The Concept of Evil

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Post by Briathar » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Howard Bloom argues in his book "The Lucifer Principle" that Evil is the alter ego of nature; that nature does not reject evil, but she embraces it and uses it to create.

In the case of humans, evil is part of our genetic programming. He calls it "the greed of the genes". And this "greed" does not necessarily responds to the interest of one kin, but responds to the interests of a wider being such as Thomas Hobbes'"Leviathan".

So in this case, the greed of genes might operate against the individual by promoting "self-hatred" which leads to self-destruction (addictions, manic-depresion, suicide, and even "light-low" self esteem).

We are a giant, complex, collective learning machine, that has the "power" to destroy, transform and replace its "obsolete" components.
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Post by dmc » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Just a short additive on Joseph Campbell's words on Lucifer.
He refers to a Persian myth , where the plight of Lucifer was caused because of his immense love of God, as has been briefly mentioned.
Lucifer, the Angel of Light,(literally, the Bearer of Light), says Campbell, was said to love God so absolutely, that when God made Man and asked the angels to bow to this perfect creation, Lucifer could not.
His love for God was such , that nothing else could take his eyes from God.
So, God banished Lucifer from God's presence forever.
And Campbell says, "What sustains Lucifer apart from the One whom he still loves totally?" He says, from the myth,it is Lucifer's memory of God's voice alone using the word "Begone!", that sustains Lucifer in his state of agony in the separation from his Beloved.

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Post by Helen » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Bodhi_Bliss, I particularly love your writing here, and elsewhere in the forum.

I have a feeling that there is no ultimate good or evil, just wisdom. Wisdom is what we need in our activities of daily living, on a second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour basis. It’s impossible, but a nice goal.

I am captivated by your excellent rundown on the development of morality in religion and in particular to Yahweh. (I have always had a lot of trouble with the God who wears the Yahweh mask)

However Joe has helped me to understand better my ‘Yahweh problems’

Quoting Joe from ‘Reflections on the Art of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion’ selected and edited by Diane K Osbon, page 163

“Could God exist if nobody else did? No. That’s why gods are very avid for worshipers. If there is nobody to worship them, there are no gods. There are as many gods as there are people thinking about God. When Mrs. Mulligan and the Pope are thinking about God, it is not the same God

In choosing your god,
You choose your way of looking at the universe.
There are plenty of Gods.
Choose yours.

The god you worship
Is the god you deserve.

When you say that God needs man and man needs God, that “God” that’s being talked about is the image of God, the concept of God, the name of God, the ethnic God. You bet he needs man. He wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for man.

In the tribe, deities were
Personifications of power.
In later years,
They became the source of power.

All the gods of the world are
Metaphors, not powers.

All imaging of God, if the word is going to mean anything besides “this is what Mother taught me,” is supposed to refer to that which transcends all knowledge, all naming, all forming; and, consequently, the word has to point past itself. In our tradition, the idea of God is so strongly personified as a person that you get stuck with that problem whenever you think of God.

God is not an illusion,
But a symbol pointing beyond itself
To the realization of the mystery
Of at-one-ment.”

Now a couple of questions arise from this. Do we bring a God into existence every time we think of one?
Does that god reflect the morality (ideas of good and evil) of the thinker or the people thinking about it?
Does the most powerful thinker have the most powerful god?
Is there one God behind all the different masks?
Is there a different God behind each different mask?

Here in Australia I am tempted to think that the God that Rupert Murdock and Kerry Packer believe in is the ruling God. i.e. capitalism.


The ultimate aim of the quest must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others.

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Helen on 2005-01-01 20:46 ]</font>
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Post by aecleo » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I read an interesting novel a while back. It's called Wicked. It's the biography of the wicked witch of the west from The Wizard of Oz. It paints an interesting picture of what we label "evil" and why. It's well worth reading, if you enjoy this genre of literature.

Since I haven't read it in a while, I'm hesitant to explain too much of it. But, from what I recall, evil is largely defined as 'that which is other than ours'. This notion strikes a cord with me, when I recall Campbell's definitions of 'religion' and 'mythology'. Could we define 'evil' as 'other peoples' good'?

From the experiences of a fundamentalist childhood, I can say that anything that is not godly must be worldly. Therefore, we ought not do anything outside of the known, or at the very least, do so with extreme caution. (Lo and behold, the world is a fabulous place! Where is the sin? Where is the evil? Goodbye, fundamentalism!)

One additional note...while a lot of people fear or are weary of people different from themselves and their culture, the Native Americans' definition of 'elder' is anyone who has a unique perspective, regardless of age... (I'm not sure if this is true of all Native Americans.) ...So, a 'council of elders' is a meeting where a wide variety of opinions are presented, not where "old men" sit around and discuss how to keep the young'uns in line. Wouldn't it be great if we thought of 'evil' as just another perspective on the world? How would that change our politics? Our business? Our social organization?
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Post by Jackson » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

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Post by Merrikate » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Tragic joy in the face of sorrow, cataclysm, death and all? Sense of humour, sense of distance: art & spiritual balance?

A propos of much on this thread, not to mention several others, here's a famous poem, one through which I first encountered ideas later clarified for me by Campbell, Jung, and the rest -- including these conversations.

Astonishes me for its nail-on-the-head resonance (as long as we respect the classical meaning of 'gay,' eh.)

Hope you enjoy re-discovering it! Composed before WW II, which William Butler Yeats did not live to see, yet so obviously saw...and still sees into our own time:


I have heard that hysterical women say
They are sick of the palette and fiddle-bow.
Of poets that are always gay,
For everybody knows or else should know
That if nothing drastic is done
Aeroplane and Zeppelin will come out.
Pitch like King Billy bomb-balls in
Until the town lie beaten flat.

All perform their tragic play,
There struts Hamlet, there is Lear,
That's Ophelia, that Cordelia;
Yet they, should the last scene be there,
The great stage curtain about to drop,
If worthy their prominent part in the play,
Do not break up their lines to weep.
They know that Hamlet and Lear are gay;
Gaiety transfiguring all that dread.
All men have aimed at, found and lost;
Black out; Heaven blazing into the head:
Tragedy wrought to its uttermost.
Though Hamlet rambles and Lear rages,
And all the drop-scenes drop at once
Upon a hundred thousand stages,
It cannot grow by an inch or an ounce.

On their own feet they came, or On shipboard,
Camel-back; horse-back, ass-back, mule-back,
Old civilisations put to the sword.
Then they and their wisdom went to rack:
No handiwork of Callimachus,
Who handled marble as if it were bronze,
Made draperies that seemed to rise
When sea-wind swept the corner, stands;
His long lamp-chimney shaped like the stem
Of a slender palm, stood but a day;
All things fall and are built again,
And those that build them again are gay.

Two Chinamen, behind them a third,
Are carved in Lapis Lazuli,
Over them flies a long-legged bird,
A symbol of longevity;
The third, doubtless a serving-man,
Carries a musical instrument.

Every discoloration of the stone,
Every accidental crack or dent,
Seems a water-course or an avalanche,
Or lofty slope where it still snows
Though doubtless plum or cherry-branch
Sweetens the little half-way house
Those Chinamen climb towards, and I
Delight to imagine them seated there;
There, on the mountain and the sky,
On all the tragic scene they stare.
One asks for mournful melodies;
Accomplished fingers begin to play.
Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.

William Butler Yeats

The reverb of this poem is somehow bliss-generating, freeing...y'reckon?

&quot;Reality,&quot; said Joyce Cary, &quot;is a narrow little house <br>which becomes a prison for those who can't get out.&quot;
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Post by Jackson » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Yes. Thanks for that.
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Post by JnMcKm » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hello all! I am new here--my name is Jen. I read most of the replies and didn't see mentioned--and throw this in the discussion circle.

I read somewhere that 'hades' was a dump place next to the city and was a generic term/or slang that somehow became literal for hell.

Also, sin is an archery term meaning 'to miss the mark'.

Thank you,
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Post by nandu » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

While we are on the subject of Hell, it is only in the semitic religions that Hell is an evil place of eternal damnation. In Hindu mythology, Yama, the lord of hell is a respected personality. Also, you can be released from the Hindu hell after your sins have been paid for, and you come to earth for another term. The cycle of birth and death continues till your soul has been so purified that you attain "Moksha", or deliverance.
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Post by Magic Elemental » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Personally I believe that good and evil are not two sides of a coin. Actually I believe that good is pretty much the balance and evil is imbalance, when the pair of opposites come together they create good. I don't literally see dark or light as being good or evil.

As for the idea of the Gods needing man, well at least in the Bible it says:

Luke 19:40
And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

I still believe in a cosmic order, I know that may seem to contradict the 2nd to last paragraph of the "The Hero With A Thousand Faces", where Campbell says that, "The notion of the cosmic law, which all existence serves and to which man himself must bend, has long since passed through the preliminary mystical stages represented in the old astrology, and is now simply accepted in mechanical terms as a matter of course." Though in the section "Crossing the Return Threshold" he says, "The boon brought from the deep becomes quickly rationalized into non-entity and the need for a new hero to refresh the word becomes great."

I was looking around and found this saying by Zen Koans, the answer given was different from what I usually hear.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear, does it make a sound?" There is no "right" answer to this question. It can be argued for years from either perspective, yes or no. BUT, to the Ninja there is at least one other answer. It matters not at all whether the tree makes a sound or not. What is important is that it has fallen.

Perceived or not the tree fell.

Oh well also on the devil thing, I can't remember where Joseph Campbell referenced Edshu in the "The Hero With A Thousand Faces". My copy is currently being borrowed, but I believe he referenced Edshu as playing the part of cosmic clown mistaking shadow for substance. I believe that is a fairly good comparison.

Act 1 Scene 3
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
In deepest consequence.-