I would like to start with a statement that the human race of our planet has already begun ascending the evolutionary arch of the Spiritual Progress. As a result, the renaissance of ethics, including morality, humanistic ideals is also following the path of evolutionary progress.
But if it is so, why there is an opinion that while the technological progress exists, the "morality progress" does not exist. Many people believe that in old days people were "more pure and kind", but today, the society is frequently discussing "morality collapse", "spread of the contagion of violence", "attack on the freedom of speech".
It is possible to answer the question "If there is a morality progress?" by discussing the following:
• What the "morality" is, and is it the synonym to "morals"?
• Where and how morality arises?
• Why "things were better in the old days than they are now"?
• What contributes to morality formation, and how this is implemented in a person?
• What are the vectors of morality changes in the changing world?
Today, many scientists, psychologists and philosophers believe that morality and morals are synonyms. However, there is an opinion that these notions are completely different, though they always stand side by side. Probably, the latter opinion is closer to the Truth because both morality and morals are studied by the same discipline which is called ETHICS.
Both morality and morals mean certain norms of behavior, rules, established order, which people should follow in the society. But there is the main difference between these two notions. For morals, such norms, rules and order are the external factors. Morals are governed by norms of objective reality which are typical for specific development stage of the society and imposed by the "here and now" necessity.
Morals reflect person’s attitude toward the society and other persons, as well as society’s requirements toward a person. Morals consist of rules of human behavior, which establish people's individual responsibilities toward each other and toward the society as a whole. Morals requirements are associated with the notion of how a person should behave himself/herself. A person can be taught morals by certain instructions, advises, recommendations, demands. For instance, it is possible to elaborate standards for corporate ethics, to establish rules regulating conduct in public spaces etc.
On the contrary, it is impossible "to teach" morality, because morality is a specific internal constituent element, which is characteristic to each individual; the morality represents personal morals, self-appraisal and spiritual state of each particular individual, and thus, the morality represents morals, self-appraisal and spiritual state of a society as a whole. When a person is moral, it is expected that he/she established his/her own internal regulator and limits.
Each individual who is evaluating his/her behavior and behavior of other people applies the set of rules addressing first of all the following questions "what is good and what is bad?", "what is good and what is evil?". By accepting standards and rules of conduct that correspond to high ideals and principles, a person can learn identifying and telling the difference between the criteria that allow to determine the state of morality and to achieve spiritual growth.
So, where individual consciousness starts or where and how morality is born?
Let’s turn to our compatriot Helena Petrovna Blavatska who in her book entitled "The Secret Doctrine" brought to the world the renewed Teaching on the Timeless Wisdom – the Theosophy. She was writing the following: "Theosophy is a teaching about ethics and moral principles". It is the very Theosophy which provides an answer to this difficult question based on the following three main Laws of the Universe:
1. The Unity of everything existing. 2. The Law of Karma. 3. The Law of Reincarnation. At the Theosophical lodge meetings in London in 1889 in Commentaries to the Verse 4 of Stanza I of "The Secret Doctrine" (Part I, Cosmogenesis), Helena Petrovna stressed that "twelve major causes of existence, which give birth to the Manifested Universe according to the Law of Karma are called NIDÂNAS. It is THEM (NIDÂNAS) that are moral agents in the Universe and are included in Maya".
It means that morality is already born at the very first moment of the Manifestation of new Manvantara, New Life or New Cosmos. Each Nidâna represents a link in the CHAIN of causation, "a concatenation of causes and effects". According to "The Theosophical Dictionary", NIDÂNAS are placed in the following priority enumeration order:
1. JATI, or birth, according to one of the four modes of entering the stream of life and reincarnation.
2. JARÂRNARANA, or decrepitude and death, following the maturity of the Skandhas.
3. BHAVA, the Karmic agent which leads every new sentient being to be born in this or another mode of existence.
4. UPÂDÂNA, the creative cause of Bhava which thus becomes the cause of Jati which is the effect; and this creative cause is the clinging to life.
5. TRISHNÂ, love, whether pure or impure.
6. VÊDÂNA, or sensation; perception by the sense.
7. SPARSA, the sense of touch.
8. CHADÂYATANA, the organs of sensation.
9. NÂMARÛPA, personality, i.e., a form with a name to it, the symbol of the unreality of material phenomenal appearances.
10. VIJNÂNA, the perfect knowledge of every perceptible thing and of all objects in their concatenation and unity.
11. SAMSKÂRA, action on the plane of illusion.
12. AVIDYÂ, lack of true perception, or ignorance.
Then, in her "Instructions of Teachings for the Inner Group" H.P. Blavatska was writing the following: "NIDÂNAS are the detailed expression of the law of Karma, under twelve aspects, or, we might say – the law of Karma under twelve Nidanic aspects". She explained that since "the NIDÂNAS belong to the most subtle and abstruse doctrines of the Eastern metaphysical system, it is impossible to go into the subject at any greater length." Nevertheless, if we try to unveil in fragments the inner essence of each Nidâna and then to join everything to obtain the Integral Whole, it becomes clear that an individual is born with those morality principles that he/she acquired in the result of his/her actions during his/her previous lives and that he/she will have to perfect in his/her new life according to the Law of Karma.
Famous XX century psychologist Carl Gustav Jung in his work entitled "Soul and Myth. Six Archetypes" mentions that "already in human blood plasma – in embryonic form of life, ... there is something embedded, something spiritual, an inclination to spiritual". In such a case, what should direct a person toward developing this spirituality gift? From the theosophical point of view, everything that happened in the past and that is currently happening before our eyes has only one sense and only one explanation: it is necessary for each individual to gradually expand his/her own consciousness. Moreover, consciousness should be understood in a most wide sense – as the work of Mind, Heart, Conscience, Will and all-unifying Love. While working on expanding his/her own consciousness, a person is learning lessons from his/her life experience as his/her Soul passes from one physical life to another physical life; so this results in the revelation that bad deeds lead him/her to sufferings. Following many reincarnations, a person’s Soul realizes that obeying the morality laws helps to avoid unnecessary sufferings. Soul is nurturing these morality and moral values, which as far back as in Ancient Greece were called "ethical virtues". Ukrainian teacher, writer, philosopher, enlightener Hryhoriy Skovoroda, who was called "Heavenly Wisdom", considered compassion, mercy, good sense, benevolence, justice and brotherhood to be the main items on the list of these virtues. These positive qualities form the foundation of the spiritual life of every human being. They serve a basis for the development of brotherly relationship among people, and in the long run, they contribute to the implementation of the 1st and most important Goal of the Theosophical Society. Radha Burnier in her work "Spiritual Regeneration of Mankind" stressed upon the fact that without morality it is impossible to build the Universal Brotherhood, which can manifest itself only at the Buddhi level. Already on the Earth, here and now, it is necessary to engage yourself in the development of your own morality and your spiritual growth.
While perfecting his/her own inner nature in the process of evolution, a person becomes able to raise his/her consciousness to higher levels, so he/she starts manifesting the aspects and qualities of morality, which correspond to his/her individual development level. In other words, the level of morality depends on the level of consciousness of a specific person in particular, and so, of the society as a whole. However sometimes, in one society certain person is recognized to be of a high morality, but in another society which is of more advanced consciousness, the morality of the above mentioned person might be considered inadequate. It's been in the nature of things at all times, it is still so nowadays.
We may remember that during the times when Peter the Great ruled Russia, according to one of the rules of public conduct, it was forbidden to go to bed in boots. Is this rule actual now? It is obvious that today this issue is absolutely not relevant. This is exactly an example of the manifestation of inner morality through the higher level of consciousness.
H.F. Pisareva in her book "On the Hidden Meaning of Life" clearly correlates human morality level with one or another level of consciousness starting from the lowest level which is intrinsic to barbarians and finishing with the higher consciousness level of modern people, practically until the present time. She stresses upon the fact that the highest level of consciousness is still to achieve and that each level had, has and will have its own criterion of morality, which allows to determine the development level of a person as an integral part of the Whole, and so, the development level of the Whole itself.
Life still goes on. Today, we feel especially keenly how far life has advanced. Behavior requirements become tougher, previous consciousness stage is loosing its power and a new consciousness stage approaches to replace it. Meanwhile, consciousness of the majority of people does not catch up with the overall pace of evolution. That is why some people still consider the obsolete life styles to be a model of order, strength and balance, and they focus on the past only and loose the vision of the future. As a result, these people frequently say: "it used to be better before". The reason for such an opinion is that these people do not combine the past and the future into a single evolutionary flow of a transitory epoch when a process of adaptation and rethinking of everything happening has started; this gives a false impression of a regress. H.F. Pisareva addresses this issue and writes the following: "This process is taking place because the existing equilibrium is shaking, human psychology is evolving to become more sophisticated, and while it is adapting to higher life requirements, all its outer manifestations become more chaotic, contradicting former standards, "knocked-out" from existing morality context, ... a lot of time is needed to get rid of previously acquired characteristics, ... for gradual reformation of all previous concepts, feelings and inner skills... Such an adaptation period is always characterized by difficult events and signs of moral degradation".
Moreover, it is already for a long time that the worldwide scientific community discovered so to speak "well functioning" universal formula which also may help explaining why "it used to be better before". The formula is as follows: the satisfaction equals a fraction where success is the numerator and aspirations are the denominator. Hence, it is clear that the higher the aspirations, the lower the satisfaction of actual goals achieved. Thus today, it is "bad" not because it has become worse indeed, but because our aspirations, demands and wishes drastically increased, while at the moment, a so called "success" of our society cannot yet meet our aspirations.
What, after all, contributes to the morality formation at various stages of person’s life and how does it manifest itself? It is worthwhile to remind the saying of genius scientist Albert Einstein: "We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive." In other words, in order to build your new behavior, attitude toward others, to mould your morality at a certain stage of life, it is necessary to change your mentality. Besides, the founder of the integral yoga Sri Aurobindo, as though he had read the thoughts of the great scientific genius, gives an advice "at the same time to turn ... mind towards ethics, to moral purity, and so to wake-up the inner reality of our natural essence, to contact the highest reality, to stay connected to it, to adhere to it, and, due to such a contact and adherence, to transform your essence by converting it to a new essence, new personality, new nature."
However, there is only one transforming Force – LOVE. Without LOVE everything becomes nothing. According to Jiddu Krishnamurti, morality is not a product of thought only, it is not an outcome of social pressure, not an immediate yesterday product or a product evolved from a tradition. LOVE is the highest life value. An unknown author in inspired words reminds us about this value:
Duty without love makes a person irritable.
Responsibility without love makes a person rude.
Justice without love makes a person cruel.
Truth without love makes a person captious.
Good manners without love make a person twofaced.
Affability without love makes a person hypocritical.
Intellect without love makes a person cunning.
High knowledge without love makes a person uncompromising.
Honor without love makes a person arrogant.
Power without love makes a person violent.
Wealth without love makes a person greedy.
Faith without love makes a person fanatic.
That is why whatever we are doing we should do it with Love. Only this way each of us can cultivate in himself/herself a person of high morality, to create a NEW himself/herself in the changing world.
Individual moral development leads the person toward spirituality. True morality enhances the vibrations of consciousness in the human essence, and such a person becomes able to conceive Divine vibrations. Rules of morality are to divert a person from behaving selfishly, from caring only about himself/herself. They teach a person to care more about others; they direct a person towards Altruism, which is the keynote of Theosophy. From my point of view, it is exactly where the main vectors of individual morality development should be focused, because by following these vectors every person will be able to find a way toward the True Self, to transform his/her own individual inner nature, and as a result, will foster the moral evolution of all humanity. When we "start shining from inside" we will be able to say:
"Listen and hear! You by yourself became the Light, you became the Sound, you by yourself are your own Teacher and God. You BY YOURSELF are the goal of your search; non-stopping Voice rushing through the eternity; you are free of changes, free of sin, – in the One – there are seven sounds of the Voice of Silence".
In conclusion, I would like to state unambiguously: morality is evolving, though slowly yet, but steadily and continuously. As Helena Petrovna Blavatska has asserted in her work "The Key to Theosophy", the time will come when "earth will be a heaven in comparison with what it is now".