The essence of evil
Humberg, Germany, December 2003
I have been asked to write about evil. Evil is a wonderful word in English because if you look at it in a mirror it reads Live. Evil is anti-life. As long as there is the appearance of life there will be the appearance of anti-life.
The great danger is looking for evil outside of ourselves. We project evil and then fight against it. Since this act of fighting is itself anti-life, the possibility is to stop the war where we are. This means stopping the projection of evil and instead meeting it in our own mind.
Of course we can see the madness of one group calling another evil. George Bush and Osama Bin Laden are in many ways just mirror-images of each other. Each is certain that he is right, that God is on his side, and that he is a freedom-fighter, fighting evil. This shows us the great trap of being a recruit in any war against evil or the dark side.
On the other hand, I once heard of a teacher of non-duality saying that the invasion of Iraq, or the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, did not matter since no one was really killed; because nothing really exists. This is the trap of non-duality as a concept of the mind. If the realization that all form is empty is used to discount the suffering in the world, this is a kind of evil, or anti-life. The reason to wake up is to stop the suffering in the world, not to discount it.
If we look at the wonderful metaphor of the Bible, why is it that the devil, the embodiment of darkness, is called Lucifer, the bringer of the light? Why was he God’s favorite angel? Lucifer represents individuation, the separation of the egoic identity as distinct from everything else, including God.
Individuation was a great evolutionary leap in consciousness, but it contained its own test. Individuation is separation, and separation is alienation. Alienation leads to darkness, despair, and evil. In the Persian version of the myth, what makes Lucifer’s existence hell is that he can no longer hear his Beloved’s voice. From our western psychological perspective, we can say that the reason he can’t hear God’s voice is that it speaks in silence while Lucifer is lost in the noise and confusion of his own thoughts, believing he is in control instead of God.
Individuation – which naturally leads to alienation, darkness, and despair – contains within it the way home again. Lucifer – bringer of the light, god’s favorite angel, the egoic mind – surrenders control of hell and returns in surrender to the light of heaven. This return of the prodigal child is the fruit and fulfillment of individuation. It is the individuated self that gives up its rulership of hell to serve in heaven. This service involves no war, no evil, no morality, but simply the right action that comes from formless intelligent love.
In the great classic Tao Teh Ching, Lao Tzu says,
“When the Tao is lost,
When Virtue is lost
Morality and religion appear
Then all work hard
with rolled up sleeves
Let’s stop the war, drop the morality, and turn back beyond virtue to realize the Truth of ourselves. In staying true to the silent realization of the Truth – life unfolds quite naturally without the need for rules or wars, good or evil. Since our nature is Love, no rules are needed for right action, which nurtures life and supports harmony. These virtues of kindness, purity, and joy appear as our nature, without practice or effort and without the need for an enemy.