Exploring the Problem of Evil
Part 4/4 of the Auroville & Natural Law series
Obvious lies turned into truth, malpractice purported as state-of-the-art technique, all-encompassing injustice, or the normalization of collective insanity during the past couple of years, they leave many of us speechless. What the hell is it, that plagues us in these times? Isn’t it a bottomless …. evil? Our naive forefathers would have used that word without the slightest hesitation but us 21st-century internet-wisened know-it-all techno cracks, we have a problem with it. Why is that? Is it because it reminds us so much of religious superstition? Of dark fairytale forests logged out of existence long ago? It might be a mistake to deny the existence of Evil, I’ll argue, because although religious scriptures from around the world have a lot to say about the nature of evil the matter is not at all a religious one. It doesn’t require you to believe in any creed specifically, to align yourself with what is true and real about Good and Evil.
Today, on August 15th, 2022, India, and especially Auroville, is celebrating the 150th birthday of Sri Aurobindo. India’s cherished freedom fighter, philosopher and yogi, born by the name of Aurobindo Ghose, and his spiritual companion Mirra Alfassa back in the 1920s founded an ashram in the south Indian city of Pondicherry. Aurobindo developed his “Integral Yoga” philosophy there, a school of thought that teaches the integration of body, mind and spirit aspects of the human existence. He and Alfassa, which he called “the Mother”, were concerned that the convergence of systemic crises, which became pretty obvious after World War I, would lead to a catastrophic collapse of civilization in the mid-term. Aurobindo and Alfassa were neither the first nor the only ones to say so but in their time they were among the few who attributed this existential crisis of our culture to a problem with the mindset, a lack of consciousness, they said.
The ashram and from 1968 on Auroville as well were set up to prepare the human body and mind for taking in the Supramental, as they named it, the highest form of consciousness. The inhabitants of both the ashram and the city were to live a life in the practice of the Integral Yoga, to bring about this transformational goal and to give an example to people all over the world. Alfassa, the Mother, provided guidelines for the architectural setup of Auroville under the usual provisio that the specifics were to be worked out in the light of the most progressed knowledge. From December 2nd, 2021 on, staff appointed to leading positions in the Auroville Foundation by the central government in Delhi used those guidelines to dis-empower the residents, the very key element which ought to work out the conscious transformation. The alleged goal is the quickening-up of building “the City the Earth needs”. Were that true the Foundation bureaucrats would sacrifice the indispensable natural-law preconditions of the Integral Yoga, to build its architectural vessel with brute force.
From observing the Takeover crew’s behaviour it is safe to say that their purported reasons are just pretense. On every single occasion when the Foundation and their supporters took steps they played a foul game while shrouding their actions in pseudo-legal, pseudo-lawful, pseudo-moralistic and pseudo-Aurobindian pretexts. Had laws, morals or the scriptures anything to do with sincere, albeit a bit misguided intentions there would have been no need for ploys, lies, violations of rights and physical violence against those who disagree. Journalist Ashish Kothari, early-on, could rightfully state in one of his pieces,
“Bulldozers knocking down trees and threatening built-up structures at 1 am: such action can only come from a source that has no legitimacy to work during the day.”
What a stunningly clear insight. If only all of us had had it, the Foundation Office would have created much less confusion by means of misinformation and pseudo-lawful violent surprise strikes.
People ought to stay unabashed by those events. In order for us to prevail it takes focus on knowledge of objective Morality and unwavering dedication to the highest form of Truth one has access to. This is why my four-part series on Auroville & Natural Law explained at length 1) the basics of Natural Law, and briefly described how Auroville’s residents’ failure to live by that Law causes social suffering, and 2) some basics of Auroville’s founding principles. The failure of many residents to study and live by those principles deserves an in-depth discussion within the community. There is no question that, should we succeed in reverting the takeover, the very future of our township depends on our collective awakening. This won’t be for consumption by a public, though, which cannot stomach first principles even.
“But what this community, Auroville, is going through has implications that go well beyond the destruction of a few trees and structures, and well beyond even India. There are serious ramifications linked to global trends in cultural and economic authoritarianism.” – Ashish Kothari: Bulldozing a dream? Auroville’s importance as an experiment in alternative living, January 9th, 2022. meer.com
Worse than that. We will see that ramifications reach far beyond global authoritarianism even. “It’s Truth or the Abyss,” the Mother warned all of mankind fifty years ago. What she meant by ‘Truth’ has been described in the second article of this series. In short, it is one of the many terms for That-Which-Is, Ultimate Reality, Universal Consciousness, the Creative Force, the Divine Will, or, if you don’t shy away from a loaded term, God. In the above quote ‘Truth’ is shorthand for recognizing, surrendering to, and serving THAT – or else getting consumed by its antithesis. Similar to the widening disparity in wealth a disparity between the conscious and the unconscious, between the servitors of Truth and the servitors of the Abyss(another word for Hell) divides humanity. In the long run most of the middle ground will get consumed by either one side or the other. Staying ‘neutral’ equals complicity with Evil. Choosing to stay ignorant of the forces at play equals fostering Evil. Following rules without ethical discernment equals fighting for Evil. Sounds epic? Wait, there is more.
When you ask people who have quit the System – meaning, they fell out of the shared reality of mainstream society – how their dropping-out happened they tell you the story about one distinct moment in their life when it dawned on them that they have lived a lie. Usually the catalyst for that first step in ‘awakening’, as some describe it, was the dissonance between the very tools by which the false reality was created, the media, and the undeniable truth which they themselves experienced. The eye-opening moment felt like a revelation, shocking, overwhelming, stunning, frightening… and liberating. Suddenly so many question marks disappear; suddenly you realize that consensus reality is just one grand illusion; suddenly the world starts to make sense. It is obvious now, the emperor has no clothes on. You cannot make it unseen. This is what crises can do for you: You go through tremendous pain and suffering that may feel like dying, and you come out, newborn, on the other end of it, grateful for the experience you got to live through. You hear such people speak thanks to 9/11, you hear them praise the Corona plandemic, and you hear Aurovilians acknowledging that the Takeover is a huge wake-up call, a chance for transforming our minds and habits and for transcending our condition.
Did you know another word for ‘revelation’ is ‘apocalypse’? Yes, indeed. apocalyptic times are historical moments which reveal the truth about something existential. An old worldview – along with the world it created – collapses, a new world becomes possible. Which way humankind will go depends on the choices we make collectively; whether it’s Truth or the Abyss. The pathways that lead to one or the other outcome may look quite similar; in fact, the line between the two is as thin and as sharp as a razor blade, almost invisible. This is no coincidence. For it lies in the interest of the Antagonist to stage himself as the Real McCoy: to install tyranny under the guise of freedom, to establish fascism while pretending to be anti-fascist, to realize Asuraville waving the banner of Auroville, or to open the gates of Hell for all the misguided believers who anticipate Heaven. The latter may perhaps serve as a metaphor for the choice between a world of suffering and a world of complete consciousness. Sri Aurobindo remarks,
“At every moment of the spiritual life until one has got fully into the higher light, one has to be on one’s guard and be able to distinguish spiritual truth from pseudo-spiritual imitations of it or substitutes for it set up by the mind and the vital desire. The power to distinguish between truths of the Divine and the lies of the Asura is a cardinal necessity for yoga.” – Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Volume I, Section 4; all following quotes from Section 6.
The word Asura mentioned throughout this article series is used in the sense of an antagonistic or evil principle which works against the movement towards ultimate Truth. In religious traditions of Indic origin it stands for a class of beings envisioned as chaos-creating demons, evil spirits and adversaries of the gods. According to the Indian sage Sri Aurobindo who has worked intensely on the problem of Evil, “These Asuras … resemble the devils of the Christian tradition and oppose the divine intention and the evolutionary purpose in the human being.”
When Asuric forces take over a human body or get born in human form, “the Asura has no soul, no psychic being which has to evolve to a higher state; he has only an ego and usually a very powerful ego; he has a mind, sometimes even a highly intellectualised mind; but the basis of his thinking and feeling is vital and not mental, at the service of his desire and not of truth.” An Asura’s desire is insatiable and therefore he or she effectively seeks “to rule the world”. For that purpose he or she appears in “forms often false and always incarnating falsehood, sometimes pseudo-divine.”
“Yes, some kinds of Asuras are very religious, very fanatical about their religion, very strict about rules of ethical conduct. Others of course are just the opposite. There are others who use spiritual ideas without believing in them to give them a perverted twist and delude the sadhak [spiritual seeker].”
The problem of Evil haunts our species since forever, so every culture sought to find its origins, explain its workings, and accomplish its abolishment. Myths, fairy tales, paintings, sculptures, novels, poems and plays allegorize it, psychological, sociological and historical literatures rationalize it, modern cinema and crime fiction normalize it. But none of all these, today, does much to help discern and eliminate it. Quite frankly, modern science and culture add to the confusion and so become part of the conglomerate of dark forces our individual and collective lives have converged into over the Millennia.
Although human conscience can discover immoral actions quite easily, Evil has become a matter of extensive myth-making in the hands of theologians of organized religions. By their self-proclaimed two-fold authority, both as law-making rulers, and as experts on all things divine and anti-divine, they were able to turn a simple matter into a complex subject which ordinary people couldn’t and shouldn’t understand. The secularizing effect of the Enlightenment only added to widespread ignorance because it allowed for a plethora of definitions, concepts, even philosophies, of Evil to arise, including the view that it doesn’t exist – which, most remarkably, both materialist scientists and spiritualist New-Age gurus agree upon.
Evil takes many human forms, for instance the cowardly order-follower, the mindless bureaucrat, the selfish opportunist, the ignorant denier, the bloodthirsty murderer, or the type we are exploring in this article, the malicious deceiver.
Alongside the above-mentioned Asura, the Anti-Christ figure described in the New Testament constitutes another powerful allegory for the Deceiver. Christ stands for the path of true Morality and Self-realization, the Anti-Christ represents its immoral counterpart. After having denounced the scribes and Pharisees who have usurped the word of God, Jesus predicts the end of their corrupt rule. When the disciples want to know how one could recognize the impending end, he answers,
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet… Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 24, KJB)
So the Anti-Christ is someone who takes the place of Christ while opposing Christ’s teachings. He is an antagonistic deceiver whose entrapments those on a truly Christian Path will recognize and avoid even as this implies sacrifice, while those who have preferences other than Truth will fall for the deception. In the name of a false morality they will hate, denounce, persecute or even kill the sincere disciples of the Path. But soon enough the Antagonist reveals his actual nature, and those who maintain ties with him forsake the Kingdom of Heaven.
Once again, we are not talking religion here. I am not a religious believer. Let’s take the New Testament, the Dhammapada, the Bhagavad Gita or Sri Aurobindo’s writings as culturally-coloured deep-spiritual descriptions of identical fundamental insights. We are also, at the same time, looking at archetypal workings of the psyche. Ancient religious scriptures reveal age-old knowledge on the human condition which modern science only begins to verify. To reject this knowledge indiscriminately from an atheist, anti-religious, materialist point of view marks the denier, himself, as a victim of the Deceiver.
Evil’s disappearance from public awareness
The Anti-Christ is a biblical figure representing the forces of Evil in their most sneaky manifestation, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing harvesting the lambs. As such he was an avatar of Satan, the Lord of Hell, you could say. People were familiar with the Anti-Christ concept until the late 18th century when the Enlightenment philosophy and the revolutionary movements began to secularize European societies. Until then numerous political and religious figures such as the Roman Emperor, the Pope, the antipopes, or the Protestant reformists have been accused of being the Wicked One. The inflationary use of the term made a laughing stock of him. Both clerics and laymen progressively dropped their guards against Evil incarnate, and eventually the Anti-Christ became a mythological figure, of no significance to anything tangible at all.
This was, in a sense, a big step forward in understanding the nature of Evil, because it eliminated its externalisation. But throwing out the baby with the bath water did not serve humanity well. No longer “a thing”, evil forces, firmly anchored in the human unconsious, continued to undermine the fabric of Creation with increasing efficacy, and modern secular culture with its ultra-greedy hardcore-materialist never-enough worldview drove humanity at top speed to the edge of a cliff. The Anti-Christ in today’s terms would no longer act as one powerful individual – though Evil in the form of malign egophrenia or sociopathy sure has a tight grip on those in “authority”, and through them, on their order-followers. It manifests in collectives. While Evil, through dispersion, all but disappeared from public awareness and discourse in Christianity-based societies, other cultures maintained a clearer understanding of what was going on here. They looked at the worldview and the culture of Western civilization and identified those, in totality, with their own brand of the Antagonist.
“Europe is a cultural statement of Yurugu, the male being, arrogant and immature, who caused his own incompleteness, and so is locked into a perpetually unfulfilled search for the female twin-soul that would make him whole, the part of himself he has denied.” (p561)
writes Dona Richards in her book “Yurugu. An African-centered critique of European cultural thought and behavior”. She goes on to explain how Europeans use spiritual terms such as ‘Harmony’ and ‘Order’ to express perversions of those concepts.
“Rational and harmonious order … represent two radically different modalities of being. […] The struggle to control can never lead to harmony – the essence of spiritual well-being. Rational ordering is predicated on the assumption of conflict and opposition and, in European intensity, becomes a sublimated form of violence. Rational order can never be more than a creation of human beings in partial recognition of who they are; that is, in partial recognition of their cosmic significance. […] If they limit themselves to this order, which they have created, they and their world become distorted. (p562)
Native American academic Jack Forbes names Western culture as “the central problem of human life today.” He calls Western civilization a “culture of Evil.” Native American philosophy, in comparison, acknowledges the right of every being to life and self-determination. Apart from meeting basic needs, Native Americans therefore avoided initiating unnecessary suffering and harm to humans, plants and animals alike, Forbes says, and they empathized with those who suffered. In other words, they lived by Natural Law. He also notes that, “Lying is also almost always a factor in wétiko behavior, and in fact may represent a key strand in the entire epidemiology of wétikoism.” But “How to live in this life? is the real question we all face. All other subjects are insignificant when compared with this one,” Forbes proclaims.
“How do people who follow that path behave? How do they behave towards other humans? How do they behave towards the earth? How do they behave towards other living creatures? Are they doing evil? Are they free men and women who will stand up to evil? Or are they passive foot-soldiers trained to surrender their minds and hearts to their masters?” – Jack Forbes: Columbus and Other Cannibals: The Wétiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism (2008)
Paul Levy who in his works explores the problem of Evil named it, in psychological terms, Malign Egophrenia (ME), but later also used the Cree Native-American demon Wetiko to explain it.
“Whichever name we use, we are in the midst of a collective psychosis of titanic proportions, and one of its most stunning features is that very few people are even talking about it. Does that seem as crazy to you as it does to me? Our madness has weirdly become normalized, to the point where we don’t even notice it.” – Paul Levy, Dispelling Wetiko. Breaking the Curse of Evil, 2013
In a previous article I highlighted that the Good still does exist. One must add, so does Evil, necessarily, like Sri Aurobindo or Carl Jung pointed out. Jesus himself says: “If I had not come and spoken unto them they had not had sin.” (John 15:22, KJB)
Once Christ is established in our psyche, Jung writes in Aion, “the coming of the anti-Christ is not just a prophetic prediction – It is an inexorable psychological law.” He is „an imitating spirit of evil who follows in Christ’s footsteps like a shadow following the body.“
“Every intensified differentiation of the Christ-image brings about a corresponding accentuation of its unconscious complement, thereby increasing the tension between above and below.” – C. G. Jung, Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self
The disciples of Truth need to realize two understandings. First of all, Evil, although it manifests in impressing phenomena and dwells in people’s minds, is not itself a separate thing nor is it a person you can kill. It is none of God’s creatures. Go(o)d doesn’t create Evil; the ultimate Truth didn’t create the lie; Divine Consciousness didn’t create the unconscious. Those dark aspects are shadows arising from the absence of THAT. God, or the Universe, if you will, provided all beings with freedom, and established the Laws of cause and effect which dish out the consequences of our free-will decisions. Satan is the son of God, just like the Christ, but the Wicked One decided to disregard the Law and so became the “fallen angel.” Evil, according to this allegory, is never happening by an act of Go(o)d, but comes into existence by a free-will decision, or a negligent falling into unconsiousness.
“Evil is not a natural thing, it is rather the name given to the privation of good. Thus there can be good without evil, but there cannot be evil without good, nor can there be evil where there is no good.” – Augustinus, Dialogus quaestionum, quaest XVI
So the simple truth is,
There is an active and a passive form of Evil. With your freedom to decide you can consciously choose to defy Good – which usually makes you an Asura or Anti-Christ – or you can fall unconscious of the Law and become a disciple of the Anti-Christ.
The second thing to be understood by the Truth seeker is, in the psyche like in physics, each force meets an equal counter-force when it comes to head-on confrontation. Neither attacking nor ignoring or denying the power of Evil will do anything to overcome the Antagonist but will only provide him with similar counter-strength – because both movements are basically the same force, directed against itself. Once understood, the age-old dualism Good vs. Evil dissolves. We may embrace and transcend Evil in a spiritual Jiu-Jitsu which picks up the Antagonist’s force and uses it in service to one’s own aspirations towards Truth. “The soul is never lost, there is no eternal hell,” writes Nolini Kanta Gupta, one of Sri Aurobindo’s disciples. “But man, the human soul, has to go through hell, that is to say, through trials and tribulations and ordeals in order to reach heaven.”
“Evil is evil, no doubt; it is not divine and it is not an illusion. It isa real blot on the fair face of creation. Its existence cannot be justified in the sense that it is the right thing and has to be welcomed and maintained, since it forms part of the universal symphony. Not even in the sense that it is a test and a trial set by the Divine for the righteous to prove their merit.” – Nolini Kanta Gupta, The Yoga of Sri Aurobindo
Evil is also not the flipside to Good but the shadow which results from the absence of the Light, the illusion that expands in the absence of Truth. Evil is a choice which can be undone by choosing Truth. It is that simple. This is the task before anyone and everyone “who aspire to a higher and truer life,” be they spiritual seekers or the ordinary citizen discontent with the coldness, corruption, chaos and coercion all around. The first step towards eradicating Evil should be obvious: Stop lying. Stop lying to others, even with good intentions, but most of all,
To choose Good over Evil is not at all complicated; it becomes only complicated when one considers the sacrifice that might come with the decision. A truthful life remains Utopian only for so long as one is waiting for others to join in. And Truth stays a Fata Morgana only until one is willing to admit that, for some reason or another – usually lazyness, selfishness, or cowardice – one has let oneself get fooled by the fake reality of “authorites” of all kinds.
“Before dying, falsehood rises in full swing. Still people understand only the lesson of catastrophe. Will it have to come before they open their eyes to the Truth? I ask an effort from all so that it has not to be. It is only the Truth that can save us, truth in words, truth in action, truth in will, truth in feelings. It is a choice between serving the Truth or being destroyed.” – The Mother
Throughout parts 3 and 4 of this articles series there has been a lot of talk about “us” and “them”, moral and immoral, Good and Evil, the Takeover gang and the residents. These dualistic phrasings do, of course, not represent the oneness aspect of (human) existence, but the diversity of its expressions. Discerning the fundamental differences in views and ethical positions is merely a necessary step in the process towards right action. They do not, by any means, establish a difference in value of one group of people versus another. A perpetrator is no less a human being than her victim. We are one, and that got to show in how we treat each other; but it doesn’t mean we become blind to destructiveness. Pain and suffering are real, and so is the Evil who benefits from it. As we have seen many times In history evil has no boundaries. Good does not always win. For it to prevail it takes our active pursuit of it. Understanding Natural Law is one fundamental faculty to start from, but that’s by far not sufficient. While the knowledge of objective Morality is indispensable the pursuit of Goodness also requires other elements such as the voice of conscience, the cultivation of empathy, the capacity to forgive and reconciliate, general goodwill, or the belief in higher planes of consciousness that guide us – which is why Natural Law rarely comes as stand-alone philosophy but is usually packaged in broader world views such as the teachings of the Christ, the Buddha, Rudolf Steiner, or Sri Aurobindo. The absence of its central tenets (the bare minimum of which I have discussed in the first article) proves the evilness of philosophies, ideologies, religions, persons and societies which deny the real nature of That-which-is:
Morality is Freedom.
Freedom is Life.
Life is Yoga.