My field is conflict, looking at why humans treat each other so violently. We’ve always known that this violence comes from the urge humans feel to control and dominate one another, but only recently have we studied this phenomena from the inside, from the point of view from the individual’s consciousness. We have asked what happens inside a human being that makes him want to control someone else. We have found that when an individual walks up to another person and engages in conversation, which happens billions of times each day in the world, one of two things can happen. That individual an come away feeling strong or feeling weak, depending on what occurs in the interaction.

“For this reason,” he added, “we humans always seem to take a manipulative posture. No matter what the particulars of the situation, or the subject matter, we prepare ourselves to say whatever we must in order to prevail in the conversation. Each of us seeks to find some way to control and thus to remain on top in the encounter. If we are successful, if our viewpoint prevails, then rather than feel weak, we receive a psychological boost.

“In other words we humans seek to outwit and control each other not just because of some tangible goal in the outside world that we’re trying to achieve, but because of a lift we get psychologically. This is the reason we see so man irrational conflicts in the world both at the individual level and at the level of nations.

“The consensus in my field is that this whole matter is now emerging into public consciousness. We humans are realizing how much we manipulate each other and consequently we’re reevaluating our motivations. We’re looking for another way to interact. I think this reevaluation will be part of the new world view that the Manuscript speaks of.

. . .

The movement of this energy, if we can systematically observe it, is a way to understand what humans are receiving when we compete and argue and harm each other. When we control another human being we receive their energy. We fill up at the other’s expense and the filling up is what motivates us.

. . .

All this is still unconscious in most people. All we know is that we feel weak and when we control others we feel better. What we don’t realize is that this sense of feeling better costs the other person. It is their energy that we have stolen. Most people go through their lives in a constant hunt for someone else’s energy.

“Occasionally, another person will voluntarily want us to define their situation for them, giving us their energy outright, the way Marjorie did with you. It makes us feel empowered, but you’ll see that this gift doesn’t usually last. Most people–Marjorie included–aren’t strong enough to keep giving energy. That’s why most relationships eventually turn into power struggles. Humans link up energy and then fight over who is going to control it. And the loser always pay the price.

“Try to integrate the Fourth Insight fully,” Wil continued. “See how it fits together with what you already know. The Third Insight showed you that the physical world is actually a vast system of energy. And now the Fourth points out that for a long time we humans have been unconsciously competing for the only part of this energy we have been open to: the part that flows between people. This is what human conflict has always been about, at every level: from all the petty conflict in families and employment settings to wars between nations. It’s the result of feeling insecure and weak and having to steal someone else’s energy to feel okay.”

I picked up the small flashlight Wil kept on the floorboard and for the next twenty minutes read the short document. Understanding the Fourth Insight, it said, is a matter of seeing the human world as a vast competition for energy and thus for power.

Yet once humans understand their struggle, the insight continued, we would immediately begin to transcend this conflict. We would begin to break free from the competition over mere human energy . . . because we would finally be able to receive our energy from another source.

I looked at Wil. “What’s the other source?” I asked.

He smiled, but said nothing.