“It’s my Own Damn Fault”
Jimmy Buffet, that modern day philosopher extraordinaire. Ever listened to the lyrics of Margaritaville (cheers!)? He is having problems with a woman in his life. First chorus says “it’s not my fault.” Second chorus says “it might be my fault” and the final chorus says “it’s my own damn fault.” Behold the evolution of consciousness with a little Tequila thrown in.
So, how are we going to get from Margaritaville to a discussion of evil? Hang on, they are closer than you may think.
The idea of evil emerged for the first time around 400 B.C. and had to do with purity rituals. Some cultures don’t even have a context for evil – if one person harms another, they are thought to be out of harmony and are seen as sick or ill. Measures are taken to restore them to balance, punishment isn’t a consideration.
Evil is often contrasted with good. Evil could be defined as an intentional negative moral act or thought that is cruel or unjust or selfish. Good is usually thought to be kind, just or unselfish. Some people believe that people are evil. Some believe that only acts are evil. People who believe in the duality theory of existence believe that good cannot exist without evil and that evil cannot exist without good. To some our perception of evil is the result of the conflict inside between what we hoped life would bring and what actually showed up.
Evil is discussed in all the biggies: Philosophy, Religion, Psychology, Astrology, Politics – even Science. Sounds like your worst cocktail party experience – right?
So who gets to judge what is evil and what is good? And what criteria are they to use? Here – right here – is where the problem of good and evil begins. Each person judges what they believe is good or evil, societies and cultures also judge – most societies have and have always had elaborate systems of morals and laws to be used as a basis for judgment. Are they always right? Do they change their standards over time? There was a time I would have been burned at the stake for writing this paper – all sanctioned by the religious and political leaders at the time. Am I evil now? Would I have been evil then?
Once we label someone as evil or bad we then have a desire to punish or inflict pain or avoid or ostracize. You have violated my moral code or sense of right and wrong – I will retaliate, protect my self, home, family, country. It is now easier for me to turn off my feelings toward you as I set out to harm you. Born of judgment and fear, violence now erupts. I have harmed you. The cycle is complete – you now judge me as evil. . . .violence, war, terrorism, murder – all obvious results of this cycle of judgment and fear. What about self judgment – who gets to choose the criteria by which I judge myself? Am I truly free to make my own rules, or am I conditioned by my family and society?
Plato argued that evil is ignorance and good is that which everyone desires. He believed there were relatively few ways to do good and countless ways to do evil. The good he argued is the right relation between all that exists, harmony of a just political community, love, friendship, the ordered human soul and the right relation to the divine and to nature. As a philosophical concept goodness might represent the hope that natural love be continuous, expansive, all inclusive. Sounds really, well, good; but where did evil go? How difficult is it for us to admit our own personal capacity for evil?
Ken Wilbur, a modern day philosopher, teaches the concept of unity consciousness – no boundary awareness. The secret is there are no boundaries in the universe. Boundaries are illusions. You and I and are one. We can’t separate good and evil or any two opposites. We can see them, acknowledge them and yet they are one. He quotes Jesus: “When you make the two one, and when you make the inner the outer and the outer the inner, and the above as the below, and when you make the male and the female into a single one, then you shall enter the kingdom.” However, in the same bible from which this is quoted, many of the authors didn’t see it this way.
Evil is seen as an active force, often personified as an entity such as satan or ahriman. Original sin – the fall of man – the idea that humanity is within itself evil and in need of forgiveness comes from the Christian tradition. Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek writings teach demons may possess humans or animals and tempt them to do evil.
So, we can see the question of good and evil – the eternal duality of spirit versus matter – has plagued the searcher of light for untold millennia and has been termed by Christian theologians as the fight between god and the devil. This magnifies duality as it takes the human condition and elevates it to the divine realms – even god has to fight the devil. Not all religious teachings agree with this view.
The Latter-day Saint theology teaches evil is that which keeps us from discovering god. Christian Science believes that evil arises from a misunderstanding of the goodness of nature. This has lead to the rejection of any separate power being the source of evil or of god being the source of evil. Instead the appearance of evil is the result of a mistaken concept of good. Christian Scientists argue that even the most evil person does not pursue evil for its own sake, but from the mistaken viewpoint that he or she will achieve some kind of good thereby.
Taoism, the ancient Chinese philosophy, advocates quiet, and conformity to the way, the natural order of things. They believe the tao is a force that flows through every living or sentient object, as well as through the entire universe. Neither good nor evil exist, except in the minds of people – all just is.
Pema Chodron, a Buddhist teacher, says: “What will happen to us today is completely unknown. . . . Whatever happens, our commitment is to use it to awaken our heart. The hard part is not to be swayed by external circumstances. . . . Practice not causing harm to anyone — yourself or others. . . .” In Buddhism evil is an aspect of suffering. Suffering is caused by ignorance. Once you are aware and awake, you realize you are capable of evil only when you are in ignorance. Suffering, pain and evil are ended through the pursuit of self knowledge.
Abraham as channeled by Esther Hicks explains it this way: “The devil is a fictional character made up (and perpetrated) by insecure humans who want to control other insecure humans. There’s a lot of power in fear, isn’t there? There shouldn’t be, because really what fear is, is power-less. If you understood source, as we do, you would never fashion such fiction because there is only well being that flows from that which is source.”
Edgar Cayce, the modern prophet, taught: “The thing is to start with yourself. Unless you can bring about within yourself that which you would have in the nation or in any particular land, don’t offer it to others.” He taught there was no force separate from god.
People tend to believe evil is something external to them, because they project their evilness onto other people – they don’t own it. Here – right here – is the second big problem with evil. From a psychological point of view to be evil is to refuse to acknowledge the weaknesses in one’s own personality. Scott Peck characterizes evil as a malignant type of self-righteousness which results in a projection of evil onto selected specific innocent victims.
For clarification “projection” is a psychological term which simply means that I (my conscious mind) see in you traits, good or bad, that I choose not to see in myself. I may judge you as being wonderful for having these traits or as being evil, or anything in between. The goal is to see and own all my parts, good and evil. In that way I don’t mistakenly give them to you or a fabricated entity.
Carl Jung said “. . . demons are nothing other than intruders from the unconscious, spontaneous irruptions of the unconscious complexes into the continuity of the conscious process. Complexes are comparable to demons which fitfully harass our thoughts and actions; hence in antiquity and the Middle Ages acute neurotic disturbances were conceived as possession.” Prior to the 17th century it was commonly believed that an emotional disorder or insanity was literally the work of demons, who would inhabit the body. Freud suggested that native peoples projected their hostility onto imaginary demons.
So, have we found the birth place of all those scary stories – all the evil personified? Is it my own damn fault?
How about the devil – the king of evil and ruler of hell – the underworld – is he in me too? Carl Jung said that evil is the dark side of god. He also said lucifer as the light bringer, is unconsciousness and can help us grow in consciousness. The bible says satan is the son of god. Does god have a dark side? The men who wrote the books in the bible did, as we all do. Really read those stories in the bible sometime. God bounces back and forth between being good and being a vengeful, powerful three year old having a tantrum, who sparks fear in the hearts of men. He is portrayed as having human as well as divine, wise qualities.
Now, I personally believe in an energy that creates and animates this whole bizarre and magical experience we call living. This energy has been called god, source, creator, universe, light – lots of words – all inadequate to communicate what our conscious minds have no context for – or, at least not yet.
In an email from Henry Reed: “Our choices, and the emotions around them, remain in the akashic field forever. All such choices to do bad, especially when we know it is bad, but we do it anyway, these choices attract one another in the akashic field, so that, there is a large body of experiences/emotions/choices floating about, such that, if a person gets real angry and decides to do bad, there are transpersonal forces that vibrate to that choice that will come to bear to magnify the intensity of the person’s anger. That person can become a channel for anger that is transpersonal, not all from self, and thus express a larger “evil” than simply their own personal anger. Do I believe in the Devil? No.”
Back to the bible. The god and demons of the bible are the authors’ projections of their own good and evil into their stories – their own unconscious material – the parts of themselves they don’t want to see – finding their voices in dreams and visions and ultimately in the legends and stories in the holy texts. The demon or devil I see or dream about “out there” is simply that aspect of myself I don’t want to see “in here.” Read the Book of Job and/or Carl Jung’s Answer To Job and contemplate this view of good and evil. It’s a trip.
So, what do the politicians have to say about good and evil? Let’s start with Machiavelli. . . .”there will be traits considered good that, if followed, will lead to ruin, while other traits, considered vices, which if practiced achieve security and well being for the Prince.” Political leaders justify their actions by laying claim to a higher moral duty specific to political leaders under which the greatest evil is seen to be the failure of the state to protect itself and its citizens. Does the end justify the means? Some people argue that the function of war is to reveal to mankind his enormous capacity for evil in such a way that we all must acknowledge our dark side and come to grips with our own inner nature. What if we all simply acknowledged our own dark side and brought it into the light, recognizing we have a choice?
Enter astrology. We are currently living in the legacy of Pisces with the promise of Aquarius on the horizon. In between and both.
In the Piscean age we were dominated by a number of orthodox theologies based on dualism. Even the sexes have been treated as unequal over the past 2000 years. The feminine has been suppressed. We have lived with a guilt ridden concept of sin, based on the idea that we are separate from god. Pain has been the vehicle of enlightenment. The Piscean age is the age of the victim archetype (pattern of behavior). It has been somehow right and noble to be a victim – of god, of country, of your boss, your spouse or partner and on and on. It’s not my fault.
The Aquarian age will be an age of mass communication when the knowledge and secrets of the few will be distributed to the many. We are just now beginning to understand in greater numbers that we are empowered to direct the course of our own spiritual life. What is true for me? What is true for you? Our truths may not sound the same and it’s OK. It is dawning on us that we are one with each other and with the creative force, and within that oneness, it is imperative that we fully express our own unique gifts. The wave and the ocean.
Astrology may well be the science of the future, as it was in the past. Kriyananda teaches: “In the study of astrology you rapidly come to realize that it is not the (so-called) evil forces of life that bring difficulty. Rather, it is your own imperfect expression of the planetary forces that gives difficulty. . . . there arises a deeper understanding that there are no evil forces, only ignorance, which can only be eradicated with knowledge. The astrological maxim that the stars incline. . . allows you to realize that mankind does have freewill and that life is what you make it.” Sure sounds like “it’s my own damn fault,” don’t you think?
Even science is weighing in on this issue. It has been shown over and over that beliefs and thoughts affect the outcomes of experiments and our own physiology. Bruce Lipton in The Biology of Belief details many of these scientific and medical studies. He concludes: “It is not our genes but our beliefs that control our lives. . . .” So, what is controlling your life if you believe in an externalized evil? What thoughts are you generating? What are you repelling and what are you attracting? More important to the health of all beings and the planet what are you sending “out there?” Thought energy is similar to picture and voice signals in the air – we can’t see the signals. They go up to a satellite and come back to a receiver that is attuned to them. What are you sending up to be reflected back to someone attuned to those thoughts? If those thoughts are evil, are you contributing to evil in the world? If those thoughts are good, are you contributing to good in the world? Do you have responsibility for your thoughts? Who does? Does it matter if the thoughts are conscious or unconscious?
To the extent you want to manifest good in the world, you will. To the extent you want to manifest evil in the world, you will. You may deny both urges. Your denial does not mitigate or lessen your impact. And, most of us in our unaware state do both. Evil will be exposed and dissolved when we acknowledge who we truly are and see clearly how we are acting and why. Many wisdom teachings tell us it is our light, our goodness, we fear far more than our dark. With the light comes knowledge and with knowledge comes responsibility – and, joy! We and our world shift. We move from being children who take no responsibility for our thoughts and actions to adolescence and finally to mature adults who see the duality within. We are free and at choice.
We grow and mature, and our consciousness evolves through the act of choice making. Choice making takes courage. Responsibility for self and knowledge of self takes courage. Not knowing the self and not taking responsibility for choices is the only evil. Or, at least, that’s my truth.
So, did the devil make you do it, or is it your own damn fault?
Campbell, Joseph, Myths to Live By Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1972
Chodron, Pema, The Places that Scare You, Shambhala, Boston, MA, 2001
Jung, C. G., Answer To Job, Bollingen Foundation, New York, NY, 1973
Kriyananda, Goswami, The Wisdom and Way of Astrology, The Temple of Kriya Yoga, Chicago, IL, 2002
Lipton, Bruce H., Biology of Belief, Hay House, Inc., 2008
Pascal, Eugene, Jung To Live By, Warner Books, New York, NY, 1992
Reed, Henry, Edgar Cayce on Mysteries of the Mind, Gramercy Books, New York, NY, 1989
Wilbur, Ken, No Boundary, Shambhala, Boston, MA, 1985
Zwieg, Connie and Abrams, Jeremiah, Meeting the Shadow, Putnam Books, New York, NY, 1991