The Nature of Evil

Monday, November 8, 2010

(Photo courtesy of ©Isabel Castañ

What is “evil” to you? A bully in school? A corrupt politician? A murderer? A terrorist? A demon hiding in the shadows ready to jump out and possess your soul? All of the above?

I think it is all of those things (in a way). I believe that "evil" is just the absence of "good". Each and every one of us are pure, noble, creations of God and our true reality is a spiritual one. But because that reality has to go through a "human" existence here on earth, we are given the opportunity to live up to our spiritual, "good" nature......or not.

It is at those times when we don't live up to our potential as spiritual, loving beings that true "evil" rears its ugly head. Those times when we show a lack or "absence" of patience, compassion, generosity and love. At those times our baser nature, what you could even call "ego" decides that what we want is more important than anyone or anything else. Our "self" gets in the way of what we know is right.

I do not believe in Satan, or demons or evil spirits that "push" us to do bad things. I believe that the "push" we feel is within ourselves and originates from our lower nature - the nature of self, of ego, of selfishness.

I think when we focus on being of service to others and on the betterment of the world as a whole - then we are exhibiting our true, spiritual nature. When we tell our selfish needs to take a hike and our "ego" to take a break, then we become more aligned with our higher, truer selves. We give "evil" the old heave-ho. LOL!

What do you think? I know there are a huge array of thoughts on this subject so please share them! And of course, quotes from your spiritual belief system would be awesome! I have posted a few below that I found to be compelling.

As long as man is a captive of habit, pursuing the dictates of self and desire, he is vanquished and defeated. This passionate personal ego takes the reins from his hands, crowds out the qualities of the divine ego and changes him into an animal, a creature unable to judge good from evil, or to distinguish light from darkness. He becomes blind to divine attributes, for this acquired individuality, the result of an evil routine of thought becomes the dominant note of his life." (Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 133)

"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (King James Bible, Matthew 6:22-24)

"By oneself is evil done,
By oneself does one get defiled,
By oneself is evil left undone,
By oneself is one purified.
Purity or impurity depends on oneself,
No one can purify another." (Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 3 (tr. J. Richards))

"There! for that ye did rejoice in the land without right; and for that ye did exult; enter ye the gates of hell, to dwell therein for aye; for evil is the resort of those who are too big with pride!" (The Qur'an (E.H. Palmer tr), Sura 40 - The Believer)

"The reality underlying this question is that the evil spirit, Satan or whatever is interpreted as evil, refers to the lower nature in man. This baser nature is symbolized in various ways. In man there are two expressions, one is the expression of nature, the other the expression of the spiritual realm. The world of nature is defective. Look at it clearly, casting aside all superstition and imagination. If you should leave a man uneducated and barbarous in the wilds of Africa, would there be any doubt about his remaining ignorant? God has never created an evil spirit; all such ideas and nomenclature are symbols expressing the mere human or earthly nature of man. It is an essential condition of the soil of earth that thorns, weeds and fruitless trees may grow from it. Relatively speaking, this is evil; it is simply the lower state and baser product of nature." (Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 77)


mad said...

the word evil is just an odd word to me.
i can't even think of the last time i used it outside of a joke about wizards or something.

i think everything is up for debate.

my favorite story to illustrate that would be by marilyn whirlwind from northern exposure.

[There was] a warrior who had a fine stallion. Everyone said how lucky he was to have such a horse.

"Maybe" he said.

One day the stallion ran off. The people said the warrior was unlucky.

"Maybe" he said.

The next day the stallion returned, leading a string of fine ponies. The people said it was very lucky.

"Maybe" the warrior said.

Later, the warrior's son was thrown from one of the ponies and broke his leg. The people said it was unlucky.

"Maybe" the warrior said.

The next week, the chief lead a war party against another tribe. Many young men were killed. But, because of his broken leg, the warrior's son was left behind, and so was spared.

i'm not religious person but more of a philosophy person and at that, i'm a mutt. i enjoy stories and seeing sides but nothing really concrete.

so, i guess, maybe there's evil and maybe there's not. each act creates a path and if you find a silver lining in each path, what's left just continues to the next, no matter how it lines out.

things just are.

pooh just is.

as neutral as that sounds, i believe in consequences. i say if you do something that hurts someone, you will somehow pay for it.

if you commit crime, it might pay at first but after a while the pain you caused will come back to you.

but to say those actions are evil... i couldn't say.
people have come out stronger and more amazing than ever after what would seem like an evil act placed upon them.

so, was it still evil? or as some would say, god working in a mysterious way?

often, i think folks look at the results of the situation and then assign a label.


Isabel Castaño said...

Hi, I'm Isabel Castaño, creator of the illustration you published here. Please, you can use the image with this text: "©Isabel Castaño." Thanks!

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