Turning Hyde back into Jekyll, permanently

Trapped in a lonely body
I’m losing control
Can’t show my emotions
And I’m losing my soul
Could it be that I’m obsessed
With feeding my disease?
I couldn’t make it known
The hidden things that no one sees

Yeah, loser
I’m a secret loser
I’m a secret loser

Seeing is not believing
It don’t mean a thing
Although it appears to be that
The loser is king
I can understand that what you see
You think is real
But underneath the surface
Is a wound that cannot heal

Those are some of the words to “Secret Loser” by Ozzy Osbourne, which is the song that came immediately to mind regarding the topic I want to discuss. Anybody feeling any sense of kinship with old Oz here? I sure am, and I’ll bet a lot of you are, too.

In the last post, I touched briefly on how my new spiritual views provided a pespective that made it easier to love other people. But what about that other side of morality, where it’s not a case of how our actions affect others, but how our actions affect ourselves. We all have our “secret sins,” things we do (or even just things we think) in private that the world doesn’t see – things that fill us with a sense of shame and guilt, and even the feeling at times that we’re living a double life. Is anyone empathising with this? I’ve had plenty of intimate conversations over the years on this topic, and I know I’m not alone. Last year, at school, I even dared to give a talk on the subject of “vice” to the eleven- and twelve-year-olds at Scripture Union. It made me nervous, because I personalised it. Especially nervous, because a couple of teachers decided to sit in during that particular session. At the end, to my surprise and delight, the teachers expressed how brilliant they thought the talk was.

What’s clear to me is that everybody’s suffering here. And if anyone has some information that can help people, it should be expressed, and not hidden out of a fear of condemnation by people you assume to be better than you. It’s a big relief when you realise we’re all swimming in the same sewer.

The Christian idea that we possess a sinful nature (or “the flesh,” as some Bible translations phrase it) is what once allowed me to put some substance around why human beings have this perverse streak. We have a predisposition towards evil, it seems. Right now, though, I find myself questioning the validity of that, for several reasons. Firstly, I asked myself, can evil behaviour be put down to a combination of free will, bad decision-making, outlook on life, upbringing, environment, education, indoctrination, etc? In other words, are your problems with sin down to a combination of things you’ve done to yourself and things that have been done to you? Does man necessarily have to be rotten at his core? Secondly, I asked myself, has the belief in a sinful nature helped or harmed my ability to better myself?

Rather than give definitive answers to those questions, I would rather let you ponder them (heh-heh, there’s a handy way to curtail another blazing argument). Instead, what I want to do is present a different way of looking at things that certainly has helped me lately.

What is it that prevents us from being as bad as we could be? I think the main motivator is the realisation of consequences. I don’t mean fear of consequences; I’m choosing my words carefully here. We restrain ourselves from doing evil to another person because we know that what we do will hurt them, and we possess empathy with the victims of ours actions. Of course, not all of us choose the path of good; I’m just illustrating how I think the anatomy of the conscience works. There’s an interesting movie called Equilibrium, starring Christian Bale, about a future society where mankind is drugged 24/7 into a condition where they can no longer feel anything, because (according to the movie) evil is caused by our ability to feel. A disturbing kind of peace reigns supreme – except when someone decides he doesn’t want to take the drug anymore. Then he is mercilessly killed by the authorities. The philosophy of the movie gets a little messed up in places, but you can make interesting observations watching it. Principally, it’s not the ability to feel that makes you evil; it’s the absense of feeling that makes you capable of doing anything to anyone! Empathy is the key.

But sometimes we are put into a moral arena where empathy towards others doesn’t even come into the picture. When you’re sitting alone in front of your computer with a box of Kleenex at hand, feeling the temptation towards wrongdoing, your actions are affecting no one but youself. It gets worse when you can’t even see any real consequences for yourself. I’m still alive, still healthy; I haven’t been struck down by God; everything’s okay, despite how often I’ve gone through the neverending cycle of guilt and repentance. What I’m saying is, it’s very hard to stop yourself from giving in to temptation when you can’t see any permanent consequences. The mere knowledge or feeling that it’s wrong doesn’t seem to be enough. Even grasping an awareness that it’s an offense to God doesn’t seem to be enough. The only consequences appear to be feelings of guilt and shame that will dissipate in a short while. If that’s what it means to possess a “sinful nature,” then I would say yes, I possess a sinful nature.

But that’s as far as it goes with me. It is too easy to let this belief in a sinful nature cloud your mind into believing that you will never overcome the vices you want to overcome. Recently, and for maybe the first time in my life, I have found that when I’ve opened my mind to some different ideas, I have changed remarkably for the better. I’ll try and communicate these ideas.

You can overcome personal evil because there actually are consequences. I just wasn’t fully clued into them until recently. Everything is consciousness. Consciousness and energy are the same thing. When you think something, you either create positive or negative energy, and that energy has a direct and immediate effect on you. This is why we can feel literally sick our stomach by something we’ve done. All negative thought creates a negative imbalance within you. The worst aspect of it is that like attracts like. This is true on the physical level with the types of people who gravitate towards us, and I suspect equally true on the spiritual level with what sort of entities gravitate into our lives. Yes, I am talking about demonic influence and oppression. What we do on the physical level has a massive impact on the hidden spiritual reality all around us. Our actions, and more importantly our very thoughts, affect our spiritual/emotional/phsyical balance – the whole of our being, because everything about us is interconnected. That imbalance can be subtle or great. The important thing to realise is that the imbalance is happening, and it doesn’t have to happen. This is the knowledge that helped me to get my feet planted firmly in the right direction and to stop playing with darkness.

For me, forgiveness from sin doesn’t really come into the equation. I’m actually concerned that the awareness of being able to claim forgiveness after I’ve committed a wrong will encourage me to get away with doing that wrong, time and time again. I’m also concerned that constantly feeling guilty before God is so detrimental to self-esteem that it often keeps me locked in a self-destructive attitude. I think I’ve fallen into these states of mind plenty of times. Now, I feel a greater ability to pursue good when I embrace the idea that it’s all up to me, and when I shun the idea that I’m being stared at with a disapproving gaze by God. Dropping all that baggage, it comes down to this: I can choose to keep harming myself and face the consequences in my life, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and in every other way, or I can get my act together.

And I have got my act together. Gone are the little voices that say things like, “I’ll never overcome this”; “I’m such a disappointment to God”; “People would hate me if they really knew what I was like.” I’ve discovered that I can, and have, overcome my personal vices. I don’t think I’m a disappointement to God because I don’t live with the reality of a God who holds everyone to account for everything they do. And some people probably would hate me if they knew what I had been like, but any lack of understanding they might have towards me is no concern of mine, because I’m overcoming my problems and forgiving myself for what I’ve done; I know what I am and I like what I am.

The key to overcoming evil (overcoming moral imbalance, which is what it really is) is to promote balance within yourself, in every way you can. Learn to see this as the most vital thing you can do. Start disciplining your own thoughts. Take your mind away from negative thoughts and intentions as soon as they occur. I think we’ve been conditioned to think that it’s normal to have good and bad days – days when you’re on a bit of a downer for no good reason. Total nonsense. There’s no reason at all why we can’t live lives that are characterised by emotional, spiritual, physical and moral balance. We just haven’t prioritised it. Realise that there is much that you can do to maintain balance within yourself. Part of that means embracing a healthy lifestyle, choosing not to eat all the crap we’ve been led to believe is a normal diet. Health on the physical level and health on the spiritual and emotional levels are all connected; feel unhealthy and you will feel emotionally imbalanced. Everybody has experienced that, right? When you feel sick, it’s a short step to feeling depressed. Sometimes promoting balance in your life can be as simple as going for a walk to clear your head. What I’m saying is, start to see the importance of these things and how they relate to all parts of you, including your morality. A person with a balanced life feels no inclincation to give in to negative impulses. In short, if you’re a mess in other areas of your life, don’t expect to be healthy morally.

I don’t know if anyone feels any kind of resonance with what I’m saying. All I know is, this way of looking at life feels real to me, and the actual benefits it has brought to my life are very real. Aspects of what I’ve said are certainly compatible with Christianity, and possibly I should have been able to implement them into my life effectively as a Christian. All I know is that I couldn’t, not for all the years I’ve been a Christian. According to a poll conducted by ChristiaNet.com, 50% of Christian men are addicted to pornography. I say that without any condemnation, only with empathy. I feel that I’ve now found a greater measure of understanding that I only possessed in a half measure as a Christian. I feel like I’ve found the truth that really has set me free.

3 thoughts on “Turning Hyde back into Jekyll, permanently

  1. I agree with a lot of what you’ve said, but i don’t really agree with the conclusions.
    I never really felt like mankind was the proverbial shit on God’s shoe, i did tihnk we were imperfect and that we liked to sin, but i saw it more as an argument of us not being perfect, compared to the perfection of God.
    I also imagined God as a God that forgave, and all you had to do was try and be a better person, try not to commit the same sin again, and learn from it, etc.

    Having said that, i was my own worst critic, as we all are, and i had problems dealing with some of my own flaws, which can be read about on my site. I think that’s true regardless of what our faith is though, and what our morals and beliefs are, within that.

    In fact, Darryl, we’ve seen it of you lately, when you lost your Christian friend, you immediately felt guilty, even through this new understanding you have, you still felt guilty, like it was your fault, like it was something you said. You even removed comments and posts, rewrote a post, and tried to make amends.

    I think as human beings, we have ideas of what we should be like, should it be in looks, thoughts, desires, morals, etc. And another part of that is thinking above our station. So inevitably we end up falling short of our own mark.

    As an agnostic, i still fall short of my own mark, sometimes, i’m not doing things to please a God, or even to please others, i’m trying to sort things out in myself, by my own standards, and still i can’t fully live up to it. I can’t blame unfair rules, as they’re my own rules.

    Even inside one particular faith, say Christianity, there’s so many different levels of faith and belief. Some Christians think it’s fine to masturbate, some think even sex within marriage is wrong. These people might even go to the same church, on the same day, yet still have varied understanding of the faith they agree on.

  2. I think the one thing that keeps me from taking the easy route of following oldsters home from the post office on pension day and happy-slapping them in their own homes for a quick cash fix isn’t the concern that I’d get caught and punished by society but rather than I’d hurt someone and make them feel victimised and scared. Things I hate to suffer myself. In reality, I would be caught and punished, by myself. It’s so far from me that I’d be appalled by it. As I’m appalled by others who do such things.

    I have a habit of trying to empathise with such people. I don’t believe in “evil” and always feel that rather than just being bad or possessed by demons that those who do actions that appal us have some motivation behind it that society should try to understand if we wish to grow beyond such selfishness. Perhaps it’s bad upbringing, or a immediate society that has failed to inspire responsibility or empathy in these people… who then see others as merely a crop to be harvested for their own means. whether it be for supportive comrades, or victims for loot, sexual pleasure or brutal sport.

    As for sexual deviancy: I think masturbation is never something someone should feel guilty about. where you masturbate, what you think of or look at when you do it… that might be a problem, like anything else there is a balance and a moral line that if often fuzzy and you won’t often know where it is until you cross it. The direction your moral compass points in may vary from that of others. I tend to think if you aren’t hurting or victimising anyone (including yourself) then it shouldn’t be something to worry about.

  3. Peter,

    “I don’t believe in “evil” and always feel that rather than just being bad or possessed by demons that those who do actions that appal us have some motivation behind it that society should try to understand if we wish to grow beyond such selfishness.”

    I actually agree with that completely. Perhaps my use of the word “evil” conveyed a sense that I didn’t intend. This is why I like the word “imbalance,” because I think it gives the proper sense of what’s behind evil.

    “As for sexual deviancy: I think masturbation is never something someone should feel guilty about. where you masturbate, what you think of or look at when you do it… that might be a problem,”

    I agree. It’s that last bit you said that I’m really talking about in my post. Sexuality is a great thing, and masturbation seems to be, at the very least, a slightly embarrassing necessity – certainly nothing to get in a twist over. It’s what we do to our sexuality through the consumption of increasingly darker pornography and the things we allow ourselves to fantasise about in the endless quest for a bigger rush – that’s what bothers me. I feel another post coming on. 🙂

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