This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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11.1. The Challenge of the Dark Age

This section in relation to the whole

My purpose now is to provide observations and recommendations that would help the modern individual on a more personal level, as opposed to the rest of this manual, which focuses on theory, history, doctrine, and collective psychology. In some ways this necessitates a more conversational approach, which in turn means that I must address a specific audience. Often, especially for the early sections, I am addressing the individual who is just beginning to realize that they are not on the same wavelength as the world in which they find themselves. This would typically imply that the audience is young, but perhaps not. Perhaps they’ve felt this way for years, unconsciously, and this situation has built up in them a terrible sense of alienation, frustration, and even shame, even creating in turn a powerful resentment toward previous generations and ‘the world’ in general, life itself seeming to present only possibilities that are inhuman and abhorrent. Such are the preliminary struggles I wish to address before moving on to more general counsels regarding self-knowledge and practical approaches to things like political participation. I wish to suggest that my way of interpreting life can provide a degree of inner peace, even if we cannot alter external circumstances.

I hope that, despite the shift in tone, the content is comprehensible to anyone who considers himself in the early stages of ‘re-orientation’ that follow the coming to birth of the intellect. As always, if the reader is more interested in comments directly related to prayer or to some other subject, I recommend that you skip these preliminary observations and simply move on as needed. I will emphasize again, as I have before, that this manual is not a systematic exposition: when in doubt, it would probably be best to read it in the order presented, but when you know what you are looking for, you should move directly to your point of interest.

Acceptance of our historical situation has consequences

By now we have developed our interpretation of history and of our historical situation enough to understand the conditions which prevail during this period and the human types that tend to be produced within this ambience.

If you accept what I’ve said as true in this regard, then certain consequences follow. Things change for you, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. What is normal for your ambience might appear toxic to you now, and you are faced with the problem of living in your ambience without being driven insane by its contradictions and its perversions. Your primary task is to find a way to reconcile yourself to the time in which providence has placed you without at the same compromising the spiritual sense which providence has awakened in your heart. This requires a different approach to life. The way you handle even the trivial things of life must be altered in order for what was toxic to become nourishing. Thus you do not have to overthrow or ‘fix’ the world, and instead you deal with it in a more conducive way. This involves a kind of alchemy. Your decisions will be made differently, or perhaps they will be the same decisions, but they must proceed from a different center. You will come to see the world in a different light, clearer but perhaps darker and more foreboding.

The goal of happiness, for example, which is the end-all-be-all of your contemporaries, is abandoned for the sake of the discernment of spiritual significance, for the sake of truth, which is to say, you take on the vocation of discipleship and all that this entails. Happiness becomes not a goal but rather a side-effect of certain situations: only the search for meaning is able to help us reconcile ourselves with a world that is full of suffering, and to embrace suffering for the sake of meaning. One cannot “embrace” suffering for the sake of happiness, since the two are mutually exclusive. Once one understands that life is suffering and that suffering is necessary in the search for meaning, everything is approached differently. One raises one’s children differently, for example, than the person who understands life’s goal as the attainment of maximum happiness. The latter tries to make their children as happy as possible and sets them up for disappointment in the face of a harsh world; the former permits their children to struggle, controlling the struggle within an environment of compassion and love and prudence, and sees their parental role as one who guides children through struggle into meaning, embracing happiness along the way but never setting it up as some sort of absolute ideal.

In other words, by accepting what I’ve said elsewhere, you embark on a journey that leads you to feel and live and think differently, and this process and its outcomes are not always pleasant, just as the parenting example I just gave will not be a pleasant to everyone. In fact, I would guess that this process would normally be very unpleasant. My purpose here is to help cope with this process and, in the long term, to grapple with issues that may arise throughout this re-orientation and as a result of having nurtured in yourself a ‘sense for the traditional’ and an inner identification with it.

Beneficial aspects of the situation

We might ask ourselves if this is all a bit overly pessimistic. Would it not be better, or at least more psychologically and emotionally healthy, to focus on the good and not the bad?

Yet this frames the question improperly, for it assumes that there is nothing ‘good’ about life for mankind during the Dark Age, and that under such conditions the only conclusion could be despair, and that all is lost; but we have never drawn this conclusion and would never wish despair upon anyone. The whole point of our writing is to save whoever we can from that fate. On the contrary, nothing is lost, and a man born in this time was made for it, and his path and the tools before him are unique, yes, but effective. The invitation to spiritual development remains in effect, and it is still possible to answer it, and to lead a meaningful existence here as at any other point in history. We point out disadvantages not to disarm and defeat the reader, but so that ineffective pursuits may be rejected and more appropriate methods introduced. There are, we insist, specific advantages to our situation, but you could not see them if you permitted yourself a perverse optimism. The stars by which you must be guided are only visible at night, but you’ll never see them, never look for them, if you remain satisfied and ‘optimistic’ under the perpetual fluorescent daylight of modern industrial civilization, in all its cold sterility.

What, then, could possibly be seen as beneficial about living the last Age, when everything is falling part? Consider the following ideas, which are not exhaustive but will serve to illustrate our point:

First, it is much easier to accomplish the detachment necessary for the pursuit of spiritual things when the illusion of the world, so beautiful and seductive under normal conditions, is becoming ugly, poisoned, and dissatisfying. It is difficult to see, under present conditions, how anyone could fall under any kind of utopian illusion or convince themselves that man’s happiness lies in this life along: should he try he will fall into despair, but this itself drives him back upon himself and eventually to the alternative: that happiness is to be sought elsewhere. If there is truth to the old observation that trials strengthen and refine man while wealth and comfort diminish him, then we can see in this light that the age of chaos is a blessing rife with opportunities for awakening and constant motivation to look beyond the world for meaning.

Second, we live in an abundance of knowledge. Granted, it is almost impossible to handle the sheer volume of knowledge we have at our fingertips, but to those who are careful and sincere, access to sources of wisdom are inexhaustible. A book such as, for example, could not possibly have been written at any other point in history and has only come into being due to the availability of literature and learning. None of this is to ignore the flipside of this blessing, which is that by and large, since the great mass of men do not know what to do with this knowledge, it is more often used to harm and manipulate than to help. There is also the conflict and mutual comprehension that accompanies the intermingling of ‘worlds’, which leads to hatred, violence, and exploitation. Yet the blessing remains, as a rose almost hidden among poisonous thorns, to be sought with extreme care, priceless if obtained.

Third, we must revel in the outpouring of mercy promised to the laborers who arrive in the latter part of the day, even as the sun sets.

Such is the meaning of the Islamic teaching that ‘the fires of hell will grow cold’ in the last days. As man becomes weaker, blinder, and afflicted, so the mercy of God, always outpacing his wrath, is given in superabundance, for God will never judge us as if we had no obstacles to overcome, as if the deck were not stacked against us.

This principle is neatly summarized by the Prophet in the following Hadith:

“In the beginning, if one omits a tenth of the law, he will be punished, but at the end of time, if one accomplishes a tenth of the law, he will be saved.”

Thus, we can say that any attempt to deny the more unpleasant aspects of reality in favor of a more ‘optimistic’ worldview is quite literally a delusion and could not be healthy on any level, whatever reprieve it may seem to promise. Rather, true peace of mind is to be found in reconciling oneself to reality as it is, not in the superficial social sense but in the sense of aligning one’s one will with the will of God, which is the only reality that matters. Then, seeing that we are where we are because God wills it, and thus willing it ourselves, and then determining our vocation and our path to spiritual realization here and now, we may find what our hearts desire.

Having said all of that, we must return now to a more critical frame of mind, knowing that we tear down only so that we might make some space to breath, to regain our senses, and to rebuild.

The deviant

Modern man is a deviant in the most literal sense—he is a negation of normalness—best explained by what is absent.

Counterfeit traditions

The so-called ‘traditions’ of your fathers do not apply to you, for the simple reason that they have nothing to do with Tradition itself. They are simply ‘customs’—purely human productions based on preference and or habit or accident. Tradition is a product of wisdom and is the expression of Truth itself, which is why the only traditional authority left in the West, the Catholic Church, holds that Tradition cannot be altered. Custom, however, is disposable as soon as it becomes ineffective. When your elders speak of the ‘traditional’ way of doing things, they mean simply the conventional way of doing things—the way things have been done recently. You can usually safely ignore these habits, provided you replace them with something animated by wisdom, in which case you will still be living according to a convention, but your convention will have its foundation in Tradition.

The fate of the modern heretic

You will not be threatened with a heretic’s death, nor undergo a trial by fire. God is dead in your era, and so heresy is an anachronism for you, and so is religious truth. Do not mistake me, you will be burned for any convictions you hold, but it will be over the slow, omnipresent fire of cultural complacence and spiritual aridity. The clean air of doctrine will never enter your lungs. The modern martyr always dies by prolonged suffocation.

Life anesthetized

You will suffer neither the hunger of famine nor the decay of disease. You will be fed all too well, and the medicalization of life from birth to death will present you with the possibility of a life almost completely without pain. The ancients saw great value in suffering, and in a ready death. For the first time in human history you will have to decide for yourself if they were right, and if suffering is worth the experience. You will have to discern for yourself whether the anesthetized life, impossible before men of old but easily achieved by you, presents great dangers. You will not have your courage tested on the battlefield, for there are no longer any battlefields on which real human combat can take place. Man has withdrawn from that field to the degree that he is wealthy enough to enlist machines to fight for him. There will be no enemy blade to run you through. No: you will instead be impaled every day by your own impotence. Should you crave a battlefield on which to test yourself you will only find a variety of surrogates—sports, fitness, or even bar brawls—all to no end. Your black eyes and your record-breaking bench press will never offer you anything like the serenity of the warrior who has come to master both mind and body. To die by the sword was once an honor. Upon his death the warrior knew himself to be worthy of heaven. But to the battle of the “rat race” is much different: frantic on the outside it leaves the inner man untouched and left to rot. If he wishes to keep his soul alive, he must do it on his own, ‘privately,’ which is contrary to the human condition. He is left to his own devices, without support or guidance, and after trying very hard to find meaning, he usually slips back into complacence. To splash aimlessly and then drown in one’s own inner inertia is an eternal disgrace. On his death bed the modern man questions whether or not he is even worthy of limbo. He senses that heaven is only for men who have felt some sort of fire, and he dies as confused as he lived.

Awakening

The re-orientation that must take place in order to move from the modern mentality to a traditional outlook is much like an ‘awakening’. Perhaps you have been waking up for some time, or perhaps you are just now coming around. I do not know when it began for you, but I think that you yourself can mark it out with some precision, perhaps even to the day that it happened, although it is most likely that it occurred slowly over a period of time such that by the time you realized you were fully uprooted from your previous life, it was finished. Many spiritual journeys are only identifiable in retrospect, because in the moment all appears to be chaos. At any rate, even if it came much later, there is always a moment when you become aware of what has happened. When did you first recognize yourself as differentiated from the world around you? We might be tempted to call it a moment of a “moment of clarity,” but, as you well know, the moment of awakening was not accompanied by anything like those feelings of peace and understanding which “clarity” calls to mind. In truth, for those who “awake” in our Age, the first moment of clarity may be the most horrifying vision of chaos. Rather than the comfort which one feels when discovering a straight path, it feels more like having been swept off the road of one’s previous life by tidal wave and then, upon regaining consciousness, the world is not longer the one you knew. Were you walking in the sun without a care in the world? Then you certainly awoke in the black depths of a forest, like Dante:

Midway along the journey of our life
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
for I had wandered off from the straight path.

How hard it is to tell what it was like,
This wood of wilderness, savage and stubborn
(the thought of it brings back all my old fears),
A bitter place! Death could scarce be bitterer.

It is not peace that accompanies the newly conscious man—the man who is taking his first steps in awareness. In the contemporary Christian way of speaking, we could say that this was the spirit moving within you for the first time. Strange how when we first meet ‘the comforter’ of whom the scriptures speak, he seems to have no concern whatsoever with ‘comfort.’ Discomfort is his art!—Discomfort, confusion, and fear. Mark that moment in your mind (I’m sure it is already indelibly marked there), because in that first moment of fear, you understood for the first time what the old traditions meant by “fear of the Lord.” If you were religious, you probably lost your “faith” (and by this I refer to the superficial and unthinking sort of faith which is all that you could have had before that moment). If you were not a believer, you probably lost your “agnosticism” (and by this I refer to that superficial and unthinking sort of agnosticism which is all that you could have had until then).

One way ticket

There is no going back, no matter the pain. Because of this you might be inclined to curse the spirit for having shown you something that you cannot un-see; for planting in you a new thirst when you were satiated or at least ignorant of what you lacked. Part of you is annoyed with the Divine for intruding, but the other part of you begs for more of what you have been shown. From that moment on you will have ‘two souls at war in your breast.’ This is the schism of the man; I believe that many do not feel this disturbance, and because of this I know they are asleep. That is why you must stop expecting everyone you meet to understand what you say. No matter how loudly you shout, how softly you whisper, or how clearly you enunciate, the men in the street will not hear you:

It is the business of the very few to be independent; it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it, even with the best right, but without being obliged to do so, proves that he is probably not only strong, but also daring beyond measure. He enters into a labyrinth, he multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life in itself already brings with it; not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes isolated, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience. Supposing such a one comes to grief, it is so far from the comprehension of men that they neither feel it, nor sympathize with it. And he cannot any longer go back! He cannot even go back again to the sympathies of men![1]

This is perhaps what Spengler meant when he said that “Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who, during the eruption of Vesuvius, died at his post because they forgot to relieve him.” My ideal reader is able to understand this kind of sentiment. The man I have in mind is not at peace, but neither is he necessarily in distress. He is simply suspicious, as one who knows he is being lied to. One who wanders without being lost. He lives out for himself the ancient maxim: “straight even when bent; whole even in fragments.”

[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 29.

The generosity of the master at the end of the day

Given what was said above, regarding the overabundance of Mercy poured out at the end of time, and the ‘cooling of the fires of hell,’ we can perhaps read the following parable, taken from the Gospel of Matthew, in a new light:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Whatever else can be taken from this passage, we can certainly say that the Lord shows a definite and unapologetic generosity toward those who labor in the twilight of the day.

Further justification for dwelling on Apocalypse

Additional reasons for meditating on the idea of Apocalypse and the general death of all living things is that, first and foremost, death is a certainty for all living things. Men and animals and vegetable life grow and live and die. That is a fact that is a part of life, and so it is absolutely necessary that any orthodox point of view be capable of accepting that fact and relating to it in a healthy and meaningful way. The modern world has completely lost its ability to relate to death and does anything it possibly can, even degrading life, in order to avoid facing death: contemporary Christianity has, unfortunately, followed suit, and it is likely you will never hear a sermon on what it means to die well. The traditional means of dealing with death, and even the old ways of mocking it, present in our “Halloween”, are now distasteful to Christians who can only accept those aspects of the faith which are not so “depressing.” The doctrine of the Apocalypse brings one face to face, in narrative and historical form, which the inevitability of death, the meaning of the struggle, and the glory that follows.

Add to the above the fact that not only individuals but worlds must also live and die, and that just as it is certain that the individual man must face death, so also the Earth itself must perish, for the seed must die in order to be reborn. Since the destruction of the Earth is not only naturally inevitable but also, thanks to modern technology, possible via unnatural means, religions and religious people are well advised to heed what their traditions say about such an event.

Do not exempt yourself from the catastrophe

When we speak of ‘signs of the times’ it is important to keep in mind that they apply to everyone. Identifying them does not mean that you are exempt from their influence. It simply means that you have with you a mirror so that you can, in a way, observe them in yourself as well as in those around you. This will enable you to rise above your contemporaries in perspective, even if you cannot rise above them in condition.

I think that perhaps the worst thing a religious person can do is adopt a view of the Dark Age and “the end” as something that pertains to the heathens all around, but not to believers. Whatever privileged position the faithful are given in accounts of the end, it seems quite clear that they will be subject, like Christ Himself, to violent death and a great suffering. It is a great disservice to teach Christians a narrative in which they are swept up into the clouds and have no part in the unpleasantry that must occur.

The question you must answer

In Apocalyptic conflict, two powers will be unleashed: Gog and Magog. These represent, according to one Hebrew scholar, ‘one who exalts’ and ‘one who gathers’. We may interpret these as universal tendencies: that of the exaltation of the individual or the group as against other individuals or groups, and, on the other hand, the ‘gathering together’ of masses into a global uniformity as opposed to the recognition of any individual identity. Conceived in this way, we can see that the two tendencies in themselves are not evil but are evil when placed in opposition to one another in the context of a conflict.

If this way of imagining the conflict is correct, then we could expect to see two groups take form across the globe:

First, those who fight for ‘the one who gathers’, and this could look something like a ‘One World Government’ or, as we have it now, the final consequence of globalization.

Second, in opposition to the first, we have those who fight for the exaltation of their own selves or else the small ‘tribe’ with which they have identified. We could, with caution, point to the nationalists as examples of this tendency, not in the healthy sense of loving one’s country, but in the sense of placing one’s country, or one’s tribe, over and against all others and the rightful claims of all others to a mutual recognition of dignity.

In the present, we can see conflicts between these two groups or attitudes being carried out without end, and you yourself might sympathize with one or the other, depending on your temperament your and spiritual inclinations. But what is most important is to recall that both of these are forces of Apocalypse. They both serve the destruction of all things. One is not hero and the other villain: they are both servants of the Adversary.

The most important thing to recognize is that in the last age, and in the conflicts that will take center stage during this time, Satan will fight on all sides, and all sides will be, in the sense outlined above, fighting for Satan, regardless of how righteous they think their cause to be, and no matter how much they tout their lofty principles all the while.

The primary question you must always ask yourself before being drawn into any kind of political participation, or armed conflict, or any conflict at any level, is this:

What is the real war?

That is a question that few men can answer correctly. Most will rush into the fray, thinking that they fight on the side of Christ against Satan, and their enemies will think precisely the same thing, and they will tear one another apart in a counterfeit battle between pseudo-good and pseudo-evil. But Christ, as we see from the Scriptures, will not be involved, and does not need anyone to fight for Him in some Apocalyptic war. If such a war appears to be looming before you, and one side or the other extends its hand your way, beckoning you to a war to end all wars, you can rest assured that this is not Christ’s war, but is the fight of Gog against Magog whose purpose is not right or wrong, but death plain and simple, and this is precisely what it will achieve.

Again I say to you, and please never forget it: in the end, Satan fights on all sides by utilizes all means.

Where then, can you fight without fear of throwing your life away in the service of the very one you wish to defeat? We can again refer to the famous Hadith of the Prophet, who upon returning from battle said ‘we return from the Lesser Jihad to the Greater Jihad’, which is to say, from the more external, superficial conflict to the real, inner conflict that takes place within every living man, and which is the one fight wherein we can say truly that Christ is with us, and in us, and fighting in our favor. To discern what this means in terms of inner spiritual development as well as its expression in actual conduct in life, we will explore a number of subjects and ideas in the sections that follow.

Resist not evil, the purifying function of the Antichrist

It is one thing to say that all is as God wills it; it is another to contemplate how this is so. Evil is an acting for in all creation, and permitted to be, and so we must ask why, and the answer we give determines how we deal with it. It also determines how we are able to relate to the culminating manifestation of that evil via the Antichrist.

The common answer provided by Christianity is that God permits evil for the sake of a desirable end. So be it, but this doesn’t really explain much and also why not just skip to the desirable end? We can only assume that if this were possible then God would have opted for such a route and avoided the whole problem of a ‘necessary evil’. Besides, is it not somewhat insulting and even blasphemous to suggest that God is being somehow compelled to compromise, to accept a ‘necessary evil’ in order to bring about the Good? Put in such a light, the idea that God permits anything at all that he does not actually want and that is not in some way an aspect of the Good is absurd. All that is must be susceptible to interpretation as an aspect of God’s good will: beyond the polarization of things into ‘good and evil’, which is legitimate to an extent, we must hold that in an Absolute sense, there is only ‘the Good’.

What, then, could be good about evil? This seems to be a nonsensical question, but consider:

In hindsight, and in our own personal experience, we look back on our sufferings and we acknowledge that, much like the discipline provided by our parents, our trials were not ‘evils’ imposed by a malevolent force, but were ‘lessons’. But they did not take on the appearance of a lesson until later.

The transformation of a pain, a suffering, even a death, from evil to ‘lesson’ changes its meaning for us entirely. For that which is a lesson, especially if this lesson is provided by a holy master and in turn is properly understood and integrated by the disciple, is a kind of truth. It is only the lesson that the disciple fails to grasp that hurts him and is perceived as a lie instead of a truth.

Life’s suffering is evil insofar as we remain ignorant of its specific outcome, for us as individuals or, on a larger level, for the cosmos as a whole. The outcome is typically the violent removal of our illusions, the destruction of worldly dependence, or our own ignorant willfulness and vain planning. In this light, evil tends toward our purification, and viewed in this light it is instructive rather than destructive, or we could say that it is destructive only of that which needs to be destroyed because it is not of God.

Returning then to the Antichrist and his cosmic function, we might say that he performs in personal mode the same function that evil performs in our own experiences: the Antichrist purifies the world by magnetically drawing toward itself in a kind of singularity all that is flawed and all sort of ‘secondary’ evil. When this ‘concentration’ of evil reaches its climax in the Apocalypse, Christ returns and ‘discards’ it as one would discard a poultice from a wound after it has performed its function of ‘drawing out’ the infection.

It is in this way that the Antichrist is actually laboring in the service of the Creator, and it could not be otherwise. Understanding this, we can see that certain sayings of Christ, such as ‘resist not evil’ and that ‘evil must come’, are statements about the nature of evil and its beneficial function according to the Divine Will.

Having said all of this, we do feel compelled to offer a disclaimer to ward of certain misunderstandings. The above doctrine pertains to evil as viewed from the point of view of metaphysics, which is to say, beyond the level of the personal and as it would seem ‘in God’s eyes’. To adopt this point of view is not in any way to nullify the opposing point of view, equally valid, which is that of human experience. From the point of view of man, evil is still evil and is experienced as contrary to God’s will and an affliction: the point is not to pretend that the murder and starvation of innocent children is ‘good’ or that we must cease to hate it: the point is rather to acknowledge that by transcending the human point of view we are able to comprehend certain mysteries that would otherwise baffle us. The challenge is always to retain our proper relation to the human state (perceiving evil as evil) while at the same time gaining an appreciation for the Divine Will, which encompasses all things and is beyond any kind of good-evil dualism, but rather embraces all and directs everything toward an ultimate Good.

If this doctrine causes you to dismiss the sufferings of your fellow man on the grounds that ‘God wills it’, then we can say that you have failed to integrate both points of view and ought to fall back on the more conventional, strictly human, doctrine of evil as ‘contrary to God’s will’. One must never sacrifice one’s humanity in an attempt to reach some perverse, pseudo-esoteric understanding of cosmology. On the contrary, it is a question of understanding how the more Divine truths can be accepting while also retaining a healthy identification with the human condition in which we are situated, and a health empathy with our fellows. That is the challenge, and it is difficult—that is your warning about this doctrine, and you should take great care that you conceive of it properly lest you slip into error about such an important concept as the nature of evil and its necessarily differing relation to God, on the one hand, and man, on the other.

We can summarize this last warning by observing that although Christ said that ‘evils must come’, he also said: ‘woe to the man through whom they come!’ We are not absolved of moral responsibility just because evil is necessary to complete the manifestation of God: evil is still ‘the great wall’ that separates us from Him, and the true horror of evil is that if we do not overcome it, or permit Christ to overcome it for us and within us such that it is He who lives in us and not ‘ourselves’, and if in the end the wall remains and we have never ‘died to sin’, then all that has been said still remains true: evil, that which is not God, will still be extracted and discarded as refuse, and we will have become part of that refuse. The horror of evil and its consequences thus remain, even if envisioned as a necessary purifying force operating in the cosmos: woe to the one who is himself the stain to be removed.

What does this mean for the conduct of one’s life?

If it be asked how the previous comments are capable of acting as a support to spiritual realization and, on a more practical level, the development of an appropriate attitude toward the world around us, we can offer the following:

To the extent that you recoil in disgust at the degeneration of the world, this very extent do you protest the return of the Messiah, since the dissolution of things is at the same their rebirth: death and birth have a kind of identity, each being a gateway to the other, and a necessary but painful transition accompanies both. As Christ draws near, the world trembles, and our egos experience this as an agony and a dying, because after all, it is the ego that must perish if we are to become Christs.

Resist not evil: resist not the coming of the Messiah. The Antichrist, must come first. Woe to him who identifies with the latter as a result of his ego-rebellion against the coming of the former. You will participate in the pains of the world but the knowledge that your struggle is vain and that to join in any world-saving cause is to fight with the Antichrist, this is wisdom, this is spiritual maturity. This is the proper posture of the Dark Age. Much of what follows is a result of this realization and assumes its acceptance. Does this mean that we have no battles to fight? Far from it. But what it means is that, as has already been said, a discernment of spirits is necessary in order to know which battles are part of the true war. Begin with the self, and permit the battlefield to extend from there.

Fight to alleviate the suffering of your fellows but remember that they too have a battle to fight and that there is more to this ‘true victory’ than the alleviation of suffering, and that suffering is not something that the human condition should ever try to escape entirely.

Act as a paradoxical fighting martyr, one who knows they go to the lions and accepts this in Christ-like fashion, but who fights nonetheless, not in hope of worldly victory over evil, but because the Lesser Holy War acts as a support and a preparation for the Greater Holy War. Our exterior combat is thereby legitimized and circumscribed within proper limits, avoiding fanaticism for vain causes in favor of a spiritual liberation.