In Part 1 we were reminded that Seth looks at evil as the result of blocked fulfillment. And we talked about how wrong-thinking was the root problem. Now, we are going to go a little deeper into Seth’s ideas about guilt and aggression. For misunderstanding about these two concepts is the primary cause of fear and ultimately evil actions.
First of all, Seth tells us that when we turned the corner evolutionarily, from being more like animals to becoming thinking human beings, we lost the natural sense of justice and integrity that operates in the animal kingdom. Basically, animals don’t kill or violate each other except for sustenance, to protect themselves or their young, or for other reasons that make sense if we don’t anthropomorphize them. And Seth says animals do not experience guilt.
A cat playfully killing a mouse and eating it is not evil. It suffers no guilt. On biological levels both animals understand. The consciousness of the mouse, under the innate knowledge of impending pain, leaves its body. The cat uses the warm flesh. The mouse itself has been hunter as well as prey, and both understand the terms in ways that are very difficult to explain. (The Nature of Personal Reality, p. 139)
Once we lost the animal sense of justice and courtesy, we acquired natural guilt as a way to substitute for this lost sense and to prevent violation. It is a tool for learning how to use our free will and consciousness wisely. The whole point of natural guilt is to make us feel bad about any violation, so that we will not do the same thing again.
Its original purpose was to enable you to empathize on an aware level with yourselves and other members of creaturehood, so that you could consciously control what was previously handled on a biological level alone. Guilt in that respect therefore has a strong natural basis, and when it is perverted, misused or misunderstood, it has the great terrifying energy of any runaway basic phenomenon. (The Nature of Personal Reality, p. 140)
The rule for living, according to Seth, should be: “Do not violate.” That means one should not violate any person, animal, or the environment. Ever. Although we could probably come up with dozens of times when we might feel justified in some sort of violation–say for self-defense or to prevent a catastrophe of a higher order, Seth says this isn’t so. If you remember from our description of the nature of reality in Part 1, everything we experience has been pulled from the infinite probability field of Framework 2. If we were creating consciously at all times, we would not find ourselves in situations where we needed to defend ourselves in the first place.
So why do we get ourselves into these situations? Seth says that a big part of the problem is cultural conditioning, whether stemming from religious beliefs in sinfulness, philosophies that teach that all earthly experience is tainted, belief in dualism (i.e., that for every good there must exist its opposite), sex and gender taboos imposed by society, or any of a number of other ways we edit our behavior.
What happens is that we have strong natural and forceful urges. Because of the various conditions just mentioned we feel guilty when we have some of these urges or feelings. We try to deny or repress them and they just build up and get worse. When they finally can’t be contained any longer, they blow up “in an accumulation of repressed energy that in its release has resulted in violent action.” (The Nature of Personal Reality, p. 145)
Seth says that we are alive and functioning precisely because of natural aggression. We wouldn’t desire anything, create anything, or act on anything without it. But by repressing natural aggression, we give over our own power to unnatural and negative actions. For example, let’s say you really want to make a change in your life and suppose that you fear making that change because it will make you seem selfish or arrogant. This may be based on conditioning you’ve had which encourages silent suffering rather than assertiveness. Each time you resent that you aren’t doing what you want and you blame someone else–say your husband or wife– you are building up negative energy. Eventually you may come to view your spouse as a tyrant or a bully or a manipulator. And you may hate yourself for being weak. Overall, you may become miserable and accusatory. This is exactly how we come to see “evil” actors as powerful, while the good are seen as weak, powerless, or passive.
Normal aggressiveness is basically a natural kind of communication, particularly in social orders; a way of letting another person know that in your terms they have transgressed, and therefore a method of preventing violence–not of causing it. (The Nature of Personal Reality, p. 201)
When I read this quote from Seth an example that came to my mind was road rage. When someone cuts me off on the road or does some other dangerous action out of what seems like selfishness or disregard, the anger instantly boils up in my chest. This is natural aggression. I used to think I was a bad person for getting upset. But now I let my anger flow in a short burst, and then quickly tell myself that it is not my choice to experience this kind of driver. I inadvertently let this incident into my reality by some belief or fear I am harboring. Once I realize my error, I change my thinking, and it is over. If I never allowed myself to get angry because it wasn’t ladylike or wasn’t Christian, for example, that forceful energy would build up. I wouldn’t notice my own part in the incident and, on some future occasion, a simple act of rudeness might lead me to explode in rage.
You will be afraid of any powerful emotion, therefore; frightened of the dimensions of your own actuality, and to a large extent be led to run away from an acceptance of the power and energy of your own being. (The Nature of Personal Reality,p. 210)
If we seek to reduce violence, the better alternative to repression is to use our natural aggressive tendencies properly and constructively. Additionally, as practical advice, Seth suggests that we face our fears by noticing and acknowledging the strong feelings that they evoke and then trying to uncover the beliefs that lie behind the fears.
Once we face our fears, understand the sensations they cause in our bodies, and learn to release those feelings before they build up, any issue can be resolved. We can get to the bottom of the beliefs that are causing the fear, and eliminate actions that we feel justified in taking simply because we are afraid. Fear and violence together create a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.
Let’s look at some examples. Take terrorism. What is the fear behind it? Fear that “the other” is trying to wipe us out; fear that if I don’t fight or fight back I will lose my homeland or my means of survival or my way of life. And what beliefs support those fears? The belief that there is never enough; that life is a zero sum game in which a gain for one must come at a loss to someone else. The belief that “my” God needs to be defended. Could that really ever be the case?
How about violence? What are protestors or the police afraid of? Being powerless or losing power? This is based on a mistaken belief that true power comes from outside of oneself rather than from one’s own integrity. What about bullies? They fear that people won’t like or accept them; that certain people are more popular than they are and need to be brought down a peg, which is really just another way of saying that they fear they are not good enough themselves.
How about big corporations that take chances which put investors’ money at risk or take liberties that put the environment at risk–what are they afraid of? That they will lose money? That they will become obsolete? That someone else will get to the goal before they do? All of these fears indicate a belief in scarcity; lack of confidence; belief in isolation separateness; a belief that competition will always win over cooperation.
Finally, what about people who live in fear? Fear that they aren’t good enough, smart enough, attractive enough. Or they worry what people will think of them or that people will take advantage of them. There is also the inverse problem. Some people fear that they are too powerful, too talented, too creative. Will they alienate the people they love if they don’t pretend to be smaller.
You can see how fear and beliefs go hand in hand. And this brings us back to the over-arching theme of all of the Seth material: That we are perfect, powerful beings who create our own reality, whether we know it or not.
Your beliefs about what is desirable and what is not, what is good and what is evil. . . can help you achieve good health or bring about disease, can bring into your experience success or failure, happiness or sadness. . . Your own value system then is built up of your beliefs about reality, and those beliefs form your experience. (The Nature of Personal Reality, p. 134)