The Belief in Good and Evil – Paralyzing or Liberating?

The belief in Good and Evil - paralyzing or liberating?

The belief in Good and Evil – paralyzing or liberating?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the ways that the belief in ‘good and evil’ guides us, paralyzes us or liberates us.

First a quick update:

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Now, let’s talk about the ways that the belief in ‘good and evil’ guides us, paralyzes us or liberates us.

What is good?

What is evil?

Good is the act of doing something that benefits others and is morally right – it remains in line with the rules, laws and values of a system – secular/public laws, religious laws or familial laws.

Good is often seen as denying one’s self-interests.

Evil, on the other hand, is the opposite of good, the absence of good. It is doing something that is morally forbidden and; willingly doing something that harms others.

A person’s intentions might be good, but the resulting act might turn out to be bad and harmful to one-self or harmful to others.

Evil is thus often viewed as the intention to harm.

It is a major misconception that all morality stems or is defined and determined by religion.

Prior to formal religious institutions, tribes determined what was right and what was wrong i.e. good and evil.

Every religion has its own moral code, even if generally most religions subscribe to the teaching “do no harm to others.” However, as history reveals, this is not always the case, as many religions have prayed to God to help them prevail in their literal war and killings of people from other religions & beliefs i.e. wars against clashing dominations, heathens, pagans, infidels and so forth.

Every culture and religion teaches duality – the existence of good and evil.

Every culture and religion seeks to teach, guide, govern or control its people with the system of good and evil.

Hinduism categorizes evil as the result of illusion – the illusion of separateness from one another and thus from oneness (unity.)

Buddhism categorizes evil and suffering as the result of ignorance – ignorance again related to separateness and ego.

The ultimate result of the teachings of most religions is beliefs that are steeped and driven by guilt and fear:

  1. ‘God is watching my every move and knows my deepest thoughts; I will pay the price for my sins, wrongdoings and mistakes, if not in this life, then in hell’
  2. Law of Karma – ‘I will experience the same evil or be punished later in this life or in a future life, for all of my current actions and thoughts’

Thus, the next outcomes and expectations of the above teachings are to:

  • Deny self-interest
  • Move towards selflessness
  • Avoid, limit or deny all human drives associated with sex, violence and carnal pleasures
  • Remain obedient to a higher power (God) or be obedient to a code of morality and ethics

The question thus posed is “Is the teaching and belief in good and evil resulting in guilt and fear positive or negative; is it empowering or destructive?

The answer is truly dependent on your own belief system.

If you believe that by following these rules you will be rewarded into paradise and avoid eternal hell and damnation, then you can argue that it is positive for you.

If, on the other hand, it brings about crippling fear and guilt, and you cannot enjoy life at all, then it is obviously destructive, for you are not being driven by a desire to do good for others, but rather you are driven by a selfish desire of protecting yourself from future pain and punishment.

Further, if you subscribe to a moral code and are guided by the sincere desire to do good and be kind to others, then you can experience the emotionally freeing gift of compassion for self and others.

There is a need, a necessity to believe in good and evil, right and wrong, regardless of the source of good and evil – God and Satan, Good and Ego/Separation, Good and Illusion.

The necessity is not rooted in the belief in God or a higher power, for this is a separate topic and discussion. Rather, in a practical application, the need is critical, because without a belief in right and wrong, we would harm each other; without a conscience i.e. guilt, we would hurt, harm and take advantage of each other, not because we are inherently evil or bad but simply because we have that capacity to commit good or bad based on the subconscious drives and desires we all have. Read the transcript of the interview with Professor Philip Zimbardo about good and evil in all of us and “Gurus and cults: can someone who blesses you, also put a curse on you?”.

Religion has been modern humankind’s source of morality, albeit imperfect many times, such as the current Middle Eastern religious wars between the Sunnis and Shias, the Christian Crusades against Muslims/Arabs, and the Protestant and Catholic conflicts in Northern Ireland.

Unfortunately, as many people have abandoned religion, they have also abandoned morality, not the piousness but the basic tenets of considering one another, loving one another and engaging in selfless acts.

Without a moral code clearly distinguishing and promulgating good over evil, there can only be anarchy and dystopia.

It is up to each one of us to find the balance between one’s needs & self-interests and other people’s needs & interests, for the midpoint between extreme selflessness and extreme selfishness represents the pinnacle of inner peace.

Whether or not we like to admit it, we all have the capacity commit good or evil, to be kind or to be hurtful. Only with a strong personal moral code and a strong conscience can we push ourselves into the arena where good wins over evil.

“To cease from evil, to do good, and to purify the mind yourself, this is the teaching of all the Buddhas.” – Buddha (Dhammapada)

If you want to read and learn more about the human capacity (free will – conscious or subconscious) to do good or to do evil, read these articles “Are you a hero or a coward” and uncovering the dark side in all of us “Is there a Joker in all of us?”.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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