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Why Be Blinded by Science and Materialism?
Part 3: Human potential within the materialistic view

by Chris Tong, Ph.D.
Dr. Chris Tong

Materialistic self-fulfillment

Within the view of materialism, our most obvious human potential is to be as self-fulfilled as possible (via the available materialistic means) while we are still alive. Fulfillment is in human (not Spiritual) terms: bodily pleasure and emotional contentment.

Because nothing significant can be said about what happens after one dies within this viewpoint, no consideration is given to what consequence living solely to fulfill oneself has on one’s destiny after death. Rather, it is generally presumed that "when you're dead, you're dead"; so "after death" is thus assumed to be a non-issue. There is no absolute address to the problem of human suffering or unhappiness; but it is presumed that increasingly greater understanding of (and control over) material reality corresponds to a lessening of human suffering (at least to the degree that that suffering takes a material form).

Materialistic self-transcendence: the attainment of higher, material purposes

To be a scientific materialist an atheist and a naive realist does not necessarily mean one automatically presumes there is no meaning to life, and no morality in how one relates to others and the world altogether. For instance, Freud, the epitome of a scientific materialist, made famous the view that civilization (looked at purely from the material viewpoint) was founded on an interesting tradeoff. The banding together of the many and the adoption of civil agreements among them from the cavemen to ourselves could accomplish far greater things than the individual alone: allowing the possibility of security from the saber-toothed tiger of neolithic times, and from the overweening aggression of Nazism in the last century. But this banding together has a price: the “discontent” that occurs when the desires and impulses of the individual run counter to the agreements, laws, or impulses of his or her society.

Despite such discontent, extraordinary accomplishments of creativity, leadership, nobility, legacy, and self-transcendence on a human scale for instance, giving of, or even sacrificing, oneself for one’s family, one’s neighbor, or one’s country are possible and often praiseworthy, and in the materialistic viewpoint, these rather than any kind of Spiritual Realization represent the epitome of human potential within the materialistic view.

However, self-transcendence is limited to a material form here: one may be capable of things one wasn’t capable of before, and in this sense, be “transcending oneself”, but one’s fundamental sense of reality remains material, rather than psycho-physical, Spiritual, Transcendental, or Divine.


A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us.

Albert Einstein
in Alice Calaprice (ed.),
The Expanded Quotable Einstein


Self-transcendence of an esoteric kind exceeds the material view. It is a Realization of the Greater Reality, to the point where that Greater Reality is completely (and stably) obvious, and true Happiness itself is then progressively Realized:


Avatar Adi Da SamrajIf You Are Devoted To Great Purposeful Seeking In the conditional worlds, You Will Inevitably Fail If You Avoid Great Struggle and self-Sacrifice, and You May Not Succeed Even If Struggle and self-Sacrifice Are Fully Engaged By You. More Than This, If Your Goal Is The Ultimate, or Happiness Itself, Full and Perfect, You Will Necessarily and Inevitably Fail, Because Happiness Is Not Objectified (or Made Present As a conditional object In the conditional worlds). . . .

Therefore, All The “Glorious” Adventures Of idealistic worldly heroes and All The “Romantic” Attainments Of “Creative” cultural geniuses End In Temporary Elation, Followed (Inevitably) By Disillusionment, and Then (At Best), Unless There Is No “Recovery” From Inevitable Disillusionment, There May Be A Reawakening Of The Stressful Motive To Seek and Attain Once More . . .

Conventionally heroic and “Creative” personalities Tend To Grasp Only A Portion Of The Great Lesson Of conditional Existence. They Realize a genius For Struggle and self-Sacrifice, but (Unless, By Grace, they Realize The Truth Itself, and By self-Transcendence, Even By Advancing To The Ultimate Stages Of Life) they Never Realize Happiness Itself.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, Chapter 44
The Dawn Horse Testament Of The Ruchira Avatar



If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.

Albert Einstein
in Alice Calaprice (ed.),
The Expanded Quotable Einstein


Materialistic self-improvement

Whether, as a materialist, one gives oneself over wholeheartedly to a life of self-fulfillment, or one gives one’s allegiance to something greater than oneself (but still in the material sphere), or as is most common one mixes one’s allegiance: however it is played, one can always get better at it. One can always improve oneself at either fulfilling oneself or serving a higher material purpose.

And so self-improvement is the last of the the three elements comprising the typical materialist life: materialistic self-fulfillment; materialistic self-transcendence through serving material causes greater than self; and self-improvement.

Limitations of the materialistic view


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