Nick A, You asked, Yes, I believe that everything is a combination of spirit and matter. Do you believe in aether? --> I believe in a whole lot more than just spirit, matter, and aether. I believe in the astral plane. I believe there is something just above that called the mental plane. (The idea is, feelings and emotions happen on the astral plane, thoughts happen on the mental plane.) I also believe there are many 'planes of existence' above these two planes. "I believe that animal life including the physical for is already evolved to perform its function. Its evolution is complete for the purpose it serves." --> That is an interesting way to look at it. I see today's animal-souls as the stuff from which the human souls of the next 'Creation Story' will be built from. So, I do not see today's animals as being finished with evolution at all. "...is it a compassionate act to provide alcohol for an alcoholic?" --> No. I have two responses. (1) Buddha taught the middle way. There is such as thing as being too good. When we try to be too good, we are not practicing the middle way. (2) Giving alcohol to an alcoholic out of compassion is called being codependent, not being compassionate. A great psychic once told me, sometimes the most compassionate thing we can do is remain silent and not do anything. "People join cults from this motive which initiates with escapism. ...the essence desire for transcendence are completely different." --> I agree. Escapism is the exact opposite of becoming one with the universe.