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Sunday, February 22, 2015

THE PROBLEM OF EVIL


The experience of dreaming can teach us some of the most valuable things about existence. Night after night, we lay ourselves down to sleep and are swept away from our bedrooms into a realm where personal histories, even the laws of nature (such as gravity) no longer apply. And whatever happens, however outlandish it may seem to the waking mind, while it happens the dreamer is not in the least bit astonished. Within the dream there are no expectations. Unity of consciousness persists despite sweeping changes in experience. Whatever the setting or the events, you are there.

On its own, consciousness is happy to just have experiences. Applied to life, we can use this phenomenon to explain all apparent evils. They are just experiences. Who are they happening to? If you believe that God is omnipresent, that all is one and all is God (and if you follow any of the major religions, even if you are an athiest, then chances are you do), then it should be easy to understand that God, seated in the heart of all, appears as manifold personalities in this world and beyond to have experiences, not of course by necessity, because there is nothing the Absolute need do. Perhaps just because. You lie down each night to dream. Just because. Despite what scientists led by Freud and Jung have said on the matter, citing purposes such as memory consolidation and the clearing of mental clutter for why dreams happen, it may be that they are simply an evitable fact of life. Like life itself.

Life is for the experience. Good and bad are relative and don't really apply in the absolute sense. Which may have prompted one mystic to write, "I find everything good and pleasant, even my tears, my grief. I enjoy weeping, I enjoy my despair. I enjoy being exasperated and sad. I feel as if these were so many diversions, and I love life in spite of them all."

So much for the problem of suffering.

As for the problem of evil. As William James discusses in his Varieties of Religious Experience: "The world is all the richer for having a devil in it, SO LONG AS WE KEEP OUR FOOT UPON HIS NECK."

As every comic book aficionado knows, a hero is only as good as his adversary, who for all the strength of character he helps build, may actually be one's best friend. So lighten up. Have fun. Enjoy life's ups and downs, remaining fixed at the center of all that is. 'Cause that's what you truly are.

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