The following passage from The Four Agreements by Don Migel Ruiz was first published nearly twenty years ago. Consider the implications with the subsequent widespread proliferation of social media, online life, and “reality” culture.
Looking at everyday human interactions, imagine how many times we cast spells on each other with our word. Over time this interaction has become the worst form of black magic, and we call it gossip.
Gossip is black magic at its very worst because it is pure poison. We learned how to gossip by agreement. When we were children, we heard the adults gossiping all the time, openly giving their opinions about other people. They even had opinions about people they didn’t know. Emotional poison was transferred along with the opinions, and we learned this as the normal way to communicate.
Gossiping has become the main form of communication in human society. It has become the way we feel close to each other, because it makes us feel better to see someone else feel as badly as we do. There is an old expression that says, ‘Misery likes company’, and people who are suffering in hell don’t want to be all alone. Fear and suffering are an important part of the dream of the planet; they are how the dream of the planet keeps us down.
Using the analogy of the human mind as a computer, gossip can be compared to a computer virus. A computer virus is a piece of computer language written in the same language all the other codes are written in, but with a harmful intent. This code is inserted into the program of your computer when you least expect it and most of the time without your awareness. After this code has been introduced, your computer doesn’t work quite right, or it doesn’t function at all because the codes get so mixed up with so many conflicting messages that it stops producing good results.
Human gossip works exactly the same way. For example, you are beginning a new class with a new teacher and you have looked forward to it for a long time. On the first day of class, you run into someone who took the class before, who tells you, ‘Oh that instructor was such a pompous jerk! He didn’t know what he was talking about, and he was a pervert too, so watch out!’
You are immediately imprinted with the word and the emotional code the person had when saying this, but what you are not aware of is his or her motivation in telling you. This person could be angry for failing the class or simply making an assumption based on fears and prejudices, but because you have learned to ingest information like a child, some part of you believes the gossip, and you go on to the class. As the teacher speaks, you feel the poison come up inside you and you don’t realize you see the teacher through the eyes of the person who gave you that gossip. Then you start talking to other people in the class about this, and they start to see the teacher in the same way: as a jerk and a pervert. You really hate the class, and soon you decide to drop out. You blame the teacher, but it is gossip that is to blame.
All of this mess can be caused by one little computer virus. One little piece of misinformation can break down communication between people, causing every person it touches to become infected and contagious to others. Imagine that every single time others gossip to you, they insert a computer virus into your mind, causing you to think a little less clearly every time. Then imagine that in an effort to clean up your own confusion and get some relief from the poison, you gossip and spread these viruses to someone else.
Now imagine this pattern going on in a never-ending chain between all the humans of earth. The result is a world full of humans who can only read information through circuits that are clogged with a poisonous, contagious virus. Once again, this poisonous virus is what the Toltecs called the mitote, the chaos of a thousand different voices all trying to talk at once in the mind.
Even worse are the black magicians or ‘computer hackers’ who intentionally spread the virus. Think back to a time when you or someone you know was angry with someone else and desired revenge. In order to seek revenge you said something to or about that person with the intention of spreading poison and making that person feel bad about him- or herself. As children we do this quite thoughtlessly, but as we grow older we become much more calculated in our efforts to bring other people down. Then we lie to ourselves and say that person received a just punishment for their wrongdoing.
When we see the world through a computer virus, it is easy to justify the cruelest behavior. What we don’t see is that misuse of our word is putting us deeper into hell.