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The "oldie" was well selected, Michael, and its observations should never be allowed to grow "moldy". Our egos seem more an impediment to wisdom, knowledge and contentment than any other single human trait. Once beyond the high school/college age bracket/environment, when I found the competitive need to win to be a burden which practically eliminated the enjoyment of "doing", I gave up competitive sports (basketball, tennis, etc.). Being familiar with the old psychology adage "A competitve person is an insecure person" and knowing the unhappiness and frustration which goes with insecurity, I realized the greater accomplishment was interior rather than exterior, mental rather than physical. This obviously extends to career/income competition as well: increasing wealth to buy material possessions for social display and entertainment distractions, hoping the illusion of heightened social status ("I'm better than you") would somehow stop the fear and need of the grasping ego. Sports fandom was the last that I jettisoned nearly a decade ago, and I don't miss it. Another near-axiom of psychology is that a person driven to prove "them" wrong is really trying to prove to THEMSELVES that "they" are wrong. "I'll show them" means "I'll show ME". You will know you've reached a level of personal security when you no longer feel the need to prove anything to anybody. Anxiety levels drop precipitously, calmness comes without effort. Monitoring your thoughts and reactions for the signs of the "ego-monster" can be one of the most rewarding mental activities we can pursue. Hold the ego in check and not only don't we torture others, we don't torture OURSELVES. Imagine this scenario: an alien intelligence lands tomorrow and tells us we are being considered for inclusion in a multi-galactic civilization which will benefit our species in countless ways, eliminating disease and hunger and so on. All we need do is pass a social/cultural "inspection" which includes a perusal of our history and entertainments. Once the aliens see our collective fascination with sports competitions like boxing, "ultimate fighting", football and the like, they climb back into their vehicles and make a hasty exit. I would personally feel embarrassed and resigned to exclusion. For all of the technology which too many point to as "proof" of our advancement, I find it all too easy to see no advancement at all; not "above" it, but to the side of it.

Michael and Kevin: unfortunately, I don't think the ego is to blame for human cruelty. Yes, we are often cruel for selfish (egoistic) reasons, but some of the worst tortures were done by persons who believed they were benefiting the community. Look at the "witchfinders" of England; some were venial and corrupt but others were dedicated true believers who never used their office for personal benefit. The only thing that seems to reliably oppose cruelty in humans isn't the suppression of the ego, it's empathy and the understanding that others are as human as we are.

Yes, we are often cruel for selfish (egoistic) reasons, but some of the worst tortures were done by persons who believed they were benefiting the community.

MarkL, though I agree that empathy and understanding is the right direction, it is in examples such as the witch hunts, the Inquisition, and the horrors of collectivist societies such as Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Maoist China that the human ego reaches the pinnacle of atrocity.

All of these are instances where the collective egos of large groups of people worked in concert towards a common goal. The danger facing any society is that ego-based ideas can be reinforced by others sharing the same wrong ideas, compounding the collective blindness and drowning out dissenting voices of reason.

There is no doubt in my mind that Michael's premise of the ego as the source of evil is absolutely correct. The solution to evil will come about when mankind as a whole recognizes what the ego really is, and works not to eradicate Original Sin, but to rediscover and realize Original Innocence.

“I find it all too easy to see no advancement at all;”

We know so little about such things as evil and human behavior. Maybe we should factor in new souls coming to earth that have less awareness than older souls. Do souls that have advanced to a higher level of consciousness (compassion) move on to other more advanced dimensions?

I like to tell my republican friends that what separates them from the democrats is that they are newer souls and therefore more competitive (win win) and individualistic (me not we) in their outlook on life. I have often wondered why I don’t have many republican friends.

When we look very very deep into the root cause or origin of evil it is based in ignorance of our true reality (i.e. identity). The cure for ignorance appears to be experiences with karma. Remove ignorance remove evil.

The exception may be if it is possible for an evil spirit to take over the mind of another but then even if that scenario is true the spirit is evil due to It’s ignorance. Ignorance of course being unawareness or the lack of this higher knowledge.

One must not confuse knowing about right from wrong (lower knowledge) from being able to live with compassion towards self and others. (Higher knowledge) And it appears intellectual capability is not an indicator of this higher knowledge.

Absolutely wonderul post, glad you reposted it as I'm a newby here.
What I see in torture is that the people who initiate it never get their hands dirty. Cheney may get his jollies from watching the videos, but he's not the one doing the waterboarding. Himmler once visited a death camp and witnessed people being shot, even got some blood splattered on his face then promptly threw up. (World At War - Genocide)
Those that are forced (some volunteer and enjoy it) to torture are just as dehumanized as the victims.
There was a pracitcal application to numerous cultures that practised Human Sacrifice -- Phoenician, Greeks, Aztecs, etc. They were agricultrual societies that needed fertilizer. The people killed were used for the crops. The Greek concept of The King Must Die, and then he is reborn giving life to the food supply which is then eaten sustaining the life of the community is the basis for Christ's Crucifixtion and Last Supper.
As for the point on Ego driving torture. It's still the leaders Ego that everyone must conform to their will, philosophy, party or face the consequences and torture is used on society as an exaggerated from of corporal punishmen. Isn't spanking a child a form of torture to correct deviant behavior?
But don't these leaders become children themselves. There is not a more self-absorbed, Id driven human on this planet than a 3-year-old. They know of no other thought than "I want, and I will get what I want at all costs" They hit, scream, throw temper tantrums, steal, bite. They have only one word in their vocabulary: "Mine" The job of being a parent is to teach them to get along with others and share their toys. Making them aware of others and not focusing on just themselves.
Isn't Hitler, Stallin, Mao, Castro, Bush and Cheney, a good example of a 3-year-old with ultimate power? Does absolute power turn adults into toddlers? Is that what becomes Evil?

The more of it there is, the more dense the finished product. Like pixels on a TV screen. It's the total aggregate of information accumulated through life that makes for the "brightness" of the spirit. Like computer code.

Cutters, self flagellators, self mutilators, all under the influence of the soul to gain information. They only have a very short period of time (compared to eternity) in which to access and gain information.

If I had a mosquitoe bite on my left ankle and one on my right elbow would that be enough information to re-create my whole body? If a computer programmer was writing computer code for a body and he only wrote code for an ankle and an elbow would that be enough for a video game? Ankles and elbows?

How about enough information to last for eternity? Forever? Infinity? Not to mention we don't exist for just ourselves but the information we are encoding on the "Akashic Record" will be available for every soul in the Universe to use. We don't live for just ourselves.

The difference between hot and "warm" is just a matter of degree. The difference between freezing cold and just "cool' is a matter of degree. See what I'm saying? The difference between a caress and being hit is a matter of degree. It has to be enough information gained in a short amount of time to last forever.

Before we die the soul has a lot of living to do, and it's in a hurry to gather as much "code" as possible in the short amount of time it's got here in the Physical Universe.

What assessment can there be about countless atrocities throughout human history? These cultures had ‘values’ and ‘reasons’ for their actions.

Were these merely cultural differences, or aberrations—tragedies of human ignorance, hate, greed, or evil incarnate? Is sacrificing a life to the gods okay with you? There existed people of conscience within these societies who knew better. Would you have spoken out against the regime’s repugnant policies if it meant your torture and death?

According to cultural relativists and their pluralist machinations, a Buddhist, a slave trader, a cannibal and a headhunter represent social groups that evolved ‘naturally’ within their environment, making them all equally legitimate. Who would you rather meet along a lonely path in the deep forest?

Perhaps evil manifests itself through an ego run amok; however, let's dig deeper: the source of evil is ignorance; in turn, treat evil with awareness.

LOL..disfigurement??? I know of one Swan (ME) that WAS difigured , but it is from the INSIDE..the reality show made me into an insecure shut in. I am a hermit and had way more self esteem before the show. I was about a 5 in the 1-10 self esteem scale before and am a negative now.
The focus should not be put on what we had done on the outside but what was DONE to us on the inside..
There was a very unethical therapist that was only there for personal gain..opened doors to past hurts and never closed them, never completed the therapy...Sucks for me, I am now an emotional cripple..
Thanks for listening,
Lorrie *The Swan season 2*

“There is not a more self-absorbed, Id driven human on this planet than a 3-year-old.”

Wait a minute here. True these young ones need to learn more than what they want but my working with 4 year olds I can tell you they are so much more loving then adults than I have worked with in my life. By the time we become adults much has been taken out of us.

They are so much more open to the world and involved in learning new things but something happens between the years 5 years old and the forth grade as their interest in learning seems to go away for many of them. I have my theories why this is so but only theories at this time.

After working with adults and teaching adults much of my career it is a delight to work with these young children. Truly a blessing.

Cheney now there is a man that truly represents capitalism at its worst or best depending on your view of the world.

I agree with you regarding 3/4 years olds being much more loving than adults.

I guess if you don't like children, cant see their innocence and love any demand they make will seem like a drugery, an inconvenience an annoyance to someone who's heart is not in the right place.

I can say this for myself having been a woman who was very self focused through my 20's & early 30's. I was annoyed by any child, their whining, etc.I never ever dreamt I would become a mother someday it didnt make sense, I have many people to back me up, a whole family ;-)

But thankfully today things are completely different, not only do I see much beauty in children, my business is "children" so I know this first hand from having a shift from what PMprescott described to your experiences with them William.

I deal with them everyday and it's fantastic, I have grown as a person as a consequence :-)

With these 3 and 4 year olds I have an advantage as I am just a volunteer and the two people in charge of the children know how to set boundaries but yet give lots of leeway so the children can learn while they are doing fun and interactive activities.

What amazes me it how authentic they are. By the time we become adults most of that authenticity is gone in our lives. We are playing a role I suppose the role we think society wants us to play.

What happens between the time they are 4 years old and when they reach the forth grade. I think it is due to we are a teacher centered, individualistic, and very competitive society and that approach tends to take the joy out of learning except for the top ten per cent.

Now what does this have to do with evil?

Since we in America have the highest percent of people per capita in prison it might be worth our while to find those significant variables that may cause this high prison rate.

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