The Transformation of the Beast Within
By Trevor Leese
What is it that drove young men to riot as they did recently in Paris and spread to a number of other French cities and what caused the riot in an English city? The media reports suggest that the tinderbox or the fuel for the troubles was very similar, that the young men felt oppressed, devalued, disenfranchised and resentful by the seeming lack of help or interest in them and their area from government agencies and employers. In France they began because of the death by electrocution of two boys who hid in an electricity sub station during a police chase, this was followed by an inflammatory statement against such young men by the French Minister for Home Affairs and added more fuel to the group anger. In England it was reported that the match that set the explosion of violence off in Birmingham was just the rumour of the rape of an Asian girl by Afro-Caribbean youths. I am sure that the truth of the matter of the breakdown of public order on both sides of the Channel is likely to be far more complex than was reported but what is the sinister mechanism that comes into action in such circumstances? Without condoning the behaviour of the rioters I think it is important to try to understand their situations. Perhaps a starting point is to ask the question, 'if we were young men with the same life experience living in the same conditions would we feel equally frustrated, despairing or angry?' How likely is it that we would be drawn into such protests?
We have known for decades that a large number of young men from ethnic minority communities have felt oppressed by their circumstances, trapped as they are between cultures and by a negative stereotype that has formed around them over the years and yet very little has been done to help them to create the condition where they can positively shine and flourish. There are many groups of socially deprived people throughout Europe and America who live in very poor conditions that are such a contrast to the prosperous lifestyle of those who live around them and perhaps we turn a blind eye to the fact or feel powerless to help or we don't even think about the problems because it makes us feel uncomfortable.
Why was there a complete breakdown of law and order during the recent hurricane in the world's most modern and developed country, the United States? Would there really be complete anarchy in any country if there were no law enforcement? Why did a European country whose people have so much in common with the peoples of the rest of Europe fall under the spell of the Nazi's whose vision through the 1930's and early 40's was to ruthlessly dominate the world? Certainly when the Nazi movement began to work their way into the power structure of Germany, the country was in a deep economic depression, it felt that it had been asked to pay far too much reparation for the first world war than it could possibly afford and felt, as a nation, deeply humiliated, stripped of too many of its assets and left with so many hungry. In this state the nation was obviously vulnerable to the manipulating cunning of these wicked and self obsessed men. Could this have happened in the United Kingdom or elsewhere in Europe if the state of the nation had been the same? I think so.
These and so many similar events happening in our world today are likely to have been initiated by one or two people yet so many ordinary folk like ourselves become caught up in them. Is it possible that given a certain set of extraordinary circumstances we could all behave in ways that ordinarily we would never behave or could allow wicked things to happen in our midst without our protest, perhaps out of our fear or apathy? Those changes in circumstances that lead to violence or a breakdown in law and order are often made little by little, perhaps we allow a change that we are not happy with but feel that it is not really worth our effort or outward protest. We can learn to live with the change, indeed even get used to it, become conditioned to thinking that the thing is a normal or acceptable state of affairs in today's world. Then another small objectionable change is made and so on and so on, until one day we come to the realisation that the framework of our principles has completely broken down. We may then realise that we are in bed with an evil and dangerous monster. Those changes for Germany took most of a decade to develop and seemed at first to offer a solution to the country's problems, with a growing belief that these powerful men could at least get the country out of its desperate economic mess and back on its feet.
My parent's generation in the U.K suffered great hardships because of the war with Germany and Japan. I remember the rationing of food and goods during my childhood in the forties and fifties. Today in a time of plenty we are perhaps seduced by our good fortune because we went without so much in our childhood and we are loath to give any of it up although we suspect at least that most of the world suffers hardship much greater than we ever did. Many Europeans fled to the United States after both of the world wars because their economic hardship and cultural oppression was far greater than we experienced in England. They were experiences to forget and many of these migrants lost touch with their homeland, helped further by the wall that for so long divided Eastern Europe from the 'free' West but in America they made good and raised their children in this land of plenty. It may not seem reasonable or occur to many of these relatively newly prosperous to share some of their abundance with others, seeing themselves as the lucky ones who escaped the oppression and made it to the land of plenty. A similar migration has been going on in more recent years from Africa and Asia to Britain and North America. There is of course a growing number in our midst that do give of their wealth and I know African and Asian friends who regularly send a part of their newfound wealth to their extended family 'back home'.
The rich countries of the 'first World' or 'the West' are often seen by those who are struggling in the South and East as overindulgent, decadent and self-centred, also as bullies who weald a big stick if weaker nations don't tow their line and who greedily grab the best of the world's resources and make it impossible for poorer countries, especially in Africa, to get a look in. We have so much to give to the whole world and do give some of it yet we are in no way seen as the 'three kings' who come bearing gifts. It is true that we, as yet, do far too little to help the disadvantaged in the world to make some advantage in their own lives. How much of this criticism is justified?
It has been simple, through the poor conduct of our government's war in Iraq, to convince some young radical Muslims in the West that it has been an attack upon their brothers, requiring a response from them. Is it so extraordinary that the aggressive fringe in so many countries have an easy time fuelling so much hatred against the West and drive a few to the extreme and into believing that they should blow some of us up in order to catch our attention? We are now ever on the lookout for the appearance of this monster or at least its calling card as we move about in our cities. We now not only see small groups of fanatics as a threat to our national security but also feel that our safety is threatened by some newly self assertive nations who are not prepared to be dictated to or tow that line. We may succeed in intimidating them with our power but invariably we provoke a further violent reaction. Are we doing things right and is 'Right' entirely on our side?
There are undoubtedly monsters stirring in many nations, the problems in the international community are not so very different from those tensions in our cities and reflect so many of the problems for the personality in today's world. These common problems and the fear of them in the human macrocosm and the microcosm of the individual personality have roots that go far back into the past within the collective unconsciousness. Yes, there is likely to be a monster asleep in each one of us waiting for conditions to be right for it to show its head. One could say there is bound to be one somewhere in the unknown world of our own sub-consciousness; this must be raised up and examined by us in the light of true spiritual wisdom and understanding; for wherever there is a dark area of sub-consciousness that has not been explored and then thoroughly transformed by enlightened consciousness it is likely to remain like a festering swamp of old self-centredness, bitterness, resentment, cruelty and greed, providing those conditions where the monster can flourish. It is likely to angrily and selfishly awaken whenever the conditions for its outer expression materialise. When it does manifest it takes many forms. In The Labours of Hercules i it is described as a monster with nine greedy heads (the hydra), each head signifies a self-indulgent passion. Three of these heads are to do with the passions of the physical body, with the misuse of sex, of comfort and money - three of them relate to the emotional body and concern the creation of fear, hatred or an egocentric desire for power - finally there are three that concern the passions of the un-illuminated mental body and these manifest as selfish pride, separateness and the propensity for cruelty. The solution for each of us is not through the repression of these tendencies, Hercules in his labour of Scorpio attempted to do this by cutting off the heads of the hydra but more grew to replace them, the reaction from the monster was little different to that seen in the streets riots of our cities in the outbreak of extreme violence. The eventual solution for Hercules was through an attitude of humility, a truthful acknowledgement of the problems, a recognition in both heart and mind that they were his own, and then he was able to raise them up into the clear light of truth where they could be thoroughly examined, resolved and expelled by the power of spiritual or loving wisdom. We are no different to Hercules; he was a man like us with the same potential for the expression of the human monster or the divine soul. The monster is the common problem within humanity, and his solution is also ours, for each of us possesses an entrance into the place of spiritual wisdom. As we deal properly with these problems of being human and are able to lay them aside we reveal the divine nature in us, which they have concealed.
These problems are not only ours as an individual but are also a responsibility to be taken up within the group, for the monster who stalks our street in the form of a hooligan or the terrorist is that same hydra, we can attempt to cut of its head or we can recognise that the monster is a part of our self and then with humility seek to lift the complete problem up into the light of truth and to deal with it in loving wisdom so that we can be a part of its solution.
That solution may seem to require a Herculean effort yet each one of us has this means of resolution secreted within us, as the problems of the beast are brought into the light of wisdom the soul is simply revealed. These are our very own personality problems yet they appear also in the group as the problems of our extended family, humanity. The problems are to do with the wrong use of the forces that should rightly impel us along the evolutionary path towards the fulfilment of our human purpose, as we begin to see the problems we start to use these evolutionary forces aright, the personality truly becomes the vehicle for the expression of our spiritual being. It is only as we look beyond the self and identify with all others that the soul in us can rise from its obscurity because the soul's task is to be the servant of all. The task requires the right channelling of the forces that drive all three aspects of the personality vehicle, driving the physical, the emotional and the mental bodies toward integration and synthesis. The reason that the task must also be accomplished for humanity as a group of beings is that whatever begins in the human soul must touch all men for the souls of Man are one, then the work can be completed at the planetary level by the planetary logos as he seeks to finish his work of combining the physical, emotional and mental aspects of his planetary expression.