The most obvious example of the selves’ relativistic, dualistic way of thinking is black-and-white thinking. This plot by the selves makes blatant use of the basic duality built into the mind of separation. It defines two opposites that are opposites in every way, meaning that there is no overlap or potential for compromise.
There is no gray zone because the opposites cannot co-exist but must cancel out each other—or so it seems. One opposite is defined as being absolutely good and the other is defined as being absolutely evil, thus setting up an inevitable, to-the-death struggle between them.
The selves makes people believe that the only way for them to please God and be saved is to take the side of good and to fight against evil. An extreme outcome of this scenario is the definition of two religions or ideologies that both claim to be the only true one, making their respective followers believe it is their duty to fight the other. The ultimate triumph of the forces of this world is to get two groups of religious people to kill each other in the name of the same God, as for example in the Crusades.
The result of this manipulation is that people adopt a very simplistic view of the world. Their religion is completely true and all others are completely false. There is no room for any nuances in between, which means that people almost inevitably become extremists and fanatics.
This is a very easy approach to life because it really does not require people to think for themselves. They simply accept the definitions created by the leaders of their society without making any personal attempts to discern whether their leaders are right according to higher awareness. They believe these leaders are absolutely right and that God himself would agree with them.
The consequence of this approach to life is that once people have accepted that a particular belief system is absolutely good, they will never question it. They will blindly follow what the leaders of their religion have defined as absolutely right, and this has led to some of the worst atrocities in history.
People follow their leaders uncritically, and never question that the black-and-white definition of life might not be in alignment with God’s truth. As a result, many people have spent one or more lifetimes engaging all of their energy and attention in this dualistic struggle between two relative opposites. Such people have defined an enemy or scapegoat, and they believe they must do God’s work by destroying the enemy.
As long as people are trapped in this extreme form of black-and-white thinking, they are absolutely convinced that they are working for good and will be saved. The stark reality is that everything they do to fight the self-defined enemy only serves to trap them more firmly in the dualistic state of consciousness. This obviously prevents them from putting on higher awareness, which is the only way to enter a higher realm.
It can be extremely difficult for extremists to admit that they are wrong. They cannot admit that what they have seen as a work for God has not promoted God’s cause but has only served to reinforce the dualistic struggle created by the forces of separation. Such people tend to become very defensive and hostile towards anyone who questions the validity of their approach.
Such people are unapproachable for a teacher from higher awareness. They literally use their black-and-white viewpoints to justify rejecting the teacher, meaning that they put their own graven image before the Living Truth. They use a relative image to justify not reaching for the direct experience of higher awareness.
Overcoming extreme selfishness
The selves creates a false path to salvation. By using black-and-white logic, the selves create the impression that being saved is a matter of belonging to the only true religion and meeting its outer requirements. The more people identify with their selves, the more prone they are to believe this illusion. It seems so easy that instead of doing the hard work of pulling the beam from your own eye, you simply have to believe a predefined doctrine and follow a set of outer rules.
At the beginning level of the path, people are prone to accept the black-and-white approach to growth. They become very zealous – even fanatical – in following their particular belief system – be it religious, political or scientific in nature – and they absolutely refuse to question it. That is why some people can believe that by killing the enemies of God, they will instantly be saved.
The extreme outcome of being blinded by black-and-white thinking is that people become entirely self-centered and selfish. They often believe they have a supreme right to do what they want and that anyone who opposes them – including the rest of the human race – is wrong. They start acting like predatory animals who take whatever they want and are unwilling to consider how their actions affect other people, affect themselves in the long run or compare to higher principles.
In the past, humankind was at a much lower level of consciousness than today, as illustrated by the cave man society in which the law of the jungle ruled. In today’s world, you see this level of consciousness in many criminals, from leaders of organized crime to pedophiles or serial killers.
How do you take people who are completely selfish and raise them to a more spiritual level? Extreme selfishness is the ultimate outcome of the relative logic of the selves. In higher awareness you see that all life is one, and thus when you hurt another, you are hurting yourself.
When you are completely trapped in the mind of separation, you think you can hurt others without hurting yourself, you even think you have the right to do whatever you want regardless of how it affects others. You justify this by using the relative logic of the selves, which can truly make it seem like anything – including total selfishness – is justified.
How do people start rising above this level of consciousness? They do so by realizing that there is something beyond the relative logic, that there is something that is right or wrong according to a higher standard. When you are completely selfish, you see nothing beyond the relative logic of your selves—and thus you think you have the right to do anything you want. To begin the process of escaping total selfishness, you must realize that there is a higher standard for evaluating your behavior so that you choose to limit certain types of selfish behavior.
For most people who are trapped in selfishness, this realization comes only when someone “puts the fear of God in them.” These people begin to realize that there is such a thing as long-term consequences. Their souls can be affected in an afterlife by what they do in this life, and they will either be rewarded in heaven or burn forever in hell. From a purely selfish motive, these people begin to modify their short-term egotistical behavior according to a higher standard.
Because these people are still identified with their selves, they cannot yet see the limitations of the relative logic of the selves. They need a very simplistic, black-and-white belief system with clearly defined rules for how to avoid hell and get into heaven.
Here comes the subtle point. When people start modifying selfish behavior, they have reached a turning point from which genuine progress is possible. There is a real danger that these people will be fooled by their selves to enter the blind alley of fanaticism where they think they serve God by fighting what their belief system defines as the enemies of God. This will, of course, abort such people’s progress.
However, if people avoid going into fanaticism, it is possible to make genuine progress by following a black-and-white belief system. The reason being that when you believe certain types of behavior will send you to hell, you gain a very strong motivation for modifying selfish behavior. This will cause a person to make less karma, and thus the lifestream can gradually free itself from at least some of the downward pull of the dualistic struggle.
When you are completely selfish, everything you do creates negative karma that only reinforces the sense that you are in a struggle against everyone else. When you relieve some of this pressure, you can begin to see through the more selfish beliefs, and thus you can free yourself from some of the illusions of the selves.
Even though most fundamentalist Christians will reject higher awarenessl, there are actually people who have made progress by following a fundamentalist belief system. The problem is that this progress will only last for a time. A black-and-white approach simply cannot take you above a certain level of the path.
Because this approach is still so heavily influenced by the relative logic of the selves, it can very easily become a blind alley that begins to take you into a downward spiral of judgment and pride, which is only marginally better than the downward spiral of selfishness. The problem is that a black-and-white belief system automatically implies a value judgment. “The members of our church are automatically good and everyone else is bad.” This inevitably causes people to judge others based on a relative standard defined by their selves. Jesus said:
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew, Chapter 7)
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24)
Judging according to appearance means that you judge based on a relative, dualistic standard created by the selves. Judging righteous judgment means that you discern reality based on the vision of higher awareness. When you judge based on the selves, you inevitably feel that you are better than other people, and this leads to spiritual pride, which binds you to the duality consciousness.
The selves want a relative standard because it allows them to build the appearance that they are better than others. They can then create the illusion that because you are better than certain other people, you are guaranteed to be saved.
There is no such value judgment in higher awareness. That which is in alignment with the design principles is real, and that which is out of alignment with these principles is unreal. Higher awareness does not use the relative terms good and bad—it does not compare things on a relative scale that leads gradually from one extreme (good) to the opposite extreme (evil). Higher awareness does not judge based on appearance but is only concerned about whether something is real or not real.
One might say that the deepest level of selves-identification is to be completely selfish. You are completely identified with the dualistic struggle, thinking that life is a battle between you and the world. As you rise above this, you stop indulging in the most extreme selfish behaviors, but this makes you feel you are better than those who are still acting in “evil” ways.
At the lower level, you might engage in religion in order to destroy all threats to your religion, thinking God will reward you for doing so. At the next stage, your motivation for being involved with religion is to prove the superiority of your religion and thus create the appearance that you are so good that God simply has to save you.
A closed circle
The problem is that as long as you think the world is either black or white, you cannot grow beyond a certain point. Black-and-white thinking sets up a scale with two extremes and then makes people think they have to choose one of the two polarities.
If the world is engaged in an epic struggle between God and the devil, then you must obviously choose the side of God in order to be saved. When this struggle is defined in black-and-white terms, it will seem as if choosing the side of God means choosing a particular religion in this world. Once you have chosen that religion, you must uncritically accept all of its doctrines—for if you don’t, the devil will get you and take you to hell.
This line of thinking obviously leads to a fear-based approach to salvation, which gives rise to two problems. One is that you simply cannot enter higher awareness while there is any fear left in your being.
Until you overcome fear, you cannot enter higher awareness. How do you overcome fear? Partly by using the rational mind to reason that your fear is based on a lack of knowledge and partly by reaching for a direct experience of higher awareness whereby you will experience the perfect love that casts out all fear. The problem here is that as long as you are trapped in a black-and-white belief system, you will be afraid of doing either.
Your belief system will strongly discourage you from thinking for yourself and questioning the beliefs that give rise to fear. Any black-and-white belief system on this planet states that you cannot experience God directly; you need the outer church and its priesthood as a mediator between you and God. That is why the black-and-white thinkers of the Jewish religion killed Jesus after he stated that the kingdom of God is within you.
Fear itself makes a black-and-white belief system a closed circle, a trap for your mind. It creates a prison for your mind, and once the conscious self is inside, your selves throws away the key. The conscious self can step outside at any moment, but in order to do so, it must be willing to confront its fear and confront the fact that a black-and-white belief system is based on an illusion.
The psychological effect of a black-and-white belief system is that it focuses your attention on a scale with two polarities, and then it makes it seem like truth has to be found somewhere on that scale. There is nothing beyond the relative scale. Any time you have a belief system with two opposites, you have a dualistic belief system. In such a belief system both opposites will be defined by the mind of separation.
This can be a startling statement considering the fact that most religions define the world as an epic struggle between good and evil, between God and the devil. There is a stage on the path where people need to overcome the extreme selfish behavior by following a black-and-white belief system. However, there comes a point when you must move beyond that stage in order to make further progress. You do this only by reaching for higher awareness, which is beyond either of the two extremes defined by any black-and-white belief system!
The reality of higher awareness cannot be put on a relative scale and it has no opposite polarity. Higher reality has no opposite because that which is outside of reality has no reality. That which has no reality cannot be in opposition to that which has reality. In higher awareness, there is only that which is real and that which appears to be unreal because the Law of Free Will has allowed it to take on a temporary appearance outside reality. This unreality can exist only in the minds of co-creators who are trapped in duality.
It is only when you step into the mind of separation that opposites become possible. In this frame of mind there seems to be two opposites, such as good and evil, true and false. These opposites cancel out each other, and because one can destroy the other, it seems like both of them have – the same – reality.
This is what gives rise to the fear of evil because people in a dualistic frame of mind think evil is real and has real power over them. When you attain higher awareness, and see that evil is not real and that its appearance has no power over you, you lose all fear. As long as you believe evil has the same reality as good, you cannot overcome that fear. The trick is that evil does have the same “reality” as relative good. You need to use the higher awareness to see the unconditional good of higher awareness.
A black-and-white belief system makes you think that you have to move towards relative good and avoid its opposite, namely evil. It makes you think that a statement must be either true or false, meaning that you must side with what you (or your belief system) have defined as true and avoid anything that contradicts or goes beyond it.
People think that by moving towards relative good, they are moving closer to God. This is both true and untrue. If you move away from selfish behavior, you are moving away from the extreme forms of egotistical behavior. This gives you the potential – but only the potential – to rise above duality—which will bring you closer to God. The big question is whether you keep moving towards a relative extreme (good as defined by the selves) – and thus inevitably become trapped in pride – or make the leap and reach for something beyond the dualistic extremes.
Higher awareness cannot be forced into a dualistic belief system, and thus truth can never be found on a scale with two opposites! Higher truth is beyond duality and you can find it only by reaching beyond the black-and-white belief systems of this world. Only when a lifestream reaches a certain maturity will it be ready to question its belief system and realize that the world is not black and white.
Black-and-white thinking becomes a trap for your mind. Once you accept any black-and-white belief system, the selves can always come up with a seemingly watertight argument for why you should not look beyond it. Many fundamentalist Christians believe Christianity is the only true religion, the Bible is the infallible word of God and their literal interpretation of the Bible is the only true one. Anything beyond their present beliefs is of the devil and they should avoid thinking about it.
Likewise, many scientifically minded people believe there is nothing beyond the material universe. Any belief system that proposes a “supernatural” cause is unscientific and the product of the subjectivity of the mind. The effect of a black-and-white approach is always that it closes your mind to growth. You settle for a description of truth – a description created through the mind of separation – and you use it to justify not reaching for a direct experience of higher awareness.
Billions of people are trapped in some version of a black-and-white belief system. Most of the people who are open HAP have already started seeing the fallacy of this approach to religion/life/salvation. They have started seeing through the illusion that there is only one true religion and that “our side is always right and the other side is always wrong.”
They have started realizing that life is not as simple as the black-and-white thinking implies and that a more sophisticated approach is needed. They have also started distancing themselves from the extremism and fanaticism – often even the value judgment and pride – that is so common for the black-and-white approach.
Such people have started seeing through the black-and-white illusions of the selves. Although this clearly represents a higher level, it is extremely important to realize that you are still not above the relative logic of the selves. The selves have a built-in contradiction and seeks to create two opposite viewpoints in every situation.
Obviously, black-and-white thinking defines such opposites, but this form of thinking also forms its own polarity. Black-and-white thinking has its own opposite, and when people start rising above black-and-white thinking, it is quite common that they jump into the opposite extreme.