THE DARK SIDE: BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL

By Marcia Montenegro (page 2 of 3)

Evil as a force

Occult dualism also teaches that evil is a force, an idea seen most popularly in the Star Wars movies in which either the dark or light sides of the Force can be accessed. "Star Wars" is another example of the philosophy that these two "forces" are complementary. Calling evil a force makes it seem less evil by turning it into an impersonal energy that is not particularly attached to human nature.

One does not necessarily choose evil but goes to the dark side almost inadvertently through emotions that one has failed to control. The very Zen-like Yoda in "Star Wars" says that the dark side of the Force is accessed through fear and anger (natural emotions, not evil). This is similar to what the teacher says to the boy at the wizardry school. The young wizard is told that "[w]e are all made up of such deep and dark emotions, and as we grow more mature, we learn to control them."20 The message is, control your emotions, master yourself, and you will keep the dark side at bay. This message is also found in the first four Harry Potter books. Harry is not taught so much to do moral good, as he is to control his powers. Even in using his powers for a heroic act, Harry practices deception and disobedience on an almost constant basis. Morality is irrelevant as a value in itself; what matters is that the ends justify the means. This kind of compromise is accepted, even lauded, in a world where there is no absolute good or evil. Of course, for a wizard (sorcerer), self-mastery is of paramount importance since self-mastery precedes mastery of the forces and spirits he believes he will be manipulating in his occult art.

In this view, man is morally neutral, like the Force. As Rabbi Cooper states, "[W]e are neither good nor evil in our nature. We are simply the product of the accumulated influences in our lives, plus the most important variable: our free will."21

In "Star Wars," however, there is a big contradiction in the idea of the Force. In Episode One: The Phantom Menace, characters in the movie refer several times to the "will" of the Force. But an impersonal Force cannot have a will since it does not possess an intelligence. And if it does possess a will, it cannot be a Force. So how can a Force have will, and how can a Force have the qualities of good and evil, or dark and light?

Beyond Good and Evil

In the 7th stage of knowing God, according to Chopra in his How to Know God, one learns that God encompasses everything, even what we call evil. Chopra writes, "What is the nature of good and evil? God is the union of all opposites. Evil no longer exists."22 Duality disappears into nonduality, the true nature of reality.

Chopra is presenting what seems to be a beautiful spirituality. But his message is similar to the teachings of sorcery. A novel about murders committed by a practitioner of Palo Mayombe, the "dark side" of Santeria, offers this description of the black magician, "He was a gifted, powerful, man...Beyond good and evil, like any master magician."23 In this way, the master of the dark art of Palo Mayombe becomes the same as Chopra's God. In transcending good and evil, one is making one's self into a god, putting the self above the need to answer to anyone higher for one's actions.

From a website titled Teen Wicca Page, an article, "What is Wicca?" makes a statement that "most" Wiccans recognize three levels of reality, two of which are dualism (God and Goddess) and pantheism. The other level is defined as "The Ultimate One: All power comes from this level. Power at this level is neither good nor evil, only power. . . We do not believe in the concept of ultimate good or ultimate evil. Instead we believe that all is power and it therefore depends on how the power is used. It is up to us to use this power wisely."24

Tibetan Tantric Buddhism offers the view that good and evil are both tools in the journey for spiritual mastery. The students of such a path "welcome both demons and angels as their allies. Transcending good and evil, they transmute them both back into that pure essence" from which they come.25 In fact, it is the "manipulation of the forces of good and evil" which "provides the power."26 These views are not surprising given the statement that they perceive "everything in the universe as holy."27

Although magician28 Arthur Edward Waite, in his book on ceremonial magick, discusses black magick, he states several times that the differences between white and black magic are surface and verbal. In the preface, Waite discusses "the good and evil side of the arts," stating that "the two aspects dissolve into one another and belong one to another in the root that is common to both."29

These are examples of the belief that all is ultimately one; dark and light are not really distinct from each other, but are part of the whole. Believing that all is One must assume that good and evil are the same or do not really exist. Good and evil are swallowed by the One. In another book on the Kabbalah, the author quotes a Taoist text that she believes echo teachings from the Zohar: "Through this step-by-step nonattachment he achieves enlightenment and is able to see all things as One."30

As Chopra's book shows, and as the study of occult philosophy reveals, the goal is to transcend good and evil. Good and evil are merely temporary forces of dark and light; the truly enlightened person will go beyond these through knowledge and mastery of these "forces," arriving at that state where his power and his control are pre-eminent. In this sense, these occult teachings attempt to raise self to God's level by accessing what is perceived to be divine power for one's own use. Good and evil as concepts are ultimately discarded, for the occult is about accessing energy or power and the mastery of forces, not good versus evil. It is not even about evil, and certainly not about defeating evil, since evil itself is ultimately denied, transcended, or absorbed into a neutral force.

A God who encompasses evil

Any god of a spiritual system that denies evil or teaches that good and evil are ultimately one, cannot be absolutely good. Or this god might be a force or impersonal power containing all opposites, including good and evil, within him/herself. And so we find that according to the Kabbalah, "In our limited perception we cannot reconcile the sacred and the secular, we cannot harmonize their contradictions. Yet at the pinnacle of the universe they are reconciled, at the site of the holy of holies."31

According to Cooper, even though the Kabbalistic Satan is associated with evil and the Biblical God is associated with good, this Biblical God is considered a lesser God than the real "God," the ultimate One that is called Ein Sof. Ein Sof is perceived as a principle rather than as a person. Going beyond Satan and God to Ein Sof is to transcend good and evil, for "Ein Sof is beyond good and evil; we must not attribute ‘goodness' to It. . . . Simply said, Ein Sof embraces everything, including the totality of good and evil."32 This brings us back to Chopra's god, who, combining all opposites in his being, exemplifies the mystical occult transcendence of good and evil.

The serpent

However one may view the serpent in the Garden of Eden -- as myth, as Satan, as the Wise One who imparted wisdom to man, it is true that the Genesis account reports that in tempting Eve, the serpent told her that in eating the forbidden fruit, "you will be like God, knowing good and evil."33 Eve already knew it was wrong to eat the fruit, so what was the temptation here? It was thinking that if one knows good and evil, one goes to the next step to then decide what is good and evil; one becomes his own god ("be like God") in determining what is right and wrong. The outright temptation was not to do evil (although in eating the fruit, Adam and Eve disobeyed God), but to bypass God?s word, and be one?s own god. In disobeying God, Adam and Eve did not become gods and they did not gain wisdom; instead, they broke the fellowship with God, who created and loved them, and they lost the Garden.

If the serpent had merely urged Eve34 to disobey God, Eve might have been shocked and refused. But the serpent was crafty; he appealed to human pride, a trait that today still seduces humanity into a desire to be our own god, thinking that thus we achieve a spiritual wisdom. This human ?wisdom? that overrides God?s word creates a society that determines its own moral values, an environment where morality shifts and becomes a matter of personal expedience. The line in the sand was crossed in the Garden of Eden, and it has been blurred by humanity ever since.

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