How morality and moralizing affect our spiritual growth differently

We all need morality as a behavioral safeguard. If we indulge in some unhealthy pleasure indiscriminately and repeatedly, we become attached, even addicted. Over time, our consciousness becomes reduced to that indulgence — we can’t think of other things even if we want to. 

Codes of morality are meant to protect us from self-sabotage. Morality centers on proscribing those activities that shrink our consciousness and prescribing those activities that expand our consciousness. The ultimate purpose of such expansion of consciousness is to perceive spiritual reality. Ultimately, our expanded consciousness enables us to realize and relish unending spiritual joy. 

While we strive for morality, we are prone to the temptation to moralize, wherein we delight in pointing out others’ moral shortcomings. We succumb to moralizing when we fixate on morality without rising to spirituality. As spiritual happiness eludes us, we start seeking pleasure in parading our moral superiority over others. We condemn those who fall short of the moral standards we profess; we reduce them to their immoral actions by giving them pejorative labels; we become blind to the reality that they are still spiritual beings, precious parts of the Divine. 

Moralizing reduces our consciousness — we become consumed by thoughts of how immoral others are instead of honestly evaluating how spiritual we are, thus defeating our purpose of spiritual growth. The Bhagavad-gita cautions that such a reductionistic vision is spiritually bankrupt; when we equate one part of reality with the whole of reality, our perception is in the mode of ignorance (18.22).

Guided by Gita wisdom, when we align our morality with our purpose of expanding our consciousness toward spirituality, we can resist the temptation to moralize. 

One-sentence summary:

Morality furthers our spiritual growth by expanding our consciousness; moralizing impedes our spiritual growth by reducing our consciousness. 

Think it over:

  • Why do we need morality?
  • Why is moralizing undesirable?
  • Do you tend to moralize? How can you resist that temptation?


18.22: And that knowledge by which one is attached to one kind of work as the all in all, without knowledge of the truth, and which is very meager, is said to be in the mode of darkness.

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  1. Thank you for your daily wisdom Prabhu-Ji. This and the other daily emails are always inspiring and helpful. Learning to differentiate between morality and moralizing is an important distinction that we need to realise in our day to day lives if we are to progress on our spiritual journey.

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  2. Prabhuji, your excellent articles on Gita wisdom help me in reaffirming my faith in our dear lord Krishna and assist me in staying on course of the correct path as laid down by Bhagwad Gita and so beautifully taught by you. Hare Krishna 🙏

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