Montesquieu was a man who rewrote political philosophy of his day. His ideas form a foundation of our democratic republic here in the U.S., and form a backbone of the U.S. Constitution.
Here’s a great quote from one of his writings:
“It is not chance that rules the world. Ask the Romans, who had a continuous sequence of successes when they were guided by a certain plan, and an uninterrupted sequence of reverses when they followed another. There are general causes, moral and physical, which act in every monarchy, elevating it, maintaining it, or hurling it to the ground. All accidents are controlled by these causes. And if the chance of one battle—that is, a particular cause—has brought a state to ruin, some general cause made it necessary for that state to perish from a single battle. In a word, the main trend draws with it all particular accidents.”
– Montesquieu, “Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur décadence”
Obvious political implications aside, it’s hard not to admire this man’s systemic thinking which was way ahead of his time. That’s the mind of an architect and an an engineer.
Great American mathematician Greg Nash called those types of things “the governing principles”. This is applicable to in any branch of human endeavor. Do yourself a favor and check him out for yourself in the movie “A Beautiful Mind”.
Governing principles are hard to find because they demand that we change our most foundational paradigms, which often times feels like a threat to our socially constructed sense of identity. We feel more comfortable in the warmth of the familiar.
However, they are a treasure trove for a true explorer and pioneer, and people who are crazy and audacious enough to discover and describe them pave a way for the next generation of reformers and leaders to follow in their wake. And therefore – by necessity, all true Pioneers are iconoclasts, smashing the sacred idols to find the vibrant God-created reality that the idols obscured and misrepresented.
If only we were keen enough to recognize these guiding principles governing the spirit world and master their operation, we would truly be an equivalent of the wisest, humblest, most powerful Jedi Masters (this cinematic metaphor should be immediately resonant with most of us).
Here’s a problem that I see with Christianity they way it exists today. It started as a movement of connecting with the transcendent world of the Spirit, and of living our lives fully in the present. Just as there are laws in the natural world, there are laws governing the invisible spiritual world. The early disciples were really connected with it. Their hearts were pure before God, their hands brought healing and restoration wherever they went, and their path was attractive for those who really wanted to know the WHo behind the WHAT.
However, a mere 200-300 years later the whole movement was already thoroughly corrupted. The Path turned from what could be deeply felt and experienced into eclectic collections of external ritualisms, and inner transformation and empowerment turned into a tribal system of belonging and an empirically unverifiable system of postmortem rewards and punishments. A lot of modern Christian teachings are a system of make-believe propositions which are really out of touch with the spiritual realities that they purport to represent. Many of the teachings work very haphazardly, and many of them don’t work at all. Being a Christian today hardly makes you into a paragon of spirituality in today’s world. That’s why young people flock en masse to either secularism, or to Eastern paths of enlightenment. They want the truth, but the heady, rigidly hierarchical, and often times fundamentalist Western Christianity is not connecting with them all that well.
I am not joking when I say that the global movement of Jesus Christ is still waiting for its Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Paul the Apostle was one such fully qualified figure in early Christianity. Unfortunately, no one seemed to have followed in his footsteps in the two millenia that followed.