Why does evil and suffering exist, and what is their purpose? What are their opposites and how can they be used to alleviate client suffering?
To answer this I will have to explain what I believe life is, and how I think evil and suffering came to be. I think that life is a temporary ride where we enter into human form to experience what it is to be separate from the whole. In truth, we are never separate from the whole, but the illusion holds that we are. The reason, I think, that we choose to live as a human, seemingly separate from God or the infinite, is because in the oneness, where we were before we came here, we wondered who we were. We could not truly answer that question in a world of non-relativity. We might imagine, or guess who we were, but to truly know would be to experience it. And so, the universe, with it’s myriad of polarities, was born in an explosion of possibilities and relativities: hot, cold, near, far, big, small. And most importantly, love and fear. The root of evil and suffering is fear. Fear makes us hurt others, allows a rationale to subjugate them, and ultimately hurts ourselves. The opposite: love. I believe that while we are interned here on earth, we engage in various roles so that we can experience all of the polarities of life. Once we have become cold, then we can know what hot is. I once read a quote:
“Perfect love is to feeling what perfect white is to color. Many think that white is the absence of color. It is not. It is the inclusion of all color. White is every other color that exists combined. So, too, is love not the absence of emotion (hatred, anger, lust, jealousy, covertness), but the summation of all feeling. It is the sum total. The aggregate amount. the everything.” (Walsh)
So evil and suffering exist to inform us as to who we really are. It’s purpose is for in some sense, our education, but more accurately, our experience. We are here to taste every flavour of who we are and who we are not. When we have experienced it all, we will not just think we know who we are, we will know who we are.
How can a client use evil to transcend their suffering?
They may use their conscious faculties to consider what evil can help them do: allow them to choose a different choice instead of react or repeat the evil that has been done before. To create their perspective and meaning instead of follow their instinct or previous parents and leaders. Each of us must find meaning in suffering and injustice. We rail against or accept it’s existence, we experience sorrow, loss, fear, angst, disappointment and more. And then we can choose, if we wish, to become a better person for it. We might choose to live our lives in dedication to healing an evil that has hurt us personally. We can look to what transpires in the world and choose to be or not be what we see. Or we might simply be thankful for the lives that we have.
Why it is essential to establish the client’s concept of evil as a functioning value of his / her belief system?
To give hope. If evil is seen as a non-functioning value within a belief system, when it surfaces it terrorizes and disintegrates the belief system. Evil is a potent force: it’s existence puts into question the validity and order of life itself. Much suffering is caused by it, not only the existential angst that many have in the face of evil, but the fear or succumbing to evil of self, or the evil of others. Perhaps even worse, is the idea that the majority have which is, “nothing can be done about it.” This apathy is at the root of the world’s problems and I believe causes more problems than the more rare instances of true evil. This is the power of the idea of evil. To establish a concept of evil a functioning force within a belief system is integral to giving hope to a person.
And what might that look like? What purpose does evil have?
Evil is the opposite of good, of love, freedom, joy, responsibility, awareness, kindness, generosity… if we did not have evil how could we know what these virtuous qualities are? If there were no spectrum and only one constant state, would not the vast stretch of infinity be…. boring? This is not to belittle or trivialize evil. Satanistic cults do rape and murder and defile the bodies of little children, as do family members in the tragic mind-game of incest. Wars continue for profit, where most of the victims are civilians. Each of us let children die of thirst in a world with enough water and food to feed each of us. Human life is wrought with the nightmares that we created.
Here I will for your entertainment and to uplift our spirits include one of my favorite quotes from the raw, talented, blasphemous and enlightened comedian Bill Hicks. Maybe evil is just part of “the ride:”
And so evil, though it is horrible and wrong, painful and unjust, may be just, part of the journey. It is the time between rides that beckons and gives hope, and makes evil less so.
Lastly, part of the self-definition that evil provides gives us an opportunity. The opportunity is not only to define who we are in relation to what evil is, but to create a new vision of ourselves, to become better, to strive for more, to evolve. This is where choice comes into play. We can choose to move forward, be better, remember, accept, embrace the evil in our lives, and the evil that exists within each of us, and we can be better people.
Walsh, Donald Neal. (2005) The Complete Conversations With God. G.P. Putnam's Sons
Hicks, Bill. 1992. Dominion Theatre in London. Transcript retrieved on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgzQuE1pR1w