Tag Archives: Evil

There Is No Absolute Evil–Here’s Why

bench

By Deepak Chopra, MD

At the turn of the new year it feels as if evil is more present and dangerous than ever. One component of worldwide fear is terrorism, and in the minds of religious fanatics who turn to terror tactics, there’s a black-and-white conception of evil. This mental picture of God battling Satan, or something on the same absolute scale, tempts us to fight again terrorism from the same basis. But is there absolute evil in the first place?

There are many reasons to say no. “Pure evil” is a tag applied in the media for horrifying acts, but this is far from proving that the people who perpetrate these acts have become possessed by cosmic evil. As several research projects akin to the Stanford Prison Experiment have shown, ordinary people can step into immoral territory very quickly if given the right situation. Abu Ghraib was another shocking example. There is a lethal mixture when you have an enemy under your power along with permission to do what you want with him, absent any repercussions or punishment.

Extreme acts of violence do not constitute absolute, pure, or satanic evil. Outside a religious worldview, there are rational explanations for evil acts, and our response should be based on which of the following explanation we adopt. Continue reading

Can the Problem of Evil Be Solved Or Only Contained?

jail

By Deepak Chopra, MD

ISIS and its atrocious acts have thrown the issue of evil into high relief. Once more we are forced to confront a horrifying aspect of human nature and to ask ourselves what can be done about it.  This post isn’t about U.S. policy against ISIS–that’s the business of the President, his advisers, the military, and Congress. But evil itself deserves better, clearer thinking than what it generally gets. If better thinking leads to better policy, all the more reason to find it.

Recorded history contains no time when human evil didn’t exist, although only very recently has it been called a problem. Traditionally, evil was looked upon as something much worse than a problem–the fruit of sin, the work of cosmic satanic forces, a divine punishment, or an animalistic instinct. It has taken thousands of years to get past such thinking, and when atrocities arouse public fear and hatred, the old explanations return. But on the other hand, it has become possible to think of evil in terms of psychology and its insights, which is a mark of progress.

Turning to psychology has made evil our responsibility; it can’t be shuffled off to a supernatural agent, either God or the Devil. Also, by taking responsibility, we can stop blaming “the other” as if a whole class, gender, race, ethnicity, or religion is uniquely evil. There’s enough war, crime, and general violence for everyone to accept the blame, and if we take psychology seriously, blame is clearly not a solution. In times of war, the normal boundaries that keep evil in check are lost, and even the “good” side of the conflict is forced into the fray under extraordinary circumstances. But that’s not my topic here. I’m not forgiving or condoning ISIS; forgiveness has rarely been a practical means of dealing with evil when it shows up on your doorstep.

Continue reading

Deepak Chopra: Why Does God Allow Evil?

slide_292101_2341733_freeEvery senseless, horrific act of violence brings up the question of good versus evil, and when you read that children have died by violence – a common thread linking the Newtown shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing – there’s even more reason to shudder and doubt. In fearful times maintaining the most minimal idea of “God is good” becomes harder. If it is blasphemy for believers to think God isn’t good, it betrays humanity to let God get away with turning his back while innocents die in random acts of terror.

I don’t want to parse theology. Every faith argues for a just and merciful God, which means finding a reason why evil persists under the gaze of a loving deity. If the reasons satisfy you, you stay with your faith. If they don’t satisfy you, you may stay with your faith anyway. There are real benefits to being part of a religious community, and no one is forced to confront cosmic questions that have baffled centuries of debate.

In the aftermath of mass violence, after the horror and shock recede, all of us cobble together a truce with good and evil. But why not confront the issue head on? Our emotional revulsion against evil is powerful; it’s one of the main reasons that moral people are moral: They want to identify with good. They want to oppose evil. So where does evil come from? If we break this question down, it’s not so monolithic.

Evil has many explanations that sound plausible, each taking a different tack. Here’s a sampling.

  • In ancient India, evil is whatever leads to suffering.
  • In the Old Testament, evil is sin born of disobedience to God.
  • In the New Testament, evil is complicated, since in some gospels Jesus speaks like a rabbi promoting the Old Testament model of Satan versus God, while in other gospels evil is the absence of love. The redemption of the world, where all sin is forgiven, would abolish evil through an act of divine love.
  • In the medical model that’s usually dispersed by mass media after a violent tragedy, evil is mental illness. Bad people are sick.
  • In the minds of countless everyday citizens, evil is what “they” do, and “they” is simply defined as “not us.”

Instead of trying to settle which definition is true – a totally impossible task – I’d point out that each explanation is paired with a solution.  You can counter evil with good from any angle.

  • If evil is due to sin, the solution is not to sin.
  • If evil is whatever causes suffering, go out and relieve suffering.
  • If evil is the refusal to accept God’s love, find a way to experience that love.
  • If evil is a mental disorder, help those who are afflicted.
  • If evil is us-versus-them, remove the walls that divide us from them.

I can’t think of any explanation for evil that doesn’t imply a solution, a way for good to prevail. This, for me, is the best answer to the issue of good versus evil. It isn’t necessary to excuse God, run into the arms of militant atheism, or seek revenge as if revenge is the answer that goodness gives to evil. It isn’t. Revenge may be a lesser evil or a necessary one – every nation that wars against its enemies adopts its own justifications – but it can’t be called an absolute good like love and compassion.

In other words, I’m a pragmatist about evil, because at heart I believe in the ancient Indian definition of evil as anything that creates suffering. I don’t have to go cosmic; I only have to be useful in relieving suffering wherever I can. Where does God fit into this scheme?  He can no longer coast on his reputation. If God is good, he needs to be good here and now. Also, God can’t be a blind eye who ignores suffering, because that merely excuses our own blind eye.  Evil is a human problem, not a cosmic one. If God reaches down to help us be good, he’s part of the solution.

I realize that millions of people doubt that God does reach down. The Holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia, 9/11 – pick any mind-numbing episode of evil-doing and you clear the stage for rage and doubt directed against God. Wasn’t it his responsibility to save us, to protect us as a loving Father should? Sadly, that metaphor has worn out. Evil has become our sole responsibility, a pollution of the heart akin to pollutants in the atmosphere. Only after we take up the burden to foster good, even when our lower instincts howl for revenge and hatred, do we have the right to enlist God.  The divine is a hidden power, a silent voice, an invisible ally. For some people, that will never be good enough.  Our best hope are the witnesses who testify that at the most unexpected moment, what was silent and invisible suddenly manifested itself, and then God began to be clothed in reality.

www.deepakchopra.com

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Photo credit: John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe / Getty Images

Ol’ Boogeyman Still Comin’ To Getcha?

BoogeymanIn my line of work there is often an unhealthy obsession with the concept of evil. It appears we are simply not able to rid ourselves of this ‘thing’ we seem to have for the boogeyman (here in my country known as the tokoloshe).

Just the other day I was listening to a radio psychic scaring the living daylights out of his unsuspecting caller. She just wanted some career advice, but instead he was hell-bent on convincing her that her home was infested with evil entities. His charming co-host also jumped in to offer some old-wives’ cures for getting rid of all the demonic forces. Truth be told, the only disturbance I was picking up on was the fact that the poor, freaked out woman would not be getting much sleep for weeks!

Now, don’t get me wrong. The struggle between good and evil is very, very real. It is a fundamental component of the human condition. It is also the basis of all Creation. It stems from the duality found in every important aspect of our expanding Universe: dark versus light, life versus death, night versus day. Light needs the presence of darkness to be truly visible and meaningful.

 

A belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness –  Joseph Conrad

 

The co-existence of good and evil is also the basis for an inner conflict that each of us have to resolve in this lifetime. It is part of the reason why we are here. Both good and evil therefore do serve a purpose in the greater scheme of things. No doubt about that. But blaming the spiritual realm for the darkness of men is my idea of heresy and blasphemy.

Our morbid fascination with all things dark is as old as the hills, but it is still very much de rigueur. Just the fact that psychics and mediums are today still being accused of doing the devil’s work is sufficient proof in itself. In many religious circles ‘fire and brimstone’ remains the height of fashion. Not to mention the latest 2012 doomsday prophecies, conspiracy theories and apocalyptic visions of evil forces, undercover aliens and secret societies; all hype eagerly spread by fear-mongers, spin doctors and social entrepreneurs.

But those are the most obvious kinds of evil mania. What truly amazes me about our obsession with all things evil is that it is not something you only find in traditional churches or conservative circles. No, some truly gifted, spiritually aware and highly intuitive people, with whom I share many beliefs and blessings, are also fanatic about finding evil spirits, curses and dark entities under their beds, inside their closets …and deep-down in the purses and wallets of their clients.

 

The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance – Socrates

 

Yesterday a wonderful client called me, devastated and in tears. She had been persuaded by a well-meaning friend to “try out” another psychic she knows of… just for fun. The self-proclaimed ’spiritual advisor’ had a field day predicting doom and gloom for her current relationship and warned her that another woman was doing magick to steal her man away. She also offered to do spell work for her to fix the problem, to the tune of $400! Meanwhile my client’s love life is perfectly on track and they are in fact a very happy couple. How dare someone mess with the lives of others out of sheer greed? It truly disgusts me. May God have mercy on her soul.

It is deeply disappointing that many who share in the collective consciousness appear to be obsessing about evil entities and dark forces all of the time. In fact, they are so busy doing this that they hardly have any time or energy left to be co-creators in our spiritual evolution. They seem to miss the point that evil is about regression, destruction and reversing into the past. Evil is the antithesis of creation and expansion, and they seem to forget that what they focus on, sadly, does become their reality.

The good versus evil ‘battle’ has been waged one way or another since the dawn of civilization. It is an ancient archetype that is one of the most recognizable themes in literature and the arts. Let’s face it; ‘good guys versus bad guys’ is the stuff that bestsellers and box office hits are made of.

 

Eternal good is eternal becoming or eternally moving forward to greater life. Eternal evil is to cease becoming and “to be” that which was in the past – JJ Dewey

 

I guess it therefore comes as no surprise that some spiritual seekers are forever obsessing about the evil they fear may be creeping up on them. One only has to tune in to a few podcasts, or watch the latest online videos, to witness the spiritual community’s fixation on everything evil. Indeed, fundamentalism is not only found among the religious and the dogmatic. Some of the ‘spiritually enlightened’ and ‘intuitively evolved’ seem to insist on clinging to medieval concepts and out-dated superstitions.

Instead of being fully devoted to unconditional love, kindness, generosity, selflessness and the greater good, much energy, time and money is being spent every day fighting evil entities and keeping the ‘darkness’ and its ‘extremely powerful forces’ at bay. Potions, spells and candles are actually the very products that keep scam psychics and fake mediums in business. All this while the true battle of Armageddon is being fought right here under our noses, in the streets in front of our houses.

There is no dominating source of evil, because if there was, we would not exist, nature would not exist and neither would the Universe. It is counter-productive to assign so much influence and power to something that is in fact just vast emptiness, non-entity and anti-matter.

 

To rid ourselves of our shadows – who we are – we must step into either total light or total darkness. Goodness and evil – Jeremy P. Johnson

 

I have often said, and will say it again, if you want to know true evil just switch on the evening news. If you are curious to see the real face of Satan, you will find him lurking on the cover of celebrity magazines, in newspapers and on political campaign posters. The battle between good and evil is not being fought in the spiritual realm. Spirit knows no anger, envy, fear, violence or hatred. The real war is happening in mundane places, like the television set in your parlor or at your child’s school.

If you want to find demons, shadow people or anti-Christs, look for them in our educational institutions, communities, churches and governments. If you truly want to find evil incarnate, seek it among the school bullies in our midst, those who drive their peers to suicide or post vile online jokes about their deaths.

Stop hunting ghosts, witches, psychic vampires and energy thieves, and rather expose the narcissists among us who dominate, dictate and destroy so many relationships, families, careers and lives – devoid of empathy and compassion. Search also the boardrooms, public offices and parliaments. There you will find among our leaders and kings many ego-maniacs who abuse their power, corrupt their economy and violate the basic human rights of their people, while they wage senseless wars on their critics and each other.

 

It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways – Buddha

 

Evil, darkness, threat and fear are not spiritual forces… they are the evil creations of man. JJ Dewey writes that “all forces, powers, and energies are neither good nor evil in themselves. They are completely neutral, but only become good or evil when they are intelligently directed.” He also states that “all energies and creations vibrating in their pure state are good.” And that is the whole point. Focusing so much of our thoughts, feelings and intentions on evil, instead of that which is good, is counter-productive and contrary to our Divine Purpose. We are here to serve each other and grow, expand and become, not to cast an exaggerated, ominous shadow over all that is potentially good in the world.

The spiritual realm is much like the natural world. It is in essence breathtakingly perfect, completely harmonious and utterly flawless. I have yet to meet an evil animal or discover a satanic plant. The only evil I have ever witnessed among plants and animals are the scars left on them by the inhumane, dark deeds of men. It is certainly not the devil who is trashing the environment, abusing the animal kingdom or trampling the hearts of loving women and breaking the spirits of brave men.

The Divine Light that you and I come from, and will return to one day, knows no evil and does not recognize the power of these shadows that some so willingly fear and follow. Believing in the supremacy of evil entities and dark beings implies that we all come from a spiritual place of imperfection. It suggests that the Divine Source is somehow diseased, that Creation is riddled with flaws and falsehoods that dwell among us. And, worst of all, that we are so far superior in our human state that we alone are capable of fixing this broken, dysfunctional or chaotic spiritual mess.

 

The reason our definition of good and evil changes over the ages is because our capacity to understand and experience freedom changes – JJ Dewey

 

I realize that for some it must be fun to indulge in this paranormal soap opera, but most of us simply don’t have the time, or the inclination. We know we have much work to do, gifts to offer, blessings to share. We are the Wounded Healers, the Empaths, the Shamans, the Indigo Children, the Starseeds, and the Lightworkers. We speak to the Angels, listen to our Spirit Guides and trust in the guidance of our Ancestors, Ascended Masters and Loved Ones. We fight true evil by saving the planet and healing humanity, by drying one tear at a time.

We have no need for spells, talismans or obsessive-compulsive psychic defenses, for we are surrounded by the everlasting and indestructible shields of Love, Peace and Harmony. The phenomenal power of our Spiritual Heritage surges through our being every moment of every day. We are illuminated by the Divine; there is much Light around us.

The spiritual evolution of mankind is our ultimate aim, our Divine duty. As we continue to expand the Universe, this dazzling, bright Light we carry will continue to emanate from us with much Glory. And we know that there shall come a time when there will be no more evil among men. And we shall know that all is Good.

© 2010 Anthon St Maarten

Ol’ Boogeyman Still Comin’ To Getcha?

In my line of work there is often an unhealthy obsession with the concept of evil. It appears we are simply not able to rid ourselves of this ‘thing’ we seem to have for the boogeyman (here in my country known as the tokoloshe).

Just the other day I was listening to a radio psychic scaring the living daylights out of his unsuspecting caller. She just wanted some career advice, but instead he was hell-bent on convincing her that her home was infested with evil entities. His charming co-host also jumped in to offer some old-wives’ cures for getting rid of all the demonic forces. Truth be told, the only disturbance I was picking up on was the fact that the poor, freaked out woman would not be getting much sleep for weeks!

Now, don’t get me wrong. The struggle between good and evil is very, very real. It is a fundamental component of the human condition. It is also the basis of all Creation. It stems from the duality found in every important aspect of our expanding Universe: dark versus light, life versus death, night versus day. Light needs the presence of darkness to be truly visible and meaningful.

 

A belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness –  Joseph Conrad

 

The co-existence of good and evil is also the basis for an inner conflict that each of us have to resolve in this lifetime. It is part of the reason why we are here. Both good and evil therefore do serve a purpose in the greater scheme of things. No doubt about that. But blaming the spiritual realm for the darkness of men is my idea of heresy and blasphemy.

Our morbid fascination with all things dark is as old as the hills, but it is still very much de rigueur. Just the fact that psychics and mediums are today still being accused of doing the devil’s work is sufficient proof in itself. In many religious circles ‘fire and brimstone’ remains the height of fashion. Not to mention the latest 2012 doomsday prophecies, conspiracy theories and apocalyptic visions of evil forces, undercover aliens and secret societies; all hype eagerly spread by fear-mongers, spin doctors and social entrepreneurs.

But those are the most obvious kinds of evil mania. What truly amazes me about our obsession with all things evil is that it is not something you only find in traditional churches or conservative circles. No, some truly gifted, spiritually aware and highly intuitive people, with whom I share many beliefs and blessings, are also fanatic about finding evil spirits, curses and dark entities under their beds, inside their closets …and deep-down in the purses and wallets of their clients.

 

The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance – Socrates

 

Yesterday a wonderful client called me, devastated and in tears. She had been persuaded by a well-meaning friend to “try out” another psychic she knows of… just for fun. The self-proclaimed ’spiritual advisor’ had a field day predicting doom and gloom for her current relationship and warned her that another woman was doing magick to steal her man away. She also offered to do spell work for her to fix the problem, to the tune of $400! Meanwhile my client’s love life is perfectly on track and they are in fact a very happy couple. How dare someone mess with the lives of others out of sheer greed? It truly disgusts me. May God have mercy on her soul.

It is deeply disappointing that many who share in the collective consciousness appear to be obsessing about evil entities and dark forces all of the time. In fact, they are so busy doing this that they hardly have any time or energy left to be co-creators in our spiritual evolution. They seem to miss the point that evil is about regression, destruction and reversing into the past. Evil is the antithesis of creation and expansion, and they seem to forget that what they focus on, sadly, does become their reality.

The good versus evil ‘battle’ has been waged one way or another since the dawn of civilization. It is an ancient archetype that is one of the most recognizable themes in literature and the arts. Let’s face it; ‘good guys versus bad guys’ is the stuff that bestsellers and box office hits are made of.

 

Eternal good is eternal becoming or eternally moving forward to greater life. Eternal evil is to cease becoming and “to be” that which was in the past – JJ Dewey

 

I guess it therefore comes as no surprise that some spiritual seekers are forever obsessing about the evil they fear may be creeping up on them. One only has to tune in to a few podcasts, or watch the latest online videos, to witness the spiritual community’s fixation on everything evil. Indeed, fundamentalism is not only found among the religious and the dogmatic. Some of the ‘spiritually enlightened’ and ‘intuitively evolved’ seem to insist on clinging to medieval concepts and out-dated superstitions.

Instead of being fully devoted to unconditional love, kindness, generosity, selflessness and the greater good, much energy, time and money is being spent every day fighting evil entities and keeping the ‘darkness’ and its ‘extremely powerful forces’ at bay. Potions, spells and candles are actually the very products that keep scam psychics and fake mediums in business. All this while the true battle of Armageddon is being fought right here under our noses, in the streets in front of our houses.

There is no dominating source of evil, because if there was, we would not exist, nature would not exist and neither would the Universe. It is counter-productive to assign so much influence and power to something that is in fact just vast emptiness, non-entity and anti-matter.

 

To rid ourselves of our shadows – who we are – we must step into either total light or total darkness. Goodness and evil – Jeremy P. Johnson

 

I have often said, and will say it again, if you want to know true evil just switch on the evening news. If you are curious to see the real face of Satan, you will find him lurking on the cover of celebrity magazines, in newspapers and on political campaign posters. The battle between good and evil is not being fought in the spiritual realm. Spirit knows no anger, envy, fear, violence or hatred. The real war is happening in mundane places, like the television set in your parlor or at your child’s school.

If you want to find demons, shadow people or anti-Christs, look for them in our educational institutions, communities, churches and governments. If you truly want to find evil incarnate, seek it among the school bullies in our midst, those who drive their peers to suicide or post vile online jokes about their deaths.

Stop hunting ghosts, witches, psychic vampires and energy thieves, and rather expose the narcissists among us who dominate, dictate and destroy so many relationships, families, careers and lives – devoid of empathy and compassion. Search also the boardrooms, public offices and parliaments. There you will find among our leaders and kings many ego-maniacs who abuse their power, corrupt their economy and violate the basic human rights of their people, while they wage senseless wars on their critics and each other.

 

It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways – Buddha

 

Evil, darkness, threat and fear are not spiritual forces… they are the evil creations of man. JJ Dewey writes that “all forces, powers, and energies are neither good nor evil in themselves. They are completely neutral, but only become good or evil when they are intelligently directed.” He also states that “all energies and creations vibrating in their pure state are good.” And that is the whole point. Focusing so much of our thoughts, feelings and intentions on evil, instead of that which is good, is counter-productive and contrary to our Divine Purpose. We are here to serve each other and grow, expand and become, not to cast an exaggerated, ominous shadow over all that is potentially good in the world.

The spiritual realm is much like the natural world. It is in essence breathtakingly perfect, completely harmonious and utterly flawless. I have yet to meet an evil animal or discover a satanic plant. The only evil I have ever witnessed among plants and animals are the scars left on them by the inhumane, dark deeds of men. It is certainly not the devil who is trashing the environment, abusing the animal kingdom or trampling the hearts of loving women and breaking the spirits of brave men.

The Divine Light that you and I come from, and will return to one day, knows no evil and does not recognize the power of these shadows that some so willingly fear and follow. Believing in the supremacy of evil entities and dark beings implies that we all come from a spiritual place of imperfection. It suggests that the Divine Source is somehow diseased, that Creation is riddled with flaws and falsehoods that dwell among us. And, worst of all, that we are so far superior in our human state that we alone are capable of fixing this broken, dysfunctional or chaotic spiritual mess.

 

The reason our definition of good and evil changes over the ages is because our capacity to understand and experience freedom changes – JJ Dewey

 

I realize that for some it must be fun to indulge in this paranormal soap opera, but most of us simply don’t have the time, or the inclination. We know we have much work to do, gifts to offer, blessings to share. We are the Wounded Healers, the Empaths, the Shamans, the Indigo Children, the Starseeds, and the Lightworkers. We speak to the Angels, listen to our Spirit Guides and trust in the guidance of our Ancestors, Ascended Masters and Loved Ones. We fight true evil by saving the planet and healing humanity, by drying one tear at a time.

We have no need for spells, talismans or obsessive-compulsive psychic defenses, for we are surrounded by the everlasting and indestructible shields of Love, Peace and Harmony. The phenomenal power of our Spiritual Heritage surges through our being every moment of every day. We are illuminated by the Divine; there is much Light around us.

The spiritual evolution of mankind is our ultimate aim, our Divine duty. As we continue to expand the Universe, this dazzling, bright Light we carry will continue to emanate from us with much Glory. And we know that there shall come a time when there will be no more evil among men. And we shall know that all is Good.

© 2010 Anthon St Maarten

Do We Need Evil?

 Question:

How do we know what a good apple tastes like if we haven’t had a bad apple to compare it to.  Do we need bad experiences to give birth to new desires?  I recognize we are going back to our source but do we have to suffer to be reborn again?  If we are constantly expanding consciousness do we ever contract?  If we fulfill all our desires do we just want to suffer again.  Seems pointless.

Answer:

I see evil not as an intrinsic property of the universe, but rather as a by-product of ignorance – lack of self-knowledge.  Evil actions are born of  a deep misunderstanding of what one is and what one is not.  You can look at ignorance and knowledge as opposites, but I don’t think of knowledge as  needing ignorance as a required contrasting experience. We may find ourselves in a state of ignorance and the suffering that comes with it, but that doesn’t mean suffering is necessary.  Buddha states the existence of suffering as a given, but then gives the means for overcoming suffering through awakening. 

Coming into  full self-realization, or enlightenment,  puts a permanent end to ignorance and suffering.  Having attained that knowledge, there is no losing it or going back into ignorance.

Love,

Deepak

 For more information go to deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter  

 

 

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Jeff Bauche._.·´¯)

 

 

Spiritual Solutions #4: Purify Your Shadow, Your Environment

 By Deepak Chopra and Annie Bond 

Purify Your Shadow Energy

Everyone has a shadow because of the natural contrast between darkness and the light. Negativity assumes its overwhelming power from the fact that it feeds off all these qualities at once:  A secret, dark, primitive, irrational, dangerous, mythical evil is much less convincing if you break it down into one quality at a time. No matter how evil your impulse is, it can be broken down into steps to resolve it. Darkness is dealt with by bringing it into the light. The shadow is subtly involved in everyday life. It is never so hidden that you cannot bring it to light.–Adapted from The Book of Secrets , by Deepak Chopra 

Purify Your Environment

2010-08-26-yin.yang.jpg

There are deep, overarching markers that can clarify the whole picture of pollution in our environments. The central markers are the eternal elements earth, fire, water, and air. It is these elements that we, as an industrial society, have tried to transform into synthetic materials, and the result has been disastrous. 

Work with the elements rather than against them. Step by step. When the elements are true, it is most likely that the environment is in harmony and balance. For example, the pure elements in natural fiber clothing make us feel better and more comfortable. In contrast, the elements in synthetic clothing don’t function in a healthy way.

-Adapted from , Home Enlightenment by Annie Bond

 

Blog #3 – Can torture be justified under certain circumstances?

Sam Harris, the author of the book "The end of faith" bring up a quite difficult and very important question. -Can torture under special circumstances be ethicly justified? I believe the answer to that is no and I’ll try and explain why shortly. Please note that I do not hold this position because its the easy way out, I will try and make sound arguments for it.

Before I begin I want to make it very clear that Mr Harris is not a supporter of torture, he believes it should be illegal by law, but that this law under very special circumstances should be allowed to be dodged. Let me quote him:

"Some readers have mistakenly concluded that I take a cavalier attitude toward the practice of torture. I do not. Nevertheless, there are extreme circumstances in which I believe that practices like “water-boarding” may not only be ethically justifiable, but ethically necessary.  This is not the same as saying that they should be legal (e.g. crimes like trespassing or theft may sometimes be ethically necessary, while remaining illegal)."

He continues:

"many readers have found my views deeply unsettling.  (For what it’s worth, I do too. It would be much easier to simply be “against torture” across the board and end the discussion)"

These quotes has been taken from his web page and I recommend reading everything he has to say about his position on torture as he makes many valid points: http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2/

I think that the reason why Sam, myself and hopefully all human beings find acceptance of torture intuitively disturbing is because it is counter-intuitive in respect to our survival instincts. I believe that ethics and the notion that "treating others the way you want them to treat you" is a meaningfull aproach which has been given to us by evolution in order for us to function as a social specie. As we know from science, a species chance of surviving increase dramaticly if its individuals are able to work together as a team and from this I believe we evolved feelings, like for instance love and compassion, as a means for communication. Others believe that ethics and morals are given to us by a certain God, but how we got morals and why we experiene them is not cruicial to the point I am going to make here. The important thing is that torture feels intuitively and generally wrong to most of us regardless of why we think so.

While I believe that torture might under some rare circumstances lead to the savings of innocent lives I do at the same time believe that any acceptance of torture would be to work against the big picture and actually result in far more deaths and evil acts in the long run. Evolution seems to be working towards an ideal, if it ever get there is a different question, but never the less it is constantly improving its products by making them better and better at surviving. Evolution seems to have given us the notion that torture is wrong and I do not see why we should not trust our instincts on this. (Theism would usually explain this quite similarily, evolution and instincts would just be switched with a moral compass.)

For if we let ourselves fall to the temptation of practicing torture I believe we are working against our ethical evolution. Without evolving our ethics further it will be impossible to fullfill the full potential of communication. Afterall, communication and the understanding of our neighbour is the fundament for all social interaction. I believe that all evil that has ever been committed are the results of inadequate understanding and in some rare cases the results of birth defects. Now, it is important to distinguish between evil and evil acts. I do not believe in evil people, I do only believe in evil acts. If a person is born evil then that is a result of a genetic defect which we then have to deal with through the art of medicine. Either way I think it will be impossible to distinguish birth defects from true personal ethics if we do not first understand communication the best we can, and this can in my opinion only be done by following our ethical instincts as there seem to be no definite truths on this matter.

This makes me believe that torture should never under any circumstances be allowed, not even if a nuclear bomb threatened to destroy the whole of humanity. We are a race of inventors, inventing new and better ways of doing things is part of what makes us human. If we are not able to come up with acceptable alternatives to torture then I believe we have failed as a human race and may just as well become instinct like the vast number of species before us. My position against torture might sound too idealistic and that might be so, I’ll rather be labeled as an idealist than lose my faith in the fundamental good that I believe fuels our humanity further, ever reaching for the true ideal.

So, what do you think? Please let me know your thoughts on my thoughts and your thoughts on the matter in general.

Cheers!

-Leo

Recognizing Evil

Question :

Do you believe in the "law of Recognizing evil" as stated in Andrew Harvey’s new book called The Hope? I wrote to Andrew Harvey about that chapter and thought he was referring more to discernment. He responded to my email and stated that he did not believe that evil was a no thing, which he obviously believes it is something. He spoke of the alchemy of good and evil which does not involve duality, which to my understanding is a subtle but powerful illusion that keeps one away from understanding the purity of consciousness itself, First Cause is a pure eternal reality, beyond cause and effect …I noticed you had endorsed that book, which is why I purchased it and I wanted to ask you your thoughts on that chapter? To refer to "recognizing evil" as a law is something I am not understanding. How would you explain this, as I have a group of individuals in a book study right now who Don’t understand this idea of recognizing evil as a law. Other then this particular chapter his book is filled with thoughtful inspirations and perhaps some good active ideas.

Answer:

Andrew Harvey’s book aims to empower us with a spiritual life and force that is unshakably rooted in bliss, unity and ultimate reality. This awareness is born of an integration and acknowledgment of all the disparate forces and tendencies within and outside of us. These destructive and shadow aspects of our nature and in Nature, must be recognized for what they are if they are to be healed and reconnected to the wholeness. As long as we deny the sinner in us and insist on only seeing ourselves as the saint, so long we remain powerless to transform ourselves and the world as well. This acknowledgement of the destructive power is not about giving in to fear and duality; just the opposite. It is the honest healing and reclaiming of the parts of our soul that denial of has keep us in fear and separation.

Love, Deepak

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The Balance of Being Human

There are precious few of us humans — and most likely none — who are all good or all bad. Mostly we bumble around doing good things sometimes and naughty things other times, feeling just about as human as we are. 

According to researchers at Northwestern University, there’s a good reason for that. Political theorist Hannah Arendt said that "most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil." And this, the researchers say, is exactly their point.

Their study discovered that we all have what could be called an internal goodness set-point, a level of moral functioning at which uprightness and turpitude balance each other out. We don’t make up our minds to be good or evil, we just act on our deep impulses, doing good things to compensate for too many bad ones or bad ones to make up for too much good.

Professors Sonya Sachdeva, Rumen Iliev and Douglas Medin co-authored the study, “Sinning Saints and Saintly Sinners: The Paradox of Moral Self-Regulation,” published by the journal Psychological Science

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd of Tonic. For more latest news on good news, visit Tonic.com.
Study subjects were told they were doing a handwriting test. They were asked to write a story using either positive or negative words after thinking about the meaning of each word. They were also asked if they wanted to donate to charity. In one experiment, those who wrote using the negative words — such as "selfish," "dishonest" and "cruel" — donated five times as much as those who had been writing about positive words like "kind," "caring" and "generous."

Could NGOs take a page from this book in service to their causes? Perhaps messages using words like selfish, dishonest and cruel will jumpstart activism and generosity. Seems unlikely, but then again, we’re only human.

 

By Katherine Gustafson of Tonic. For more latest news on good news, visit Tonic.com.

 
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