Excerpt About Evil
Animals do not have this extremely malleable and impressionable potential, so they cannot lose their nature in the way we can. Their impressionability is much more limited, so their consciousness cannot be easily structured in ways that are so alien to them. The human soul, however, can end up with only part of her potential in her conscious experience of herself, by developing a structure that excludes the rest. As we will see in chapter 12, ego development happens mostly by structuring the soul in such a way that leaves her animal potential partially accessible, and her essential potential missing. In fact, her animal soul is the dominant element that becomes structured into the ego-self, at the expense of the essential potential. The result is a humanized animal soul who is constantly suffering the deprivations of her essential nature. The conditioned human soul is, then, to put it bluntly, a twisted and distorted soul, and not just an animal soul. This distortion is what accounts for most human excesses, a distortion that twists power into hatred, strength into destructiveness, love into possessiveness, desire into greed, and so on. This is why human beings can become embodiments of evil and destructiveness, even as they have the potential to be saintly, pure, and totally spiritual and selfless. To borrow the traditional terminology, the human soul has the potential of being either an angel or a devil. Most of us are somewhere between these extremes, with occasional excursions to one or the other. The struggle to balance the angelic side of our souls with the animal side lies at the heart of human nature.