Your Life Begins When You Know Its Purpose

Emerging New World Ethics

by Joanne K. Helfrich

(Originally presented October 2001 NewWorldView Conference in New Haven, CT, a month after 9/11.)


A world of questions—and some answers
Seth’s examples of violation
Beliefs about evil
What may or may not be violations
Doing violence to the spirit of another
What we can do
Love ourselves



God, Miss America, Snoopy, and Hilter's testicle. My interest is to look at how the ideas expressed in the Seth material are emerging in our culture. In San Diego, I talked about how current events reflect the global shift in consciousness. Having set that precedent, I wondered what new events there would be to discuss in New Haven, so I’d have nice fluff piece like before! Looking at the events of and since 9/11, I’ve come to believe that they have prompted a willingness to redefine global ethical standards, and I’ll be talking about this in terms of the Seth material. Since this is a cultural view, my presentation will include references to famous and not-so-famous cultural icons—God, Miss America, Snoopy, and Hitler’s testicle.

A world of questions—and some answers

What are ethics?

Ethics are the principles of conduct governing an individual or group. Seth mentions in The Early Sessions Book 4 that he has his own code of ethics. When you think about ethics, you often think about beliefs about good and bad. In The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events, session 852 Seth says, “When you are discussing the nature of good and bad, you are on tricky ground indeed, for many—or most—of man’s atrocities to man have been committed in misguided pursuit of ‘the good’.”

So rather than travel the tricky ground of what’s good and bad, which I imagine to look much like the hills of Afghanistan, I think it’s more helpful to focus what Seth says about violation and how it can be useful in creating our personal and global code of ethics, which is in many ways the same thing.

Beginnings of consensus on what is a violation

God There was immediate, global consensus that the events of 9/11 were blatant violations. But what was immediately unclear was what to do next, and whether or not violent retaliation was called for.

Religions not providing consistent answers

People went to their religious leaders, but while, for example, the pope labeled military retaliation a “just war,” priests on pulpits preached forgiveness. Christians wonder which Jesus they’re supposed to emulate—the one who cursed the fig tree or the one who said, “Love your enemy” and “Turn the other cheek”. Suddenly, there isn’t a Christian tome to thump with any certainty, and we learned that the Koran, too, is being interpreted in many different ways.

Seth’s examples of violation

Seth gives some very clear examples of violations in The Nature of Personal Reality session 634, “Killing another human being is a violation. Killing while protecting your own body from death at the hands of another through immediate contact is a violation. Whether or not any justification seems apparent, the violation exists.”

The “Thou Shalt Not Kill” commandment represents the ancient ethical standard of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition, and the Code of Hammurabi before it. Maybe in redefining our global ethics, this one might be a keeper! But this begs the question: what are peaceful and loving people supposed to do to prevent their own annihilation?

Natural and artificial guilt

Maybe nothing, if we choose to count on the ability of natural guilt to help “correct” beliefs of people who violate others. To paraphrase Seth in The Nature of Personal Reality, natural guilt is our inner wisdom telling us we screwed up and that there is no need to be punished because, in essence, we punish ourselves by realizing we have committed a violation. He talks about natural and artificial guilt in sessions 635, 636, and 647:
“[Natural guilt] does not carry with it any built-in connection with punishment as you think of it…it was meant as a preventive measure. Any violation against nature would bring about a feeling of guilt so that when a like situation was encountered in the future, man would, in that moment of reflection, not repeat the same action.”


“If you find that you are berating yourself because of something you did yesterday, or ten years ago, you are not being virtuous. You are most likely involved with artificial guilt. Even if a violation occurred, natural guilt does not involve penance. It is meant as a precautionary measure, a reminder before an event.”

—and regarding artificial guilt—

“The collection of unrecognized artificial guilts, built up through the centuries, has led to such an accumulation of repressed energy that its release has resulted in violent action.”


“Philosophies that teach denial of the flesh must ultimately end up preaching a denial of the self and building a contempt for it, because even though the soul is couched in muscle and bone it is meant to experience that reality, not to refute it. All such dogmas use artificial guilt, and natural guilt is distorted to serve those ends. In whatever terms, the devotee is told that there is something wrong with earthly experience. You are, therefore, considered evil as a self in flesh by virtue of your very existence.”
So not only do religions often fall short in providing helpfulness in how to respond to violent events, we can also see how they contribute to them, in our own country and outside it.

Beliefs about evil

Religion’s benefits and shortcomings are being revealed to the world like a stripper wrapping up her act after a long slow reveal. At Yankee Stadium, we saw leaders of many faiths pray to their gods in a way that seemed like they were actually talking to the same guy! But what are the qualities of this Oneness when there’s such disagreement? In other words, if we can’t count on religions to define if there are instances in which killing is justified, what more fundamental beliefs are at work here that separate violent from nonviolent personal ideologies?

In the days following the tragedy, I became involved in an email dialog with an educated and intelligent Catholic who was absolutely enraged. He defended god and country while asserting the need to wipe out Evil. What was interesting is that he spelled evil with a capital E, as if to deify it, as if there is anything that is not Of God. If I believed this, I would feel I was constantly at war, and I’d always on the “good” side.

Seth says in Dreams, Evolution, And Value Fulfillment Volume II session 921, “You make your own reality, Man’s ‘evil’ exists because of his misunderstanding of his own ideals, because of the gap that seems to exist between the ideal and its actualization. Evil actions, in other words, are the result of ignorance and misunderstanding. Evil is not a force in itself.”

And in The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events session 825, “‘The universe is of good intent.’ It is automatically predisposed—toward the creation of ‘good’ events. I put the word ‘good’ in quotes for now because of your misconceptions about the nature of good and evil, which we will discuss somewhat later.”

So this “is there anything not of God?” question may serve as a basis for ongoing dialog, especially since it has skirted consensus in most of our Western religions. It may be the question that finally removes God from our nationalistic, pledge-of-allegiance context and puts it into a more fitting universal framework. It may be the question that moves our culture to replace the word God altogether with a term less charged and more descriptive, like “All That Is.” I have a friend who calls God “Stella,” which is certainly an improvement. Maybe we’ll soon begin to call God, appropriately, by our own names.

What may or may not be violations

Irony, comedy—maybe not

Nothing was funny directly after the events of 9/11. While a writer at Vanity Fair was predicting “The End of Irony,” satirists were figuring out their next move, careful not to offend, grateful they live in a country where they can, as talk-show host Jon Stewart said, “sit at the back of the class and launch spitballs.”

After a week, satire publication The Onion ran an articles that helped ease the pain. The titles included, “U.S. Vows To Defeat Whoever It Is We’re At War With,” American Life Turns into a Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie,” “Hijackers Surprised to Find Selves in Hell,” and “Not Knowing What Else to Do, Woman bakes American-flag Cake.”

Most notably, The Onion published an article entitled, “God Angrily Clarifies No Kill Rule” that began, “Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.”

The right message could also be found at the Madonna concert in Los Angeles three days after the tragedy. The aptly named performer, and student of the Kabbala, interrupted her performance to say, “It’s not just bin Laden. If you want to change the world, change yourself.”

Communism—maybe not

We are coming to global consensus on things that have been steadfastly considered violations— that might not be. The president’s speech of September 20 in referring to the terrorists, said, “We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the twentieth century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.”

Notice he did not include communism, as if we are ready to tolerate other lifestyles as long as they do not violate according to our new, mass definitions.

Displays of wealth—maybe

Miss America Miss America Pageant was held shortly after 9/11, but parts of the show were dropped, including the limousine arrivals. It was as if something about all those limos was a violation, but, what kind of violation seemed elusive. After all, wealth in and of itself isn’t a violation. Seth says in The Nature of Personal Reality session 634, “Natural guilt—is the species’ manifestation of the animals’ unconscious corporeal sense of justice and integrity. It means: Thou shalt not kill more than is needed for thy physical sustenance. Period.”

So a fleet of limousines, each with one passenger traveling the same route, may represent a kind of modern day hill of buffalo skulls.

Seth continues, on violation and natural guilt:
“It has nothing to do with adultery or with sex. It does contain innate issues that apply to human beings, that would have no meaning for other animals in the framework of their experience. Strictly speaking, the translation from biological language to your own is as given in this session; but the finer discrimination reads thusly: Thou shalt not violate.

“The animals do not need such a message, of course, nor can it be literally translated, for your consciousness is flexible and leeway had to be left for your own interpretation.

“An outright lie may or may not be a violation. A sex act may or may not be a violation. A scientific expedition may or may not be a violation. Not going to church on Sunday is not a violation. Having normal aggressive thoughts is not a violation. Doing violence to your body, or another’s, is a violation.

“Doing violence to the spirit of another is a violation—but again, because you are conscious beings the interpretations are yours. Swearing is not a violation. If you believe that it is then in your mind it becomes one.”
Identifying violence to the spirit is a greyer area, but I will offer my own interpretation on how this
relates to the 9/11 tragedy.

Doing violence to the spirit of another

It is no accident that ground zero was littered with financial and insurance reports and papers along with human remains. We live in a culture that equates the value of individuals with how much we earn and how much we buy. To quote Willis Harman, founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, in his book Global Mind Change on the effects of the materialistic, non-consciousness-based, view of reality:
“The industrialized world, having lost any consensus on ultimate meanings and values, steers itself mainly by economic and financial signals serving as pseudo-values—Since modern culture ascribes no ‘reality’ to inner experience, transcendent values have no power and materialistic values prevail—.The worth of persons (to say nothing of our nonhuman fellow creates on the Earth) is assessed by their value in the economy.”
Again, this is not about capitalism, essentially, but materialism. The tragedies of September 11 can be seen as a continuation of smaller, similar violations to the spirit, as evidenced in our high schools where those cultures place value on test scores (measuring potential for earnings) and clothing labels (measuring potential for spending) on people who are the least able to bear it, who long to connect with something greater than themselves, and who too frequently turn to terrorism, too, when they can’t find it.

In the ruins of Tower 2 are the graves of people who were told to go back to work because the building was deemed “secure” after an airplane plunged into Tower 1. Of course, the people who said this didn’t know about the second plane, but at the same time, they had no reason to say it was secure, either. And, of course, those people chose to go back into the building so that they could attend their meetings and answer their phone calls.

What we can do

Let go of promises of security

Since we believe their deaths are a statement, it seems they may have been making is a call for us to examine our own beliefs about security. Many of us who were still grieving went back to work, zombielike, wondering why in the hell we were there and what contribution we were making to the world—back to secure jobs and retirement packages, just like our counterparts in the towers. But we are beginning to come to terms with the idea that no one can protect us, and no one can hurt us, without our underlying consent.

Identify our personal response to violation

Even so, our own uncertainty about what to do if violated may be keeping us from moving about more freely. Seth continues in session 634:
“Because you believe that physical self-defense is the only way to counter such a situation then you will say, ‘If I am attacked by another person, are you telling me that I cannot aggressively counter his obvious intent to destroy me?’

“Not at all. You could counter such an attack in several ways that do not involve killing. You would not be in such a hypothetical situation to begin with unless violent thoughts of your own, faced or unfaced, had attracted it to you. But once it is a fact, and according to the circumstances, many methods could be used. Because you consider aggression synonymous with violence, you may not understand that aggressive—forceful, active, mental or spoken—commands for peace could save your life in such a case; yet they could.

“Usually there are a variety of physical actions, not involving killing, that would suffice. As long as you believe that violence must be met with violence you court it and its consequences. On individual terms, your own body and mind become the battleground, as does the physical body of the earth in mass terms. Your material form is alive through natural aggression, the poised, forceful and directed action that is the carrier for creativity.”
There’s room for interpretation of what constitutes an appropriate aggressive action. When I first read this passage, I thought it might mean “think peaceful thoughts and carry pepper gas”. But I’m not comfortable carrying pepper gas, and I don’t even know if I could get on a plane with it.

Snoopy I was then reminded of a self-defense class that I took in college. One of the lessons was to bring in something that you didn’t think could ever be used as a defense. One woman brought in an stuffed “Snoopy” doll—possibly the most benign thing in the universe. But the instructors demonstrated how the doll could be pushed into the face of an attacker, blocking his eyesight long enough to inhibit him and to get some distance. So this lesson helped me to see that from now on I’m going to keep a Snoopy doll with me at all times. No wait, it’s to know that I can create my own appropriate aggressive action and command for peace in any situation using what’s at hand.

I got an email regarding a nonviolent approach to prevent suicide hijackings. I don’t know if it’s true, but it was based on the premise of an Islamic belief that if ones’ body is buried with a pig, their soul will go to hell. The idea was to put a pig on every airline flight. We Americans boast of our ingenuity—now all we need to do is get past our beliefs that solutions need to be difficult and costly.

Identify our own violent thoughts

But at the real heart of the matter in this passage is Seth’s comment, “You would not be in such a hypothetical situation to begin with unless violent thoughts of your own, faced or unfaced, had attracted it to you.”

My own violent thoughts are invisible because they seem so very justified. A few days after the tragedies, I was reading a People magazine. There among the photos of horror was a full-page ad with a photo of a model looking almost heartbreakingly beautiful—gorgeous, thin, beautifully dressed. Maybe it was the way her image was juxtaposed with the others, but I found myself incorporating much bad will towards this woman and what she supposedly stands for—superficial, Madison Avenue ideals of beauty, the indulgence of high fashion, exorbitant paychecks—and a bit of jealousy of wanting something she had and I didn’t.

Hitler's testicle I’ve heard similar words used to describe the motives of the terrorists. I was so blinded by my own judgments and insecurities that it was invisible to me at the time what I’d been incorporating, until I dreamed that night that I met her—the model in the ad—saw her challenges, and realized that she is doing the best she can, just like the rest of us. My lucid dream allowed me to know and love her in a few brief, inner moments, and to begin to love the part of myself that is her.

It’s interesting to consider that those who violate are responding to a part of themselves they find unacceptable. Adolph Hitler had one testicle that never descended. If had he believed in a god or self who loved himself the way he was, he might have lived a very different life, although certainly we created Adolph the way we needed him to be.

Also, if the Taliban men are thinking of sex every twenty seconds, which is what scientists tell us is the average for men, and they’re thinking of sex with women, who they believe are sinful and they are sinful for thinking those thoughts, then imagine how full of blame and self-hatred you’d be if you were reminded every twenty seconds of what a horrible person you are.

Remember that the other person is a version of you.

Seth says in the ESP class of December 3, 1974:
“You have heard terms like the ‘brotherhood of man’ or, as Ruburt might want to say, the ‘brother-womanhood of woman.’ But in your terms…in your terms, at any given time, the population of the earth is made up of counterparts, and so there is indeed a relationship. And when you kill an enemy, you are killing a version of yourself. There are deep spiritual and biological connections also… For as you are members of a physical race, so you are also members of a psychic kind of counterpart reality, and this straddles races or countries or states or politics. So counterparts exist, in your terms, at any given time in history. And so are you indeed related, and there are no strangers, in deeper terms, upon the face of the earth.”
Love ourselves

In closing, I wish peace and love for the world, and for you, but mostly I wish it for myself, because I am the world. As Jane says in “The Charmed Life” at the end of The Further Education of Oversoul Seven:
“Particularly when you grow up, many people will tell you that there is no magic. If you believe them, then you’ll forget too, and you’ll act as if you aren’t charmed and bring unmagic into your life… which is magic too, you see, but magic that doesn’t know itself. Then you’ll create things that go with unmagic, like sorrow or sickness, and you’ll have to deal with them at that level until you remember that your life is charmed again.

“So in the meantime you’ll feel nasty and unloved and angry, way beyond what is natural, and have to worry about sad or fearful emotions and what to do with them, when magically, you’d know. They’d just come and go exuberantly like summer storms. But anger and hate and sorrow are all magic too, and left alone, they’d lead you back to the knowledge that your life is charmed. Because hate is love looking for itself every place but where love is, and love is what you feel for yourself when you know that you are where you’re supposed to be in the universe, and that you’re lovely just because you are, and of course, charmed.”
Thank you.

© 2001 Joanne K.Helfrich, All Rights Reserved.

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