We are all human beings in the essence right? Yes. But, what does that mean? Firstly, we are material beings. Why do I start from that assumption? Well, think about the following things:
1) when we are born, we are these vulnerable, helpless creatures with a limited consciousness of the world around us. We do not truly reason or express any kind of spiritual nature, we acquire empirical data.
2) the most primitive human societies were basely material in their every-day life. They hunted and gathered food for the sole purpose of satisfying their bodily needs. That took up 90% of their time.
Yet, we have more than just our “bodily needs”. We are babies without reason or spirituality, but we grow up to express both. Anyone who contends that they do not believe in the spirit is incapable of ethical behavior. Reason is not a material expression but an ideal which is, in a way, spiritual. I know these are normative statements, but they are a necessary part of our lives.
First, it is our spirit which gives us the capability of moral thought. In more primitive societies it was the role of religion to instill ethical behavior and to set the norm. Think of any ancient society and you will find that the people held beliefs in the existence of an supra-empirical presence or force which is not detected by the five senses but only present to the extra-sensory perception which we can call the spirit. The threat of punishment of the spirit was the simple way for ensuring that people acted decently in their interactions. The threat to the spirit forced ethical behavior onto the people.
Second, even though the most primitive societies worked very hard to satisfy their bodily needs and functions, this does not make them unspiritual in essence. Satisfying the human spirit is something which we try to do all the time. It is only the truly reasonable people who realize that they are doing this and reflect on it (most people think these people are crazy by the way). But the fact remains that the human spirit is restless in its search for satisfaction. Yet, it is because of our material existence that we have the opportunity to satisfy our spiritual needs and not inspite of it. We need to exist in our corporeal form in order to be able to search for and satisfy the desires of the spirit. In basic terms, if you remove your material existence, you lose your chance to provide your spirit with nourishment.
In that line of thinking, we need to satisfy ourselves materially and only then be able to do the same spiritually. Without our material existence, we have no spirit. Without our spiritual existence, we may be able to exist materially but a pure material existence can be considered on the level of animals; it is characterized by the lack of self-consciousness. Then, when the time comes and we die, neither our material nor our spiritual existence are of importance anymore. When we lose our materiality, we do not remain with our spiritual manifestation. Corporeality is just as important as spirituality. The two are so inseparably linked that the existence of one without the other is impossible.
And yet, my preference is to take care of my spirit while I have the time. Reason helps me understand that the spirit is something beyond the material. The material we can learn through our senses, but the spiritual we can only truly comprehend through the use of the faculties of reason and belief. And even then, I need to take care of my material self to be able to use my reason and my belief on the path to the spiritual. I therefore degrade my material existence to the level of necessity, but upgrade my spiritual existence to the level of requirement for moral excellence. It is up to you to decide which is more important for you, for this is truly an individual choice.