I have been hop-skipping through "The Key" and have started to reassess the book's message. I am finding it as dark and perplexing as I did ten years ago, but I am also seeing new details in it that were invisible to me back then. I was particularly intrigued by the section, mid-book, on Freemasonry, which meant nothing to me back then, but is, to me now, the focus of my understanding of this book. This short section articulates an obscure truth, which was enough to inspire a second look at the rest of the book.
I still think that the book is dark and catastrophic (although if, in fact, the "Northern" civilization is soon destroyed in a massive climate disruption, any survivors would likely say that it was remarkably prescient). It is a melange of several conflicting strains of belief and philosophy. There is a strong theme of conventional religiosity (particularly in the numerous references to the conventional "God," "sin," and "surrendering" to the "will" of God) that would be quite welcome in a Catholic diocese (most of 'em, anyway) side-by-side a strong Darwinian theme that warns humanity to evolve or die, with the adviso that "God" (or the aliens) will not lift a finger to save us if we don't. There's a liberal dose of scientific humanism that counsels humanity to extend its native intelligence in the construction of "intelligent machines" to solve the existential challenges that we face, along with significant strains of old-skool gnosticism with preaches "ascenscion" and cultivation of a "radiant body" that will free the soul from the evolutionary wheel, with dire warnings that if the planet is destroyed, those souls that are not "radiant" will be forever chained to a dead world, eternally prevented from ascending.
It is all provocative and intriguing stuff, but as skeptics have noticed, it doesn't quite fit together and is inherently contradictory. But I now think that this is because "The Key" is a brittle, brutal, but faithful Cliff Notes summary of the world and philosophies of Whitley Strieber, exteriorized, with all its inherent contradictions, occasional absurdities, and overall brilliance. It is Truth as he sees it. And I think that, distilled to its essence, a lot of it is true.
Before the time of our separation from Nature, the mythical era when the gods walked among us, various angels, demigods, and nature spirits visited humans and dispensed assorted teachings and truths. Per Seth, our species chose separate itself from Nature in a grand experiment--to construct the objectified material world that we think we possess, but no longer are part of. God was exiled to the sky, with his truths codified in texts and dispensed by priests.
There was an acknowledgment, however, that when the experiment concluded--when it had run its course--the human race would rejoin Nature, bringing with it the lessons it had learned. Seth is quite specific in describing the transition as a time of danger--that if it was not navigated successfully, the human race would "retreat" as the dominant species on the planet and be extinguished. The "Master" is more specific--he mentions that we have several "decades" from his visit (1998) to prepare, and if we failed to prepare, our race would be extinguished--as it indeed almost has been in previous cataclysms. The Master identifies two mechanisms that will force the transition--one specific (sudden climate change) and one implicit (the exhaustion of our natural resources).
In 1998--indeed, in the early '70s, when "Seth Speaks" was written--these mechanisms were dimly glimpsed possibilities; but with each approaching year, the growing breakage in our world economy, caused by our excess consumption of scarce resources, and our increasingly disruptive weather, cause the approaching headlights to grow brighter. The future that the Master warned about is now a probability.
Seth foresaw several potential outcomes of this challenge. While he acknowledged that our world might be destroyed, his hope--his belief--was that our race would rise to its challenges and "ascend"--transcend our current limitations, creating a new world and transforming the species in the process. Like the Master, Seth foresaw the development of intelligent machines to aid the process. The walls that currently separate us from the knowledge of past lives would fall, along with the barriers that keep us from perceiving the "energetic" world and communicating with the dead. These developments were set in our future as probabilities that would serve as both signposts and as aids of the transition.
As of this writing, 2011, the mechanisms described by both the "Master" and implied by Seth are becoming more clearly focused. We can measure the dwindling amount of oil left in the ground--estimate the increasing demand for it by the developing world--and, by doing a few calculations, see that petroleum--the foundation of our world economy, is running out. We can measure the increase of carbon in the oceans--observe the growing dead zones, the extermination of sea life, the bleaching of the coastal coral--and make a rough guesstimate of when our oceans will be dead. We can measure not only the increase of summer arctic temperatures but, more importantly, the acceleration of the annual increases--and plot a rough graph of when the tipping point, or trigger, of sudden climate change will happen.
Counter-balancing this has been an exponential growth in the development of computer technology that will likely reach a point of singularity, also in the near future. Tools and implements of a developing mass consciousness--the most visible example of which is the Internet (for now, I'd like to exclude Facebook)--are also accelerating. Breakthroughs are occurring in consciousness studies, and credentialed scientists are now arguing that consciousness does survive physical death and that it is possible to communicate with the "energetic" world that they inhabit.
If you accept the framework proposed by the "Master"--one of a dying world with finite resources and an existential deadline--the parameters are clear. We will have to succeed--ascend--transcend--before the bottom drops out. Not a month, or a minute, later.
I've spent a lot of thought imagining a civilization that metaphorically rejoins Nature. Such a civilization would inhabit an experiential reality that, for now, might be unrecognizable to us. But we would find relics of such a future in our "past." We now think of our gods as alien beings, apart from us; but perhaps the "gods" are a part of the Nature, walking among us, even barging into our hotel rooms (or exiting craft) to dispense knowledge, information, and other nifty stuff. We can accept or reject the information, but we must accustom ourselves to such intrusions. The emergence of intrusive gods might be signposts that our present experiment in physical consciousness is wrapping up, and that we'd best prepare for the transition.