Muslim, the Mughal emperor Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar encouraged dialogue between Islam, Hinduism, and other faiths, and decreed that schools for Muslims and Hindus should be established in his empire. Again, though he shunned the fashions and excesses of modern spirituality, during the last century, René Guénon claimed that the major religions embodied reflections of a single primordial revelation.

In all things, quantity turns into junk, while quality is lasting. Think of cheap — and cheaply made — clothes or goods, falling apart before far quicker than the equivalent, quality-made object (with the “cheaper” items costing more in the long run). Think of mass-produced items, thrown out after a while, while the rare hand-made antique remains treasured and passed down through the generations. Think of junk politics, forcing itself onto the mass until no one can believe it anymore. Yet, the works of Plato, Marcus Aurelius, Rumi, etc., are still read today and will be read, probably, a thousand years from now. Think of the creator who is memorialized while his critics are righty forgotten.

Just as we can discover ugliness and cheapness in religious zealots, we can discover an expression of transcendent truth in each religion. But it requires allying with quality, not quantity. It means not defending the religious zealot on “our side,” and not fixating on the wrongdoings of the “other side.” Rather, it means listening to the priest or bishop of intelligence and understanding, and to the dharma teacher and imam of intelligence and understanding.

Of course, we will find sometimes ourselves on one side of an argument and not on the other. And, of course, we might feel an allegiance to a certain group. But, rather than dumbing down the group by defending the indefensible, we can take the person aside who is lowering the standards of the group, and doing more harm than good, and can talk with him, listening to his concerns, pointing out the error in his behavior, and encouraging him to act according to a higher standard.

But this requires a shift in our own mentality, from one where our allegiance is to a “side,” to one where our allegiance is to knowledge, truth, wisdom, strength, and beauty. From fixating on the bad in those we disagree with (or making things up about them) to finding what is good about the person we disagree with and where there is truth in what he claims — thus strengthening our knowledge and our ability to think and to reason. And, fundamentally, it means seeing ourselves as being among those of quality, those who make a difference, and, in the eyes of the world, those who matter — and not a mouthpiece for a mob.

Resources:

Bishop Robert Baron on Youtube
Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya on Youtube
Abdal Hakim Murad on Youtube
Mufti Menk on Youtube
The Dalai Lama on Youtube
Academy of ideas (primarily philosophy) on Youtube
Integral Life (Ken Wilber, et al.) on Youtube
(And if you haven’t already, please subscribe to The Spiritual Survival on Youtube and hit the bell to get notifications.)

Angel Millar is the editor of The Spiritual Survival and the author of several books including The Three Stages of Initiatic Spirituality: Craftsman, Warrior, Magician (release date: February 2020).

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