I’m currently reading The Fourth Way by P. D. Ouspensky. Actually, I’m rereading the first chapter, since I just bought the ebook for greater convenience in reading. My physical copy is a stiff paperback that will not stay open on its own. Right now I’m just noting something I read in the first chapter: “If you want to find examples of what you can call good or bad, to arrive at some standard, you will see at once that what we call evil is always mechanical, it can never be conscious; and what we call good is always conscious, it cannot be mechanical.” (page 73 of 97)
This fits with something I wrote in my dissertation: “Evil, as Gelven understands it, assaults our very personhood. It weds wickedness of character with inevitability, so that immorality becomes the driving force rather than a choice freely made by a person.” I wrote a little further on, “Gelven is suggesting that evil consists in the betrayal of purpose, not so much in the betrayal of any particular purpose, but in the betrayal of purposefulness altogether. It is one thing to betray one purpose for the sake of another. This is understandable in terms of normal human motivations, and it is not the sort of thing Gelven is suggesting is evil. It is a different thing to betray purposefulness altogether. This kind of betrayal uproots freedom by stripping it of purpose. So, I suggest that evil is the betrayal of freedom.”
It is only through consciousness that we have any freedom at all. To be truly good, we need to be conscious. The Fourth Way is about what we can do to become conscious.