I write in The Withway about the way in which our civilization has taken a seriously wrong turn and is heading away from all that is good and proper towards the disaster of separation and destruction.
I also describe the way in which the individual can help us all rejoin the right path by becoming what the Indian metaphysician Sri Aurobindo terms “a channel for the infinite force divine”.
The inner rediscovery of withness on the highest metaphysical plane changes everything about the way we see the world around us, its light illuminating our understanding and informing our action on every level.
What I don’t explore in the book is what could be happening in the minds of those individuals who are relentlessly pushing humankind away from the light, down the wrong path.
It is hard for most of us to understand how it could be possible for fellow human beings to deliberately cause large-scale suffering, heartbreak, fear, war and misery.
I have been trying to work out what could have turned such people into what they have become.
Self-interest can, in itself, be a natural human and animal tendency, reflecting the basic need for self-preservation and survival.
But it seems to me that the problem comes with the dominance of self-interest, that is to say the pursuit of self-interest without any framing context of ethics or morality to limit its extent.
All ultra-wealthy groups, whether monarchs, aristocrats or financial oligarchs, had a starting point, when one of their ancestors split away from society as a whole to become richer and more powerful than those around them.
This first pioneer could well have been motivated by a sense of morality based on previous history: perhaps they felt their family had been unfairly treated by someone in power or by the community as a whole.
Their pursuit of self-interest would therefore be that of the underdog, who feels that it is justifiable to be a little ruthless or a little sneaky, to break a few little rules, in order to get their own back, to get their just rewards.
The next generation, being close to this person, would still feel that sense of vindication, together with pride at their family’s achievement.
The third generation, however, would experience the rise to riches as a fait accompli and their pride would harden into something more like arrogance, the belief that their status was their birthright, something they deserved simply for being who they were.
Over time, this arrogance could take the form of philosophical theories to explain and justify their superior position, whether a pseudo-religious “divine right” to rule over others or a pseudo-scientific Social Darwinism insisting that in a dog-eat-dog world it is the “fittest” dog who will survive and prosper.
They might come to see their sociopathic behaviour as a sign of superiority, of an elevated level of shrewdness, adaptation and intelligence.
At the same time, these powerful groups might try to present the maintenance and expansion of their wealth as something laudable, for the good of all.
They might rebrand their empire of exploitation as a “Commonwealth of Nations“, describe their pillaging and destruction as “development“, wrap up their agenda for transhumanist techno-slavery in the colours of the rainbow and declare it to be sustainable, inclusive and equitable.
However, I suspect that this kind of justification for their control is for public consumption only.
While the powers-that-be undoubtedly really believe they are superior to the rest of us and thus have the right to rule over us, they cannot really believe that they are acting in our best interests.
If, as an insider, you are aware of the cynical way in which you and your associates trample over people’s lives in order to achieve your goals, a personal sense of morality is a dangerous thing.
What happens when it becomes impossible to completely repress the inner realisation of what you are doing, when the thin shell of justification collapses and you, the insider, become aware of the utter depravity of your role in society?
What does such a person do at this point? Remove themself from all harmful activity and try to make amends for the damage they have done?
There must be some who have taken this brave path, but it is much easier to continue your heady trip of power and prestige and to re-invent your personal sense of “morality” to match your activities.
The first step in this direction is the traditional ruling-class declaration of superiority over the ignorant and incapable masses, but this stance also requires a certain paternalistic sense of care for the well-being of your peasants.
When even this last vestige of moral duty towards those “beneath” you has been swept away by the acceleration of insane social destruction, another formula is needed to internally explain and justify your actions.
I suspect that, at this stage, these people consciously adopt an inverted sense of morality in which their wrong-doing makes sense.
They embrace a false “religion” based on a twisted delight in doing wrong, in causing harm, in destroying and raping and murdering.
In this way, they no longer have to cope with repressed guilt, no longer have to internally face up to the consequences of their actions.
Theirs is a cult which is tailor-made for the psychopaths that they are, and that deep down they know full well they are.
By introducing others into their sect, and infecting them with its anti-values, they drown their own sense of personal badness in a general stinking flood of depravity.
Although this cult is born of self-interest, and holds self-interest to be a supreme end, it in fact takes its adherents beyond the pursuit of their own self-interest.
It takes them to a place of doing bad things, the worse the better, merely for the sake of it.
This inverted “spirituality” turns the practioners into upside-down versions of the seekers described by Aurobindo.
Rather than channelling the forces of light, nature, beauty, truth and life, they channel the forces of darkness, artifice, ugliness, lies and death.
Since we are still talking about human beings, it would be inaccurate to say that such persons are actually “evil”, any more than the holiest of human beings can ever become totally “good”.
But, in their submission to badness, they are allowing themselves to become channels for the negative cosmic energy sometimes known as Ahriman, sometimes as Satan.
The struggle between them and the seekers of truth therefore incarnates, in the present time and on the human plane, the eternal battle between the forces of life and death, otherwise known as good and evil.
It is obviously of untold importance, on every level, that we mobilise in vast numbers to join this epoch-shaping struggle.
Even if it is true that good will always ultimately defeat evil, our active participation is a necessary ingredient in the self-realisation of that apparent inevitability!
In order to play our necessary part, we are going to have to become capable of channelling the life force in the most direct and powerful way possible.
We have to strip away all the layers of fear, doubt and misunderstanding that have been wrapped around us throughout our lives.
We have to stand tall, resolute and pure, ready to give everything that we have and everything that we are.
And, most of all, we have to shake off the dominance of self-interest that can lead us so badly astray.