Last Friday was VE Day when we commemorated victory by the Allies over Nazi Germany in Europe, an obvious case of good triumphing over evil. However, I find a deep irony in this. In my view, most of the people who celebrated that victory are themselves in their way of life, their beliefs, their actions, their behaviour, completely in thrall to a different kind of evil, one that may be less obvious in its appearance but is possibly even more spiritual corrosive.
It is often asked how the Germans in the 1930s could have been taken in by Nazi propaganda and gone along with its programme. I would ask a similar question. How can so many people now not see the anti-spiritual insanity of the present day? How is it that we do not just accept but often actively celebrate contemporary evil? The answer presumably is we don't recognise it as evil but why is that? It is because we don't know, or don't wish to know, the true purpose of life or what a human being actually is. We don't (or won't) think of ourselves as souls but as material beings whose material needs, desires and goals are primary.
Modern evil is the refusal to recognise truth. It is the rejection of God and his replacement with a worldly ideology that equates good with what leads to mortal happiness and evil with what causes suffering to mind or body. But as most people once knew, certainly most people who framed the pattern of civilisation, good is what leads to the development of the soul and brings Man closer to God and evil is what separates Man from God. By that criterion, we are among the most evil people to have existed anywhere ever.
Think about this for a moment. We imagine ourselves as enlightened, compassionate, caring human beings but in point of fact we have egotistically (and it is the unrepentant ego that is behind this) rejected the reality of what we are. If all good is in God, and it is because God is Truth, and we have abandoned God, that makes us evil. There are no two ways about this and I believe that we know it. We don't accept it but we do know it at a level of our being that we keep suppressed. We know it because God is inside us, every one of us, and speaks to us of his presence if we allow it. If we don't hear his voice that is because we don't want to. I know that many people would say they do want to but can't and I'm afraid all I would say to that is, try harder. I realise it is difficult in this modern world when so much is against it. The whole culture is against it and all the religions are pale shadows of what they once were but let me make two points to support my assertion.
First, it is more and more apparent that a world without God is heading for utter disaster. Everyone recognises this or should. If they don't they are either too young and time should bring understanding or else they are too besotted by shallow worldly pleasures or caught up in political ideologies that pander, in one form or another, to the ego. I'm sorry if that seems extreme or offensive but it's time for straight-talking. People who are ready to understand will understand. Those who are not perhaps need to suffer before their minds are receptive to reality. That is no one's responsibility except their own.
The second reason that we are not left spiritually bereft even in this age of triumphant materialism is that today, more than ever, there are teachings to suit a wide variety of tastes and intellectual proclivities readily available. There are many people writing, talking and so on about the evil of the present times. Most, admittedly, do not have a high public profile but anyone who sincerely wishes to find truth will be directed towards someone who can help them. This someone may just be a stepping stone to something else of greater truth but the point is guidance is there if you search for it.
Evil is subtle and always attacks in ways we least expect and the areas where we are weakest. So my teachers told me and so I have found. The Nazi form of evil is clearly a non-starter in the West nowadays despite sections of the press being obsessed with right-wing extremism. We are too familiar with it. But the evil that pervades the Western world now presents itself as good and this is the evil we have succumbed to and we have done so because of the evil within ourselves. That is how it always works. Our own shallowness and egotism is reflected in the world we have created which, in turn, feeds back into the shallowness and egotism.
It is the materialist who defines evil in material terms, violence, murder, rape and so on. All these things certainly are evil. That is not being denied. The material world is part of the totality of reality. But it is not the only part. Reality is primarily spiritual and the contemporary attack on the soul is every bit as evil as the evil of the Nazis. It is just evil manifesting in a different sphere, spiritual rather than material. Our refusal to recognise spiritual evil and the hubris that goes along with this is why the Western world is dying. It cannot be saved but that is not important. What is important is individual souls and these can be saved but only if they renounce the world as it is and do what I believe is called in the terminology of mobile phones and other electronic devices, a factory reset in which all or most of the accumulated data is wiped clean and you start afresh. This is repentance or, to use a word I prefer because it signifies something more comprehensive, metanoia, a total change of mind and heart driven by penitence.
The need for metanoia means that a vague, generalised, intellectual kind of spirituality is not the answer. There's plenty of that about but it does not reach to the bottom of the soul and can often by engaged in without the renunciation of worldliness. It's a new suit when we need a new mind. The true religious goal is not to make us happy in this life but to prepare us to enter the next. Too much contemporary spirituality is therapeutic when it should be transformational and this is part of the form evil currently takes in our world.