The Devil's Due
AbeBooks Seller Since June 5, 2003Quantity Available: 1
AbeBooks Seller Since June 5, 2003Quantity Available: 1
About this Item
Title: The Devil's Due
Publisher: Kabel Publishers, Rockville, MD, U.S.A.
Publication Date: 1999
Book Condition:Very Good
Dust Jacket Condition: No Jacket
Edition: 1st Edition.
Book Type: Book
About this title
The Devil's Due provides a new understanding of the paradoxes of seeking self-transformation. From the perspective of the ancient, undivided soul the modern self has become its own worst enemy. Instead of valuing them as desirable and even heroic behaviors, seeking salvation and enlightenment are revealed to be among the primary causes of the suffering, internal conflict, and dis-integration so characteristic of the modern self.
By confronting this dilemma with the foresight and authority of the historical wisdom summarized in this book, the conditioned response of seeking can be questioned anew by the modern reader. Why do you seek enlightenment, grace, salvation? Why must you change, become better, live forever? It can only be because you do not accept yourself as you are. But with this motivation you are headed for self-destruction, not self-renewal.
The first step out of this trap is to understand how seeking is itself the greatest obstacle to its chosen goals. This lesson has been repeatedly emphasized throughout history by wise men in both our own Western tradition of thought and in Eastern religions and philosophies. The Devil's Due provides an outline of this history of the criticism of self-interested seeking. From this critical perspective the journey toward self-transformation is not measured in progress toward ideal states of being, but in the relaxation and removal of obstacles to the natural re-integration of the psyche. Among these, the primary obstacle is the seeking self.
The Devil's Due reconstructs the history of how the soul was lost and how it may be regained, how we have strayed from the integrated soul of prehistory into the madness of the modern self seeking to become its ideal. Integration, the true goal of all seekers, naturally occurs only when we get out of the way, but just as naturally always eludes those who chase after it, and who do not realize that in seeking after it they are fleeing from it.
The Devil's Due is an historical introduction to a new approach to understanding the modern self, its pathologies, and the soul it (often unconsciously) longs for and seeks to become. There is no other book like it available. Once you understand its message, you will begin to see the wisdom of this new way of looking at psychological integration lurking behind and between the lines of the philosophical and spiritual wisdom of the past. Modern conditioning has blinded us to this message and prevented comprehension of its relevance to our suffering.
The Devil's Due may be among the most important books you will ever read, provided you are able to understand how the history of misunderstandings about the role of seeking have ensnared you in a trap of the eternal return of suffering. Only by understanding this trap can you escape the suffering of the seeker and see what lies beyond the self-inflicted purgatory of a self gone astray.
The primary themes of the book are the history of criticism of the egoistic seeking of spirituality (e.g., the Hellenistic philosophers, St. Paul, Augustine, Luther, Eastern religions), the transformation of the restraining conscience of the Medieval era into the taskmaster conscience of modernity (especially in America), and a speculative history of the transformation of the heart-centered consciousness of antiquity into the head-centered consciousness of modernity. These themes are woven into a tapestry describing the inevitable errancy of self-interested striving that has become so characteristic of the modern self.
Among the guiding assumptions of this book are the following: 1) that modern consciousness is pathological, characterized by dis-integation and internal conflict (nothing new there), but also that 2) there is an historical record of symptoms, and warnings about these symptoms, that can be found in the literatures of Western culture. These symptoms suggest 3) a migration of the subjective center of consciousness from heart to head, body to mind, and from experience to abstraction and confinement within the severe limitations of language and belief.
The history of warnings against this trend, traced from the early Greeks through the onset of the modern era, focus on the 4) self-destructive or disintegrative consequences of self-interested striving, especially when this striving is an attempt to radically improve or transform the self. In parallel, history of the development of the conscience in the West illustrate how 5) the negative psychological consequences of self-interested striving become internalized in chronic inner conflict.
From the point of view of those in the past who warned against these trends (including some the Greek tragedians and philosophers and several later Christian authorities, most notably during the Reformation), the modern self has become a worst-case example of precisely the pathology they were warning against. The conscience has become the key element in understanding the modern head-centered form of consciousness in which idealism is translated into so many goals to seek, so many realms to conquer, and so many tools with which to control one's destiny.
The themes complement one another throughout the philosophical and religious controversies that now serve to update a history of warnings about the structure and functioning of consciousness that we take for granted. This is most clearly seen in American culture where, for example, self-esteem has become dependent upon utilitarian calculations of the efficacy of efforts toward self-improvement.
Some implications following from my narrative of Western history are that: 1) the modern self is sicker than many have thought, having "lost its soul" to become an unconscious tool of modern culture; 2) our consciences have become the internalization of this sickness, equivalent to medieval cases of "possession by the Devil", and 3) the way out of this quandary cannot be through a heroic quest because this is another manifestation of the problem, but rather through a kind of "undoing," a relaxation and removal of the obstacle of self-interested striving (in technical terms, narcissism) and the recovery or uncovering of soul. Given a chance, the soul will re-integrate itself, if only we modern seeking selves can stop interfering.From the Author:
This book is for those seekers of spirituality or self-transformation that have pursued this goal with enough seriousness and dedication to have experienced some of the negative consequences of seeking. Apart from the question of which comes first, suffering or seeking (my guess is suffering), seeking creates and maintains further suffering and is, in my opinion, a form of mental illness in our modern culture that offers no alternatives or critical appraisal of seeking. Because I have found our culture blind to this problem, my own emotional dismissal of seeking did not seem enough. As a psychotherapist I began seeing others struggling with these same paradoxes but found it difficult to articulate to them what the underlying problem was. And so I came to write my doctoral dissertation on this problem, an early version of this book that was entitled The Pilgrim's Progress.
The intent of this book is to help those suffering from seeking their ideal and those attempting to help these seekers. Therapists, like their patients, often do not have a clue about the causal relationship between seeking and suffering and they more often than not believe the cure for suffering is renewed or increased strivng after ideals. Because this argument is difficult to articulate and is so counter to modern, and especially American, values, I felt obligated to ground my argument in history along with sufficient authority that it could not be dismissed as a personal opinion, or in pop psychology jargon, as a case of "sour grapes." In a subsequent book, The Seeking Self (Phanes Press, to be published in Fall 2000), I explore the problem of seeking in psychodynamic terms (splitting, internal conflict) and the consequences of seeking as found in the ordinary, unsophisticated complaints of patients in therapy.
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