On the Nature of Evil

Bruce Michael

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Hi Friends

I hesitate to make any dogmatic assertions on the nature of evil- that would be the easy way out. There's a lot to understand here.

I have found these thoughts helpful:
Evil does not know its purpose.

The purpose of evil is the increase the good.

Evil only fulfils its purpose when overcome.

I wonder about the optimistic view that evil is just an absence of good. Do we see a rotten peach as not rotten but having an absence of ripeness about it? The analogy of the ripe fruit being good as opposed to the unripe and rotten, fits in well with the Manichaean doctrine of the Three Moments.
Laws are relative and can be overridden by higher laws. There are social laws and laws of the state. If I was to drive on the right-hand side of the road in the US that would be OK, but in England or here, bad. A higher law overrides these laws when an ambulance in a hurry, ignores these "fixed" laws.

I like the ideas of Jacob Boehme. He must have been one of the first to crack this mystery. Rudolf Steiner sums up his views:

"As the light can only shine when it penetrates the darkness, so the good can only come to life when it permeates its opposite. Out of the "abyss" of darkness shines the light; out of the "abyss" of the indifferent, the good brings itself forth. And as in the shadow it is only brightness which requires a reference to light, while the darkness is felt to be self-evident, as something that weakens the light, so too in the world it is only the lawfulness in all things which is sought, and the evil, the non-functional, which is accepted as the self-evident. Hence, although for Jacob Boehme the primordial essence is the All, nothing in the world can be understood unless one keeps in sight both the primordial essence and its opposite. "The good has swallowed the evil or the repugnant into itself.... Every being has good and evil within itself; and in its development, having to decide between them, it becomes an opposition of qualities, since one of them seeks to overcome the other." It is therefore entirely in the spirit of Jacob Boehme to see both good and evil in every object and process of the world; but it is not in his spirit to seek the primordial essence without further ado in the mixture of the good with the evil. The primordial essence had to swallow the evil, but the evil is not a part of the primordial essence."


"A spiritual conception that penetrates to the being of man finds there motives for action which ethically are directly good; for the impulse to evil arises in man only because in his thoughts and sensations he silences the depths of his own nature."

This is an important thought- we ignore our own nature when we commit evil acts.

On the emergence of duality with the sexes:

The Birth of the Light

"Then a time came when the Persian priests of Zarathustra, the wise Parsis, looked back to the epoch in which the two sexes were born out of fire, and man became a duality. With the birth of sexual man out of fire, evil, which had not previously existed, entered the world. Evil in the human sense did not exist before the division of the sexes that occurred in the middle of the Lemurian age. Good and evil have existed only since that time when they came to fill the last part of the Lemurian age and the first part of the Atlantean."

"The duality of good and evil was taught in the religion of Zarathustra. Men were not yet concerned with a trinity, which came later at about the time when the first historical documents appeared. The Akashic Record gives no information of a trinity existing in pre-historical times. It only became necessary for people to look up to a third power after they came to distinguish between good and evil. Thus the figure of the mediator appeared -- the conciliator, the redeemer from evil, who led mankind from evil to good, and he was most clearly present in the Mysteries of Mithras that originated in Persia and spread finally over the whole world."

"Buddhi, or life-spirit, will find expression in man through the overcoming of evil by good. Duality will purify the lower instincts and desires, and all evil will be consumed in the fire of love. Manas, or spirit-self, is the spiritual principle that rules human development even now. As the Messiah, the Redeemer, created a unison in the world
that leads from disharmony to harmony, so duality is redeemed through the trinity in which evil is conquered by good."

The enthusiasm for the Good was placed in our soul by God. We experience this soulically firstly without the need for intellectualism.