Academia is largely divorced from the spiritual. I believe that it will reach its full potential only once academia embraces spirituality—or unconditional love.
As background, when I was in graduate school in communications studies, I had a choice of methodologies. On one end, I could say I was victimized as the “other.” Many methodologies pertained to this. One such methodology was performance ethnography. With this methodology, I could perform a stage performance seeking my emancipation. And then other methodologies suggested a person’s lived reality was a form of “truth.” But nothing I found formed the basis for genuine cooperation rather than victimization. And nothing I found implied there was a higher truth, a spiritual truth, particularly one founded on principles of selfless, unconditional love. There once was one theory, I believe, that entered the spiritual domain, called “transcendentalism.” Still, it was no longer in vogue, so I couldn’t apply it.
So, I had a choice of methodologies I didn’t believe in. However, I wanted to research how methodologies were created so that I could one day make one. But I was just a master’s student and bore no clout.
I did find a methodology that was also a theory that inspired me. It was spiritual feminism, but it was no longer in vogue. Instead, what I considered to be the abrasive form of feminism prevailed. These feminists are more self-interested rather than selfless. The structure of feminism I wish to see one day is based on selfless, unconditional love.
Even the psychology department’s treatment of marital therapy emphasizes self-interest with “I” statements, venting, shared responsibilities, and expectations. I’m getting certified with the Marriage Foundation, which, although unaccredited by the psychology discipline, believes the psychology community’s low success rate in saving marriages has much to do with conditional love. They advocate for unconditional love, which is entirely selfless, void of expectations, but ripe with service and appreciation. I can tell you from experience that my giving unconditional love has brought immeasurable joy in my life. It turned my world into a beautiful place. And I keep learning the principles of unconditional love daily.
So, I believe academia would flourish if it embraced spirituality, or in other words, unconditional love, which to me, is the highest form of spiritual awareness. For instance, mathematicians a decade ago were researching the existence of a fifth spatial dimension where people’s innards would be visible. At least, that’s what a math professor told me. And he said a subset of spiritual mathematicians inferred this concept was related to the afterlife.
And what about the countless stories of people who undergo near-death experiences? These people almost always claim to be enveloped in this indescribably blissful feeling of unconditional love that brings some of them to tears when they retell the tale. Shouldn’t their first-person accounts qualify as qualitative research, not just from the perspective of religious studies but from a more holistic academic inquiry?
And what would be the implications of cruel research on animals if love was the foundation? Or what would be the implications of robotics, physics, business, art, or medical school if unconditional love were the basis? At the very least, I would find academia less stressful and more purposeful. And I wouldn’t feel my heart break looking into the terrified, sweet eyes of the last surviving mouse. But, naturally, empathy should prevail when seeing a tiny mouse placed upside down in a beaker. The researcher’s goal is to see how long it would survive in such brutal conditions. So why not study how long it would survive in situations where it could thrive? Or, at the very least, the researchers could offer the slightest bit of humanity along the way.
A discipline called positive psychology is emerging. It emphasizes the value of spirituality. But, in my view, it’s only optimally favorable once it embraces that selfless state of unconditional love, which is the true essence of all positivity. I believe pure love is your true essence, too.
The scientific method has its place, but could it intersect with spirituality or unconditional love? The two perspectives may clash on many levels, but opposing views often coincide, such as in politics or everyday life. And perhaps actual science does not conflict with spiritual, unconditional love, but advances from it.
One day a revolution founded on spiritual, selfless, unconditional love may occur in academia. That revolution will cause academic progress to skyrocket at unprecedented rates, in my opinion. After all, isn’t true progress the realization of happiness and joy?