In the quadrune mind model of spirituality, there is no spiritual merit in the killing of another person—ever. In this blog we will describe some moral arguments for killing other people and indicate which level of pre-Human consciousness, as described in the quadrune mind model, best corresponds.1 We will end with an examination of the circumstances in which we might see someone operating from a Human mentality kill another person. However, such killing is still not spiritually justified, and as such creates a spiritual debt.
Spiritual indebtedness means that we have taken an act that hinders our progress toward becoming a spiritually conscious Human. The quadrune mind model believes that we cannot make up for such wrongs through prayer or tithing—rather, the only way to return to the spiritual path is to do the same thing that brought us there in the first place: take actions that heal living creatures and the earth.
The Religious/Legalistic Argument for Killing Other People
Reptilian Mind. The “God Squad” argued in 2002 that killing in a just war is not a sin. They wrote the following in response to a Roman Catholic member of the Army who asked if he was breaking the Ten Commandments if he killed a person while deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom:
“Let’s begin with a helpful correction to the way you interpret the fifth commandment (the sixth commandment in the Jewish counting). The wording, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ is a mistranslation of the original Hebrew text, which reads lo tirtzach, meaning, ‘Thou shalt not murder.’ There’s a difference between killing and murder. What you’ve been trained to do as a soldier, and what you may some day have to do, is killing, to be sure. But it’s not murder. You are protecting and defending America against clearly defined, morally unjust enemies. This collective form of self-defense is no different spiritually and morally from defending yourself or your family against unjust attack…. If war is truly based on self-defense, and if every effort is made to avoid harm to noncombatants and to treat prisoners of war with respect, killing can be seen as legitimate force employed to secure the victory of the good.”
This example is a religious argument, but it is also a good example of legalism.2 Legalism is a trait associated with the reptilian-minded person. And as we have discussed previously, religion, particularly in its more traditional forms, is also attractive to the reptilian mind. Legalism and traditional religion both appeal to a ritualized authority (the Supreme Court in one case; God in another) and ritual, structure, a clearly defined right and wrong are all attractive to our reptilian minds, which crave certainty without thought. It is the God Squad’s interpretation of (divine) law in this example that allows them to claim that morally-justified killing is okay with God. Of course, this is the same legalism that occurs in a worldly context when a court rules that someone has committed “justifiable homicide.” Killing that is justified by the law or the Ten Commandments may been seen by many as legal and even moral, but it is not spiritually justifiable from the quadrune mind model’s perspective.
The Patriotic Argument for Killing Other People
Old Mammalian Mind. One of the most common arguments for “justified” killing is to protect one’s family or country, both of which are old mammalian-minded concerns. In fact, the idea that killing in defense of one’s country is justified is so commonplace that many people would never even question the morality of a nation’s army going to war to defend the nation’s people and its borders.
However, our old mammalian mind needs to create a moral justification for taking the life of another so that we can continue to view ourselves as “good” people, even after we’ve done horrendous things. For example, a research article found that soldiers who took a life during the Iraq war resented people who criticized the war more than did soldiers who had not taken a life. The researcher suggested, “Because America’s decision to go to war was the sole reason these soldiers killed, they ‘now depend on that policy to justify their actions….’ Those who disagree with the policy, then, become automatic enemies.” Patriotism is one of the most effective motivators to move honor-valuing people to commit dishonorable acts.
In order for veterans to avoid demonizing themselves, they must demonize anyone who questions the morality of their behavior. However, murdering other people on behalf of “national interests” deserves no spiritual commendations. The country may award medals, the people may “appreciate the service” of those who were put into dehumanizing conditions on their behalf, but the people who murder, and the people (corporate, government, and military elites) who made multiple decisions to create the necessity of war, all share spiritual indebtedness. There is no opportunity for metaphysical atonement in the secular quadrune mind model, so it is left to us to heal the lives of the people we have affected.
The Sectarian Argument for Killing Other People
New Mammalian Mind. The division of a society into abstract, socially constructed sects is probably a necessary, if not sufficient, cause of domestic unrest. The first United States Civil War resulted from the sectional division of the country into North and South. Currently, Americans are divided between several sectarian categories, including political and ethnic categories, but most insidiously, between the super-rich class and everyone else.3
Sectarianization in the United States is caused by wealthy elites weakening the general public in order to profit off them and convince them to fear and hate each other more than they fear or hate (or understand) what is done to them by the unimaginably powerful elite ownership class. The inequity of ownership in America engenders social unrest. Fear and hatred of the “other” has led to civil violence.
Lebanon is a world-famous example of constitutionalized sectarianization of the people leading to egregious government corruption and great suffering among the people of all sects in Lebanon. The elites who divided the country based on new mammalian ideologies created the violence that now traumatizes the nation. As Rima Majed wrote, “For the sake of clarity and accuracy, it is worth noting that there is no such thing as ‘sliding into’ a civil war. The idea that the road to civil war is a slippery slope is wrong. Civil wars are not a natural development or a coincidence. They cannot be the result of an unintentional drift away from the initial path. Civil wars are political decisions. They require arming and funding, as well as training and political backing…. This is not to say that a war is completely unlikely. However, this is to clarify that a civil war is a political decision that can only be taken at this point by political parties that are in power and that have access to arms and funding…. While revolutions can come in the shape of social explosions, civil wars are intentional political decisions.”4
Rima Majed’s observations seem relevant to the development of many Americans’ expectation that a civil war can be expected soon in the United States.
However, as with the other mentalities, those who believe they are morally justified in killing others who do not share their ideas or ideologies are not justified in the quadrune mind model. This is true even if we are convinced that the other side’s beliefs are wrong or evil and the world would be better off without them. Killing tied to sectarian concerns comes from a pre-spiritual mind and again creates spiritual indebtedness. Therefore, even if we engage in war against Nazis or other sectarian groups that we can prove are harming or killing others, it does not mean we can kill harm-free. The advice that Gandhi offered his Hindu follower who had lost a son in the fighting between Hindus and Muslims can be modified and applied here. If we were to kill a Nazi to stop them from killing many others, a step in our spiritual atonement could be to care for the family of the Nazi we killed. Such an act would change the world more greatly and permanently than the single act of killing a Nazi. However, it is far better in the quadrune mind model to spend time with and show care toward those with whom we disagree before sectarian divides turn violent. That way, we can potentially prevent the need to choose between killing and sitting passively by while others are killed.
The Love Argument for Killing Other People
Human Mind. The question put to me, which planted the seed for this blog many years ago was, “What would you do if someone was trying to kill your daughter?” The quadrune mind model says that any act to take another person’s life creates harm—even if we do it for the greater good—and as such is not a spiritual act and leads to spiritual indebtedness. Still, there are times when killing for the greater good, out of love for all living creatures, does occur. As mentioned in the previous section, we may need5 to go to war to stop genocide, or a mother may need to shoot her alcoholic, abusive husband to stop him from killing their children. The question then is, “Does the noble purpose of taking a life to save another, or many others, justify an act of homicide?”
Amends. It may seem ridiculous that I would need to make amends for taking a life to save my daughter’s life or the lives of victims of a genocide—surely such an act would be justified. However, even if it would be legally and morally justifiable, there is no spiritual justification for killing, even killing to save another out of love. Even if I killed someone who was despised and considered the most despicable person on earth, and my daughter was widely admired for her compassion, talent, and loving nature, I would still incur spiritual indebtedness by killing the attacker. I would not spiritually merit community respect or honors. Rather, my spiritually-minded response would be in taking action to ease any suffering experienced by the people affected by my actions. If it were impossible for me to help them or they did not exist, then I would need to find other people to help, perhaps other people suffering from an act of violence. To reduce suffering and increase healing is the purpose of Human life. This spiritual imperative applies to anyone who kills for legal, political, or patriotic purposes, as well for loving ones. Of course, it is the same imperative we always have as human beings, even if it’s the end of the world.
The quadrune mind model of spirituality does not accept the notion that murder “for no compelling moral reason” is bad, but killing people for a morally-justifiable reason such as religion, country, sect, or family is okay. Never mind that Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and even Buddhists might have different ideas about who God says it’s okay to kill. Protecting the survival of one’s offspring is something that even (presumably) unmoral6 parents of invertebrate animals do, but the quadrune mind model of spirituality holds human beings to a much higher spiritual standard. That is, Human nature is what we do that has never been seen in living beings before us. Only human beings, specifically those living from their Human mind, can choose not to kill when faced with death or spend their lives making amends when killing must be done for the greater good.
However, we must note that each of us must make the decision for ourselves not to kill, or to make amends for killing. The quadrune mind model would not justify us in forcing others to make that decision. Our spiritual path is our concern, not something to be forced upon others when it may not be the right time or decision for them. Forcing a mother to make amends for killing her abusive husband the day after she had to make that terrifying and difficult choice would only cause her harm. To reduce suffering and increase healing in the world is the Human thing to do, and the only activity worthy of Human life.
A Broader Conclusion
A person may be legally, politically, ideologically, and even morally justified to commit “murder,” but in the quadrune mind model of consciousness no one is ever spiritually justified to murder or kill anyone else, or any sentient being for that matter. Going further, the quadrune mind is a model that draws upon the concept of Panpsychism, which says that everything in the universe is made up of a single “source” of mind-potential essence, which becomes sentient by creation or evolution. The implication of this philosophy is that no one is spiritually innocent when they harm any part of the physical world. Somewhat paradoxically, it is because the quadrune mind model is a secular model of spirituality that it can accept a conclusion that everything is “mind stuff,” including what is considered as the “natural” world. It seems likely to me that there are some questions about the universe that we cannot, need not, and will not ever answer. It’s not a bad thing for humanity to have a little humility and awe in the face of existence. Maybe that would give us pause from taking life too willingly.
- See the Study Guide, especially pages 5-11, for more information.
- Legalism is defined as “excessive adherence to law or formula.”
- Lundberg, F. (1968). The rich and the super-rich: A study in the power of money today. New York: Lyle Stuart. “The converse of the great concentration of personal wealth is the great deficit in needed public social services. On the corporation front, the country is obviously extremely lusty. But in education and medicine, to cite merely two areas, everything suddenly becomes extremely meager, scrounging and hand-too-mouth.” (page 29); “If profitability cannot be shown for an activity, such as raising the cultural level and tending to the lame, the halt, the blind and the stricken, such activity is left to quixotic and somewhat suspect elements—quixotic at least by prevailing standards.” (page 180); “… one wonders about the oft-heard thesis of many conservative and ultra-conservative spokesmen and newspapers that the federal Social Security System, the Family Welfare System and the trade-union system all carry great danger of destroying the characters of the participants. They might, among other things, become mercenary or lazy.
“The rich themselves very evidently do not believe that being the beneficiaries of huge trust funds has undermined their characters, or that establishing trust funds for their children will distort the children’s characters.” (page 221); “I prefer [the label for a man who does not think only about money] the somewhat pretentious-sounding ‘impecunious’ to the simpler ‘poor man’ because it is semantically cleaner, less streaked with the crocodile tears of latter-day politicians and professional social workers. A poor man, after all, is only a man without money and is often very little different in cultural attainment or outlook from many beneficiaries of multiple trust funds.” (page 347); “… politicians have drawn lessons from history and developed techniques for treating their demoralized constituents more as adversaries, to be manipulated, than as a consenting public. And they use their very strivings, selfishness and divisiveness among people to bend them to their own dubious purposes…. This method alone does not work with large groups. With them it is necessary to play either on their inherent divisiveness or to divide them arbitrarily in order to rule. This Napoleonic method is well exemplified in the tax laws, which divide and subdivide the populace into many bits and shreds. It is Napoleonic because the general strategy of the little Corsican was to strike successively each section of divided forces with his full, massed force.” (page 359); and [The average citizen] cannot understand that it is the very type of person he likes as a legislator that is his undoing. For he prefers ‘con men’ to seriously honest men [emphasis in the original]. (page 379).” [A classic, exhaustive, witty, and blunt examination of the power of Lundberg’s “ownership” class of elites who control corporate wealth and dominate governmental domestic and foreign policy. Other than the outdated financial statistics, Lundberg’s analyses of the socioeconomic sectarianization of Americans between super-rich and poor, mostly caused by unenlightened power elites’ actions, seem eminently relevant to the current stressors of our American socioeconomic and political affairs.
For a complete online PDF text, minus the Notes, see The Rich and the Super-Rich. The above hardback copy pagination corresponds to the page numbers of the PDF as follows: 29=23; 180=128; 221=157; 347=246; 359=255; and 379=269].
- Majed, R. (2019, December 7). Lebanon’s October revolution: Hope in the midst of crisis. American University of Beirut. [Postscript, February 10, 2021: American University of Beirut’s sociology assistant professor, Rima Majed, specializes in the study of the sectarianization of society. She discusses how a powerful but unenlightened wealthy elite sect in a neoliberal economy (such as exists in the United States) can destabilize a country: “It is in this context of deteriorating economic conditions that the alarming structural problems of the Lebanese economy became obvious to the lay person. Tens of thousands have already lost their jobs or have seen their salaries being cut because of the crisis. The figures are expected to increase in the coming months, with the majority of Lebanese workers and small business owners having the [sic] pay the highest price. The economic crisis and its clear implications on the everyday life of the big majority of the Lebanese society has exposed the dysfunctions of a rentier neoliberal system that cares little about social protection while it focuses on preserving the interests of the few. It is in times like these that the ‘us versus them’ in Lebanese society is reversed from the often-cited sectarian one – the usual card of the ruling elites – to a more obvious class-based one.” What has happened to the Lebanese people seems relevant to the current socioeconomic sectarianization of the American society, and its consequential social unrest, including the prospect of civil war. I use class as another sectarian division among people. Throughout history the ruling elites have often been the instigators of sectarian divisiveness among people as a strategy of control over the masses, while claiming divine right, or by masking their own role in the socioeconomic hierarchy.]
- Although we do not believe in a spiritually “just war” in the quadrune mind model, we do recognize that there may be “necessary” wars.
- As Merriam-Webster explains, “Unmoral refers to those having no moral perception. It is best used for animals or inanimate objects incapable of considering moral concerns, but can also be used for humans lacking the same. Immoral refers to a conscientious rejection of typical moral standards and has a connotation of evil or wrongdoing. Nonmoral describes actions that are not usually subject to moral concerns, such as which shirt to wear. Finally, amoral implies an awareness of moral standards, but a lack of concern for them while acting.”