Today, we need a new vocabulary to discuss a phenomenon that many recognize as the experience of ‘not acting in their own best interest,’ but rather acting in ways that are not in harmony with one’s deepest values or beliefs. Although we can call this phenomenon ‘unconsciousness,’ and it is, some recognize it as a willingness to go along with others when it is known that such ‘going along’ does not feel right, or to permit expressions or actions even when alone that emanate from the lesser self. Many observe themselves doing this, yet fewer understand that self-betrayal involves an abandonment of the truths of one’s own heart, sometimes persuaded by a falsehood that looks like truth, and sometimes persuaded to accept indifference instead of the innate morality of one’s own conscience.
These manifestations of self-betrayal can be and often are influenced by energies of darkness, separation, and opposition. Such energies, held within the energy body and also emanating from our collective moral and spiritual environment, can cause us to say about important decisions of conscience: “It doesn’t matter if what I do is less than honest, less than kind, less than fair. It’s what everyone does.”
Self-betrayal, which involves the abandonment of one’s most deeply held values and moral principles, does not come about easily. It comes about through fear and through succumbing to the temptation to give oneself away, to give away the firmness of our standing within our own sense of rightness.
We are given a heart that knows the difference between what feels right and what feels wrong. It is an innate tendency toward what
Buddhism refers to as ‘right action.’ There may be nuances of perception that create doubt about this, for example, about what is truly harmful, yet, in general, our heart follows the principle of love which leads to respect for life, not dishonoring life, not harming life. Despite this, we often find ourselves tolerating attitudes within ourselves, and actions that stem from these attitudes, that do not meet our own heart’s standard of right conduct. Why is this? Why do we abandon what we know to be right without anyone else having to tell us that this is so?
Self-betrayal, which involves the abandonment of one’s most deeply held values and moral principles, does not come about easily. It comes about through fear and through succumbing to the temptation to give oneself away, to give away the firmness of our standing within our own sense of rightness. It can be based on the belief that ‘it doesn’t matter’ if our thoughts or behavior are less than good, or right, or pure. It can also come about through falsely held spiritual ideals or ideas whose root lies in ‘darkness masquerading as light.’
What is ‘darkness masquerading as light’ and how does it affect our sense of truth?
This is an important question for our time, as this phenomenon has increased on a collective level and on an individual level. ‘Darkness masquerading as light’ creates false spiritual beliefs that seem true,
that take a person away from the valuing of love either for others or for themselves. They often exert their influence without our even noticing that we have left behind our desire to embrace or manifest love. This is the seduction, namely, the numbing of our moral sensibility so that we do not even know that we have left the landscape of love or that love is important to remember.
Such false beliefs that claim to be true may, in the name of religious or spiritual idealism, advocate harm to or elimination of a particular group of people. Or, they may justify the harming of one particular person who is believed to have treated oneself unfairly. False spiritual beliefs characteristically create a web of mental justifications about why they are valid, justifications for moving in a direction that lacks roots within the heart.
Within this frame of reference, the entitlement to take another’s life would then be validated according to some higher moral principle. Or, the decision to participate in the further exploitation of an endangered species would be similarly validated. But most blatantly and most commonly, ‘darkness masquerading as light’ creates an ‘inversion of righteousness,’ claiming that the direction it advocates is the correct moral choice, when in fact that choice is lacking in love.
We are living in a world, today, where self-betrayal due to moral ‘numbing’ has become more widespread. We might ask ourselves how
often we say to ourselves about our personal life or about our communal life: “It doesn’t matter what I do. It won’t make a difference.” This attitude can become so extensive that human beings no longer recognize that they have left their essential humanity behind, or even that there is such a thing as ‘essential humanity’ to remember.
The energy of ‘darkness masquerading as light’ operates within individuals, within governments, within nations, and between nations. It also operates in the relationship with oneself. Here, one can pretend, deny, avoid, or ignore the truth of one’s own deepest self and inclinations. One can allow oneself to be seduced by false ideals and false premises.
Today, more than ever, we need to be vigilant about areas of our individual and collective life where we have become accustomed to the absence of love. Where we have come to view this as ‘normal,’ we need to reconsider that It is not normal. It is based on a breakdown of communication with our own heart and between our heart and the hearts of others.
The seduction of ‘it doesn’t matter’ is a powerful seduction in our time, and the willingness to forget the importance of love is an aspect of this seduction. May we find the way to meet today’s challenge of moral indifference so that we are no longer willing to betray the messages of our own heart and soul. May we move toward the willingness to be
scrupulous in our remaining faithful to love, and to the belief in the essential humanity of our fellow human beings on the planet. The seduction of self-betrayal cannot succeed if we are not willing to give ourselves away to it, and so, ultimately, it is the choice to remain faithful to ourselves and to our own most deeply held values that will most effectively combat those forces that would encourage self- betrayal. Each one who moves in this direction is lending their light and strength to the planetary path of light. Each such movement will help others do the same, and in this way forces of ‘darkness masquerading as light’ will no longer dominate or be victorious.