Two years after writing this article, I’m frustrated because it’s become surprisingly popular on Google and yet my opinion of it has gone way down. So let me rewrite it now: an article on lightworkers and darkworkers which will hopefully live up to the promise of its title.
Let me fill in the backstory. Once upon a time, I was a Steve Pavlina fangirl and my opinions were pretty much clones of his. OK, I still am a fangirl, but nowadays I’m happy to say that I differ on his opinions a bit more in some areas. …Seriously, it was a bit embarrassing.
This article explained the concept of lightworkers and darkworkers, a.k.a. polarity, basically according to what Steve Pavlina wrote, if filtered a little through my experiences.
But Steve Pavlina’s ideas here are, hm, interesting – I can’t say if I believe in them or not anymore. In any case, I had no right to be so sure about them back then.
Now, I’d like to talk about what I know on the topic, and what I don’t know, too. I don’t consider myself any more of an expert on the topic as I was two years ago, but perhaps I am better able to identify the limits of my authority.
The trouble with the concept of lightworkers and darkworkers is that I think people mean different things by the terms.
I got into quite a few arguments on the Steve Pavlina forums because of this. Basically over semantics.
The common, vague meaning is that a “lightworker” is someone who dedicates their life to making the world a better place. It often has spiritual connotations; so a spiritual healer is more likely to be labelled a lightworker than say, a feminist author. That said, I think plenty of feminist authors and other activists could still be described as lightworkers.
I identify with this concept. I feel that my main purpose in life is to do good. Even when I try to earn money, I tend to do it from a place of “I’m earning this money so I can have resources to focus on doing my mission” rather than just thinking about survival or self gratification. Those things alone are rather uninspiring for me.
So far, so good. Now “darkworker”, if only because of the name, would seem to be the opposite of that. So, someone who dedicates their life to making the world a worse place? But no-one, or practically no-one, really does that. So the word is often used to mean basically greedy sociopaths, people who want self-gratification and don’t care what they have to do to get it. Because of this narrow focus, the net result of what they do is harm to the world.
A lot of people casually use “darkworker” to mean that. I do sometimes. It’s intuitive and it can be useful to have a word like this.
Unfortunately, there is also a pretty sizeable group of people who protest this usage.
These are the self professed “darkworkers” or those who follow “the left hand path”.
For them, the whole idea of darkworker-as-sociopath is a myth, and a harmful one. They seem to feel quite victimised by it at times.
For them, being a “darkworker” means drawing energy inward, aligning with “darkness” (which according to them is not negative), and aiming to fulfill their personal ambitions but preferably not by doing harm to anyone else.
To be honest, I’ve tried hard to understand these people, and I can’t. Generally it feels to me like they are over-intellectualising things and following a philosophy which doesn’t quite connect with reality. I don’t understand this non-negative “darkness” which they use. It seems very poetic but I’ve never seen any evidence for it in my life; not even in my intuition.
I’ve talked to darkworkers who explained to me powerful experiences they had with this “dark” energy.
According to the universal principle “you can’t argue with someone’s personal experience”, I won’t try to tell them that they are wrong. But, really, I just don’t feel it.
If I were to make a guess, I’d say this type of darkworker is just someone who really identifies with the “rebel” archetype. Connected with this (and sometimes one and the same thing) are Satanists, who usually worship a positive version of Lucifer who rebelled against the authority of a domineering God.
I see that a lot of darkworkers are ex-Christians, and I think perhaps they like the symbolism darkworking as a way of asserting their freedom from the religion they were brought up in.
Some would even agree with that in part, I think. Where we differ is on the question of whether this sort of darkworking has any substance besides that. They would say yes. I would kind of tend to think no.
Part of my hangup about people identifying as “darkworkers” had to do with the fact that negative astral entities exist, and at times they can influence humans, leading those humans to create more negative energy in the world, which the spirits feed off.
Well, I’ve heard this, and my intuition does seem to agree with it. The experiences of some friends who I trust would be proof of the existence of such beings.
Luckily, I believe that negative beings don’t have that much influence on us. Perhaps they are just a personification of our own negativity. I don’t think they are a fundamental force in the Universe.
Well, back when I was getting into stupid arguments with self-professed darkworkers, I thought that they were being controlled by negative astral entities. I mean, what happens when you offer yourself to the darkness? My reasoning was that if the darkness responded, it could only be negative beings who were doing it.
Nowadays, I don’t believe that negative beings are such a strong force, and I also don’t believe that it makes much sense that anyone would intentionally get involved with them. That would be like someone voluntarily infecting themselves with diseases.
Do self-identified darkworkers fool themselves and do it anyway? I used to think so. Now I tend to think not. I think self-identified darkworkers are mainly just following a (to me) strange philosophy and are mainly harmless to themselves and others.
Actually, I did talk to someone who seemed to have done something more along the lines of the classical “evil” darkworker. His experiences clashed with what I’ll call “philosophical darkworkers”. This guy was someone on the Pavlina forums who used the name “Plato”.
For him, darkworking involved filling himself up with negativity, particularly fear. When done right, this would powerfully motivate him to do whatever he desired to do, and would also kind of provide the reason behind his actions as well.
The goals in question were basically power – and not “personal power” but “power over others”.
He describes his experience thus:
I was never apathetic. I had masses of energy because my fear and pain were sharp and constant, reminding me that I needed more. Each successful step towards greater power brought a wave of pleasure of orgasmic intensity. Every step back fuelled my fear and pain.
I had zero sense of morality in the conventional sense. I didn’t care about anybody. I didn’t believe win-win was truly possible because there is no such thing as equality. I was truly evil in this sense: I wanted to put people into the state that was my worst nightmare – forced submission.
I held the belief that happiness is dominance. To be happy was to perceive oneself as superior. As far as I was concerned, happy people believed they were better than me. That’s why they were happy. I didn’t consciously think this. I instinctually just knew it to be true. The mindset of fear perceives happiness in this way.
I realised that happiness was to make people submit to my will. Misery was to submit to the will of others. There was no middle ground. I had to make reality and everything in it bend to my will.
To polarise this way, Plato explained, required working hard on basically becoming a bad person:
You must align every single thing you do to self service, and by definition do nothing to serve others. … Your own issues will become increasingly large, meaning ever increasing motivation to take action, and ever increasing focus on self. It’s a spiral.
A good guideline for darkworkers is to practice the seven deadly sins constantly. Pride, lust, greed, envy, gluttony, sloth, wrath. It is worth mentioning that sloth does not mean laziness in it’s original definition. It means indifference to the work of God. To not appreciate the world. Ingratitude.
His experiences were quite convincing to me, and also seemed to fit in with the “opposite of a lightworker” idea as well as the “influenced by negative entities” idea.
I haven’t talked to any other darkworkers of this sort, though (not that I would look for them). I wonder if there are many. Becoming this sort of darkworker seems, like I mentioned before, to be like voluntarily infecting yourself with a disease. Who would want fear and pain to be “sharp and constant”? But perhaps that makes sense if you don’t know anything else. Plato writes:
My time as a true darkworker ended when I read The Power Of Now, and Steve [Pavlina]’s blog. I read them because I had been told they were good for “Inner Game”.
I experienced the bliss of presence through Tolle’s writing and experimented with using Love energy through various Pavlina articles.
The more I used these, the more I became de-polarized. Darkworking depends upon the belief that “I NEED more to be happy. I MUST have more.” Love and presence totally undermine that. We can be happy right here, right now so there’s no point trying to acquire more. Right?
That realisation was the end of darkworking for me. You lose commitment to acquiring power when you realise happiness requires none.
So for two years I’ve been scuttling around uncertainly, not really knowing what I’m doing. Inconsistently serving myself; always lacking the fire I had before. I missed it, in spite of the pain.
I didn’t want to let go of my desire to dominate. I was addicted to it. Also, almost all of my beliefs were aligned with darkworking, as well as my habits.
Gradually, slowly, minutely, my beliefs have shifted. Through exposure to loving people who came into my life, as well as this forum and finally The Work of Byron Katie, I’ve been able to let go of my addiction to power.
If this is similar for all people, then I don’t think polarising as a darkworker of this type could be considered positive – neither for others, nor for oneself. It has the quality of an addiction. It does give you motivation, energy, a sort of power, but charges you and others so much for it.
Now what about what I called “philosophical darkworking”? – Obviously it’s a different thing to what I’m going to call Platonic Darkworking. Is it also valid? Who knows. Obviously it’s valid in the sense that if philosophical darkworkers get something out of it they can go ahead and do it. But, on the other hand, I don’t really buy the worldview it espouses. I don’t believe there is a “dark energy” that isn’t negative. As for whether I believe in a “dark energy” that is negative? I’m not sure if I do, and at the moment I don’t really care, because it doesn’t affect me much either way.
Let me finish off the article by mentioning what lightworking means for me.
For me, it’s very real that I focus my life on doing good. It gave me the motivation to keep going in a world that seemed otherwise meaningless.
Most self-gratification seemed hollow to me. I couldn’t imagine a life dedicated to self-gratification. Which left me with the need for some sort of mission, something to do which would keep me moving.
Combine this with my keen awareness of injustices and my vision of how much better things could be on this planet, and an instinct to lightworking was born.
I can’t avoid thinking about my own needs because I do need to take care of them in order to survive. And, in fact, I do try to be as happy and as well as possible. But having an overall goal helps me move forward. I also find that by making survival about something bigger than just myself, I can let go a bit more than I would otherwise and I often find that the Universe is there with a safety net, making sure I’ll always have what I need.
I’m not always perfect at this skill of letting go, but I’m getting better. The interesting thing is, the more I can let go of my fear, the more I can focus on the creativity which I’m trying to bring into the world.
I’m learning to live from love, peace, and nonviolence, not fear or judgement or anger. This is because of my spiritual path, and I don’t often connect it with lightworking as a concept, but I guess it is connected. The more I can base my life on a foundation of love and peace, the more I can truly serve others rather than doing it for impure reasons or in a way that causes more harm than good. (For example, if you use violence to achieve a goal, you might achieve it and appear to be doing good, but violence always creates more violence and there will be a backlash somewhere for sure).
I don’t use the term “lightworker” much anymore; my squabbles with “philosophical darkworkers” kind of spoilt it for me and it always did sound a bit like I’m trying to be a saint or something. So I don’t talk about it too much, but I do, quietly, continue to dedicate my life to doing the most good I can.
So that was the new article. I think it’s fairly complete.
Note that the first 18 comments below are responding to the old article. As you can see, some of them contributed to inspiring me to rewrite this.
I am conscious that this is not a complete article, because my knowledge of lightworkers and darkworkers is not complete. I’m leaning towards thinking that if the concept really does have value, the work and knowledge needed to really be one or the other must be very extensive. Steve Pavlina likened being polarised to being a blackbelt in a martial art. You don’t just decide one day to be a blackbelt. You can make that goal, but then you have to work for it and achieve it.
I can talk about my own experience, and the intuition which leads me towards greater love energy and also greater service. I’m still not a blackbelt though, and I’m really not quite sure what a blackbelt really looks like. For lack of any real role models, I’ll just keep following my intuition; it’s got me this far.
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