Ethics and Religion


By Swami Satprakashananda
Foreword by Professor L.P. Chambers, Washington University

Originally presented as a paper before the St. Louis Philosophy Association, Swami Satprakashananda discusses vital questions of ethics and religion.

Paper; 44 pages



The secularization of modern culture has to a large extent divorced ethics from religion. However, without a spiritual view of life, individual and collective morality are not steady and collective life itself becomes jeopardized. This booklet deals with such questions as: How can the moral, religious, and spiritual life be distinguished?; What makes one immoral?; Is doing good the same as being good?; What is the difference between the empirical and the transcendental self?; Where do ethics and religion meet?; How can one go beyond the do’s and don’ts of moral laws? It was originally presented as a paper before the St. Louis Philosophy Association.



Prefatory Note
Ethics and Religion: True Meaning of Ethics and Religion
Relation between Morality and Spirituality
Divorce of Ethics from Religion
Common Background of Religions
World Understanding through Religion
What Makes Man Immoral?
Moral Sense in Man: How It Originates and Functions
Dawn of Spiritual Consciousness
Distinction of Moral, Religious, and Spiritual Life
Moral Life of a Spiritual Aspirant
Action and Contemplation
Work as Worship
Meaning of Renunciation
The Mystic as a Recluse
Does Religion Make a Man Egocentric?
Self-Expansion through Self-Knowledge
Ego and Soul Are Not Identical
The Social Ego Hardly Makes for Self-Expansion
Foundation of Ethics
Metaphysical Background of Ethics according to Vedanta
Views of Schopenhauer and Paul Deussen
From the Spiritual Standpoint Self-Sacrifice is but Self-Realization
Need of the Spiritual Outlook for Social Solidarity: Hindu Method
No Right Scale of Values without a Supreme Spiritual Ideal
Hindu Ethical Standard
Doing Good and Being Good
Inner Purity the Supreme Need of Life
Is Religion Life Negating?
True Function of Religion
Social Life Must Conform to the Spiritual Ideal
Religious Ideal, Eastern or Western, Is Neither Life Affirming Nor Life Negating
Practical Value of Religion: Way to Attain It
Fourfold Values in the Hindu Scheme of Life
Social Work No Solvent for Life’s Problems
Spiritual Perfection Is beyond the Moral Plane
Two Types of Illumined Souls
Characteristics of Illumined Workers
Consummation of Ethical and Religious Ideals


For without spiritual consciousness, morality, the mere doing good to others, becomes a constant struggle to overcome selfish impulses and rarely attains to creative goodness. Without this insight, says our author, …you will open clinics but not solve the problem of disease; extend relief measures but not solve the problem of misery; develop machinery but not solve the problem of want; make laws but not solve the problem of crime; conclude peace treaties but not solve the problem of war. And the reason is obvious. For without that insight into the unity of the finite self with all other finite selves (through the Infinite, which is the soul of each and all) we are constantly thinking of what we can get out of our association with others, not of what we can do for them.

—Professor L.P. Chambers, from the Preface