evenWhen we left off at the end of Part 3, human consciousness had developed enough to be firmly focused in the physical. We discussed how natural guilt–an internal checks and balances system to prevent violation against others–had gone awry. At this stage, tribal myths and cultural stories as well as various pagan religions arose, which attributed both good and bad events to outside forces. For example, a drought could be due to an unhappy storm god. So could a flood, for that matter. What made the storm god unhappy was something people had done. They were guilty, in other words, and the gods would punish them for their transgressions. These myths involved an intrinsic understanding of nature; its just that the people projected the inner knowing onto exterior reality.
Seth says that these mythologies were an attempt by humanity to regulate itself without natural guilt. They represented beliefs that were shared by peasants and the wealthy alike. Humans projected all kinds of feelings and fears onto these spirits, gods, and goddesses, and even on the natural world and its creatures.
. . . There was a spectacular range of good and bad deities, with all gradations [among them], that more or less ‘democratically’ represented the unknown but sensed, splendid and tumultuous characteristics of the human soul, and have stood for those sensed but unknown glimpses of his own reality that man was in one way or another determined to explore. (Dreams, ‘Evolution,’ and Value Fulfillment, Volume 2, p. 400)
Eventually–over many centuries–these pagan religions gave way to the monotheistic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Jehovah and the Christian version of God brought about a direct conflict between the so-called forces of good and the so-called forces of evil by largely cutting out all of the intermediary gods, and therefore destroying the subtle psychological give and take that occurred between them–among them–and polarizing man’s own view of his inner psychological reality. (Dreams, ‘Evolution,’ and Value Fulfillment, Volume 2, p. 400)
These organized religions which emphasized evil, sin, guilt, and punishment, served to separate people even further from their own inner guides and inherent connection with All That Is. We were here on Earth and God was someplace else, completely removed. Even some of the Eastern philosophies, like Buddhism, taught that all of reality was nothing but illusion and should be rejected for some future state of nirvana.
All such dogmas use artificial guilt, and natural guilt is distorted to serve those ends. In whatever terms, the devotee is told that there is something wrong with earthly experience. You are therefore, considered evil as a self in flesh by virtue of your very existence. (The Nature of Personal Reality, p. 235)
So, we can see that as evolution proceeded, the memory of our cooperative relationship with all of creation diminished. I don’t want to leave you with the impression that Seth criticized these developments. He described them as understandable steps in the development of human consciousness. All mythologies and religions, he said, gave meaning and some organization to people’s lives. Myths were the basis for their societies, whether tribal or civil, and they were the basis of knowledge and participation in the world at those times.
Seth is an equal opportunity critic of worldviews. For example, he mentions how early civilizations often believed that illness was sent by evil spirits who had to be mollified with various gifts or incantations. This seems ridiculous to us now. But Seth says,
It is easy enough to look at those belief structures and shrug your shoulders, wondering at man’s distorted views of reality. The entire scientific view of illness, however, is quite as distorted. It is as laboriously conceived and interwound with ‘nonsense.’ It is about as factual as the ‘fact’ that God sends illness as punishment, or that illness is the unwanted gift of mischievous demons. (Dreams, ‘Evolution,’ and Value Fulfillment, Volume 1, p. 204)
On that note, let’s talk about the waning of the religious worldview and the rise of the scientific one.