I was conscripted into the Rhodesian bush war at eighteen. I was part of a special forces helicopter and airborne assault squad. When I joined I believed I was protecting my family and neighbours from communism. Then I began to realise it was just more western imperialist expansion, and finally that I was just a wind up doll in somebody else’s violent fantasy.
Most of my guys were killed. The unit was disbanded because there just weren’t enough of us left alive. The rest were mostly destroyed by their own darkened consciences, because they could not square what they knew of themselves with what they had done/endured. Accidents, addictions, suicides.
Swallowed up from within…
I wound up in hospital myself,
opiated fractures and torrential rain..
You could call it karma. I prefer to think of it as Conscience, but in the way you might think about an actual person who was mad at you.
The philosophers of ancient times called themselves philosophers because that’s what best described them. They were lovers of Wisdom/Sophia, philo-Sophia. It was a relationship with the unseen.
Conscience is the same.
Freud had the idea that Conscience was simply the internalisation of cultural mores. The Super-ego. A derivative structure.
Its understandable. Conscience is part of the Principle of Relatedness or if you like, the instinct for social co-operation which many branches of science prefer to ignore. It conflicts somewhat with the tooth and claw/ survival of the fittest/linear progression of consciousness to our-fantastic-selves model.
So we can’t consider the a priori nature of structures like Conscience without having to re-think a lot of other stuff.
The fact remains that Conscience is way more than a guilty reflex. It is a semi-autonomous archetypal complex that we’d do better to treat as we would anyone else who actually came and knocked on the door. My men did not destroy themselves out of guilt or remorse. It was precisely the opposite. It was because they refused to heed Conscience. And so she drove them to drink, broke their bodies and blew their heads off.
‘Unlived life does not sit idly on the shelf. It will turn round and bite you.’ ML von Franz
In Western Civilisation, Conscience as knowledge-within-oneself was originally embodied by Sophia/Hokmah. When Solomon consulted his Wisdom it was not just some ethical part of himself. He would confer/pray for divine inspiration. The church fathers dumbed down the story just by writing her name with a small w to big up their man Solomon, a ruse entirely foiled by Psalms 3;
…14 For her profit is better than the profit of silver And her gain better than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor.…”
The notion that consciousness simply evolves means not only that we are readily seduced into beleiving that we can do no wrong, it means that we can’t find our psychological bums with our own hands and so our fate has to come to us from ‘outside’.
”We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it’s all about”. Joseph Campbell
This rapture begins with the humble acknowledgment that we are not masters of our own houses, that Conscience has her own life, and that any fine ideal we might manage to live out, any conviction we might have about our being at the pinnacle of anything when its all on the back of third world subjugation, sweat shops and the effective enslavement of millions is not just deluded, its part of the epidemic.