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On the nature of right and wrong
A fundamental component underlying the ethics of belief is a seemingly inherent sense of right and wrong. While we might yield to an acknowledgment of certain gray areas, the extremes are easily discernible.
Writing on the essence of intention, the 19th century mathematician & philosopher William Clifford suggests, “When an action is once done, it is right or wrong for ever; no accidental failure of its good or evil fruits can possibly alter that.”
Clifford shares an example of a shipowner harboring doubt regarding the seaworthiness of his ship. He ultimately decides to let her sail, convincing himself on the basis that she had previously survived turbulent waters. Alas, “he watched her departure with a light heart, and benevolent wishes for the success of the passengers in their strange new home that was to be; and he got his insurance-money when she went down in mid-ocean and told no tales.”
Clearly the owner’s initial doubts ought to have been more thoroughly scrutinized. But Clifford further argues that even if the ship had safely arrived, the act was still wrong. He boldly concludes, “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”
Thus blind (or even well-meaning) faith constitutes moral ineptitude should the objective world not first be properly consulted. Right or wrong are tangible truths; many religions providing firm commandments accordingly.
But what if the world does not offer a basis for belief but rather a deluge for delusion?
Consider these lines from A Course in Miracles:
The world you see does nothing. It has no effects at all. It merely represents your thoughts. The world is false perception. (W-pI.190.6; W-pII.3.1)
Consequently, the world supplies us with faithless testimony. Leading us on fruitless excursions mired in deceptive drama. Right and wrong are not polarities of truth, they are byproducts of an ego projection-perception dynamic. A function of judgment. Hence truth has lost its meaning precisely because it has been objectified.
Yet if the world represents thought, then experience may be managed. "It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed." (W-pI.23.1)
Learning how to change the source of thought leads to deep peace. Where judgment gives way to joy, right and wrong transcended into true reality. We touch the tip of heaven.
Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of right and wrong, and how we can rise above their restrictive assertions into the realm of eternal bliss. I look forward to seeing you then.