Mara swivels around in his chair, musing. He looks around at his well-appointed office, his beautiful secretary, his own well-groomed finger nails. How glad he is to be Mara!
To my busy legions of the Fourth Army: greetings and congratulations.
This army has three divisions; the Division of Sensual Desire, the Division of Being and the Division of Non-Being. Since the First Division, Fourth Army duplicates the work of the Great First Army I'm enclosing a copy of the notes I sent to them...
The secretary asks "Shouldn't we do something about that redundancy?"
"Why? This organization is the last in the universe that will have to consider downsizing! Now don't interrupt me again!"
(Where was I? Oh yes...) The second division, those which promote the Craving-to-Be, has a vital role to play. Beings exist because of your work. The technical details of this process have been explained by our Adversary in his Dependent Origination, and grudgingly we must admit the accuracy and clarity of the exposition. We needn't go into the details here, those of you who are so inclined can consult the relevant literature. Let us merely consider the idea from the practical angle; the beings in our power exist because they want to.
Be clear about this. They don't as a rule begin to understand what existence means; they are mostly not even fully conscious of this craving. You have done your work well and insidiously. The craving for being usually manifested in a cruder form; a second derivative as it were -- not as the simple will-to-be but the craving to be this or that thing in particular. To be loved, to be rich, to be healthy, to be the president of the United States.
Your attack should also be two-pronged. As long as it is possible to do so, keep feeding the secondary manifestation, the craving to be this or that. We have been doing quite well in this regard in recent times. Our possibilities were limited when society was hierarchical and stable. For the last few centuries the old certainties have become less and less effective. Society is now so open as to be almost totally chaotic. Not that this so-called "freedom" does them any real good; most of them never will be rock stars or presidents or any of those other ridiculous things they seem to crave so much. No matter. For our purposes it's good enough that they want it. Keep the dream alive! If things start looking too hopeless remind them to buy a lottery ticket.
Sometimes they truly may surprise us and get to be something, usually we can just up the ante. If one of them gets to be president, make sure he wants to be a great president. Nevertheless, in spite of our best efforts, they may occasionally come close to being satisfied; even in quite humble and ordinary circumstances. This is very dangerous. In such cases consider Plan B and bring them closer to the root craving for sheer existence.
Here, our principle weapon has always been the Eternity View. Tell them "You are, or can be, immortal. Your essence will continue forever." Don't let them think about death. This is easy because most of them don't want to anyway. Any version of this view will do for our purposes. It doesn't have to make too much sense, very few of them are willing to think these things through to their logical conclusions. There are a few good religions around that will serve up this soothing broth and these should be encouraged, but some of our other projects have resulted in increasing numbers of materialists and skeptics. Many of these will be better targets for the Third Division and Annihilationism, but a surprising number will still buy into a version of Eternalism.
Most of the simpler ones will be happy to keep artificially prolonging "youth" with facelifts and hair transplants but a few will require headier medicine. The myth of all powerful science, although quite silly really, is very seductive to these types. Many now believe that science will eventually prolong human life indefinitely. Some even get their carcasses frozen in liquid nitrogen. Remember the ancient Egyptians? I am having the boys in R & D do a feasibility study on starting up that game again.
But sooner or later, in spite of our best efforts, many of them will begin to lose the zest for existence. Life in the human realm is very often nasty, brutish and short and wishful thinking only goes so far. That's quite alright if we handle it properly; that is precisely why the Third Division, the forces of Craving-for-Not-Being are needed.
On a superficial level this can manifest as simple aversion; the craving not-to-be in debt, or the craving not-to-be married to that person next to them in bed, or the craving not-to-be whoever they are. Even more trivial forms are still useful; the craving not-to-be in the back of a long queue or not-to-be cold, etc., etc., ad infinitum. All these mind sets produce unsatisfactoriness and this keeps them within our power.
Remember your awful final weapon! When diversion fails to beguile, then despair can enthrall them. Having invested all their hopes in some pathetic illusion when this is at last punctured it only takes a short push from us to move them across the dangerous middle ground into hopelessness. Remember Hamlet? "To be or not to be..." sums up our programme nicely, whatever you do don't let them even suspect a third alternative.
Obviously it's not to our advantage to have any of our subjects actually cease to be, but we need not worry, suicides do not escape us. We can however promote the delusion that this is possible. The ideological basis for this is the annihilation view.*
*[ The Annihilation View is one of the two principal false views. It is the idea that the living being is merely a product of matter in motion and consciousness is annihilated at death. Its opposite number is the Eternalist View which holds that the living being has a permanent self-entity ("atman" or "soul") which, being immortal, survives death of the body.]
Historically, this has been a minority philosophical position, useful only for snaring a few intellectuals. However we've had great success in the last three or four hundred years in popularizing this doctrine. Some of you were skeptical when I launched "Project Descartes" but I think the results have proven my foresight. The scientists among them who work with issues related to mind and consciousness; neurologists, cognitive psychologists etc. are absolutely blinkered by the concept that Mind is an emergent property of the brain. They have no proof at all of this (how could they?) but accept it absolutely as axiomatic, so much so that they mostly seem unaware that they are assuming anything at all. This attitude is staring to percolate down to the masses.
The annihilation view underpins many modern trends; materialism, consumerism, secularism, science, anti-clericalism, etc. We have gotten many millions believing that their bodies and minds are nothing more than meat machines. This facilitates a breakdown in morality. Given the materialist world-view there is nothing to stop them from abortion, euthanasia, suicide (of course) or even genocide.
If they do take the final step and "destroy" themselves, well -- it's unfortunate I suppose but it does make work for the crew downstairs.
Copyright © 1997 Arrow River Community Center
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