The shadow people
This mad fetish for war is really a case of blaming others for our own guilt,
of our own unprocessed fear of death being projected outward into the world
By John Kaminski
"Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?"
— T.S. Eliot, “What the Thunder Said”
I resist the notion, now so popular among segments of our desperately flailing human intelligentsia, that beings from other worlds seeded our planet with life, or that these ETs abduct people for demonic Freudian experiments, or that mysterious dark forces, be they angels or aliens, control human destiny for their own petulant purposes.
It's all just too complicated, and it smacks of copping a plea, grasping for some lame excuse, or refusing to take responsibility for one's own actions. I mean, why ascribe evil to some esoteric mystical force when mindless savagery has always been a hallmark of typical human behavior? We need no additional motivation for depravity beyond the inner pit of our own personal darkness.
All these fantastic mythologies are clearly a case of trying to blame others for guilt that is our own.
Yet humanity continues to be imprisoned in the thrall of these supernatural shibboleths, whether the principal objects of our groveling fear reside in the cathedral or the cosmos.
The more conscious among us have always downgraded these sensationalized spirits — whether inspirational or injurious — into mere metaphors for life's natural processes.
But beyond trying to classify imaginary creations that are exclusively based on the unanswered questions about our own mortality looms an even more dangerous question: Why is it so popular to conclude that there appear to be two types of humans on this planet? I'm talking about the basic good and evil split: those who live by lies and relish war versus those who speak forthrightly and covet peace.
I was recently reminded of this dangerous classification trend during a small waterfall of hundred dollar bills that filled my mailbox with many unsigned letters (by readers who strive to keep me afloat for a few more months), by one reader who noted that my willingness to consider the possibility that there were people without souls, called by some "organic portals," was really no different from other discriminatory schemes concocted by the world's worst despots, whether it was — to cite two well known examples — the way Adolf Hitler regarded Jews or Ariel Sharon regards Arabs. (Two peas in a pod, you might say.)
Assigning fundamental differences to various perceived groups was really no different, he asserted. And no less toxic. After all, most of the world's wars have been waged on the claims of one group being somehow less human than another. And most of these slanderous campaigns have been staged as a cynical excuse to steal something valuable from the supposedly evil group. (As is so obvious today in what we call the Middle East.)
So I had to admit the validity of his point. It's simply damaging and potentially tragic to arbitrarily classify any group as somehow morally inferior or intrinisically more sinister than another, even though that's what every religion in the world does to every other group all the time.
But the big problem for me in accepting his routinely moral assertion was that decades of evidence — hey, just read the newspapers! — clearly shows that some hard-to-identify group was provoking all these conflicts throughout history for the express purpose of making large amounts of money from instigating wars.
When you really read the real history of the 20th century, you come to understand that one small group of very rich men has controlled both sides in all the major wars. And controls them still, always counting the cash, but never the bodies.
I don't know about you, but this is not the way my parents taught me to be. Hence, the temptation to contemplate theories that explain heartless avarice and mass murder without a second thought. I tell myself that this is something that I and my friends would not do. So, is there actually a different breed of cat, a darker pigmentation in some human hearts, that rules people differently from those I know and love? Are some people missing some essential biological ingredient of humanity?
The question is .... are there really shadow people? Judging by the behavior of American troops in Iraq, who murder innocent families as if they are only electronic silhouettes in some video game, or of Israeli soldiers, who make sport out of shooting Palestinian children for no reason other than their own Talmud-induced pathology of superiority, it appears that there really are.
I mean, what part of "Thou shalt not kill" — the central thesis of all religious thought — don't they understand? Everyone agrees there are no caveats to this. But in the space between agreement and practice lies the shadow. And tragedy. And very possibly the end of all life on this planet.
Let me take great care to define what I mean by shadow people.
I'm not talking about Art Bell's shadow people, which apparently are visual apparitions that appear when your eyes are focused in another direction, and are never there in the spot you thought you saw them when you actually fix your gaze on that spot. Nor am I talking about Carlos Castaneda's brujos, who apparently are people you talk to who later are proven not to really exist, which may actually have been a private joke about don Juan Matus himself.
I'm not talking about ghosts, spirits, time travelers, ectoplasmic wraiths, interdimensional beings, or people who reside in other physical realities like supposedly Nick Herbert.
I’m talking about people who say one thing and do another, people like George Bush and Dick Cheney (and Bill Clinton and Al Gore), people who mouth pleasant platitudes and then thoughtlessly commit atrocities, which they then spin as heroic deeds essential to your well-being (which presumably is why they always cost so much money).
Could it be true, as many people believe, that these belligerent cads were born without souls? Not likely, I suspect.
And I’m talking about Mr. Ordinary American, too, who, when you tell him that 9/11 was an inside job, his face goes slack and his mind goes blank. And when you present him with the mountains of evidence indicating the undeniability of your statement, he just quivers and turns away, muttering “our government would never do something like that” without daring to contemplate the reality that our leaders “do something like that” every day.
Yes, the fabled Mr. Ordinary American, who, when you tell him the 2004 election was fixed and that Kerry actually won it with a large margin of electoral votes except for the computer shenanigans that reversed the decision, accuses you being some kind of liberal delusionary, even when you explain you have utter contempt for both major candidates, and don’t believe a thing either of them ever said.
Mr. Ordinary American, who can’t hear a word when you say he threw away the lives of his own children on a war that was lie because he actually believed what he heard on television.
And beyond that, Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary Human Being, residing anywhere on the planet, who believe that some venerated superbeing, usually named God, controls their every movement, and that the God of their neighborhood is most definitely better than and superior to any other God that has ever been invented anywhere else.
What is wrong with all these people? And why are they in such a preponderant majority, so that the wars never cease, and lying for profit has always been the dominant way of life?
Well, I’m going to tell you now. I’m going to make it perfectly clear. I’m going to lay it all out in excruciating detail for you. And if you turn away and say, “That guy’s wacked!”, that means you’re one of the shadow people, still controlled by a demon you dare not confront. But if you understand what I’m saying, well, that means there’s still a faint ray of hope for this planet, dim though it may be.
We all carry with us the shadow of death. It is, as the natural scientists have said for a long time, what distinguishes humans from all of our fellow animal species. Foreknowledge of death. It rules every move we make.
To deny that we die, and invent some strategy that when our mortal bodies expire we either go to some cool place — to go bowling with the angels, just as an example — or get sucked into some ephemeral process that some people call the bardo (which is like some dark carnival funhouse where all these scary faces pop out at you, reminding you of every nasty thing you’ve done in your entire life) and therein choose the time and place (and parents) of your next incarnation — all these mental machinations are constructed to deny the obvious. That when our hearts stop and our brains cease all functions a few minutes later, that’s the end of us as individuals. After that, we’re mulch. Our contributions to the universe end there, and what we have done is all we will ever possess for all of eternity.
I know that this will come as a shock to many of you, and you will squirm and wriggle and deny with every fiber of your being that this is the case. Why? Simple. Our brains absolutely refuse to contemplate our own nonexistence. They fight with every fact at their disposal to create a scenario where this is not the case, because they are wired to survive, not to cease functioning. And yet they do.
Numerous philosophers have reflected that the human curse is having an infinite imagination trapped in a finite body. Based on the primary instinct to survive, the body’s mind rejects the notion of a limited amount of life in time and finds a way to transcend it by any means possible. Logic, reality and reason become nonfactors and spirit is born. And the entire populace commits to the conspiracy, because it gives them the answer they sought. Spirit is born, and the soul is its offspring. And along with them form parasitic religions, which trade on and profit from the desire of people to avoid death by providing concocted formulas to do just that. None of these formulas actually work, but no one in the conspiracy will admit it, because that result is not desired. This is a clear case of reality is not desired. The illusion is more comfortable. Insecurity is eliminated by eternal life.
But because it is not real, the fear remains. The purpose of religion cannot be proven, it can only be believed. And since it is such an obvious lie, the honest mind eventually comes to know it is a lie, and begins to hate itself for lying, for being afraid of the ultimate truth, which is that we don’t live forever, and have but a little time to make the most of what we have been given.
Given by whom? We can only guess. We call it God. But even the lamest cleric will admit we cannot know God in its entirety. God is only a word, after all. Some unfathomable process that we call God invented man, but man invented the word and concept of God in a feeble attempt to explain the unexplainable.
And what have we been given? Well, if you’re lucky like me (and who knows why?), we have been given a slice of paradise, a sensual experience so astonishingly beautiful that we can make no other sense of it that to eventually believe that a seemingly omnipotent force has created the very conditions of heaven right on this little blue and green spheroid. That’s why I always say, heaven is not something somewhere else to be sought, it is right here, and we’re put here to make it what it is supposed to be — heaven!
But we — each of us — only get a little time to do it. And none of us every really succeeds, except in small ways, for the benefit of only a few people. But that in itself is exquisite proof that this really is heaven, if only we make it so.
For sure, thinking heaven is somewhere else and yearning for it is the surest way to make this place hell, which is exactly what we’ve done for the last 5,000 years, thanks in large part to believing that God is somewhere else and we want to go there rather than realizing God is right here, helping us all the time to make the Earth heaven. This has happened in large part BECAUSE religions have told us that heaven was somewhere else, instead of right here.
The only real fruits of religions can be seen flashing from the barrel of a gun, and heard in the moans of the innocent wailing for their unjustly murdered loved ones. This is what religions seek to accomplish, and they succeed, because people have decided not to understand what life is really about, or the true nature of the gift we have been given.
In being greedy and expecting to find a magic formula that will insulate us from the inevitability of death (can’t you see it’s the way the system works?), we trash the very things that give us life in the first place. And thanks to psychotic marching orders like the Book of Revelation, we are very likely to destroy the conditions that allow us this great gift of life simply because we refuse to accept the condition of our gift, that it does not last forever, that nothing lasts forever, not even our great and wild universe.
That’s why I always say, without death, the possibility of goodness would not exist. When you have to sacrifice everything to achieve the right thing, that is love. If we lived forever, none of these things would matter, since we would have everything we wanted, and nothing would mean anything to us.
Therefore, believing that we have everything in the security of an eternal life is precisely what is causing us to trash our planet and murder innocent people with impunity, because the lies our minds know are lies but our mouths nevertheless say in order to vainly attempt to convince ourselves that we don’t die are lashing out in unexpected ways.
We are blinded by this false light of our own creation, an inauthentic abomination that deep in our hearts and minds we know is a lie. Yet we are transfixed by this artificial light, because it keeps us from realizing our clock is ever ticking and our lease will be soon be up. (Any resemblance of this light to a TV screen is not purely coincidental.)
To really see, and to really know why we are here, we may not keep insisting that we will live forever by the power of magic incantations and formulas, but we must screw up our courage and wander into the darkness of our own shadows, and begin to understand how the seepage from this gigantic ontological lie is causing all this unnecessary death and destruction. We delude ourselves into thinking that killing enemies prolongs our own life, but that is only a fearful illusion.
Once upon a time I said, true warmth is found in the coldest dream. Now I would suggest that the brightest light is found confronting the deepest darkness.
It is not an exaggeration to say that everything depends on you understanding this. It will not take many more days of ignoring this problem for all of us to perish permanently in the abyss of our own self-deception, with no one left to say this was the epitaph of the shadow people, destroyed by their own fearful religions.
John Kaminski is a writer who lives near the eternal ocean in a fading paradise called Florida. His numerous Internet essays are for sale in anthologies at http://www.johnkaminski.com
Although John's point of view differs from my own in the prime fundamental it is nevertheless right in an intellectually bound sense. John cannot have had the insights through experience I have been fortunate to have. An intellectually bound life sees only the physical manifestations and accordingly fits its point of view to that arena. In no way am I intending to criticise John, if his fulltime commitment is to the physical world with all its beauty and vagaries, then his talents and his knowledge of this realm are sure to be valuable indeed. We are all doing our best to understand the cruelty wrought upon our fellows, companions and home. John does a magnificent job and this article is a belter. I agree totally with what he says about the wonder of life on earth and how vital it is that we all acknowledge and fully appreciate this beautiful, yet brief, and wonderful privilege. ~ Ellis