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The Nature of Good and Evil

In the wake of events like the Boston Marathon bombings and the Newtown elementary school shootings, many of us are left with unanswered questions about the nature of the Divine and the existence of evil. 

If God is all good then why does God allow evil to exist? Why does God allow bad things to happen? What is the nature of evil? Is there a devil or other diabolic creature who stands in opposition to God? 

To answer these questions it might be helpful to ask some more questions:

Would there be evil on Earth without humans? Can animals be evil? Some animals may be capable of killing for “sport” (that is, not for food) but is that true evil? What is evil? Does evil require some level of intent, or consciousness of what one is doing beyond what animals are capable of? Would we call a person with down syndrome evil if he or she who commits a crime? Is it possible to be mentally stable and commit a horrible crime like the Boston bombing? And, if not, is it possible that all evil arises from mental sickness of some kind? Perhaps a mental disconnection and sense of separation from the world and other living things?

Would someone who felt a divine connection to all living beings on Earth ever intentionally harm anyone? If you lived in a state where you perceived that every living and nonliving form is part of you, and that you are actually the Whole Universe acting as you in the divine play of existence, would you be capable of intentionally harming anything?

Gandhi said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” This quote is often paraphrased as “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

It is easy to point and blame when bad things happen; to demonize the perpetrators of heinous acts and call them evil. But when we label people as evil, we are feeding the same sense of separateness that created the perceived “evil” in the first place; the sense of separateness that most of humanity is suffering from. This, of course, does not mean that when people do awful things they should not be severely punished. We live in a society that works on the agreement that you will be punished if you act out on your ill thoughts to harm another being, and this is a valid and helpful function of society. However, there is difference between punishing someone for wrongdoing and mentally condemning their actions as evil rather than seeing that “evil” is part of the larger problem facing all of humanity. 

If you also feel this sense of separateness, and suffer from ill thoughts toward your fellow humans, then it is hard to place blame outside yourself for the evils you see manifested. Start by changing yourself inside and outer transformation will follow. Set your intention to feel and experience the sense of Oneness that inner peace comes from, and you will be part of the change. Just by living your life you will help others reach for the light, and “evil” will cease to exist.

So back to the questions about evil: If God is all good then why does God allow evil to exist? Why does God allow bad things to happen? What is the nature of evil? Is there a devil or other diabolic creature who stands in opposition to God?

All of these questions arise from the old framework of thinking of God as a being separate from ourselves. In our new framework, we see ourselves and each other as unique expressions of God, deeply interconnected to each other and all of existence. We see that evil comes from humans, and it comes when we perceive ourselves as separate beings fighting and struggling against one another for material gain.

I have hope that we can create a tidal wave of change by changing ourselves. Deepak Chopra has a theory that says that if a critical mass of people, as few as 1% of the population, start to live on the level of Oneness, we will evoke exponential global change. It is like when you play a note on one instrument, and nearby instruments start to also resonate that note without anyone physically playing them. Luckily, it is easier to change the consciousness of humanity in this way then it would be to try to convince all of the unconscious “evil-doers” that they need to change and live their lives “our way” rather than  theirs. Have you ever changed someone’s mind who wholeheartedly disagreed with you on a subject by arguing with them?

Instead let’s “be the change we wish to see” and let’s start Now.

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