I wrote this essay on evil and the devil some eight years or more ago. It was an attempt to clarify my understanding of these two mind potent ideas. My only intent was to seek the truth, where ever it led, to bring to me a satisfactory conclusion.
My hope is that you, the reader, will follow my findings and logic, and bring insight into these dogmatically cluttered ideas of evil and the devil. I am not affiliated with any religion, therefore I am clean of any religious prejudice.
The original essay was one continuous piece. I am splitting this presentation into two parts. These two ideas are covered by deep emotion, dogma, believe, superstition. and metaphysics; challenging to say the least. There is much to process and by splitting it in two parts will, I believe, ease the process.
In the fifth grade, my teacher, a Sister of Mercy, (let the irony fall where it may), would tell our class stories about the saints and how they were tempted and tormented by the devil. She would graphically describe scenes of the devil, horned biped, half goat, and half monkey, with cloven feet and a tail, tempting the particular saint during a series of unsolicited appearances. Before hearing these stories my concept of the devil was an interior voice of temptation coaxing me towards evil thoughts and actions. After hearing these stories, my concept of the devil had expanded to include a menacing, substantive being, capable of making appearances at will, to whom ever he may choose. This new expanded concept of the devil, together with my fertile imagination caused me many sleepless nights of fearful anticipation of an appearance by the devil right in my bedroom. What is more, I knew that if the saints and Jesus the Christ were vulnerable to such visitations, how could I resist? It seemed to me just a matter of time before my sin infested soul would be made to submit to the devil’s will, and than ultimately reap eternal damnation in hell’s fire. **Note I could not get the blogspot word processer to space some of my paraigraphs. I will put two ** before the first word of a new paragraph.
**Recounting the above experiences might seem humorous to some readers, but there was for me, no humorous feelings in those experiences, only long nights of terror. I can testify that a belief in an omnipotent entity, essentially evil is a concept that cripples the aspirations of the human soul towards advancement. It puts such an entity on attributal par with the God of Goodness. If it were true that the playing field for the capture of the human soul was set equitably, we humans could grin and bear it, “half eased in that a Powerfuller had willed and meted us our fate.” But not so. By any one’s calculation, there is more evil than good in the world, and in such regard the devil has a definite home court advantage- a debilitating condition for those humans aspiring towards good. Thus the best hope ever sown for good has a greater chance to be unfulfilled. Add to this unfulfillment of hope, the belief of suffering eternal damnation in hell’s fire for even an involuntary encounter with the devil, and you have a peripheral glimpse at the debilitating affect such a concept has on a soul’s spiritual progress.
**A disturbing fact is that a belief in the devil as a separate, personal, and omnipotent evil power is a fundamental doctrine of most Christian sects. Every Christian preacher, evangelist, and priest the world over proclaims the devil as the fountainhead for all the evil manifested on Earth, and in their next breath declare that they are the sword of the righteous hand of God that can smite down that evil being. No devil could be more spiteful in his hatred than the preachers, evangelists, and priests are in cursing the devil as the Father of Evil. In an ironic twist, their spite, rage, and vehement denouncement of the devil represents the very evil, on par or exceeding any alleged exhibition of spite and rage perpetrated by the devil. Directing their spite and rage at the originator of evil, doesn’t by some esoteric occult law, distill those evil emotions and desires into righteous indignation. Further, this display by the ecclesiastical agents of the Christian sects, of fighting evil with evil, seems to be in direct opposition to the fundamental compassionate essence and expressed doctrines of the God of Goodness and His Son, Jesus the Christ. The obvious disunity and confusion of the Christian doctrines concerning the devil exposes a philosophical rift and lack of metaphysical depth with regard to understanding the origination of evil. Where does the devil originate? Where does evil originate?
**Under the prescription of Christian doctrine all things, visible and invisible, were created by Infinite God. Logically then, evil must be included in “all things,” and therefore the obvious conclusion is God, the creator of all that is created evil. There is an old Latin adage that supports the above idea, “Demon est deus inversus.” It means, demon is god inverted. The adage defines evil as the lining of God. If God is the Universal Root of all things, where comes evil if not from the same root? How can this obvious conclusion be reconciled with the teachings concerning the Christian God of Goodness, and from Him therefore can proceed only good? The Christian exegete affirms the pure goodness of God by using James of the New Testament, (Gen. Ep. of James, i, 13) for the authority: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” If evil does not come from God, than from where? Evil cannot be a random creation, like something from nothing, because nothing can exist without the divine permission of God’s Will. The early Christian Fathers must have been confounded by such a deep paradox. Here they have Infinite God, the creator of all things, and here too included in the all things created is evil. It would be an untenable idea to them that their God of Goodness could have created evil. Their most difficult problem would be how to keep Infinite God separated from the creation of evil. Their solution was the installment of the devil. They found their solution and its authority in the complex, biblical allegory of the “Fall of Lucifer” and his hosts from heaven. Lucifer, the wisest and most beautiful of Lord God’s archangels, decides, as Milton suggests, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven…” Because of his pride, Lucifer is punished by Lord God and made to “fall” from heaven to the nether sphere, from which he established his evil kingdom and from which spews forth all terrestrial evil. Now under this newly evolved doctrine the Christian’s God of Goodness has an initiator of evil, an adversary, an opposite, the Prince of Darkness, and can from hereafter hold legitimate claim to His Infinity and absolute Goodness.
**The installment of the devil as the archenemy of God blended in perfectly with the Christian syncretistic development of an anthropomorphic, personal god, but did not successfully bridge the philosophical rift. It only deflected attention away from the philosophical, logical flaws towards the more flexible and amenable field of human experience. The more attention the devil received for his roundup and turning souls towards evil, the less attention and thought could be directed towards philosophical inquiry. For instance inquires like, if Lord God caused the devil’s “fall,” isn’t Omniscient God the efficient cause of the devil’s appearance on Earth, and mustn’t God then accept responsibility for the devil’s spread of evil? Further, if Infinite God is the supreme power, but sets the devil as His arch opponent, isn’t that action at least contrary to the idea of an infinite god, and at most an absurdity since Infinite God can have no opposite? The Christina Doctrines of the origination of the devil and evil becomes even more murky when the “Lord’s Prayer” is carefully analyzed. In the “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus teaches his apostles to beseech the Father to, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from all evil,” “Lead us not into temptation” is addressed to “Our Father, which art in Heaven”… It is implicitly clear that the petitioner of that prayer is invoking God the Father, who he (the petitioner) believes to be an initiator of temptations and troubles, ‘to lead him not into temptation but deliver him from all evil.’ This prayer also implies that Jesus the Christ, the creator of the prayer, sees evil not as originating from the devil, but from of the inverse of God.
**Through out the world, with every people except the Christian people, evil is treated as a force, not an entity. Evil is the opposite of good, expressing the essential dualistic nature of all life. In all of life there is spirit and matter. This dualistic nature of life creates a tension between the opposites, that ignites the fire of our self awareness. With self awareness we humans can discriminate, judge, and decide. Good and evil, explained from this point of view, are then conditions through which human beings must pass through in order to evolve. Evil is disharmony, a failure to consciously live in accordance with Universal Nature- the fundamental law of unity of all beings and entities embracing the Spirit that originates them. Good is harmony, a deliberate desire to live in full accord with Universal Nature. The only incident of evil originating from an individual being , is if it is restricted to human evil doing. Evil originates from a human’s will arguing with Universal Nature, and arrogantly acting against the natural order of things. In canto, XII, page 165 of the Dhammapada, (oral and written traditional sayings of Buddha), Gautama the Buddha explains that the expression of evil lie within the heart of human beings:
**…”By self alone is evil done, by self alone is one defiled; by self alone is evil not done; by self alone is one purified. Purity and impurity depend on oneself; no one can purify another.”
**End of first part; second part will appear on next post.