Sunday 7-20-14 A look at evil

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”  ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Happy Sunday!
Earlier this week the news here in New Jersey was reporting on two different acts of violence.  One involved a young girl killed on the back of a motor bike by a shooter and the second was a police officer killed in a convenience store.  I avoid reading and watching the news so the information I got about the stories was from brief radio reporting or tickers on TV channels.  I sent my prayers out to all those involved.
These are such sad stories for all sides that are involved.  Why are people choosing to act in such ‘evil’ ways?
Children do not come into this world with the purpose of being evil and killing; this must be due to the suffering that they encounter during this life.
As I wrote last week, we all have desires ingrained into our soul. Many are choosing evil actions for a bit of fame. If your main desire is greatness then why not get notoriety by evil acts of killing? Our society makes this a much easier route by presenting violence as normal in all of our media.  For many to gain success by good means is much more difficult when survival is a daily struggle.  When it is a struggle to be fed, housed, educated, as well as being written off as a failure, it makes obtaining this desire seem impossible.
For my morning spiritual practice I am reading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translated by Sri Swami Satchidanada.  Before I go to bed I am reading “Kabbalah for Dummies” by Aurthur Kurzweil.  Like all of the scriptures I have read so far I find that the message of these two ancient teaching give the same ideas about the soul although, this week I did read two different perspectives on evil and violence.
Yoga Sutra II:35 states “In the presence of one firmly established in nonviolence, all hostilities cease.”  There are eight limbs of Yoga (union), the first is Yama (abstinence) of which non-violence (ahimsa) is one of the five parts of yama.  Satchidananda says that non-violence does not mean non-killing, it means not causing pain.  Ahimsa is a state of being that affects the world around.  Buddha is the example of this; both animals and people were impacted by his presence in that they found peace with one another.  The text says that ahimsa was the practice of Mahatma Gandhi who we know had a profound effect on the world by bringing a new solution to the problem of national independence.
The Kabbalah text says that no human emotion is bad or good; there are good times to be angry and bad times to love.  This is in line with all spirituality teachings of duality, the world of form containing both dark and light and that is OK.  A difference stated in this text about Kabbalah is that it teaches to “hate evil” and to act against it.
My first reaction to this is to think that it justifies using violence to overcome evil.  This is a slippery slope as who is defining what is evil?  A culture that is neighbor to your own that has different customs, it this evil?  Humans seemed to think so for millennia and still do on many places of this planet.
Is a young person who goes into a school and shoots children evil?  It is an evil act but should it define him? I don’t think so; I believe he is suffering from a psyche that is the product of our dysfunctional culture – the canary in the coal mine.  He is the sign of the dysfunction not the cause of it.
People are not evil as souls are not evil. People may act in an evil way for a period of time, even if that time is an entire lifetime.  We all have the same creator and are guided by the same intention of the Universe to evolve.  I am going to live hopeful in the knowing that a human psyche can be broken open and the soul’s intention may emerge at anytime, maybe I’ll be witness to it in this lifetime, maybe not.
So how do I resolve these two teachings of Kabbalah and Yoga that on the surface seem to be contrary?  I will consider what evil actually is and then reach for solutions that are greater than those that are our cultural norms.
I searched back in my blog to March 24, 2013 when I had been asking questions about violence only to find that I had posted a comment with a link to Deepak Chopra’s site answering the question “why does God allow evil?”  Below are Deepak’s thoughts on what cultures consider as evil and then considers solutions to these ideas:

-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.

As I read through Deepak’s solutions I thought that a few of these are choices of the individual and not something that I or society can change.  I can offer aid to relieve suffering, I can express love in the world which can help those hurting and help to remove the divide but how can I impact another to choose not to sin?
The thought that came is to not treat people as criminals to begin with.  Young men of certain races and/or economic conditions are expected to be criminals before they have even grown up.  Young people who have been thrown away by society before they’ve even had a chance to become aware of themselves are labelled and made to fight labels just to express their innocence. Perhaps it is just easier to give into the label?
Children come into this world loving and ready to give yet we fail them in so many ways.  There are those who are born into poverty who can not get past the struggles of survival to even consider education and bettering themselves.  There are those who are don’t fit the academic educational model and are cast aside.  Society provides no education in respect and morality to teach us to respect each other as equals.  Competition is promoted.  Love, respect, compassion, and sharing are foreign concepts.
So perhaps both Yoga and Kabbalah are correct.  We can choose a non-violent path but we can also fight evil.  Fighting does not have to take the position of violence it can be action in the direction of loving and respecting one another.
Einstein said, “no problem can be solved on the same level of consciousness that created it.”
I had an email earlier this week from the political organization Avaaz that I follow and support.  They were writing about Israel sending bombs into Palestine once again.  Avaaz has had many good results with organizing petitions of citizen around the world stating their opposition to many political actions.  This time Avaaz was not asking us to sign a petition to the Israeli government, instead they were going to send petitions to major corporations that sell goods to Israel the thought being that if major corporations could see the moral issue with the actions of the government and withhold their goods this might cause Israel economic pain. This would bypass the usual international politics that seems to make no difference … old bedfellows as they say.  Here was a new idea to solve an old problem.
Today Lord (as every day) I pray for peace. Amen
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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