On the Nature of Evil
Does evil exist? If so, what is it? Where does it come from? What does it do? What does it want? How does it affect us? How can we deal with it?
These are questions that humankind has grappled with since humans first tried to understand the nature of life and being. There has been so much written about this topic I wondered what I might be able to add to it. I decided to write from my own personal experiences, studies and explorations. An exploration like this could take a large volume but I will do my best to keep this short article to just a few pages and to answer these questions in general terms just to give you something to contemplate and to explore further if you like. For me it is a very problematic topic to write about clearly because putting these concepts into words is extremely difficult. I will do my best here.
What are the attributes of evil?
- Creates confusion
- Creates and thrives on chaos
- Instills and promotes fear, anger, depression, hatred, ignorance, greed, cynicism
- Feeds on these same emotions and the reactions to those emotions
- No remorse
- Attacks when confronted
- Uses humanity, religion, government, media, educational institutions and other groups to promote its agendas
We can see the effects of evil all around us every day but we have become accustomed to rationalizing these events and reactions to them with explanations based on science, psychology or any justification short of acknowledging the existence of evil.
In most of our modern societies the concept of evil is relegated to the fringes of religions or irrational people. Many people might use the term evil but they do not really believe in the existence of a force that is evil and that manipulates humanity.
So, is there a force that is evil and that has the attributes listed above?
Science and many modern philosophical systems deny the existence of evil. Unfortunately, this does all of us a disservice. Just because we cannot prove something with the physical sciences does not mean that it does not exist. It just means that it is unprovable by physical science at this point in time. I will not attempt to prove or disprove the existence of evil in this short article. I will just share with you what I have learned over these many years of exploration. It is up to you to choose what you believe or disbelieve.
To understand the nature of evil, one must first understand the nature of the Reality that underlies the physical reality that we see and experience on a day to day basis.
From my experience, Reality is non-dual. That is, all dualisms like light/dark, good/evil, male/female, life/death, wisdom/ignorance are all illusions. Reality is an Infinite, Immortal Ocean of Consciousness that is beyond all duality, all divisions. The Source of this Consciousness is the Creator. Religions have attempted to define this Creator and call it by various names. Unfortunately, they also project human attributes on It and attempt to define it in human terms which are not real and cause confusion. The human attempts to project human attributes on Creation and the Creator, like good and evil, are also what have created evil as a force in our world.
This Infinite Ocean of Consciousness is without form yet is the source of all form, time, space, life and experiences. Consciousness is beyond good and evil, light and dark, love and hate but it includes within It the physical universe in which positive and negative, good and evil, light and dark, physical and non-physical are quite real. In the physical world of form where I am sitting in a chair and typing at a computer keyboard and where you are reading this writing, dualism appears quite real. To deny the existence of dualism in this world would be foolish. It is real and it is unreal. It is a paradox.
In the physical world of form, good and evil, light and dark, positive and negative, life and death, wisdom and ignorance, happiness and sadness, suffering and freedom all exist. To deny their existence is to deny physical reality. Yes, it is all an illusion and yes, it is all real. It is a paradox.
Like the wind blowing across the water creating ripples and waves. Like the oxygen we breathe that sustains us even though we cannot see it, we can see the effects of evil even if we cannot see evil itself.
How do we recognize evil in the world?
We recognize evil by the ripples it leaves in physical reality. Those ripples are the attributes previously described. When we see a man beating his wife or a gun wielding teenager shooting children in a school, we are seeing the ripples of evil. When we see a politician making a deal with a corporation to profit from their position of trust regardless of the consequences to others or when we witness a corporation polluting the planet just to increase their profits, we are witnessing the ripples of evil. When we see a religious leader or a media figure manipulating others with lies to control them and to cause them to harm themselves and others we are seeing the ripples of evil in the world.
The ripples of evil appear as; the bully, the narcissist, the sociopath, the psychopath, the greedy individual, the manipulator, the murderer, the abuser, the troll, the divider, the bigot, the hater, the thief, the willfully ignorant, the user, the ‘emotional vampire’ and all the others who leave pain, fear, ignorance, hatred, chaos, confusion and suffering in their wake.
Every human being has good and evil within them. The majority of human beings struggle with this dichotomy but usually express either good or neutrality in their lives most of the time. But some people, for various reasons, are overwhelmed and controlled by evil. When this happens, they seldom recognize their beliefs, feelings, words and actions as evil. They somehow feel justified and are able to rationalize their words, thoughts and actions. Many people who succumb to evil feel empowered by the darkness within them and even find strength in the pain, confusion, depression and hatred they cause in others. I call those who feed on the negative emotions of others, ‘emotional vampires’. They gain a sense of strength and perverse joy when others around them are in pain, feel lost or confused. In Tibetan culture there is even the belief that when people who have given themselves over to evil die, they become non-physical entities called hungry ghosts. They then continue to instill and feed on those same negative beliefs, thoughts, emotions, reactions and actions in people. The Tibetans and most other cultures even have rituals to counteract the effects of or to dispel these incorporeal creatures.
What is the best way to deal with evil when we see it in our world or in our personal lives?
The first step is to pay attention, clearly, openly and honestly. Do your best to step back from judgements of good and evil and to see a situation objectively. Then, from that objective perspective, discern if the situation you are witnessing fits any of the attributes of evil. I know that this sounds a bit counter intuitive but think of it this way. It is like examining all the attributes of a lake. Is the water frozen or unfrozen, clear or cloudy, is the lake full of water or dry? So too, examine all the attributes of the situation or actions you are seeing. Once you are able to step back and see the scene clearly you will have a better idea of what, if anything, you can or should do in the situation.
Recognizing evil when we witness it is no different that recognizing cold, heat, darkness, light or solidity when we see it. Evil is a force that exists in this physical universe. It is real and unreal at the same time. It is a paradox. Its purpose is to destroy, to harm and to feed on the suffering of humanity. If we acknowledge its existence and come to understand it, to see it for what it is, it will have less influence over us. If we cease to feed it, it will lose its power. If we refuse to react to its manipulations of us, we will stop its spread.
To deal effectively with evil we must be willing to acknowledge its existence, see it clearly, know it for what it is and then to face it without fear, anger or hatred. We must be able to counteract and defeat evil without battling with it.
Reaching the state of mind to be able to see evil for what it truly is and to defeat it does not happen overnight. It takes commitment, practice, time and profound Self-awareness. But if humanity is going to thrive and to evolve it is an essential step for each of us to commit to and to take.
© 2019 Jon Shore
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