by Eugene Halliday
“By their fruits you shall know them”. “Does one gather figs from thorns?” Of course not. This is so obvious to us that one feels the question is not a real question but a provocation to us to note that everything has a result, that every seed will give rise to a fruit peculiar to itself, that there is no possibility of an effect arising from a cause other than that proper to it.
Often in life we see effects of actions which we do not like. Often we find the results of our actions such that we wish these results were other than they are. Less often we compel ourselves to modify our actions so that their results are less unpleasant.
This is rather strange, for we would expect that if an action brings unpleasant results we would tend not to repeat it. Animals tend to avoid actions that give rise to pain. But human beings seem to have something inside there that makes them repeat actions which bring unpleasant results. Psychologists thinking about this human fact have invented a “law” to describe it. They call this is the “Law of the Persistence of Error”.
Quarrels of every magnitude and minitude are known to produce unpleasant and painful results. Major international wars and petty individual squabbles produce undesirable results, but after thousands and thousands of years there seem still to be little indication that human beings intend to give them up.
There is here a great mystery to be solved. But even if we discover the basic cause of this “persistence of error”, it does not follow that we have also found the cure.
A psychological tendency that has persisted throughout all the long known history of the human race must be very deep-rooted. The root of this persistence reaches down into the very depths of the human soul, into the very origin of self-hood itself.
What is self-hood? It is firstly a form of separative existence, a fact of the capacity of each individual to move his body without moving the body of another individual, to think his own thoughts without giving them away to another, to feel his own likes and dislikes without revealing them to another, to have his own will and motivation without exposing them to another.
To be a lover of self-hood is to have all these capacities and to be able to use them without regard to their effects on other beings. But although the lover of self-hood has these powers and can use them, he cannot do so without releasing by his actions certain causes which must have their effects in the world and on other individuals within it.
Every bodily action a man performs obviously has an effect on other beings within his environment. The effect is the fruit of his action. Less obvious than the effect of a physical action is the effect of a spoken idea. Less obvious is the effect of all unexpressed feeling of like or dislike. Still less obvious is the secret innermost motivation of a hidden will. But however obvious or unobvious are the effects, the fruits of action, physical, mental emotional, or secretly willed, these fruits are there, unavoidably there, and must themselves become in their turn the cause of later effects.
The lover of self-hood does not like the idea that every cause has an effect of a character like itself. Self-hood likes to believe that its actions, all of them, good and evil, will produce only good, as it defines it. Self-hood likes to think that it can act destructively and receive back from the world nothing but a construction of a situation which will further extend its power of destruction.
Self-hood likes to do what it wants, when and where it wants, without changing the situation in any way to impede the satisfaction of its further wants.
But there is not only one lover of self-hood in the world. There are innumerable individuals and each one has his own being as a self, and can be a lover of self-hood if he so wills.
We must make ourselves clear about the “self” of the individual. The “self” is an intelligent being, of thought, feeling and will, each of which may be expressed in action.
An individual human being is first a self or soul, a being born of the eternal intelligence we call the spirit of God. There is no possibility of a human self or soul ever ceasing to be what it is, for it is of the eternal spirit. Thus there is no possibility of getting rid of ourselves as selves. Whether we live in a mental body or a physical body we cannot eliminate our self or soul.
What, then, do we mean by “self-hood lover”? We mean that a self can love itself in preference to other selves, can act without regard to the effect on others of its actions, can think, feel and will itself to be “separate” from other selves, can pursue aims destructive to other selves.
We have all heard of the “Fall”, the Fall of Lucifer, and the Fall of Man. What is this “Fall”? It is simply the fall of a self into being a lover of self. To be a self is good. It is God’s will that there be selves or souls, so that life may more abundantly express itself. “Except the seed fall to the ground and die, it abides alone”. It is only that by making the One many that the One can express its infinity of relational possibilities in the realm of actuality.
But though God, the Supreme One of eternity, has willed the creation of many souls or selves, He has not willed that each self should wrap itself in its own self-hood and act only from itself and for itself. He has willed that every self shall recognise that it has been created for relational interactivities with all other selves, for the enrichment of the lives of all, and for the infinite increase of their joy.
To fail to recognise God’s eternal purpose, and to wrap oneself in one’s own self-hood, and to love one’s self-hood to the exclusion of other selves and their good, is to commit the Original .Sin, the first sin in creation. This is the sin that has been called “Pride”, the pride that puts the self into a false view of itself as self-sufficient, separate from all other selves, safe from the actions and reactions of other selves.
Pride, inherent in the love of self-hood, suffers from the error of the idea of separativity, cannot see the Law of seeds and fruits in its infinite extent, and sees this law only in relation to its own separate intents and private purposes.
Love of Self-hood is thus the seed of all evil fruits, all misfortunes, all un happinesses. And as every seed must bring forth its own kind of fruit, which bears in itself the same kind of seed, therefore the love of self-hood, if it is allowed to persist, must perpetuate throughout all time its fruits of evil.
To see those things clearly is to see the tremendous need for the breaking of the bonds of this self-hood love, this love based on the errors of separativity, this love which, by wrapping itself in the false dark concept of isolated will, brings into the world all its sorrows.
And it is to see also that only the individual will can place itself in the condition where these bonds can be broken. For God who can release all prisoners will not do so unless the prisoners deeply will to be released.
God, who breathed His spirit into man, by this act conferred freedom upon man, and having given this freedom, God will not withdraw it. But He holds out His hand to the prisoners of the love of self-hood, and in His hand is the key to the release of the self from all falsities.
And the released self brings forth from the seed of itself new fruits, that smell and taste as their heavenly creator intended them to do.