The Aspiring Path

the Basica

  One way of approaching spiritual life is to focus on submitting to Divine will. This is usually based on the theory that human nature is, in essence, evil or base. One attempts to alter one's behavior by way of suppressing bad impulses in favor of an external influence of good. This is accomplished by following certain Divinely given directives that spell out how to live and worship. One can sometimes be aided in this by clergy and teachers. One bends to this, distrusting one's own desires and sacrificing personal gain for the sake of compliance and its benefits, both immediate and eternal. In other words, one overcomes an innate drive to do evil by way of obedience to a trusted outside force. This approach has taught humanity a great deal and brought many to great spiritual heights.

  On the other hand, one could say human beings have groupings of inborn urges underlying our behavior, none of them inherently good or evil. Each person's decisions about how to respond to these urges are influenced both by their society and their own personal characteristics. These drive groupings could be categorized as the survival drives, the thriving drives, the contact drives, the meaning drives, and the purpose drives.

  The survival drives propel us to act in ways that provide us with the physical things we need in order to keep our bodies alive and perpetuate the human race: food, water, survivable temperatures, production of offspring, and the like. The thriving drives motivate us to move beyond the minimum, accumulating abundance and pursuing beauty, joy, and pleasure: stored up goods and currency, artistically prepared foods, music, humor, sexual outlet without regard to reproduction, etc. The contact drives cause us to seek various kinds of involvement and relationship with others and give us concern for how we and they affect each other: the desires to be social and to have privacy, the sense of a need to conform or be independent, the wish to help or hinder others, the pursuit of intimacy on all levels, and related matters. The meaning drives move us to discover why we are here and what the point is of keeping the human race and all other life going: how and why the universe was made, why we should not destroy ourselves or allow something else to finish us off if there is so much trouble in the world, what reason beyond ourselves there might be for why we should care about the well-being of other creatures and the environment, what the ultimate plan or goal is for humanity, and so on. The purpose drives prompt us to find our individual place in the universe and learn what we should personally be doing here: why we were born, what we contribute, what we should be doing with our lives - or even just with today...

  Unfettered by judgment of these most foundational motivations, one can take the approach of aspiring to act in concert with Ultimate Divine Spirit. To do so, one intentionally seeks the most positive ways of addressing one's drives in an attempt to become as complete, mature, fulfilled, and harmonious with Divine intent as possible. This view considers none of these things to be automatically contradictory with each other. It does involve a desire to know what is asked of us so we can make good decisions, but it does not consider those good decisions to be contrary to our essential nature or basic freedom. Instead, our drives can be seen as causing us to rise to the challenge of sorting out our conduct. We can then be guided primarily by appeals to our inclination to reason and love rather than led as though we were normally prone only to unthinking, self-interested misconduct.

  Of course, neither approach guarantees that we will be perfect and unerring. Nor does one approach totally exclude the other. Submitting to Divine will is best done as an active choice, freely made. Without that choice, there is only lip service and maybe going through the motions, at best, while rebellion is harbored deep in the heart. And aspiring to act in concert means not only giving up arrogance long enough to discover truth but also things such as having enough respect for fairness and justice that there is a willingness to submit to consequences and to the need to set things right when a wrong has somehow been done. The difference between the two approaches is in the underlying attitude and main focus as one navigates life and communes spiritually. At a certain point, one could even say the line between the two methods is not necessarily clear. When differentiating between the two, which approach is best depends on the individual and must be revealed through honesty, self-knowledge, and a genuine desire to learn what is truly in accordance with Divine mind and nature.

  Basicanism, with its clearly and strongly expressed support of freedom, individuality, and responsibility, is, at heart, an aspiration based path. It does not deny the value of appropriate kinds or moments of submission. In fact, the act of becoming consecrated can be seen either as bringing a Basican closer to a form of submission or as an assertion of more determined and committed aspiration - or both. But the underlying view of human nature we can sense in the Basica, by the way it deals with telling us what we need to know and do, gives us the understanding that our task is to let all our drives be balanced and brought to bear in our active and willing pursuit of spiritual accord. We are not asked to judge these most essential needs and desires. Instead, we are directed to look to the quality of our responses to them and to ensure that we act on them in ways that contribute to the greater good.

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