I read the following, written by Deepak Chopra, about his thoughts on why God allows ‘evil.’ I particularly resonated with the last few sentences, in which he addresses one reason why to have faith in God…this is why I wrote this blog, basically…to add to the testimony.
Archive for June, 2013
April 22 2013
Why Does God Allow Evil?
Category: SF Gate
Deepak Chopra, MD is the Founder and CEO of The Chopra Foundation, Adjunct Professor of Executive Programs at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School
Every senseless, horrific act of violence brings up the question of good versus evil, and when you read that children have died by violence – a common thread linking the Newtown shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing – there’s even more reason to shudder and doubt. In fearful times maintaining the most minimal idea of “God is good” becomes harder. If it is blasphemy for believers to think God isn’t good, it betrays humanity to let God get away with turning his back while innocents die in random acts of terror.
I don’t want to parse theology. Every faith argues for a just and merciful God, which means finding a reason why evil persists under the gaze of a loving deity. If the reasons satisfy you, you stay with your faith. If they don’t satisfy you, you may stay with your faith anyway. There are real benefits to being part of a religious community, and no one is forced to confront cosmic questions that have baffled centuries of debate.
In the aftermath of mass violence, after the horror and shock recede, all of us cobble together a truce with good and evil. But why not confront the issue head on? Our emotional revulsion against evil is powerful; it’s one of the main reasons that moral people are moral: They want to identify with good. They want to oppose evil. So where does evil come from? If we break this question down, it’s not so monolithic.
Evil has many explanations that sound plausible, each taking a different tack. Here’s a sampling.
-In ancient India, evil is whatever leads to suffering.
-In the Old Testament, evil is sin born of disobedience to God.
-In the New Testament, evil is complicated, since in some gospels Jesus speaks like a rabbi promoting the Old Testament model of Satan versus God, while in other gospels evil is the absence of love. The redemption of the world, where all sin is forgiven, would abolish evil through an act of divine love.
– In the medical model that’s usually dispersed by mass media after a violent tragedy, evil is mental illness. Bad people are sick.
– In the minds of countless everyday citizens, evil is what “they” do, and “they” is simply defined as “not us.”
Instead of trying to settle which definition is true – a totally impossible task – I’d point out that each explanation is paired with a solution. You can counter evil with good from any angle.
– If evil is due to sin, the solution is not to sin.
– If evil is whatever causes suffering, go out and relieve suffering.
– If evil is the refusal to accept God’s love, find a way to experience that love.
– If evil is a mental disorder, help those who are afflicted.
– If evil is us-versus-them, remove the walls that divide us from them.
I can’t think of any explanation for evil that doesn’t imply a solution, a way for good to prevail. This, for me, is the best answer to the issue of good versus evil. It isn’t necessary to excuse God, run into the arms of militant atheism, or seek revenge as if revenge is the answer that goodness gives to evil. It isn’t. Revenge may be a lesser evil or a necessary one – every nation that wars against its enemies adopts its own justifications – but it can’t be called an absolute good like love and compassion.
In other words, I’m a pragmatist about evil, because at heart I believe in the ancient Indian definition of evil as anything that creates suffering. I don’t have to go cosmic; I only have to be useful in relieving suffering wherever I can. Where does God fit into this scheme? He can no longer coast on his reputation. If God is good, he needs to be good here and now. Also, God can’t be a blind eye who ignores suffering, because that merely excuses our own blind eye. Evil is a human problem, not a cosmic one. If God reaches down to help us be good, he’s part of the solution.
I realize that millions of people doubt that God does reach down. The Holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia, 9/11 – pick any mind-numbing episode of evil-doing and you clear the stage for rage and doubt directed against God. Wasn’t it his responsibility to save us, to protect us as a loving Father should? Sadly, that metaphor has worn out. Evil has become our sole responsibility, a pollution of the heart akin to pollutants in the
atmosphere. Only after we take up the burden to foster good, even when our lower instincts howl for revenge and hatred, do we have the right to enlist God. The divine is a hidden power, a silent voice, an invisible ally. For some people, that will never be good enough. Our best hope are the witnesses who testify that at the most unexpected moment, what was silent and invisible suddenly manifested itself, and then God began to be clothed in reality.
Reply I enjoyed:
Hi Deepak – I learn from you everyday and believe you are one of the handful of great teachers that will ever walk this earth. I wrote the following thoughts on my Facebook page right after the Boston marathon bombing, but I would love your wisdom to shed light on if I am speaking any truth here. I`m no expert, but I always feel this sense of passion and fire in my belly when things like this are on my mind, and I`m always curious – am I speaking truth (I feel like I am!)? Or am I just another person that wants to say something and has it all backwards. 🙂 Please let me know what you think … _____________________________________________________________ FB post April 16, 2013: I’m usually not one to post a long comment or opinion about something like this, mostly because I am always afraid of saying the ‘wrong’ thing or making someone mad by my words, or looking like I’m a know-it-all. But I’ve been sitting on this thought all morning and feel that it would be irresponsible for me NOT to say what’s on my heart. I believe the ultimate lesson in life is to learn the universal truth that we are all ONE. It’s why most all spiritual practices teach the following: “do unto others as you would do unto yourself”; “what goes around comes around”; “forgive them for they know not what they do”; the idea of karma, and so on. But, many of us are far from truly learning and/or living that lesson, not just those who do the `unthinkable`. If we had all learned this lesson already, we wouldn`t only not be killing each other; we also would not be mean to others, we wouldn`t ignore the wounded or poor or hungry, we wouldn’t say nasty comments or try to undermine people at work, we wouldn’t sabotage others’ efforts for our own gain, etc. ALL OF THESE THINGS CREATE A WORLD IN WHICH HURT PEOPLE … *HURT* PEOPLE. So we all keep going on, hurting each other (whether conscious of the universal truth that we are all one, or not conscious of it), and thus we create a cycle of hurting. It is this exact pain and fear and hurt from which people lash out. From which people go to war. From which people bomb and kill other people. From which people steal, bully, threaten, and so on. And we point our fingers at the most, in our opinion, terrible acts and ask ‘how could you!?’, or say “I can’t believe what is happening!” or “how could God let this happen??” But have we ever stopped to look at ourselves, the ONE BODY, and make a *conscious* effort *every day* to treat everyone around us as if they *were* us? Have we ever stopped to think: My god, the person who has committed this hurtful act must be hurting so much themselves? Could it have been MY hurtful words or actions to the person next to me on the bus, who was then hurt, and made hurtful words or actions towards the person that bumped them on the street, who ultimately ended up killing someone? We are all responsible for OURselves, which means we are all responsible for US. What we do unto others, we do unto ourselves. Again, what we do unto others, we do unto ourselves. Until we have fully learned this lesson and truth that we are all one, and it is present and at the forefront of our mindset at all times, will we know true bliss. But until then, if we want things to change, we HAVE to discipline ourselves to be conscious, to make a *different* choice, even if we ourselves are hurt or in fear of being hurt. We have to make a different choice so that others make a different choice, and so on. None of us will be healed until *all of us* are healed. And so everyone’s heart is everyone’s responsibility. We are responsible for each others’ hearts. So we must be compassionate, understanding, forgiving, loving, and conscious of our intent. Even for those who have yet to make a different choice. Even for those who are hurting so much themselves that they go out and hurt others. “They know not (yet) what they do”. Eventually the lesson will be learned and we all WILL know, and that will be heaven/bliss/nirvana. *But we need to help each other get there if we ourselves want to experience that bliss.* So let’s make a different choice. If even for one day, I challenge all of you (including myself of course) to be fully conscious and thoughtful of how the person next to you on the bus or the train – is YOU. How the person in the cube down the hall – is YOU. How the person on the street is your OWN flesh and blood. And DO SOMETHING from that awareness and intention. What if instead of posting on Facebook: “Fuck you bastards for doing something so horrible!”; “you are the scum of the earth!” and so on – we said “I forgive you, for you know not what you do”; “My heart hurts because YOU hurt”. If we eliminate that pain and hurt inside of each other with our love, we will eliminate these things from happening. But it all starts with you. It all starts with me. It all starts with us.
The world is dual in nature. Can you even imagine a world without misery or disappointments? If there were a world without any possibility of challenging experiences would it hold any charm? Could there be beauty, truth, love, selfless service, kindness without their opposites? Our hearts know this Truth beyond any shadow of a doubt, and YET our ego-minds continue to ignore this and begin grasping at what we “want” and worrying over what we don`t want. It is a Tricky business that can be brought to light with the divine help of the Beloved Master, the Creator and Producer of this illusory Show. Becoming receptive to this light of truth, love, grace and guidance shows the way to redemption that saves the most villainous of sinners and makes them heroic saints. Please check out David Wilcox`s marvelous song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za5AH7qVlqE