Evil in Radical Oneness (I’m still thinking about the title) ^&^
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” (Corinthians 1: 13, 11; NRSV)
When I was a child, I was very interested in the devil, evil spirits, possessions, and even the more human evils such as serial killers. I lumped them all into one category, and placing myself opposed to them helped me feel my own goodness and righteousness. I felt myself to be more strongly on God’s side because I felt we both had the same enemy: evil and the devil. I wanted the chance to meet one of the spiritually evil ones so I could do battle against them. I really did. I should also mention, for fear of sounding as if I saw myself as the all powerful and righteous sword of the Almighty, that I was at times afraid of the Devil. It was a kind of excited fear, the kind you might get at seeing something that is at once intriguing yet monstrous at the same time, the way some people feel when they see a millipede or a snake. Perhaps my dread played some part in my desire to vanquish. So while I was fearful, I was actually disappointed that I had never met one of those evil demons. I tried. I used Ouija Boards, read books on magic, and generally tried to keep myself open to the experience. I had a couple of odd experiences with Ouija Boards (once I felt an alien spirit use my arm to cast shadows in an attempt to communicate after using one) and I had an odd experience of waking to see a robed figure chained to a post in shadow form in the corner of my room, but I was looking for the “Amityville Horror” kind of thing. I saw so many people afraid of the evil one, but as a super hero always wins against the villain, God always wins over the devil, so I couldn’t understand fully why people were so afraid of him. Now as a man in his fifties, my attitudes have changed. I’m still a little disappointed that I have never seen a ghost, but I am not so fixated on evil anymore.
We sometimes confuse the various meanings of the word evil, so it perhaps needs a little definition. In this chapter, when speaking of evil, I am referring to evil as an entity or a force which opposes good, rather than a quality that can be used to describe character or an action. If we say that someone is evil, we are usually describing someone who we believe is living an immoral life or has no ethics. If we pronounce an action evil, we are saying the it was extremely harmful or caused excessive misfortune and suffering. However, evil can also indicate a supernatural entity and/or force that is diametrically opposed to the creating God, who is all goodness, and as God has angels, so would the opposing evil entity, named Lucifer or the Devil in Christianity and Shaitan in Islam, have an army of demons. (Just writing those names on paper brings forth some memory of my enigmatic feelings toward the Evil one).
In radical oneness, how do we approach the question of evil? In science, consciousness is considered “the hard problem.” For spirituality, the hard problems would probably be evil and sin. If we accept radical oneness, can we also include evil? If so, how? Radical oneness presumes that there is one Divine Creator of everything – EVERYTHING. All exists within and is inextricably part of the One Creating Source. If we understand that God is Love, Well-being, Creation and all Good, can we also accept that that same God created evil? Would that God create something opposite to or opposing Source? I no longer believe that there is an existential source of evil that could be named Satan or the Devil. There it is. I’ve said it. I don’t believe in the Devil any more. I believe the idea of a source of evil is part of the illusion of dualism that was created by humankind as we developed our cognitive abilities. We humans have learned to divide the physical world into opposing pair: good/bad, hot/cold, high/low, me/you(not-me). It is perhaps part of our enjoyment of labeling and organizing things. The ability to do this is very useful and has been of great benefit in our developments in culture, science, philosophy and perhaps nearly every area that we think about. However, when we start to confuse our labels and distinctions, our thought tools, with reality, we get into trouble. We confuse our perceptions for reality.
In radical oneness, all non-physical would be closer in state and quality to the originating Source, not farther. If we see creation as moving through states of increasing diversity and into a more physical form, perhaps what we call the physical realm would would contain the most likelihood for evil, but as a supernatural being that is evil in essence and action would not fit in with the concept of radical oneness. Which leaves us with the question of where does the evil we perceive in the world come from? What is it? There are two aspects to that question that need to be probed. One is whether evil exists even in the physically expressing plane and if so, how does it arise if there is no source. I think quite a lot of confusion exists because we use the word evil quite offhandedly; we use it to describe people, their actions, their motivations, and their political, social, financial and even religious institutions, and we also use it to describe turns of fate, as in, “an evil turn of event.” Perhaps not so frequently as in the past, but we also attribute evil to natural phenomena: disease, natural disaster, and other life forms, such as animals. Some people even teasingly call their friends evil when they have done something that they should not have done but is at the same time funny. As an example, there is a line from the play, “Steel Magnolias,” written by Robert Haring, in which Ouiser says to Clairee, laughing,, “you are evil, and you must be destroyed.” In truth our use of the word is confusing and there is also very little consensus about what is evil. The president of the U.S.A. calls North Korea evil, and North Korea responds in kind. One group calls Che Guevara evil and another calls him a champion. Some people call homosexuals evil and others call them part of natural diversity. Religious groups even point fingers at each other labeling the other as evil, sometimes even going to the extreme of saying the other religion is worshiping the Devil. This lack of consensus speaks volumes to me. It demonstrates that our usual usage of the word evil points not to an intrinsic state but rather to a moral judgement. This does not necessarily diminish the impact of the word, it does however, to my mind, answer the question of whether there is a force of, or source of evil. There is not. It is a value judgement on a scale of wanted and unwanted.
So if it is a value judgement, and not a state, perhaps we should even admit that there is no created thing within the Oneness that is intrinsically evil. Every existing creation is from a source of Good and would in essence also be good, so how would evil as a quality come about? It would have to arise from free will. All of the beings manifesting in the physical plane have free will (in amount in relation to the amount of their consciousness and perception of choices) which includes the free will to resist the good. To allow for preferences, contrast and diversity, the unwanted is just as necessary as the wanted to drive creation. So, we have the free will to act in opposition to the good, to choose the not-good action which we name evil. We humans look at things we like and call them good and things we don’t like and call them evil. The amount of consensus about what we don’t like might, we may understand, increase the strength of the label evil, but that still would not make the agent or the creator of the evil outcome essentially evil. Even one of the most extreme examples in modern times, Adolf Hitler, would not be essentially evil. His actions were indeed horrific and immoral in the extreme, however the being that expressed itself as Hitler in the physical plane was not evil, but rather the manifested Hitler was acting in the most extreme form of resistance to the good imaginable. That may be difficult to accept, but I believe that is what radical oneness points to, and what many people we call holy, or very good, or the most connected with Source, believe when they say things like Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote from his autobiography, “hate the sin, not the sinner.” This is why Jesus would not condemn the ones who put His physical body to death. So evil is an attribute occurring within the physical plane in extreme resistance to the Goodness of the Divine Creator.It is a human judgement. I cannot say whether the One Creating God would also label actions as evil or not. I tend to believe that the concept of evil is so inherently part of a dualistic view of the world that while God would certainly be aware of the concept, the Creator would still hold all in an attitude of Love, Compassion and Allowing. For in essence, what are the ultimate consequences of the things we call evil? Suffering and death. Suffering is temporary in the physical realm and death is an immediate transition to non-physical, which is a good thing. Even from our perspective, there is so much more good than evil, so much more to be grateful for than to condemn, that from an even broader perspective, even something which we see as horrific as genocide, is a very small event and while worthy of great compassion for both the victims and perpetrators, might not be condemned from the perspective of Source, but rather accepted as a stage of overall creation.
So since all of this diversity is desirable for creation and expansion, and when we are aligned with our Selves and the Creating One, we can love the perpetrator of evil while at the same time hating the action, can we then label it as sin? Does the perpetrator suffer any consequences? Is there no judgement, really? Can we all just run around and do anything we want without having to face any consequences? We can of course label actions as sin, as unwanted. We can recognize actions as harmful, particularly when they directly infringe on the ability of another to live a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous life. I think we need to be careful of making arbitrary lists of rules of morality just because we do not agree with an action, don’t want to experience or witness it, or just dislike it because it is different from what we do. Those moral rules that say that, for example, homosexuality, not worshiping God the same way, or eating certain kinds of food is wrong, are just plain immature and cause more evil than not. On the other hand, actions that directly cause harm to another physically manifesting being, can be condemned. Perhaps my distinction is too simplistic, but that is where I stand at this time. So, for this kind of sin, of evil act, are there any consequences? In the physical realm, there are many consequences. There are the consequences of social condemnation, imprisonment, and ostracization. These are all results of human judgement. But we also need to take a closer look at the perpetrator.
Remember that in radical oneness, we humans are all physical manifestations of our Selves which are in eternal union within the Oneness of God. Even in our human form, we are essentially aligned with our Source when we first manifest. Then, as we move through this space/time existence, we learn more and more the dualistic mind, we learn lack, we learn suffering. We learn resistance. The more we resist the goodness, abundance and well-being of our Creator, the more we suffer and react. We begin to act out. We fear and lash out because we feel we need to protect ourselves. We fear and we steal or hord because we want to stave off perceived lack. We fear and we suffer more. We may hide our suffering from our conscious minds by covering it with anger, righteousness or something else, but we are still in essence suffering as we commit evil acts. And then we suffer the results of resisting the good and doing harm. Finally our fear catches up with us or builds to the point where it can no longer be suppressed and we suffer even more. The suffering causes disease, loneliness, paranoia: emotional, physical and mental anguish. This can be called karma.
So, I agree that there are consequences to evil deeds in the physically manifesting plane, but what about after death? Is there a hell? Does God condemn? Does karma carry over to another life? First, let me emphasize with the strongest of emphases, I do not know. I have not been there in my manifesting self state and I question much of the traditional beliefs in this regard. I am dubious as to weather when revealed truth was received by inspired writers, when it was recorded years after the death or ascension of the great teacher, when it was contemplated by the human, it was contemplated in human, dualistic, judgemental, and to some extent even resistant terms. Even people who say that they have gone to “the-other-side” and returned are forced to translate their experiences in human language and concepts. It is an impossible task. I think any fear, judgement and pain that is associated to the non-physical speaks more to the transcriber and the transcriber’s cultural context and emotional state than to the actual experience. Now, dear reader, do not be alarmed. I am NOT saying there is no truth, direction or validity to revealed and or recorded scripture and personal experience. I am simply saying it needs careful interpretation and, for want of a better word, sifting. My guide would be this. The more goodness, love and joy that is spoken, the closer the words are to our common Creating Source. The more fear, judgement and condemnation that is expressed, the farther the words are from the position of God. Some may say that I am promoting pluralism, and indeed I suppose I am. I believe there is not only one revealed truth. I believe the Creating God enjoys diversity and expresses the Godself in various ways depending on the receiver and the receiver’s personal, temporal and cultural needs.
I also hear a cry from the distance. “What about justice?” I just have to respond that justice is entirely a human need, and while I often feel the desire to stand up and fight for the underdog, I also realize that is entirely my own human perspective. Next, I hear the cry, “What about the victim?” For the victim, deep compassion. That is enough. That is all. Love. Compassion, Joy. and Awareness.
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