Essential Evil

August 15, 2015 at 8:03 pm (By Realpc)

I often hear people say — not in exactly these words — “If only everyone were more like ME, this world would be a lot better.”

The assumption is, very often, that the world’s problems are caused by individuals and groups not like myself, whose beliefs and actions are different than mine and destructive.

I hear and read this often. If only people weren’t selfish and greedy, if only people were brought up with religious morality, if only people weren’t lazy, etc., etc.

Democrats see all the evil in the world as coming from Republican policies, especially since Reagan. And of course Republicans have just the opposite perspective.

If only, if only, people could be more like ME.

I am not saying everyone feels this way, but I hear or read something like it at least once every day. Usually more than once. Sometimes 50 or so times a day.

Now obviously they can’t all be right. If the atheists are right, then the believers are wrong, and vice versa. If the progressives are right then the conservatives are wrong, and vice versa.

So how can we possibly make sense of all this? Easy. ALL OF THEM ARE WRONG.

If everyone were just like me, or just the opposite of me, the world would NOT be a better place. If everyone did everything humanly possible to attain perfection in all aspects of life, the world would STILL not be a better place.

The world CAN’T be a better place (whatever do we mean by “better” anyway?)

Our problems, in general, are not caused by people who are bad or greedy or selfish or lazy, etc. Our problems are the result of what I call Essential Evil.

Essential Evil is a perfectly natural and normal part of the foundation of the universe. And so is Essential Goodness. You can’t have one without the other. No matter how hard you try and how much you do and how UTTERLY AGGRAVATED you become, you can’t change this basic unchangeable reality.

And boy the people who believe they are on the side of all-loving, all-knowing wonderfulness do get terribly aggravated.

I read somewhere that the original meaning of the word “evil” had to do with missing the mark, failure to accomplish a goal. And since the nature of our universe and the essential task of all life is to reach for goals, then it follows that these goals will often be missed. Evil is inevitable.

I also read somewhere that the original meaning of the name Satan, in the Old Testament, was “the adversary.”

There HAS to be an adversary, in everything we try to accomplish. If there is no adversary, there is no striving.

Satan in the Old Testament was a valuable servant of God. He was very different from the way he is usually portrayed now.

Somehow our culture started to believe that evil doesn’t need to exist. New-agers often go even farther and say evil is an illusion with no real existence.

Ah if only, if only, people weren’t so bad. When people say that you KNOW they are not talking about themselves!

Sometimes this is called “projection:” seeing your own defects everywhere except within yourself.

In Jungian psychology the idea is to acknowledge and integrate the “shadow” side of yourself. It requires knowing and accepting that the real source of evil is not out there in others, but within each of us.

Denying our inner evil takes energy, and therefore weakens us. It distorts our perceptions and can make us treat others unfairly. It can cause us to hate everyone who is not just like us (liberals, you are not exempt; this applies to you also, maybe especially).

So try not to deny your inner Essential Evil. Try to be conscious of it and then you will be less likely to mindlessly follow its suggestions. Just know it’s there, opposing your desires and goals at every turn. Making your life a challenge.

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36 Comments

  1. amba12 said,

    This strikes me as very, very true. It comports with my observation that I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t his or her own worst enemy (needless to say, myself very much included). That inner adversary seems necessary.

    Another thought that might be related: evil, even in nature, is envy.

    A young woman I know just died of a horrible form of brain metastasis of triple-negative breast cancer that was diagnosed right after her daughter was born, less than three years ago. What’s striking is the utter pointlessness of such destruction. Nothing gains from it. Not even the disease has anything to gain from it, so it isn’t like a predator thriving at the expense of prey or anything.

    Evil strikes me as impotence — that which cannot create and can only declare itself by destroying. It comes down to entropy and the miracle that there is anything at all in spite of that tendency to revert to formless randomness . . . and the envy of entropy. Its only power is to tear down what creativity has brought into being.

    We have both those forces within us. Ultimately, the creative force is unique but impersonal. That is, it expresses itself uniquely through each of us, but it isn’t us or ours. The self may take credit for its accomplishments, but everyone who creates anything knows deep down, “I didn’t do that. I just won the battle to get myself out of the way and give it a chance to happen.” The self doesn’t want to get out of the way. The self is impotent and full of envy. This at least is my experience. That’s why creativity is a good rehearsal for death.

  2. RodJean said,

    What you are describing as Essential Evil is sometimes described in Christian circles as “Original Sin.” Martin Luther in particular wrote about the natural depravity of mankind. It became a fundamental of christian doctrine, in that “Man is saved through grace alone” because mankind is totally depraved.

    However you describe it, I am convinced that we are all ultimately self serving. Consciousness of our nature can help us restrain it somewhat, and we can do individual selfless acts, but it is beyond our nature to consistently be honest or fair.

  3. amba12 said,

    How are you??

  4. RodJean said,

    Hi Annie! I am fine, although I am about to have my gall bladder removed, probably on Tuesday. I guess that fits in with the depredations of old age you were writing about before.

    This year has been a strange one for an observer of the American Parade. We have Caitlyn and Rachel, the lady who thought she was black. We have politicians forced to apologize for saying “All lives matter.” We are about to go forward with a treaty that guaranties nuclear weapons to a country that chants “Death to America” and seems poised to drop a bomb on Tel Aviv at the first opportunity.

  5. wj said,

    I suspect that a big part of this is similar to the reason why we keep encountering so many conspiracy theory enthusiasts. Some people have a burning need for a clear simple answer to the question Why do Bad Things Happen? Some go for the broad brush — as described by RealPC. Others see most people as essentially good — so the answer must be a small (secret) conspiracy to do bad things.

  6. realpc920 said,

    “A young woman I know just died of a horrible form of brain metastasis of triple-negative breast cancer that was diagnosed right after her daughter was born, less than three years ago. What’s striking is the utter pointlessness of such destruction. Nothing gains from it. Not even the disease has anything to gain from it, so it isn’t like a predator thriving at the expense of prey or anything.”

    I looked up the word “evil” again, and got the same result — it originally meant something like what we now mean by the word “bad.” The emphasis on immorality and intentional destructiveness came along relatively recently.

    Maybe there is something about our modern culture that makes us assume a malicious cause when things go wrong.

    I do not see anything malicious or sinister behind the young woman’s death, however tragic. We have a cancer epidemic. No, it is not because modern medicine has made us much healthier so now we live long enough to get cancer. It’s because the air, water and food has been poisoned.

    Every time I talk about this with anyone they blame Monsanto and the evil greedy giant corporations. I agree that Monsanto, etc., have poisoned the world, but I do not think there was any malice behind it (well maybe a little).

    Our terrible problems are caused by progress — by technology, science and industrialization.

    No, the scientists have not all been bought by the evil corporations. Well maybe some have. But in general, most scientists think progress is good. If a biologist works on genetically engineering a tomato, for example, their goal is not to give people terrible allergies and immune disorders and cancer. They just think they are creating a better tomato.

    In my opinion, the greatest causes of evil results are intelligence and good intentions.

    The moral of this story is that you cannot win, you can’t overturn the essential underlying laws of the universe.

    I think maybe people used to know that. Although our species has always tried to improve things (creating one disaster after another in the process), faith in progress was never as crazed as it is now.

  7. realpc920 said,

    But primitive people always believed in evil spirits. I’ll try to find more info about what they meant by that.

  8. realpc920 said,

    “Maybe there is something about our modern culture that makes us assume a malicious cause when things go wrong.”

    That’s what I said. But didn’t people always think that way? Not sure.

  9. realpc920 said,

    Ok, I think I know what I think about this.

    Isolated primitive tribes did not think of gods and spirits as either good or evil. They were good when happy with the tribe, and evil when the tribe was not doing what the gods and spirits wanted (sacrifices, rituals, etc.)

    But as people began practicing agriculture, populations increased and wars over agricultural land escalated. Also, wars of conquest and raiding of settled communities increased.

    If nation A conquered nation B, then B was forced to give up their gods and start worshiping A’s gods. B’s gods were then considered false, powerless, and/or evil.

    So the idea of evil spirits and gods could be relative. That’s what makes sense to me anyway.

    I don’t think there are people or spiritual beings who think of themselves as evil. If they do evil acts, it is because they feel they are opposing an enemy.

    Democrats today often accuse Republicans of being selfish, greedy, lacking compassion. But I doubt there is even one Republican who sees himself that way.

    It is all a matter of perspective.

    Hitler and the Nazis thought they were doing something wonderfully constructive for their nation. Their actions towards the Jews and other hated minorities makes sense if these minorities were perceived as internal enemies and traitors.

  10. LouiseM said,

    I’ve come to regard evil as an energy that moves through and in darkness, with darkness being the absence of light, as well as the absence of knowledge and the absence of understanding.

    When darkness, pain, powerlessness (impotency) and rage come together, to such a degree that Light is no longer wanted or sought after to illuminate the swirl or offer the balance needed to nurture life; the dark energy that results can manifest in intentions to take the life of another so as to take away their free will and choices, or force another into an act or situation where they have absolutely no ability to extricate themselves.

    I’m friends with a woman who was raped when she was three years old by her father. She had no ability to extricate herself from that situation. She was not her own worst enemy.

    In my view, darkness, the shadow self, and the energy of evil are not synonymous.

    Scott Peck, holds this view of evil:

    There really are people and institutions made up of people, who respond with hatred in the presence of goodness and would destroy the good insofar as it is in their power to do so. They do this not with conscious malice but blindly, lacking awareness of their own evil — indeed, seeking to avoid any such awareness. As has been described of the devil in religious literature, they hate the light and instinctively will do anything to avoid it, including attempting to extinguish it. They will destroy the light in their own children and in all other beings subject to their power.

    Evil people hate the light because it reveals themselves to themselves. They hate goodness because it reveals their badness; they hate love because it reveals their laziness. They will destroy the light, the goodness, the love in order to avoid the pain of such self-awareness. My second conclusion, then, is that evil is laziness carried to its ultimate, extraordinary extreme. As I have defined it, love is the antithesis of laziness. Ordinary laziness is a passive failure to love. Some ordinarily lazy people may not lift a finger to extend themselves unless they are compelled to do so. Their being is a manifestation of nonlove; still, they are not evil.

    Truly evil people, on the other hand, actively rather than passively avoid extending themselves. They will take any action in their power to protect their own laziness, to preserve the integrity of their sick self. Rather than nurturing others, they will actually destroy others in this cause. If necessary, they will even kill to escape the pain of their own spiritual growth. As the integrity of their sick self is threatened by the spiritual health of those around them, they will seek by all manner of means to crush and demolish the spiritual health that may exist near them.

    I define evil, then, as the exercise of political power — that is, the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion — in order to avoid extending one’s self for the purpose of nurturing spiritual growth. Ordinary laziness is nonlove; evil is antilove.

    Whatever one thinks about evil, it is not possible to know what Hitler and the Nazis were thinking while giving orders and following through on those orders to not only take the lives of others, but do so slowly in ways that manifested an intent to destroy, crush and demolish the spirit of others. Of what use is a group of sickly, underfed, physically weakened, and emotionally distraught workers to build or maintain anything of value? Their actions do not “make sense”. Worse yet, they seem to involve a dark and intentionally destructive collective energy that appears greater than any one person’s personal darkness or pain.

    Alice Miller, however, takes it down to the personal, with her view of evil and Hitler’s background and impetus in this article on “The Ignorance or How we produce the Evil”.

    According to her: Evil exists. But it is not something that some people are born with. It is produced by society, every day, every hour, unceasingly, all over the world. It starts with the treatment meted out to newborn babies and carries on in the parenting methods practiced on small children. Such children may BECOME criminal at a later stage, if they have no helping witness to turn to. In their childhood years, serial killers and dictators all have one thing in common: they had no such witnesses to turn to for help.

    This takes us back to the value of witness bearing, along with the awareness that light is the power that overcomes darkness.

  11. realpc920 said,

    LouiseM,

    Your comment expresses the typical modern perspective on evil. I call it the “Star Wars syndrome,” because it assumes that some people knowingly go over to the dark side.

    This view is often expressed in our fiction, where good guys are clearly differentiated from bad guys. Sometimes you can tell by whether their clothes are black or white.

    The intention of my post was to question this very common modern view of evil.

    The Star Wars syndrome is not usually seen in the Old Testament, or in eastern religion. Not that I can think of anyway.

    We start to see it in Christianity, and then we see philosophers debating for centuries on the “problem of evil.”

    The Star Wars syndrome really took off after WWII. Hitler became our image of Satan. Not the old Satan from Judaism, but the new malicious Satan that evolved later.

    Since Hitler we have, as a culture, believed that some people are knowingly and willingly evil.

    I started questioning that a while back, at least since I started to believe in holistic philosophy.

    I now tend to believe in the Old Testament version of Satan as the universal Adversary, which is a fundamental aspect of the universe.

    Everything must be opposed by something. Evil is NOT in the thing that opposes, evil is in the opposing relationship.

    When you are my enemy, you are evil from my perspective.

    Did you ever observe your husband’s facial expression during an intense argument? I have observed people’s faces change from kind and friendly to hateful in an instant. Or vice versa.

    All depending on the emotional context of the moment.

  12. realpc920 said,

    And by the way I do believe in demonic possession. So how to reconcile that belief with my relativistic philosophy of evil? I still have to think about that some more before writing. But I do agree with Peck that possession occurs. I actually think it’s extremely common.

    But aside from that, I think it’s very strange that he equates evil with extreme laziness. What??

    And that article you linked, LouseM, that is just one person yelling out the typical modern perspective. And it seems EXTREMELY unfair of her to say that being mistreated as a child leads a person to become evil. MOST people who had less than ideal childhoods, even horrible childhoods, do NOT become violent and destructive.

  13. realpc920 said,

    There are sociopaths and serial killers and I have to figure out how to explain that.

  14. LouiseM said,

    Good luck, realpc920. It’s not as though mankind hasn’t been trying since the beginning of recorded history to figure out explanations for “that”.

    The story about two trees in a garden was an oral tradition long before it was put into writing.

    And the Kabbalistic tradition shines another light on the subject. Or maybe it’s the same Light. Who knows?

  15. realpc920 said,

    LouiseM,

    I didn’t mean that I personally can find my own explanation. I have studied holistic philosophy in depth from many angles, and I think that explanations for many things can be found from within that perspective.

    The religious and scientific foundations of our culture are non-holistic. That is why religion and science are in opposition and seem to have no common ground. That is also why modern medicine does not help us understand and cure diseases. Technology advances but understanding does not.

    That reminds me of another question I consider important — has technology advanced because of or in spite of the fact that our mainstream science is non-holistic?

    I suspect the answer is in spite of. But mainstream science advocates say the opposite, of course.

    I actually think that holistic philosophy underlies a lot of our technology. Information Theory is one obvious example.

  16. LouiseM said,

    If you’re not looking for an explanation that satisfies you personally, or makes sense to you, realpc920, what are you looking for?

    Doesn’t the question come down to, “How then do I live?”

  17. realpc920 said,

    What I was trying to say, LouiseM, is that I don’t think I’m a genius who has figured out all the answers to everything. But I did learn about the holistic perspective by a series of accidents. It is hardly ever taught in our schools and reductionism has completely taken over mainstream medicine and science, especially since mid 20th century.

  18. realpc920 said,

    With respect to the question of evil, what I am looking for is a more balanced and accurate perspective.

  19. LouiseM said,

    With respect to the question of evil, what I am looking for is a more balanced and accurate perspective.

    More balanced and accurate according to whom?

    To what you perceive to be balanced and accurate?

    To what Scott Peck perceived as balanced and accurate from his experience, or what Alice Miller, the writer of 13 books in which she attempted to account for the darkness and evil she encountered as a Polish/Jew who escaped the Jewish Ghetto in Piotrków Trybunalski and survived WWII, understood from her research and experience?

    Both Miller and Peck had their own struggles with darkness, yet the awareness they received and the insights they’ve shared have helped a number of others realize more understanding, health and wholeness.

    I found it odd that you were willing to categorize Alice Miller as “just one person yelling out the typical modern perspective ” while using ALL CAPS to make your point. Whether I agree with her views or not, I respect the work she did and the help she’s been for others. I’ve also learned from her short-falls, after reading how her own unresolved war trauma affected her son

    Since I’ve not yet found “a genius who has figured out all the answers to everything”, I wasn’t holding out that expectation for you .

    I am curious as to what you think a holistic perspective involves.

    So far, what I’m hearing in the answers you’ve been providing sounds like this variation of your opening sentence: “If only everyone had a more holistic perspective, like ME, this world would be a lot better.”

  20. LouiseM said,

    And here it is again, the value of bearing witness, showing up in the NYTimes piece on the life and death of Oliver Sacks:

    In 1989, interviewing him for “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” Joanna Simon asked Dr. Sacks how he would like to be remembered in 100 years.

    “I would like it to be thought that I had listened carefully to what patients and others have told me,” he said, “that I’ve tried to imagine what it was like for them, and that I tried to convey this.

    “And, to use a biblical term,” he added, “bore witness.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/31/science/oliver-sacks-dies-at-82-neurologist-and-author-explored-the-brains-quirks.html

  21. realpc920 said,

    [Since I’ve not yet found “a genius who has figured out all the answers to everything”, I wasn’t holding out that expectation for you .]

    LouiseM, of course I know you don’t think much of me. I was just saying I don’t claim to have any unique and special knowledge.

  22. realpc920 said,

    [I found it odd that you were willing to categorize Alice Miller as “just one person yelling out the typical modern perspective ” while using ALL CAPS to make your point. Whether I agree with her views or not, I respect the work she did and the help she’s been for others.]

    I don’t care if you respect the work she did! I was only talking about her opinions on evil, which I consider to be wrong.

    After WWII the Star Wars syndrome really took off. Hitler became the ultimate symbol of evil.

    I think maybe I can get away with saying this because I am 100% Jewish. Hitler was an idealistic politician whose ideas about ethnic pride and eugenics were already very popular all over Europe and in America. He killed millions of people, but so have many other powerful leaders.

    Stalin in the USSR and Pol Pot in Cambodia, for example, also killed millions for idealistic reasons.

    I would blame the crazed idealism, the demonization of a perceived enemy. It has killed many more than intentional evil ever did.

  23. LouiseM said,

    LouiseM, of course I know you don’t think much of me. I was just saying I don’t claim to have any unique and special knowledge.

    Oh, please, realpc920, stop with the silly assumptions and defensiveness. Not only is your “of course” declaration about what you know a reflection of what you don’t know, there’s no need to keep defending claims that weren’t made and have no relevance to the discussion.

    Unless, of course, this form of engagement is coming from a dark place.

    Crazed Idealism. Now there’s a concept. What prompts a person to demonize a perceived enemy, and how does a concept, an idea, end up doing the killing? It takes humans follow through with that intent.

  24. realpc920 said,

    I recommend that you read about the communist revolutions.

  25. LouiseM said,

    It would delight me to show you my library, realpc920.

    Was it your intention to presume I haven’t read about the communist revolutions, or would be more enlightened and informed than I am if I did?

  26. realpc920 said,

    Oh LouiseM, I would never presume that you are not the smartest person at this blog.

  27. LouiseM said,

    So what was your intent in recommending I read about the communist revolutions, realpc920?

    From my POV, intent marks the difference between darkness and evil.

    I had a good conversation last week with the Russian born (had been in this country 20 years after 30 years in Russia) acupuncturist I see for treatment, when I told him I was working out my view of the difference between darkness and evil. He regards both darkness and evil as energy (where I was considering darkness as a condition of absence and evil as an energy) with the difference between them involving intent and degrees of intention. That fit with what I’d said in comment 10, when I described the dark energy I regard as evil manifesting in intentions to take the life of another so as to take away their free will and choices, or to force another into an act or situation where they have absolutely no ability to extricate themselves.

    Wherever the remarks about you not being “a genius who has figured out all the answers to everything’, or the person not claiming “to have any unique and special knowledge”, along with a comparative comment about who’s “the smartest person at this blog” are coming from, realpc920, I don’t see how they pertain to the topic, other than to indicate a possible need for more light and a projection check.

  28. realpc920 said,

    If you start accusing me of being evil LouiseM, the conversation will be over. If you go any further than “a possible need for more light” there will be no reason to continue.

    My opinion on evil is the opposite of yours. It is obvious to me that most evil acts have been performed with the best intentions. That is why I recommended reading about the communist revolutions.

    You stick with the mainstream view, and that’s fine, but there will be no progress if your goal is to prove you are good and smart and not crazy, and that those who disagree with you are the opposite.

    That is USUALLY what people are trying to prove when they argue, but I am more interested in trying to make sense of things. Since I am no better than anyone else I can easily fall into the trap of trying to prove I am not evil or ignorant. But I also know it is as useless waste of time.

    No matter how many books on your shelf, you cannot transcend the universal human condition of ignorance, evil and insanity.

    Nice to be able to blame “darkness” on sadists and tyrants and sociopaths. Then the rest of us, the people of “light,” can look down from our pedestals and feel superior.

  29. LouiseM said,

    If you start accusing me of being evil LouiseM, the conversation will be over. If you go any further than “a possible need for more light” there will be no reason to continue.

    Here’s where I’ll go, realpc920:

    In Jungian psychology the idea is to acknowledge and integrate the “shadow” side of yourself. It requires knowing and accepting that the real source of evil is not out there in others, but within each of us.

    Denying our inner evil takes energy, and therefore weakens us. It distorts our perceptions and can make us treat others unfairly.

    So try not to deny your inner Essential Evil. Try to be conscious of it and then you will be less likely to mindlessly follow its suggestions. Just know it’s there, opposing your desires and goals at every turn. Making your life a challenge.

    Try taking your the advice offered..

    Ask yourself where the projections (defined above by you as “seeing your own defects everywhere except within yourself”) have been coming from, the ones about who’s yelling out, who’s on the verge of making accusations, who’s claiming to “know” what someone else is thinking, who’s finding it necessary to respond to non-existent claims and competitions about smartness.

    They appear to me to be coming from you and the dark or shadowy place of subconscious awareness; unless, of course, you are doing so consciously and deliberately, with the intent of entertaining yourself and others.

    I’m starting to wonder if your post and comments in this thread are a spoof?

    I took the subject seriously and responded with my opinion and views. I am not open to serve as the focus of another’s projections without notice or comment.

    If you wish to be taken seriously, realpc920 I suggest you clean up your approach or act. Such is the power of light and dark within each of us, that I continue to receive good and find myself curious and interested in the subjects presented here.

  30. realpc920 said,

    LouiseM,

    When you call me evil, there is an impulse to fight back and call you evil. But would that be an interesting conversation between intelligent adults?

    And, as usual, you did a great job of not understanding the reason for my post.

  31. LouiseM said,

    When you call me evil, there is an impulse to fight back and call you evil. But would that be an interesting conversation between intelligent adults?

    And, as usual, you did a great job of not understanding the reason for my post.

    Is the above comment a joke? Or part of a test of provocation to see who will reach UTTERLY FRUSTRATED first? Without knowing what your intent was in writing it, it comes across to me as a convoluted way of implying things that aren’t true and don’t reflect reality or the evidence at hand.

    Interestingly enough, “Did God really say…?”, was the lead off to the first question asked in ancient story about the Fall of Man.

    When it comes to honest communication between intelligent adults, what’s really been said matters greatly.

    I haven’t called you evil and wouldn’t. I will, however, continue to note lack of integrity and honesty in commenting when it comes to false information being presented about what I believe, what I know, and what I understand.

  32. LouiseM said,

    Below is another example of something untrue (a view I don’t hold) being presumed and presented, along with a specious speculation about what would happen if my goal (which isn’t my goal) were “x”:

    You stick with the mainstream view, and that’s fine, but there will be no progress if your goal is to prove you are good and smart and not crazy, and that those who disagree with you are the opposite.

    How this remark fits with the discussion and how a “there will be no progress” determination was reached remains unclear to me.

    Maybe the Shadow knows!

  33. LouiseM said,

    This weekend, as I was sorting through my shelves for books to give away, I gathered up and put together a list of the paper and ink versions of thoughts on evil I’ve been reading and holding onto since my encounter with Scott Peck’s People of the LIe thirty two years ago as part of my search for more understanding about darkness and evil.

    I was approaching thirty at the time, and up until then had held a limited view of evil, believing it to be the result of Original Sin. I’d been taught through my Calvinist upbringing that people were born depraved and had listened several times to all 625 mentions of evil and evildoers in the King James Version of the Bible that was read aloud twice a day (a chapter at a time) in my childhood home. However, other than reading about Martin Luther throwing an ink pot at the devil, I hadn’t encountered an account as open as Peck’s, in which he wrote about his views and experiences with evil, And that opened the door which led to more questions and searching through a variety of writings for more insights and answers which have brought more light to the subject, but haven’t yet been enough to solve to my satisfaction the age old mystery of darkness, evil, spirit involvement and manifestations of seemingly evil behavior in humans and communities.

    Below is the list of the books I still have in my possession, in the order in which they were read:

    Deliverance from Evil Spirits, Francis MacNutt
    Good and Evil, Martin Buber
    Hostage to the Devil, Malachi Martin
    Evil the Shadow Side of Reality, John A Sanford
    Memories, Dreams and Reflections, CG Jung
    Power and Innocence: A Search for the Sources of Violence, Rollo May
    Anger, Madness and the Daimonic, Stephen A Diamond
    The Unquiet Dead, A Psychologist Treats Spirit Possession, Edith Fiore
    Soul Centered Healing, A Psychologist’s Extraordinary Journey into the Realms of sub-Personalities, Spirits and Past Lives, Thomas Zinser
    Soul Rescuers, A 21st Century Guide to the Spirit World, T&N O’Sullivan

    Even if there were a “typical modern perspective on evil…a mainstream view…a Star Wars Syndrome…a very common modern view of evil ” to hold or subscribe to, the view I’ve been forming doesn’t come anywhere close to representing a normal, conventional, dominant trend or perspective.

    While I appreciated the opportunity to think about the topic of Essential Evil and write Comment #10; I did not appreciate the dishonest and seemingly disingenuous communication that followed, with questions regarding intent left unanswered.

    According to one ancient account, twisted truth and a lack of checking in with the source is where evil found its first human foot hold, with enmity to follow, until a struck heel was met with a crushed head by virtue of Truth and Grace.

    Perhaps the view I currently hold springs from my desire to reconcile past teaching with present awareness, as I continue to consider Truth and Grace, when practiced and revealed together in balance, to be part of the Light that illuminates darkness within and without.

  34. LouiseM said,

    One of the other books pulled off the shelf, Emotional Intimacy by R Masters, had this to say about Envy, mentioned early on in the thread:

    Envy’s terrain is lonely and painful, with the only neighbors being greed, resentment, jealousy and shame.

    Envy is not so overtly desperate as greed, but nonetheless it’s still centered around a sense of not having enough. Whereas greed grabs, envy craves.

    Envy and resentment are also close; resentment could be described as a mix of hostility, entitlement and envy. But dark as envy can get, it’s no match for resentment. Ill will is often present in envy, but it’s present at a much higher concentration in resentment–often to the point of toxicity–emphatically dehumanizing the person who has what we think we should have or who has what we think they shouldn’t have. Envy, on the other hand, simply wishes that it had what another has. Resentment is more of a moral state, filled with the conviction that the other doesn’t deserve to have what they have–or what we think we deserve to have.

    Jealousy is constellated around rejection, envy around lack.

    What’s most potentially insidious about envy isn’t its felt sense of lack, but its “comparing mind” component; there is in envy a contracted flood of repetitive thoughts about those who have what we want. When we let such a state of comparison–which features us outside looking in–run unchecked through us, we’re left embittered.

    With this on Contempt, which I consider to be involved along with envy in the energy of evil.

    Contempt is a harsh judge, devoid of compassion, no matter how soft its face may look. It’s not as aggressive as hate, nor as bitter as resentment, but it is just as dehumanizing. When we’re caught up in contempt, we hold ourselves morally above the object of our contempt.

    Anger and disgust can be directed at an action, but contempt is directed at a person, always. In contempt there is no significant connection to anything redeeming or healing. We might as well have mercilessly cast our offending person into a pit with no lifeline to anything that might help heal or remedy the situation. Contempt is a cold fuck-you, as calculating as it is cruel–a mix of icy disgust and toxic criticalness.

    Where anger shows up as moral fire and shame as moral disturbance, contempt shows up as moral condescension. It is not out for justice (like anger) or remorse (like shame) but for condemnation. If we’re on the receiving end of contempt, we’re not on trial (as we might be in anger) or on the hot seat (as we might be in shame), but we’re already sentenced from on high, with no parole. Contempt is resentment in snobbery’s garb, finding enough satisfaction in its heartless dismissal of its target to offset any envy it might have toward that person.

    In contempt we not only dehumanize the other, but ourselves as well, marooning ourselves from our heart in the process.

    Both of these descriptions take me back to the belief that compassion, curiosity and connectedness, directed toward ourselves and others is the path toward more healing, wholeness and balance between the dark and light feelings, thoughts, needs, impulses and desires that are part of our human experience.

  35. LouiseM said,

    On Feeling and Facing Fear, by P Schneider, in Writing Alone and With Others

    The first and greatest fear that blocks us a writers is fear of the truth we may discover. The world, dressed in our habitual interpretations, is familiar to us. It may not be exactly safe, but we know how to walk in it. We can get from sunrise to sunset.

    But the unconscious part of us knows more than the conscious mind will admit. When we sleep, dreams hint at our secrets, but in code. Writing, like dreaming, sometimes tells us what we are not ready to hear. What if we saw our lives, our experiences, from a different point of view? What if we glimpsed the face behind the mask, the person behind the face of mother, father? What if we saw the one we may have lost, or the one who made us afraid?

    I have come to understand, through my own writing and through working with other writers, that fear is the friend of the writer. Where there is fear there is buried treasure. Something important lies hidden–something that matters–like the angel waiting in the stone that Michelangelo began to carve.

    Another of the ways that opposites when paired together can move humans forward, darkness and light, fear and courage; with material and brushstroke or pen work functioning with words to fulfill the role of faithful servant.

  36. Donna B said,

    LouiseM. — I was about the same age when I first read “People of the Lie” and I was horrified by it. About that same time, a tragedy happened in my life and I put aside further reading on the topic.

    I don’t find the topic of evil to be worthwhile of my attention right now, but that’s perhaps self-deceptive because I do find the topics of envy, resentment, jealousy, and contempt quite interesting. Perhaps they are manifestations of “evil”.

    Thank you for the reading list, though I’m currently re-reading my C.S. Lewis library (his non-fiction) and thinking that I haven’t read enough G.K. Chesterton.

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