16. ~SOUNDINGS~: PART 3 – The Obstacles | 16th Essay – Evil
by Frank L. Jordan III
Evil Me; photo courtesy of MrTroodon
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What exactly is evil?
And what are the motivating factors
behind its occurrences?
Evil is found where a sane, adult person’s free
and deliberate thought, word, and/or action
unjustifiably harms a being or beings,
place or places, and/or thing or things.
There are a lot of qualifying words in this definition,
so let me explain.
In the vast majority of cases, the promoter of evil
is an individual person or a group of persons—
currently limited to a human person
or a group of human persons.
There have been very rare cases
of lower animals seemingly committing evil,
like when a lion was known to kill
for what appeared to be his pleasure alone.
But it can be difficult to determine whether such an animal
is mentally healthy or even sane,
and its lower animal nature could very well disqualify
its actions from being free—
freedom being a quality of high intelligence,
self-evaluation, and a deep understanding
of the consequences of one’s thoughts,
words, and deeds.
Also, it is important for the person
to be considered an adult in order for their actions
to be regarded as full-fledged evil.
For if they are not yet an adult, they are still developing
mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially—
as well as physically.
This development limits their freedom,
for they do not yet possess the interior free will
to always make the right choices.
They do not understand the wrong that they do,
making it less like evil, and more like ignorance.
In order for an adult person to commit evil,
they must be mentally sane,
for insanity is such a complete disruption
of normal thinking and judgment that, once again,
free will is obstructed,
and often diffused altogether.
The insane can be extremely dangerous,
but their misdeeds cannot be considered
freely calculated evil.
For a thought, word, or action to be evil,
there must be deliberate intent.
A thought can be misguided, an opinion misinformed,
an act an accident, but none of these are evil,
for none are deliberately and intentionally willed.
Also, for evil to be committed,
some form of harm must be inflicted
on some person, some place, or something.
If no harm has occurred, then evil is not present,
for it is the very essence of evil
to cause pain, inflict suffering—
to either disable or totally destroy.
The degree to which a sane, adult person’s thought,
word, and/or action harms someone, some place,
or something determines the degree of evil
that has been committed.
Many would say that minor harmful thoughts,
words, or actions should not be considered evil,
but simply wrongdoing.
But the vast majority of intentional harm done
should be recognized as some form of evil,
no matter how slight the hurt,
no matter how meager the affliction.
From a minor inconsideration to a horrendous crime,
evil is present, for intentional harm occurs.
It is simply a difference of degree.
And the remaining intentional harm inflicted,
the remaining pain, suffering, disability,
or destruction caused that is not evil,
is categorized so because it is justified.
Yes, for evil to be committed,
the harm inflicted must be unjust.
But to understand what is justified and what is not,
one must have an awareness of what true justice is.
And true justice begins with a spiritual valuing
of persons, lower life forms, places, and things.
Every person, lower life form, place, or thing
in this universe has intrinsic value,
and that intrinsic value derives from God,
from Pure Love.
That value is a quality implicit within this universe—
within any person, any lower being,
any place, or anything that is a part
of this unfolding manifestation of God,
this emerging collaboration of nature with God.
To be a part of God’s progressing manifestation
is to have a basic value within the universe—
and in God’s eyes.
All members of a given species have this basic value,
just as all places have a basic value, and all things.
The only prerequisite that any of these need
in order to qualify for this basic value
is their existence,
for it is their existence that makes them a part
of the manifestation of God.
And God loves them all.
How could he, how could she who is Pure Love
God loves all species, places, and things
with a piercing love that reflects the true value
of all species, all places, and all things that exist.
Only God knows just how immense that love is.
But those who have grown close to God
can become aware of that loving,
can become attuned to the true value
of everyone and everything.
This is the very essence of goodness—
the intrinsic value of everyone and everything
as derived from God,
along with the recognition and awareness
of that value and of God by beings capable
of such recognition and awareness,
joined with the love, respect,
and outward nurturing treatment
that such an awareness of God,
and of the true value of everyone
and everything, promotes.
And the true value of you, of anyone,
cannot be measured by human standards.
It is that great, that profound.
For instance, your value is not only greater
than the value of all the diamonds in the world,
it is greater than the value
of all the diamonds in the world
multiplied by a million!
Don’t doubt it.
God has collaborated with nature for billions of years
to bring about your existence.
You are not only a part of this Creation,
but through your living and breathing,
your comings and goings,
you are a participant in God’s universe,
whether you realize it or not.
How you participate during your life
does not affect your basic value as a participant.
Your existence as a human being
assures your value as a participant
within the human family—
and as long as you are breathing,
you are participating.
No ignorance you foster, or evil you commit,
can devalue you as a person in the eyes of God.
What it can do is put you out of God’s favor.
And to be out of God’s favor
is an altogether miserable experience.
For to be out of God’s favor—to reap God’s disapproval—
is not to be any less valuable a human being
than anybody else.
To think or say or do something that God disapproves of
is simply to hurt God,
and depending on what is done,
to sometimes hurt God very deeply.
And the reason God is so hurt by the evil that we do
is because we are harming
that which God loves and values.
Our loving God is connected to that
which he, which she loves and values,
and it is through this connection that God is hurt
whenever we do unjust harm to any person,
lower being, place, or thing.
When in the midst of these hurtful evil doings,
if we are honest with ourselves,
we will discover that God’s pain is really our pain—
that true remorse is God grieving in us,
with us, and even for us.
If we embrace our guilty feelings,
and let them do their work deep within us,
we will be drawn into a deeper awareness
of the true value of everyone and everything.
We will come to understand that the evil we sometimes do
does not devalue us as human beings,
but does pierce the very heart of God,
causing him, causing her to suffer—
Yes, to grow closer to an authentic understanding
of true justice is to become aware
of the intrinsic value of every person,
lower being, place, and thing.
It’s true that humans have more value than lower animals,
that lower animals have more value than plants,
that plants have more value than minerals
and the other elements,
and that minerals and the other elements
have more value than space.
But it’s also true that the value God places
on all of these, and the least of these,
is more complex and profound than we can fathom—
unless we have grown close enough to God
to see through his eyes,
to love through her heart.
Once we have a more authentic understanding
of this genuine value and true justice,
we are better equipped to determine what justifies
a harmful act, and what does not—
what is not evil, and what is.
It appears that a good summation for what justifies
a thought, word, or act that is harmful
is when that harm is inflicted during the protection
of a person, lower being, place, or thing
from the evil perpetrated on them
by another person or persons—
and sometimes even by that very same person—
as a way of protecting them from another,
others, or themselves.
But just what harm should be inflicted, and to what degree,
can be an incredibly delicate matter,
and it doesn’t help that it often has to be inflicted
in the heat of the moment, amidst struggle,
However, any degree of struggle or chaos
does not change a justifiable defense into an evil act,
for the intent is not to devalue
the aggressor or aggressors,
but to protect the value and existence
of the victim or victims.
But why does evil occur in the first place?
And what factors contribute to its occurrences?
Evil begins where the influence, power, and presence
of certain manifested phenomena
overcome the influence, power, and presence
of God, of Pure Love,
within a person or persons.
That influence, power, and presence
of various manifested phenomena
can occur outside of a person
as well as within a person.
Another way of saying it is—where the influence, power,
and presence of God is palpable,
is strongly felt, keenly experienced,
the tendency to do evil is greatly diminished,
and can often disappear altogether.
For the thing that influences a person
to commit evil is really a desire,
a desire to alleviate the pain
of a lack within that person—
a lack of love, which is hate,
a lack of tolerance, which is anger,
a lack of security, which is fear,
a lack of joy, which is emptiness,
a lack of communion or community,
which is loneliness.
Now, the pain of these inner lacks
can be induced by, or contributed to by,
the injustices of life that we sometimes suffer—
especially when a person is still developing
towards adulthood, or is otherwise vulnerable.
If a child is deprived of the basic means of sustaining life,
if he or she is wanting in food, shelter, clothing,
mobility, education, or love―
if a child is violently stripped of any of these things—
then their absence
can most certainly form obstacles
between that developing child and God.
But if the same injustices occur to one who has had
a secure and happy childhood,
who is well grounded in God’s love,
that person could very well escape the inner lacks
that plague those less fortunate,
and escape the road so many others take
to alleviate the pain of such lacks.
For a person often reacts out of the desire
to alleviate the pain caused by these lacks
by doing harm to another or to themselves—
by violently taking another’s property,
or another’s body,
by taking another’s life, or their own life.
But it doesn’t work because—
granting the aggressor survives—
the pain of a lack is only superficially glossed over,
and festers just under the surface,
to erupt with a deeper fury.
And if the aggressor doesn’t survive,
then the precious gift of life itself is lost,
and the very body that felt so much, even that pain,
will cease to feel anything.
No, the only thing that can truly cure
such inner deficiencies,
can actually correct the imbalance of power
that certain manifested phenomena
have over us and within us,
is the love and power and presence
of our awe-inspiring God.
For God can fulfill our deepest needs—
our needs for acceptance, inner joy,
serenity, understanding, and forgiveness.
And God wants to fulfill these needs, with all his heart.
But the interplay between God
and the unfolding universe is such
that the gentle, ineffable, spiritual activity
of Pure Love is in contention with this physical,
chemical, biological, psychological,
and social world—
particularly the more destructive
and negative aspects of this world.
For you see, God as the perfect, ageless,
all-knowing personal source of nature is Spirit.
Pure Love is by its very essence subtly manifested.
This is why we are not normally bowled over
by the activity and influence of God at all times.
It’s because the meeting points
between God’s subtle essence
and the bodies, hearts, and minds
of this realm are found in the quiet recesses
of that which is manifested.
But when God’s pure, perfect, and fathomless love
is discovered in such recesses,
when the obstacles and barriers have fallen away
and this love overpowers one’s heart and mind,
then we can be bowled over by the influence of God,
and the point of contact radiates
with a deep and unwavering joy—
a joy that can tirelessly motivate one
to perform profound acts of intense caring,
thus completing love’s activity and purpose.
This inner joy and strength is the direct result
of God’s fathomless love and essence
overcoming the obstacles inherent
within manifested reality,
and permeating one’s heart, mind, and body—
one’s whole self.
It is through this kind of experience—
this communion with God
and all that he, all that she longs to offer—
that one comes to discover one’s very spirit,
for one’s spirit was born of such communion,
and is strengthened by further permeation by God.
Our spirits are manifested reflections
of God’s unwavering, ever-living Spirit.
Your spirit is the sanctuary of your mind,
the altar of your heart,
where you receive the offerings of God.
And it is these offerings that alleviate the pain
of the lacks that we experience.
It is the joy and strength produced by God’s touch
that can quell the desires for lesser things—
things that are not rightfully ours,
things that would unjustifiably harm another
for us to obtain, to use and possess.
It is the joy of God’s touch that is like a healing ointment
on the open wound of evil’s doings and desires.
When someone commits evil,
it is attributed to that person’s faults.
But what contributes to a person’s faults?
Are they Frightened,
Before we rush to judge someone as essentially bad,
let’s get to the roots of their sufferings,
so that we may more fully understand
why they sometimes commit evil.
It is with such understanding
that we can approach them as they truly are,
instead of reproaching them
for what they sometimes do.
It is through such understanding
that we can nurture compassion
toward one who has done wrong,
maybe giving them a glimpse
of the kind of love God has for them,
when they might not have discovered it
on their own.
Evil hurts …
it hurts us,
it hurts the ones we love,
it hurts the one who commits it,
it hurts God, who suffers with us all.
But evil will not last forever,
for as we grow closer to one another,
as we all grow closer to God,
evil grows weaker and less destructive
over the course of time.
And as for Satan,
I have to say that I’ve heard much about him,
but am not aware of having met him,
so I must rely on the testimony of others.
Many have said,
and there are those who continue to say,
that he exists.
The greater danger could lie in doubting them.
But for now, let’s move on to the life-altering reality
of the exalted way,
and its profound effect on humanity.
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