Beyond Good and Evil
The goal of all spiritual practice is to elevate our state of consciousness and thereby imbue our inner world with greater and greater light. This is not an exclusive capability but is possible for each and every human being inhabiting this planet. All it takes is the right teaching and the openness to receive that teaching, once it comes our way.
The difficulty here is that consciousness sometimes gets stuck. It becomes stubbornly set in its ways, just like an emotionally reactive pattern. It becomes a mindset that we refuse to question. In other words, it becomes a reality fix. And this is what has happened to many of us here in the western world. Somewhere along the way we have become convinced that our present belief system and way of looking at things is inviolable.
But is a human belief system really that difficult to change? Is reprogramming our minds an impossible task? No, of course not. In fact, it is a good deal easier than most of us tend to believe. But first we must become fully aware of all the subtle nuances of our present state of consciousness. Then we must be open to questioning and challenging it. And this is the difficult part.
In place of being open and aware, more than a few of us have adopted an attitude of helplessness and resignation. “This is just the way things are,” we say to ourselves. Thus we fail to even entertain the idea that there could be a better way. But as it turns out, there is a better way—a much better way. In the realm of consciousness there is a leap just ahead of us that would leave the consciousness we are presently moving in behind in the dust. It would be so much brighter and more beneficent that once we get there we will literally kick ourselves for putting things off and taking so long.
What then will this leap of consciousness be like, and how will it compare to our present state? It will be a state in which we no longer think in terms of duality. We will no longer view life as black and white but will suddenly see all the wondrous colors of our created universe. We will no longer feel love one day and hate the next. And perhaps most importantly, we will no longer relate to life as an incessant struggle between good and evil.
Why is this matter of good and evil so important? Because it is our conditioned consciousness of good and evil that has made human life such a nightmarish affair for the past six thousand years. It has been the source of all our conflicts, wars, hostilities, hatreds, bigotries, etc. In fact, this age-long struggle in the human ranks has become such an integral part of the human experience that it has actually come to define us.
The mistake we have made up until now has been to view this obsession with good and evil as natural and normal—as merely an aspect of our mental function. What we have not understood is that it is really much more than that. It goes much deeper than our thoughts and emotions. It is a state of spiritual consciousness. If it were just something going on in our minds, we could have dealt with it long ago through educational programs and such. But since it is actually a state of consciousness it requires more to change it. For, bringing about a real change in our state of consciousness is in some ways out of our control. It involves evolutionary impulses. In other words, it is something we must be fully ready for. And obviously, up until now mankind as a collective unit has not been ready for such a leap in consciousness.
This is not to say that we have not been evolving in other ways. Human evolution of consciousness has been going on since the beginning of the age. That is why we have seen such dramatic technological innovations and improvements in our lifestyle and civilization. But clearly, we have yet to evolve into our ultimate spiritual state of peace on earth and enlightenment. And it is our ongoing obsession with good and evil that not only reveals this; it is also what is keeping us stuck. It is the last hurdle in our path.
In our evolvement toward a more civilized society we have become more sophisticated in our approach to good and evil, but very few of us have been able to change our entrenched state of consciousness. Why is this? For one thing, we have not understood that there is a higher state of consciousness awaiting us. We have been blinded by our present reality fix, in which good and evil are inviolable aspects. Plus we have been taught that this present reality is the highest evolutionary plateau we are capable of. Unlike John Lennon, most of us have not been able to even imagine a world without opposites. And so our sophisticated attempts at making our obsession with good and evil more appealing to our modern intellects has done little more than divert our attention away from what really needs to be done.
Another way in which we have deceived ourselves in this regard is through the insistent belief that the only way to solve the good-evil conundrum is for good to overcome and eradicate evil. This has been our approach since time immemorial. But so far all we have been able to achieve in this direction has been to bolster our commitment to good and intensify our abhorrence of evil—a development that has only served to perpetuate and strengthen the illusion. How do we know this? Because evil is still very much active and operational in our world (some would say more than ever). Also those who have committed themselves to the side of good have at times become so perplexed and frustrated about evil’s entrenchment that they have resorted to evil themselves. In other words, they have attempted to overcome evil with evil and in so doing were corrupted by the very evil they set out to eradicate. The Christian crusades of the Middle Ages were a good example of this. The crusaders set out to overcome the evils of paganism, unbridled sensuality, and infidelity and ended up becoming butchers and warmongers in their own right.
This is a curious dynamic that can only be understood when we gain the perspective that it is not evil that is the problem here; it is the entire conditioned dualistic mentality that has issued forth from our present state of spiritual consciousness. That is why good has never been able to eradicate evil. For, we cannot overcome evil when we ourselves are moving in the same state of consciousness. Rather the only way to solve this problem is for all of us to evolve in consciousness and leave behind not only our abhorrence of evil but also our attachment to good.
This may be a difficult concept for us to grasp. Isn’t good an aspect of the highest spiritual state for us? How can letting go of our commitment to good lead to an enlightened humanity and a New Age of peace on earth? Yes, goodness is ultimately what we want, but in order for us to get there we have to first let it go. Only in this way can we end this age of duality and conflict.
In truth, human beings are neither good nor evil. We are spiritual beings. We are what we were created to be, not some dualistic image that we project onto ourselves. This can be seen by the interchangeability of our stance and the way our alignments often shift. One day we are good; the next day we are bad. One day an evil power oppresses us, and the next day we become an evil power and oppress others. So we must then ask ourselves this question: If our good and evil alignments are so interchangeable, how can the overcoming of evil by good be the answer? Has not history repeatedly proven this? No sooner does a revolutionary good power regime take control, than it too becomes corrupt and turns evil. No, the only way to solve the problem of evil is to acknowledge that in our present state of consciousness our alignments and commitments are perpetually in flux and to break our attachment to evil’s opposite—that is, good. We must let go of the dogmatic insistence that we are the “good guys.” For in our present state of consciousness this only leads to self-righteousness, which is, of course, an evil in its own right. This willingness to let go of our attachment to good will be reflective of a new evolutionary level of consciousness, and, as such, it will help to free us from the snare of dualism altogether. Thus we will no longer find ourselves being obsessed about eradicating evil. Why? Because without our obsessive energy to propel it, evil will lose its power and will eventually disappear.
This is where we are heading as a species. Our created endowment of spiritual consciousness has made us lords over this planet. But we are not done evolving yet. Better things are yet to come for us. We must wake up to this truth. All we have to do is to take a look around us. We have come a long ways, to be sure. But we can do better still—much better. We have been working overtime trying to overcome the evil in our midst. And where has it gotten us? In truth, all we have been doing is spinning our wheels. It has gotten us nowhere at all.
Every war that has ever been fought has been an attempt by two powers, each one of which views itself as good, to try to overcome an enemy that they view as evil. We say, “But an evil power started the war, and we are merely responding to their aggression and trying to save the world for the sake of good.” But the truth is that no “evil aggressor” appears that way in his own eyes. He thinks he is the good one.
We say, “They are the enemy, and so we must fight against them and kill them.” But a very great spiritual master once taught, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. . . .Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:44,45,48).
What does it mean for a human being to be perfect? Obviously, that is not something within the scope of our present state of consciousness. But for Jesus it was a reality, not because he hated evil with a perfect hatred and saw himself as the ultimate good guy. Rather Jesus had evolved in consciousness to where good and evil no longer existed. He had ceased to look at life through the lens of dualism. He no longer viewed his fellowman as friend or foe. And in this consciousness he caused his sun—that is, his love—to rise on the evil and the good and his rain—that is, his good deeds—to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous alike.
We say, “Yes, but that was Jesus. We can never be like that.” No, not without a leap in spiritual consciousness. We cannot will ourselves to be good, anymore than Jesus could have. We cannot cease from viewing life in dualistic terms in our own strength. But we can all evolve in consciousness. All we have to do is to be open to seeing life in a new way.
The Bible clearly states that one day there will be an end to war. There will be peace on earth and goodwill toward all our fellowmen. This is not just a pipedream. It is our future as a species. How can we know this? Because it is the nature of our endowment of spiritual consciousness—an endowment that we all possess. But we have been trying to accomplish these lofty goals in our own strength, and this has been our mistake. What we have not yet realized is where our true strength lies. We have thought it was in muscles, guns, and tanks. But our true strength is our spiritual consciousness. And it is this strength that will usher in the New Age.