- Series: Vintage International
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 14, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307390616
- ISBN-13: 978-0307390615
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Briefing for a Descent Into Hell: A Psychological Thriller (Vintage International) Paperback – July 14, 2009
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About the Author
Doris Lessing was born of British parents in Persia, in 1919, and moved with her family to Southern Rhodesia when she was five years old. She went to England in 1949 and has lived there ever since. She is the author of more than thirty books—novels, stories, reportage, poems, and plays. In 2007, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
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The volunteers are warned:
"...it is not at all a question of your arriving on Planet Earth [with the consciousness you have] as you leave here. You will lose nearly all your memory of your past existence. You will each of you come to yourselves, perhaps alone, perhaps in the company of each other, but with only a vague feeling of recognition, and probably disassociated, disoriented, ill, discouraged, and unable to believe, when you are told what your task really is. ...
"Some of you will choose not to wake, for the waking will be so painful, and the knowledge of your condition and Earth's condition so agonizing, you will be like drug addicts: you may prefer to continue to breath in oblivion. ...
"And, when you have become aroused to your real condition, and have recovered from the shame or embarrassment of seeing to what depths you have sunk, you will then begin the task of arousing others, and you will find that you are in a position of rescuer of a drowning person, or a doctor in a city that has an epidemic of madness."
The purpose of incarnating into human bodies is: "... it will be our task to wake up those of us who have forgotten what they went for; as well as to recruit suitable inhabitants of Earth...who have kept a potential for evolving into rational beings ..."
Lessing then explains to the volunteers that there would be no point in giving them a 'Briefing' and that every word they are hearing will be forgotten once they have descended into a human body. But they are assured that they have all been given "brainprints" and these will be there for them when they are ready. In my words, the eternal Wisdom-Knowledge does reside within each and every one of us.
In the moments before birth, the dangers of volunteering are made clear:
"As everyone here knows, has had drummed into him or her from the moment he or she volunteered -- it is not at all a question of descending into that Poisonous Hell [the earth plane] and remaining unaffected. Everyone takes his life in his hands."
Planet Earth is a dangerous place and there are no guarantees. There will be no one to save the volunteer emissaries, no rescues! All who come here are on their own here and apparently when each did volunteer, he or she was fully capable of independent thinking and sovereignty. They were not fearful needy victims wallowing in self-pity and confusion waiting to be rescued.
"For these creatures [the lost ones who have forgotten who they are] are for the most part malevolent and murderous by nature, able to tolerate others only insofar as they resemble themselves, capable of slaughtering each other because of a slight difference in skin color or appearance. Also they cannot tolerate those who do not think as they do."
Lessing grew up in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and was involved in politics for many years. She brings her wisdom, experience, and knowledge of these matters to the larger perspective of an off-world colony given here.
"This means that unless we can perfect our own adaptation to them, they will attack us...This we must expect."
How many great saintly men and women have been tormented, persecuted, and murdered by the ignorance of mob consciousness? Lessing warns that even those who are volunteers cannot always be trusted. The "poisonous brew they call air" [meaning the consciousness of the planet] will have infected previous volunteers and that they may "devote all their energies to elaborate systems whose function was once to keep them sane, but which now have become their own justification."
The birth process itself is described by Lessing's inimitable genius and insight: "Each held his or her mind steady in the thought: Don't forget, keep the memory of this moment, keep it steady ... but the golden spin of the moment swept the whole space they occupied into a vortex of ringing Light in which they were spinning atoms. The pressure increased. The Sound became higher ... The light was like an explosion ... pulsed and beat ..."
Thus the vast majority are born as human babies remembering nothing, and in that moment the struggle to Remember and become useful begins. Those who have volunteered to come to earth have forgotten that they volunteered to come here freely in order to create life, civilizations, and forms containing increasingly higher states of consciousness. Through infinite life forms the Oneness is eternally seeking and enjoying It's own beauty and perfection. We come here to contribute, to create and manifest over vast expanses of time an infinite spectrum of various forms -- and in the cyclical processes of our creative adventure, we sink into a miasma of amnesia.
The lady Lessing truly saw deeply into the future.