Many religious groups, including Unity, teach that evil doesn’t really exist. These traditions teach that if God is Good and God as Good is Omnipotent and Omnipotent means all-powerful, then Good is all the power that is and no other power can exist. They teach, therefore, that anything we would call bad or evil has no power—it can’t cause anything. It’s a very logical understanding.
Our experience, however, doesn’t always match that logic. So, inevitably—especially around dates like 9-11—this question comes up.
To answer this question it helps to remember that human experience is based on the idea of duality: two sides to a coin, two points of view, two poles on a magnet, two partners in a relationship—and two powers. Duality, the great religious philosophers have told us, is a human concept, born in our belief that we are separate beings from God: the belief that God is in one place and we’re in another. And out of that belief emerges the belief that our Good must be somewhere else, as well. As one great teacher and healer, Emma Curtis Hopkins, said, “the belief that our Good is absent had to be called something, so it was called evil.”
Christ Jesus clearly had no time for what we call “evil.” The most he had to say was, “I’m not tempted,” and “get thee behind me.” He spent virtually all his time focusing on God’s Presence and the health and well-being of those around him. He taught that “theKingdomofGodis at hand”—not somewhere else, but right here, right now, ready for us to experience it.
One explanation that has helped me and many of my students follows.
There are hundreds of books and articles by and about people who’ve been “dead” for extended periods of time, or who can listen to those who are, and they tell us that between the time we “die” or leave our bodies, and the time we’re “born” or incarnate again, our soul learns a lot and develops a deep connection with the loving power that we call God. Then, after a while, the soul is ready to return to Earth, to experience the human form again, to learn some lessons and clear the past and, hopefully, help others along the way.
In every generation, these books and articles tell us, a few souls that haven’t been in human form for a while decide to re-incarnate so they can help humanity advance. They generally have high hopes and a clear vision for how they can help all humanity rise above our perceived limitations and live more fully the life that Christ and Buddha and others have promised. And, we’re told, it’s these beloved, well-intentioned souls who fail most grandly.
So imagine you’ve been living in the realm of light and love and peace and harmony for long enough that you know there’s no need for souls to suffer while in human form. You become convinced that you have a solution that will help all humanity see the truth about themselves and may restore Heaven on Earth. You decide to return to the planet to be born again. (A version of this part of the story may be seen in Neal Donald Walsh’s Little Soul and the Sun.)
So you look around at what’s happening on the planet. You find a place and a time that’s ideal. A country has been all but dissolved and is in the process of restoring its political and economic identity. It’s relatively small, but it’s in an ideal location and there are many wonderful resources, some brilliant minds, and a great education system in place. You decide it can work, so you pick a family living in a community that look like they’ll be able to help set the foundation for this fabulous gift you will give to all humanity. That’s where you’ll be born again. (Illustrations of this aspect of the story may be found in Walsh’s Little Soul and the Earth and Jane Robert’s Oversoul Seven books.)
But, in spite of all your careful preparations, things go terribly wrong, and instead of being lovingly guided into your full potential, your parents, as well as the leaders of their church, are rigid authoritarians who believe in regular beatings “for your own good.” You’re hurt and scared and in the process your mind becomes twisted with fear and anger.
Still, your soul’s purpose continues to drive you. Your dreams are filled with images of angelic, light-filled beings. Your training and career develop your skills as an organizer and motivator and inspiring leader.
Then, as you try your new skills and begin to organize people, you push the establishment a little too far and wind up in prison. Still your soul’s purpose drives you. You write a book about your efforts to accomplish your vision and someone agrees to publish it. The book draws a variety of people to your vision and, when you’re released from prison, they offer their ideas, resources, and energy to help you bring your vision to fruition. One can help get information out, another can help organize programs for children and youth, another can design graphics, and so on.
Soon, dozens of people are working with you and hundreds of people are involved. You are exhilarated: your soul’s purpose is being fulfilled! You know we have unlimited potential and now almost everyone in your country knows it too!
But, sadly, those dreadful childhood experiences keep haunting you, and you find yourself angrily blaming others for your distress—and extend that habit of blaming on to the people you’re trying to help, saying that other people are to blame for their not having experienced Heaven on Earth before. Your own childhood anger and fear gets woven into your teaching and motivating, and in time it becomes the dominant message of your movement.
So, even though the images of light-filled, angelic human beings still shine everywhere in the country you now control, the anger and fear of your childhood drive everyone around you to act in ways that the rest of the world calls “evil” as they strive to rid this wonderful nation, “God’s Country,” from those dark, hated beings who are no longer even considered human, they’re so much the focus of fear, anger, and distrust.
And so it was for Adolph Hitler. (This is documented in Alice Miller’s book, For Your Own Good.)
Most of us who’ve studied history or watched historical documentaries can name at least one other totalitarian, genocidal despot that this story could apply to. Some of us can name one or two people who aren’t national leaders to whom this story might apply. Many of us, today, would say that Osama bin Laden was one of those.
But, clearly, it’s not a “power called evil” at work here—rather a wish for great good that’s been twisted by fear and anger!
Even those of us who’ve been beaten or abused as children can recognize this in ourselves and, if we allow ourselves, in those who beat or abused us. They were saying “I love you and need you to love me in a way that I recognize as love;” “I love you and want you to be the best person you can be, and this is the only way I know to make that happen.”
Sadly, their belief in the absence of Good prevented them from seeing what was already present in the people around them—and that’s all the “evil” there was. May we never fall into that trap!