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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


The unspiritual mind misconstrues the
nature of Evil, which has no substance;
is not real but only an inverted reflection
of the Good. The apostle John teaches that
Evil is weak and impotent, a beggarly element,
an icon of insubstantial darkness which must
flee before the smallest encroachment of Light.



return to the main-page article on "Satan" 



Many tend to think of Evil as a substantive force in the world; that it possesses a deep reality, as real as God - and in opposition to him.

"If we could just isolate and locate Evil," many believe, "and defeat Satan, Evil's central source, we could surgically remove Evil, stamp it out, and be rid of it."

Our popular culture bears testimony to this perceived grand cosmic struggle between Good and Evil:

Don Feder: "The Lord of The Rings (books and movies), and especially The Return of the King, is about the struggle of good and evil – a dark lord of supernatural malevolence intent on crushing free will and enslaving humanity, a ring of power which corrupts those who possess it and therefore must be destroyed, courageous warriors, a wise and benevolent wizard, and ordinary folk who – through their sacrifices – rise to heroic heights.
Dick Morris, March 13, 2002: "In Europe, it's not cool to get hot and bothered about [9-11]. It violates the cafe-sophistication which insists, in a cloud of cigarette smoke, on seeing a world with all shades of gray, rather than one polarized by good and evil. Ennui is in. Energetic, righteous indignation is for the immature. You know, like Americans."
John Stewart, Justice League: "In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil's might, beware my power, Green Lantern's Light!"
President Ronald Reagan, speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, March 8, 1983: "Let us beware that while they [Soviet rulers] preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination over all the peoples of the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.... I urge you to beware the temptation ... to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of any evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil."
Douglas MacArthur: "Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it."
Garrison Keillor: “The term 'evil powers' is one you hear only in the church, or in Marvel comic books or [political] speeches.”

But many of history's philosophers, mystics, and thinkers had a different view:

Augustine, The Confessions: "From whence is evil? ... as yet I knew not that evil was nothing but a privation of good, until at last a thing ceases altogether to be … it [is] not any substance ... but the perversion of the will, turned aside from Thee, O God."
Richard Ellmann: "[Wilde] was proposing that good and evil are not what they seem, that moral tags cannot cope with the complexity of behaviour."
John Warwick Montgomery: "One of the biggest difficulties in our contemporary society is that we try to locate the evil in somebody else and then we try to get rid of him. The police are pigs or the students are worthless, and so on and so on. The Marxists are the devils or the Republicans are the devils or you name it. We try to isolate the evil and then get rid of it."


Edward C. Randall for 22 years worked with direct-voice medium Emily French and received thousands of communications from the Spirit World. One message spoke of the nature of Evil:

"[Our teachers in Summerland reveal] the sublime truth that Evil is not a ... positive principle, but a negative condition [that is, an absence of something], a mere [perception and] temporary circumstance of existence."


C.S. Lewis: "Badness is only spoiled goodness."
Thomas Aquinas: "Good can exist without evil, whereas evil cannot exist without good."
John Steinbeck, East of Eden: "In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love."
Carl Jung, The Psychology of the Unconscious, 1943: Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.
Augustine: There is no possible source of evil except good.
Mohandas Gandhi: Evil is good or truth misplaced.
Dust Devil, the movie (1992): “There is no good or evil, only spirit and matter; only movement toward the light, and away from it.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Evil is only good perverted.”
John Henry Newman: “Evil has no substance of its own, but is only the defect, excess, perversion, or corruption of that which has substance.”

W. H. Auden: "Good can imagine Evil; but Evil cannot imagine Good."

Eva Broch Pierrakos: "You conceive of two opposite forces: a constructive one opposed to a destructive one: good opposed to evil ...  evil, is not a final separate force... No matter how ugly some of those manifestations are ... you [must] realize that every one of these [bad] traits is an energy current, originally good and beautiful and life-affirming."

Austin O’Malley: “An evil thought in a soul is like a water-rat swimming in a pond at evening: the rat destroys the iridescent reflection of heaven in the water.”

John 1:5: “The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness could not put it out” (The Message translation).

Commentators point out that the flame of a single candle begins to defeat darkness, and increasingly so with each incremental addition of candlepower. But darkness has no such corresponding power over light. Light is something substantive; darkness is merely the absence of light. Darkness must begin to flee before the smallest encroachment of light, the tiniest candle, but darkness has not the least such power over light!

Evil has no substance of its own - it's merely Good turned on its head. People have needs, desires, cravings, all of them good, of and by themselves. But it all goes wrong when we try to fill those holes in our hearts by untoward means.

And this is the nature of Evil - a faulty perception of the Good which causes people to make bad choices, as they, in their egoic delusion, attempt to snatch at short-cuts to the Good, which they believe will make them happy.

  • But the smallest bit of Light, the briefest glimpse of awareness and consciousness, begins the process of "enlightenment." No darkness can live in that environment of sacred introspection. It will flee from us when eyes begin to open.



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