The eternal fight against evil

If you are a faithful reader of 'spiritual' journals you are probably interested in personal growth and expanding your consciousness. You want to learn how to improve your communication with your fellow people, or you are desperate to find peace within yourself. Or maybe you want to do something about the injustice in this world, maybe you want to work on a better society. Or you feel you should help other people on an emotional or even spiritual level.

It might also be that your motivation is a personal problem: you have a physical complaint that you can't solve. Maybe you need an emotional release and you are looking for a way to get free of it. If you consult the publicity available on this subject, the paths offered are very promising: 'follow the path of intuition', 'solve your problems by living in the here and now', 'develop your higher capacities', 'work with the group of souls', 'obtain insights into your functioning, your talents and your problems using astrology', and so forth. You are invited 'to live from your heart and not from your head', 'to have the courage to deal with certain shadow sides of yourself' , develop 'the art of reading toes' or learn to 'communicate from heart to heart'.

Some of the above named therapies or courses promise you healing. Others pretend to lead you to liberation. It is true that they can reduce your feelings of incompleteness and discontent. Maybe they can make you stronger, more peaceful, healthier, more open, more conscious. But all these techniques and books assume that there is something wrong with you as you are. Or that something is wrong with other people, as is the case in therapy. Suppose you are therapist, you start with the idea that there is something wrong with the other person and that something can and should be done about that. Although I don't want to criticize those therapies (or therapists), I want to see if things really work that way.

What amazes me is that a lot of people seem to suffer from the 'judgment syndrome'. In medical textbooks the word 'syndrome' means a complex of symptoms or complaints that are described by one word. It's not always clear how such a syndrome appears or how the different symptoms are related. For example, the 'Meniere syndrome' describes people who complain about dizziness. The 'Gilles de la Tourette syndrome' describes those who suffer from uncontrollable movements. Of course, the 'judgment-syndrome' is not described in the medical literature. The 'judgment-syndrome' refers to those who suffer from judging/or being judged.

We have all been programmed since childhood by our parents, educators and teachers to make distinctions. We all need this knowledge in order to function in society, of course. We have to learn a number of rules for practical reasons, indeed. As a result, we know we have to stop for a red light and to drive on if the light is green. Stopping for a red light is labeled as 'good' and passing a red light is labeled as 'bad'. There is nothing wrong with such conditioning. Thinking in terms of good and bad can be practical but this coin has another side too. The conditioning usually goes much further than just the practical arrangements of our everyday life. From 'distinguishing between read and green' we go to labeling 'red' as bad and 'green' as good. That is where the trouble starts. We apply our knowledge about red and green to areas where it may not be suitable. We judge or condemn people, phenomena or situations based on our own value system. We pass very quickly from witnessing to judging. So we reject everything which is red, and approve of or stimulate everything which is green. And, if we look at the history of mankind for the last two thousand years, we see that a great part of human behavior is dedicated to the battle against evil.

The question is not only whether that battle against evil has been effective, but the question is rather: is there actually something like good and bad, or does that idea only exist in our mind? When we take a closer look at what people see as good or bad, we notice a lot of cultural differences. In other words: good and evil are quite relative. It is obvious that society needs a minimum of judgment to function properly, and on that level it certainly has its value. I don't want to question that. Justice won't be possible without thinking in terms of good and bad. There is no doubt about that. But the question is whether all this judging does us any good on a personal or spiritual level. I would like to focus on that issue now. It is amazing indeed to see how deeply the 'judgment-syndrome' is incorporated into our thinking. We are so familiar with it that we are no longer aware of it. There are (seem to be) good and bad thoughts, good and bad feelings, good and bad actions. And because we project a 'doer' into it all, a person who is responsible for his deeds, people are soon categorized as 'the good guys' on the one hand and 'the bad guys' on the other. Even the fairy tales usually have some personification of evil, and in such a story there is again the struggle against evil. Our society sometimes seems to be dominated by this eternal struggle between good and evil.

The question is now whether all that fighting against evil is not an endless process. Suppose we were to quit putting labels on the people around us, wouldn't that bring us peace of mind? Suppose we no longer listen to the voices that suggest there is something wrong with anger or hate, wouldn't that bring us more peace? If all these internal dialogues would come to rest, maybe we would indeed live in peace with ourselves and our fellow humans.

The division between good and evil is also prominent on the spiritual level. Positive energy versus negative energy, good spirits versus bad spirits, white magic against black magic, and so forth. And so we go to war against blocks in the body, against negative influences, against negative emotions. All these methods may indeed bring temporary relief, but will the process ever end? Isn't there an underlying block behind every block? Isn't every struggle against evil a struggle itself? It is like fighting a dragon in which two new heads appear as soon as you cut his head off.

Maybe this story sounds a bit disappointing, as if all our efforts to create a better world are useless anyway. Wouldn't this lead to laziness and indifference? Let me tell you that there is another way of looking at this story. What is interesting is that everyone has the possibility of stopping judging. Just as people quit smoking you can quit judging and criticizing. As a result, a natural state of peacefulness and fluidity may arise, simply because you are freed from an old conditioning. There is just what there is and that can include being active. Allowing everything to be as it is doesn't mean that you have to be in a state of peace and love. When anger or jealousy arise these are also witnessed without judgment or resistance. Even if the old habit of judging itself arises it is again witnessed with a smile.

It is like being aware without interference, or 'being a witness without judging'. It is about simply being. Then all that is left is 'what is'. This 'Beingness' doesn't originate from restlessness nor from a battle against evil, it is just naturally available from a Oneness with what is without there being anyone who can lay claim on this Oneness.

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[Jan Kersschot]