Some of the earliest SUNs included Seth-inspired articles, and its publishing history as “A Magazine of Ideas” often pivoted around Seth’s premise: “Any perception is action; it changes that upon which it acts, and in so doing is itself changed.”
When pain motivates change, growth is more likely to be perceived as a relief, even a reward for having suffered, rather than as a conscious choice which is always available. In the Seth framework, there is no reason to suffer, to wait passively for change. Change is awakened by enthusiasm for one’s greatest imaginable good. There is no evil but a wide margin for error — “All seeming opposites are other faces of the one supreme drive toward creativity.” Over-identification with limiting beliefs is stripped naked by Seth; the stripping away is not a killing but a feast.
At worst, the Seth books are impressive collector items for advocates of change who only pay lip service to the ideas in them. At best, the Seth books can profoundly affect a reader ready for them, whether they seem to be science fiction, fine art, or a travel guide to the deep self.
By selecting specific topics and paraphrasing Seth extensively, I hoped to avoid distorting the brilliant thread of clarity that unifies every topic Seth touches upon. But due to the innumerable times when I have used Seth as a springboard to an enlarged personal understanding, I tell my own story too.
— Elizabeth Rose Campbell
You can learn more from watching the animals than you can from a guru . . . or from reading my book. But first you must divest yourself of the idea that your creaturehood is suspect. Your humanness did not emerge by refusing your animal heritage, but upon an extension of what it is.
— Seth, The Nature of Personal Reality
As a baby, my heartbeat was a drum of propulsion toward a presence who was large, white, and waited for me to mount him: my horse. No self-image except one that merged with his. A night sky. Open landscape. A slow patient journey which never passed landmarks but amplified some purpose, and reassured me my horse was no “he.” There was us, and when I was on his back, I knew who I was.
By the age of four or five, I could no longer hear his call. The heartbeat had settled somewhere deep inside. The sense of joint intentions with my horse withdrew. Every loss since is linked to this first step into separateness, and creates intersections everywhere that circle home. Seth is one that reminds me they are found first in inner landscapes, not the outer, and I do not need to do what I did at five, set up a sad substitute on the bedrail, a homemade saddle, bob up and down, searching for the right word, semblances of my horse’s forgotten name: equus, oranus, eliazur? No words worked so I cruised the neighborhood, declared the white horse had come, was my own, tied up in the family garage. The cry was “Come see!” and over we would rush. For the two or three minutes en route I was the key, had announced the divine in broad daylight. But there was no horse, I had lied, fed my sorrow at my own expense, became suspect.
I finally got my own horse, and together we acted out the mobility I’d known in the beginning, leaving the rest of the world behind, exploring territories that were forbidden on foot. I was cocky and tough by then, pretty cool, leaned back in the saddle and said, “Hey man,” spoke in a Texan drawl, I joked about the original “imaginary horse,” and called this horse nothing cosmic but Fart Face, to keep him in his place. I was scared of him when I wasn’t on his back. Blaze wasn’t white, but big and black. I was “Betsy,” an eighty pound person too tiny to tighten a saddle girth, too short to mount Blaze except on a stile.
I made him plod through town, but when we hit an empty farm road, dusty and long, I never held him back, never fought him, and we flew, his feet pounding the earth, body fully extended. Afterwards I’d slide off and hold his head while he scratched it against me. We’d broken the barrier, my scare was gone.
Each of your beliefs . . . has its own unique origin and feeling patterns, so you must for yourself travel back through your beliefs and your own feelings until intellectually and emotionally you realize your rightness, your completely original existence in time and space as you know it.
This knowing will give you the conscious knowledge that is a counterpart of the animal’s unconscious comprehension.
— Seth, The Nature of Personal Reality
There was a time, says Seth, when there was tremendous overlap among all species, and the combinations were more experimental and consciously devoted to enhancing the quality of all life on the planet. There were animals, man-animals, and “modern man,” a species identical to the one we know today, co-existing. There was everything our mythologies have ever suggested: giants, dwarfs, half-human monkeys, and animal doctors who initiated the unknowing to herbology, realms of medicine to which we are only now beginning to return. There was a species of large water birds who sang songs of great beauty and complex language and led the earthbound men and women to areas of feeding and safety. There was the greatest cooperation among the species, and within this time lay the inner impetus and innate comprehension of all future probabilities, and an eagerness to live it all.
The largest experiment involved producing a species “that would be a part of the earth, and yet become aware co-creators of it . . . The emerging consciousness had to have, latently at least, the capacity to become aware of world conditions. When man knew no more than a simple tribal life, his brain already had the capacity to learn anything it must, for one day it would be responsible for the life of a planet.”
The blossoming of imagination “initiated the largest possibilities and at the same time put great strain upon the biological creature whose entire corporeal structure would now react not only to present objective situations, but imaginative ones.”
We denied nature as a temporary aid to develop a specialization which did not rely upon instinct. Ego had emerged, with no programming but the freedom to explore all ideas, including those that questioned our grace. Letting go of our animal comprehension was necessary for the ego to grow, but with it went the directive memory of the great cooperative venture of the earth, the awareness that the slain beast is tomorrow’s hunter, that the entire environment pulsates with a consciousness we are connected to, and destined to love as ourselves.
It is much more the nature of a cat, to unthinkingly erase its boundaries, to merge with a tree, with a bird it is stalking, with a human being it seeks to comfort when she cries. It is only humans that censor strains of life with which we are unfamiliar, and behave like bigots, dissecting every form we imagine is a lesser, a loser, doomed to serving humanity’s obsession with tearing life apart to understand it.
“When you dissect an animal,” writes Seth, “. . . you are still dealing only with the ‘inside’ of exterior reality, or with another level of outsideness. . . . There is a difference between this and the ‘withinness’ out of which all matter springs. It is there that the blueprints for reality are found.”
Seth says the inner intent always forms any exterior change, which contradicts the Darwinian assumption that outer motivation propels the development of new abilities. It is not the survival of the fittest that is the prime purpose of a species. Survival is merely the means by which a species can attain its goal of enhancing the quality of life, as it experiences life through itself. If survival brings vast suffering, distorting the nature of life as to “almost make a mockery of it,” the species will destroy itself. “The sacredness of life cannot be sacrificed for life’s convenience. . . . Those who sacrifice any kind of life along the way lose some respect for all life, human life included. The ends do not justify the means.”
I live in the country, in the middle of a forest that is turning green, white dogwood blossoms littering the ground like confetti. The wind rocks my small house like a tornado of change, the earth radiates warmth I had forgotten, satisfies a hunger I could not name in the last few weeks of winter. The birds are back. I come out, go wild with the rake, work until dark, clear paths that will one day connect, be a circle, make accessible the most healing combinations of earth, wind, sun and water I have found here.
I lay a fire at dusk at the edge of a large ravine, come back at midnight, the moon nearly full. I light the fire, crawl close, and cry. I am happy, at home, free to be crazy, talk nonsense to my cat. I use a voice I hide from humans, say, “BumperBumperBumper-Boy, Bumper Boy, Sssss, Son, Bump Bump.” The dogs’ tails thump-thump at the sound of my voice. Seb, a dog, tells a joke, his voice starting in a low rumble, “ggrrRumph, ROW ROW!” I laugh, hold my sides, howl “ROW ROW ROW” back at him, and the cat comes, curious. “Pddyeer? Pddyeer?” I look at him as longingly as at a lover, he gazes steadily back, pure white panther body crouched in front of the fire opposite me, making magic with a flick of his tail. He has one amber eye, one azure blue eye, and I am forever trying to track what he sees.
The idea of a meaningless universe . . . is in itself a highly creative imaginative act. Animals . . . could not imagine such an idiocy, so that the theory shows the incredible accomplishment of an obviously ordered mind and intellect that can imagine itself to be the result of nonorder, or chaos — you have a creature who is capable of ‘mapping’ its own brain, imagining that the brain’s fantastic regulated order could emerge from a reality that has no meaning.
— Seth, The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events
The spider’s web is to the spider, says Seth, an artistic achievement that is life, actualized ideals. “It amazes the spiders that flies so kindly fall into those webs.”
Nature itself is civilization for the animals, and sense data rather than intellectual data allows them to participate in the drama of the seasons, in which they are co-creators. They know their impact on reality, and never seek to protect their individuality because they so totally accept it. They have emotions and can imagine events that have never happened to them, though in a much more limited way than we do. They anticipate mating. They do not dwell on potential threats, or pleasures. They live them, as they happen. They make choices, but not on the “thinking” level we occupy although they have “ideas” structured by an alien framework where there is no good or bad but natural impulses to maintain a quality of life. They do not fear death or disease, both of which they know as balances of nature which do not threaten but enhance their futures, because they are spirit-identified before they are body-identified.
If we have a shared language, it is the language of love, “a basic nonverbal one with deep biological connotations. It is the initial basic language from which all others spring, for all languages’ purposes rise from those qualities natural to love’s expression — the desire to communicate, create, explore, and to join with the beloved.”
Aggression is used by the animals to prevent combat, not initiate it. A dog’s barking is perfectly spontaneous, and yet ritualized, with a clearly understood meaning. In our society, the various steps in an aggressive encounter have become unclear, cloaked. Violence has been confused with aggression, and the creative power of aggression to prevent violence denied. “Violence is a distortion of aggression. . . . The sense of power felt during such episodes is the result of repressed energy suddenly released, but the individual is always at the mercy of that energy then — submerged within it, and passively carried with it.” Animals do not experience guilt and conscience as we do, but they work for what Seth calls “value fulfillment,” the development of values which increase the quality of whatever life the being feels at its center, multiplies it, “in a way that has nothing to do with quantity.”
Every species is a different brand of selfhood, no higher or lower than any other. Our species is in a state of transition and has developed a unique consciousness that has barely begun. What lies latent is unpredictable, unfinished, and the time is ripe for artificial divisions to be dispensed with.
“You must return, wiser creatures, to the nature that spawned you — not only as loving caretakers but as partners with the other species of the earth,” says Seth.
I have no horse now, rarely ride. But in my dreams, I often find myself at a narrow bridge above a Grand Canyon void. A horse appears, sure-footed and safe. He carries me across, disappears when we reach the other side, and I look back, see the bridge broadened with our passing become permanent.