June 30, 2006 at 3:18 pm #15249
For everyones reading pleasure…SnowLion
By C. Cejudo
When I say that word, what mental images pop up? Right Evil is a very loaded and powerful word. You don’t think of puppies and dew drops for a reason. Now I understand that the subject of evil is tricky to address. Nevertheless, in my presentation, I will attempt to illustrate that the concept of evil is a social construct created for the proper functioning of society and essential to our search for spiritual enlightenment and must in essence be taken as a part of its time.
Now, to properly discuss evil, we must begin on the same page. The American Heritage Dictionary describes evil as:
1. The quality of being morally bad or wrong; wickedness.
2.That which causes harm, misfortune, or destruction: “a leader’s power to do both good and evil.”
3.An evil force, power, or personification.
4.Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction: “the social evils of poverty and injustice.”
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by the Houghton Mifflin Company.
These are the definitions of the noun form of evil. We are not so much interested in the adjective definition as those are corollary to our discussion of the noun evil.
So how do the different religions interpret evil? The following are my understandings of the religions teachings.
In my limited studies of religion, I have discovered that the eastern religions have a similar view of evil and view it as a duality of good.
Evil has no real existence, being part of the illusory world of phenomena. Hinduism sees evil in a light similar to that of Taoism, that it is part of the continuity of life. One of the main deities in Hinduism, Shiva, is both a creator and the destroyer. His consort, Kali, is the black, the destroyer of the universe at the end of the age of Kali. She is truly a vicious sight, usually portrayed as an old hag with gnarly teeth, a protruding tongue and a garland of human skulls and severed hands. Vishnu is the creator, Shiva is the destroyer, and yet Shiva, like Kali, is not necessarily feared. Rather they are revered for their power. It is understood that all that is created, including life and this earth, must inevitably be destroyed.
In Buddhism, there is no particular dealing with evil. Rather it is merely another aspect of suffering. Suffering is a product of ignorance. Once one is aware of oneself then one will recognize that one is capable of evil only in ignorance. Suffering and pain can be ended through the pursuit of truth and self knowledge.
A main tenant of Buddhism is also compassion. Because evil occurs in the world, it provides an opportunity for compassion, an empathy with those who suffer, for when one suffers all suffer. Like Hinduism, Buddhism sees evil in light of the whole of creation. We are not individuals, but rather a part of a whole and as such it does behoove us to understand evil and to attempt to eliminate it from our lives and that of others in general.
The Monotheistic Religions
Similar to the eastern religions, the monotheistic religions share a common view of evil as they are borne of a common history. A main tenant of Islam, Judaism and Christianity is that of Gods gift to man of free will. God is understood to be all benevolence and any evil that may arise on earth is a manifestation of humans wrong decisions. To quote Derek:
How can we resolve God’s goodness with the presence of evil in the world? The best way we’ve found is the same as what you have pointed out, that it is Man, not God who creates evil when he turns away from God. God made it possible to choose evil as part of free will.
Surely this give us closure? Unfortunately not. It gives rise to at least two points that are just as difficult to reconcile:
The issue of ultimate responsibility. Suppose I create a bomb linked to a random fuse (or an AI algorithm), and the bomb goes off, hurting people, can I say that I am not responsible because it is the bomb, using its randomizer or AI, that creates the explosion, and not me? In other words, if God creates Man, and Man creates evil, doesn’t the presence of evil still trace all the way back to God? Is it wrong then, to say that ULTIMATELY evil has its source in God? Ultimate power carries ultimate responsibility, so if God wishes to be the supreme being, he cannot dodge the responsibility of creating evil simply because he creates it indirectly.
If evil is Man’s creation and not God’s, then we cannot say God is the ultimate creator of everything in the universe. Man, too, has the ability to create. Thus God is not the only creator and cannot take sole credit for the entirety of creation. This contradicts the definition of God.
The problem of evil in contemporary philosophy is used as the basis for atheism. Because God and evil are incompatible, and evil surely exists, there must be no God.
But like the book of Job, the argument is made that Gods ways are mysterious and cannot be understood by mortal man.
According to Augustine, evil is the privation, or absence, of good, as darkness is the absence of light. It is possible, however, for something created good to diminish in goodness, to become corrupted, and evil has crept in when creatures endowed with free willangels, such lesser spirits as demons, and human beingsturn away from higher, or more complete, goods and choose lesser, partial ones. Furthermore, according to Augustine, what at first appears to be evil may be understood as good in the context of eternity. From God’s eternal perspective, everything is good.
In Christianity, much of what is talked about in respect to evil is its identification of evildoer and the punishment bestowed upon them. If you notice, the punishment for evil in essence is more evil for what is hell but unending and intense suffering? While I understand the basis for this view, I do not see it as a proper way to end evil. Instead what it does is instill fear of authority in people so that society runs much smoother. If you dont obey the church, you will burn in hell. And by the way, the church is also the state.
As well, many stories pertaining to individuals in contact with the devil, perhaps if unscrupulous will make a pact with him are really just about how necessarily cunning evil is, to the point that if one does not know thyself, one is truly lost.
Social Construct of Evil
Dont misunderstand me, though. When I say the concept of evil was created, I dont mean to say that man created evil. Christians have a certain take on that, and I will address it shortly, but what I want you to understand is that the concept of evil was created, much like the concept of god to (see IR 318).
What we can learn here is that evil is in essence ever preset because we all hold the seeds for evil in some fashion. Not that men are born evil, but rather like the yin yang everyone contains a bit of darkness, of the antithesis of good. If one does not recognize the capability of inciting these shadows, perhaps the shadow will overtake you.
I do not believe humans are born evil. Rather, it is the contrary, if you look at children, even yourself, we are bring to harm others. It is only when we have detached ourselves from them, when in essence we have dehumanized another that we are able to commit atrocities against them. This is what happens in war. This is what happens in racism, and yes, this is what happens in meat eating.
And yet we do not find capital punishment as evil, but rather as retribution for evil committed. One must then take the definition of evil in the context of its age.
In attempting to gain further spiritual enlightenment, we must of necessity confront the problem of evil for by bettering ourselves, we must diminish our capability of performing evil, of being evil.
Evil is a word too often just thrown about. It has the impact of an immediate visceral reaction, and of course we all want to believe that we ourselves are not evil nor would like to perpetuate it.June 30, 2006 at 5:02 pm #15250
I feel like most of this piece misses the point. There are a lot of religious distractions in it iclududing a reference to the common misuderstanding that yin and dark are bad and yang and light are good. The four so-called definitions of evil at the beginning are not real definitions at all.
“1. The quality of being morally bad or wrong; wickedness.”
By whose definition? “Morals” are something set up by groups with certain ideas they want to espouse. But a true knowledge of right and wrong coming from an understanding of what is in harmony and is healthful is different. The key to understanding right and wrong is in understanding the idea of “infringement” and every being’s inherent right (not privledge) to follow their divinely ordained and “unalienable” lifepath.
“2.That which causes harm, misfortune, or destruction: “a leader’s power to do both good and evil.” ”
Not everything destructive is evil. Not all misfortune actually is misfortune. Harm is another thing, unless it is defined the same way as morality.
“3.An evil force, power, or personification.”
This is like saying that evil is whatever is evil.
“4.Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction: “the social evils of poverty and injustice”
This is the same as #2.
Evil is not defined here at all.
In the Buddhist section there is an actual definition:
“Once one is aware of oneself then one will recognize that one is capable of evil only in ignorance.”
It is only at the end that Cejudo gives us his definition of evil in a hidden way:
“It is only when we have detached ourselves from them [“others”], when in essence we have dehumanized another that we are able to commit atrocities against them.”
I really think that all things are really simple and we have complicated them with our “big brains.” Not that having a big brain isn’t fun and educational. It’s that we get lost in the grandeur and illusion of it and miss the real treat- the Mystery of ourselves.
I like the ancient Daoist quote to encapsulate this knowing:
“The Dao is very close, but everyone looks far away.
Life is very simple, but everyone seeks difficulty.”
Here’s B.K. Frantzis’ take on evil in his book The Great Stillness, which I am in the middle of now:
“Evil- the practice of raw power without compassion-…”
Everything is about proper relationship.
-AlexanderJune 30, 2006 at 5:28 pm #15252
I agree not the best one; a feeble attempt at best to ad something here…June 30, 2006 at 11:04 pm #15254July 3, 2006 at 2:22 am #15256
Time spent trying to define the undefinable is an entertainment of our “big brains” and we all suffer from it occassionally 🙂
The issue probably really comes down to what *you* think evil is. That is not to say Snowlion won’t or shouldn’t respond nor is it to say that this conversation has no merit. But, evil, as I have said previously is an entirely subjective thing. The person who can build the bomb or do harm to another person has a different view of what constitutes evil or a different relationship with evil acts that would scare and repulse me. I don’t know if it gets more simple or complicated then that.
Sometimes I sense in you a great need to know what other people think – whether that is to test your theories against the replies, simple unadulterated curiosity or it helps flesh out or confirm certain feelings you have, I cannot know. If you want to tell me, feel free and if you don’t – that is cool, too.
Sorry – I am feeling a bit out of it today…July 3, 2006 at 3:53 am #15258
“Time spent trying to define the undefinable is an entertainment of our “big brains” and we all suffer from it occassionally”
I think this is one of the things that IS definable and should be talked about. If evil is rooted in unconsciousness, then bringing in more consciousness about it will aid us. And talking is entertainment only if you engage in it to distract yourself from what you are feeling by going into your thinking. Otherwise, it can enhance your presence/consciousness by sharing in balance.
Just to bring more balance into your understanding of me- I am definitely not a talking kind of person. I am very quiet most of the time.
The reason I asked Snowlion for HIS thoughts is that in his statement before my question he said he wanted to add something to the conversation. I was inviting him to share his own mind. It was an act of opening to him.
“The issue probably really comes down to what *you* think evil is. ..But, evil, as I have said previously is an entirely subjective thing.”
I do not agree with this statement. To paraphrase BK Frantzis’ definition I mentioned in the other post: Evil is the use of raw power without compassion. Compassion is not a subjective thing. Either you are coming from your heart or it is closed when you act. People delude themselves that what they are doing is OK when they have their hearts closed. But that’s always when either direct evil is being committed or indirect evil is being committed in the form of compliance through denial of what one’s heart is telling us is true. The ones who think up bombing, the ones who design the bombs, the ones who make them, and the ones who pay for them are all equally responsible for what takes place since humanity is a global psyche made up of little ones. When we little ones bring in consciousness we change the balance of what can happen to all of us.
This issue is of the utmost importance. It is absolutely bottomline to our survival and growth as a species because being conscious means being loving and without that we are doomed.
“The person who can build the bomb or do harm to another person has a different view of what constitutes evil or a different relationship with evil acts that would scare and repulse me. I don’t know if it gets more simple or complicated then that.”
The person who can build the bomb is placing him/herself outside of the direction of the heart. It is not a matter of “view.” No feeling person could build a device to destroy their human partners. This is the point. In order to do so means you have to shut off your feelings toward humans and pretend that the threatened ego’s misperception of reality is more valid, and the knowledge that we are one is false and untrustworthy. To do that is an act of insanity.
“Sometimes I sense in you a great need to know what other people think – whether that is to test your theories against the replies, simple unadulterated curiosity or it helps flesh out or confirm certain feelings you have, I cannot know.”
My desires are very simple. When I am conversing here, or otherwise interacting with my world, I am aware that I am talking with other parts of myself (“Intelligence” included). Ultimately, I participate in these conversations because, first, I want to increase my experience of community, oneness with. Second, I want to strengthen my presence in the world by offering myself to it in ways that I enjoy. Third, I want to help create greater consciousness (which is inseparable from love) therefore balance, peace and wholeness in all of us, starting with myself.
-AJuly 3, 2006 at 5:26 am #15260
You see…the difference is – there is no difference. You and I do not disagree. I prefer to keep the sentences short because I like to leave the doors open to other people to go where they will without having my voice or my opinion in their head. When you type – you expand on what I am intuiting but that I prefer not to spell out. For me, all the typing/talking makes little difference if there is no intent – which is not what I am saying to you or about you – but it is very easy to intellectualise what evil is and still never recognise it when it is in your face.
EmelgeeJuly 3, 2006 at 5:39 am #15262
Although sometimes I do think you are a little too determined in your view…
But sometimes determination is called for!July 4, 2006 at 4:45 am #15264
“I prefer to keep the sentences short because I like to leave the doors open to other people to go where they will without having my voice or my opinion in their head.”
Once you write anything, people have something of yours to focus on. Why not give them the expanded, complete version -fully share yourself- and let them decide what to do with it?
“When you type – you expand on what I am intuiting but that I prefer not to spell out.”
If you hadn’t told me this I would never have known it from what you write because it sounds to me like you DO disagree. This is what sometimes comes from prefering “not to spell it out.”
“For me, all the typing/talking makes little difference if there is no intent”
What is Your intent in being on this forum?
By the way, I don’t think of this as typing. I think of it as writing.
AlexanderJuly 4, 2006 at 6:51 am #15266
Typing/writing – just words. No difference.
A – I feel your judgements of the content of what other people write/type/say, myself included, is where your confusion comes from, that is why you need to *ask* what my intent is rather than letting yourself sense what the intent is. I don’t feel we disagree – our methods of expression differ but I would be surprised if our intent was all that different.
My intent doesn’t need a verbal expression to exist and any lack of respect given to me and/or my intent doesn’t originate from my lack of a desire to verbalise it.
Your way is to lay everything out on the table – that isn’t my way.
Just differences. No more.
PS – Wendy – thanks. You knew what I needed to hear even if I didn’t know to ask for it 🙂July 4, 2006 at 7:20 am #15268
Glad it reached you… :))
For those who wonder, it was beside the forum, a personal exchange from North to South…July 4, 2006 at 2:45 pm #15270
“Typing/writing – just words. No difference.”
When Truman Capote was asked what he thought of Jack Kerouac’s writing he said: “It isn’t writing. It’s typing.”
Your style of writing sometimes leaves things unclear. I’ve said that sometimes what you say you mean when you write does not sound like what your actual writing conveys. It is obvious to me there is some disagreement between us, as in this exchange. It would be fine to have those differences – if they were clearly shown and acknowledged. Your style of writing can leave room for interpretation (misunderstanding) where there doesn’t have to be and where it would be easier if there weren’t. It isn’t fair of you to expect me to intuit what you say beyond the words when the words sometimes mean something else to me or simply aren’t enough to say the whole thing. This is confusing.
And that’s why I take a lot of time to write as I do. Clarity is valuable. That is not to say that one can’t say something in relatively few words. That is the ideal. But it is often not possible or best. Sometimes it takes many words to be clear. Do you think Michael’s writing could convey as much as it does in content and ooomph if he didn’t take the time to put it all down in the best words he could come up with?
Writing (communication) is so important to me that if I were restricted on this forum by some secret structure only to write what I had to say in one quick draft, with no re-thinking and rewriting, I would never participate in it. It would be immensely frustrating for me to not be able to sculpt and develop my thoughts before presenting them, whether to one person, or to the world.
I feel not only misunderstood, but also invalidated for my pains to communicate properly.
“A – I feel your judgements of the content of what other people write/type/say, myself included, is where your confusion comes from,”
What confusion are you referring to?
When you are in a face-to-face conversation with someone, don’t you occassionally ask them to clarify what they are saying? Isn’t that part of communication? Isn’t clearly communicating valuable? Aren’t you having a communication with people for a reason? That is why I asked you why you like to participate here. I wanted to understand you better. You make it sound like my desire to do so is WRONG.
Experiencing the deep inner meaning of things, the intuitive and the feeling, is the most valuable thing, the most nourishing. And is not to be distracted from by left-brain thinking word play. But you can use word communication to bring you there, as Michael does, to a higher concept and feeling. If using words to do this doesn’t appeal to you, that’s not a bad thing to me. What gets my attention is the tease at communication, rather than its actual follow-through.
As far as my judging goes- I am sorry if that is invading the space here. If it comes from anywhere, it comes from my frustration and disappointment about how difficult is seems to be to join with others harmoniously. This is where some of my personal struggling lies.
“that is why you need to *ask* what my intent is rather than letting yourself sense what the intent is. I don’t feel we disagree – our methods of expression differ but I would be surprised if our intent was all that different.”
I care more about being understood than if we disagree. If I am misunderstanding your intent, it’s not for lack of trying.
“My intent doesn’t need a verbal expression to exist and any lack of respect given to me and/or my intent doesn’t originate from my lack of a desire to verbalise it.”
Are you suggesting that I don’t respect you or your intent from my question about what your intent is? If that’s so, you have misunderstood me. I asked you your intent because I shared mine in detail and would enjoy knowing what your’s is.
“Your way is to lay everything out on the table – that isn’t my way.”
Either things are clear or they are not. To say “something” but not to say it all, to address a situation or a topic in such a way as to begin to give meaning to it but not to be clear or complete about it, is to do what, Emelgee? It is to mislead, to obfuscate, to confuse and to withold. Am I supposed to trust a person like like that?
I can accept it if that is what it ends up being, but I don’t have to like it.
Yes, I like things ‘out on the table.’ Either you know what is real and true or you are left in the dark with a question you don’t need to have. In a world of so much subterfuge, denial and resultant suffering, isn’t a large portion of clarity going to be a big part of balancing that?
Yes, I know I am an intense person. My thoughts and feelings are intense. My experiences are intense. My responses and questions to you and others are intense. I am this way for a good reason. Have you seen the bumper sticker that says: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”?
I feel a lot. When I was a child it was overwhelming to the point that my emotions lliterally disempowered my ability to speak. It took me decades of living with feeling overwhelm to be able to learn how to communicate as well as I do now. Don’t let my seeming mentalness keep you from seeing what’s underneath.
“PS – Wendy – thanks. You knew what I needed to hear even if I didn’t know to ask for it”
Including this comment at the end of your response TO ME is very telling and very discomforting. It’s as if you couldn’t avoid taking a stab at me/men for not being able to give you what another woman could. We all want the rest of the world to give us what we want without asking for it, and we love it when it happens that way. Men and women, both. But due to the dense nature of where we are, the unresolved issues, it is not usually possible. Therefore, one needs to clearly communicate to get what one wants.
I could just as well have complained to you, “How come you didn’t wish me happy birthday yesterday?” without your knowing when it is.
AlexanderJuly 4, 2006 at 4:48 pm #15272
Alexander, I think you are taking her to a place where she doesn’t want to be. Try to respect that. She made clear in the past that she doesn’t want to go where you want to go, respect that. I know what you are aiming for but you use a little too much pressure to make her doing that. Not everybody is willing to show their deepest feelings. She likes to participate on her terms, don’t push it, give her space. Maybe you feel she is holding back, and probably she is for her reasons. Your pushing is resulting in pushing her away, push a bit less.
Btw she asked a general question about the forum, she was not talking about you. I replied and I mentioned you as I feel your replies are like little needles to her. I like her being here on the forum and like to keep it that way if she want to, so give her some space to breath Alexander. Yes we are here to help each other, so I tell you to slow down on her. It would nice to have at least 2 women talking here, I feel pretty lonely otherwise 🙂July 4, 2006 at 9:25 pm #15274
It’s alright with me for Emelgee to participate on her own terms. But when she makes statements about me that are inaccurate I want them straightened out. She and I do NOT agree on certain things. I am very sensitive to this kind of thing. She doesn’t have to converse with me if she doesn’t want to. I am asking questions and making the statements I want to make. I have the right to ask someone to answer a question, and they have the right to decline.
How challenging is it to have asked Emelgee what her intention is in writing on this forum? I am seriously interested in people. That is why I am here.
I am not trying to push her away. But instead of telling me to stop being how I am, why not tell her to stop being like she is?
And how did >I< get to be responsible for "taking her to a place where she doesn't want to be"? Isn't she driving her own car?
I never thought that her question to you was about me. It was the placement of her response to you within the context of her message to me that said all that needed to be said. Feelings were hurt. I can get over it. But I won't lie about it by pretending it didn't happen.
These are intense times and a lot of unresolved energies are coming to the top. Sometimes my way of interacting with them is very direct and seems, even to me, like a forest fire purging an area. I do the best I can with it. My intention is balance. I prefer our conversations to be sweet, but we are not always in that place, are we? And, you know, I think that by moving consistently through things like this, without quitting, we DO get to that place. The world of human feelings is not an easy dimension to negotiate.
I know your intentions are primarily good in telling me to slow down, but when I feel like this that is not helpful because it sounds controlling. What would have been better for me is if you had expressed understanding of my feelings first. It's all happened the way it's happened and now we move on.
OK, love to you both anyway,
BTW- Treesinger is also a woman.July 5, 2006 at 5:34 am #15276
I guess I just don’t have as strong a need to be understood as you do. And our conversation is probably a very good indication of the limits of discussion on this type of forum. That is not to say this forum doesn’t hold value – but it does have certain limits.
I enjoy reading posts and I enjoy contributing but I don’t need to get involved in so much of the verbal sparring. It doesn’t interest me.
Who cares what Truman Capote said? I have done a lot of reading, too and I could quote other people’s words but this holds no value for me.
If you want to keep looking for differences you will always find them. If searching for difference is your way or path or goal – that is fine, I have no problem with that. I don’t even disagree with it.
You may find the way I talk/type/speak/intuit/verbalise confusing – I don’t really mind. Again, I could quote all sorts of specific references people have made and point out to them how this quote doesn’t match with that quote – but to me that is just focusing on one little bit rather than seeing the whole picture.
It wouldn’t be difficult for me to blow you out of the water with my intellect (very modest of me and I am sure it won’t get past your bullsh*t radar!) – in fact, from my ego’s perspective, that would be the easiest thing for me to do right now but I choose not to and I choose to function away from that part of my brain and try another way.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.