Mara pauses in his work and strolls thoughtfully towards the picture window, his hands clasped behind his back. He watches an image of a huge city. The walls of the buildings form gigantic twisty caverns, at street level they are covered in lurid posters and glaring neon slogans. Noise and smoky fumes fill the air. Gaunt figures scurry aimlessly hither and thither through the maze like witless ants.
"Mara, is that on earth or in one of your dreary hells?"
"Six of one, half dozen of the other."
The role of my seventh is to paralyze with doubt. You are to work closely with my Forces of Fear; with your attacks consolidated we can keep beings in the wretched state of a deer mesmerized by oncoming headlights.
This is a generation of doubters. Whereas at one time your resources were limited and we made more use of the opposite vice, credulity, now we have whole masses of people with no sure beliefs at all. The old certainties in religion, society, politics and even that johnny-come-lately science have all been kicked away. They rejoice in what they call their "freedom" and are unable to advance in any direction. If we maintain them in this state of confusion they can never escape our grip.
Doubt has been compared to wandering in the desert without map or guide. This comparison is very apt, although I am loath to admit it, considering the source. When beings have no faith, there is no basis for morality and they will fall into all manner of delicious and loathsome vices. We can see this in the present day, which in this respect is very much like late antiquity, a period I greatly enjoyed. In the Imperial Roman period, the old religion was openly scoffed at, virtue considered a weakness and the only object in life the selfish pursuit of personal gratification. Indeed, a marvelous party. True, the destruction of beings was frightful, but that was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
Again today we have gotten them to believe that a thoughtless skepticism is clever and chic. It bears repeating that the inevitable result of this is a destruction of morality. When beings don't understand that actions have results, in other words, when they disbelieve in the Law of Karma, then they will have no restraint upon their appetites (which my other departments are so admirably stirring up!) The really useful detail, from our point-of-view, is that their foolish disbelief has no effect at all upon the operative effectiveness of that law. (But don't let them know that!) They will proceed happily upon their debaucheries and violence and after death they will continue in our service, albeit in a somewhat less salutary capacity.
Another result of the widespread skepticism of the age is that should they begin to question the facts of their existence, as regrettably many of them do, they will not be able to find an effective way out, or to stick with it should they stumble upon it. In all skeptical ages we see a proliferation of sects and cults. The poor wretch seeking to find his way out of the maze will stumble from priest to guru to psychic and back again, without ever exploring any path long enough to gain real insight into his predicament. Many will abandon the whole enterprise as a hopeless fraud and lose themselves in sense pleasures, which at least offer a momentary diversion from the grim facts.
Encourage in them this cynical and dissolute frame of mind. Teach them to scoff at ancient wisdom and to place their reliance on the new and fashionable whimsies of the day. It is especially easy to undermine any teaching that puts a restraint upon their greed or lust. The doubt that keeps them lost they call rationality, but don't make the same mistake they do. A real rationality is very dangerous for our interests. A truly critical examination of the phenomena of existence is precisely the method by which a bothersome few penetrate our web of deceit. Make sure their "critical thought" is guided by desire; don't let them ask the real questions.
If they are managed properly they can manifest the most amusing contradictions. They will scoff at religion but believe implicitly in the daily horoscope. They will pretend that Karma is superstition even as they avoid stepping on cracks in the pavement. When they wish to justify an abortion, then a human organism is simply a mass of cells and electric impulses but when they want a lottery number they will consult a channeler and traffic with the hungry ghosts. Although they are proud of their modern rationality most of them are quite ridiculous in their superstitions. The scientifically trained ones are often the worst of the lot; they are quite dogmatically attached to the materialist delusion even in the face of evidence to the contrary. (Although I must admit we have been having some difficulties with the physicists lately -- I am beginning to suspect a leak...)
To sum up; keep them guessing! Confuse them with a multitude of options and let them wander about life aimlessly. Call morality regimentation and restraint repression. Praise a shallow scoffing attitude as penetrating intelligence. Belittle the timeless verities and praise only the fashionable. Let them be too clever by half. By the time they begin to clear the muddle, it will be too late and we'll have them for another ride on the carousel.
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