Sunday 10 May 2020

Evil in the Modern World

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.


Adil said...

I think atheism is very much a natural result of the degeneration of natural order mirroring a disruption of divinely ordained hierarchies. It is the domination of the objectifying mercantile mind, that loses heavenly insight if not informed by spiritual oversight. To maintain health according to modern society you should simply and eat the "right" food and practice yoga. For socialism everything is a mathematical equation that doesn't even account for the moral dimension of the individual, which perhaps is why it is so blind to corruption?

The narrative of our culture is implicit technological supremacy. From this blindfolded POV, it is completely meaningless and counterproductive to assign meaning to that which meets the eye. If a tree, a forest, a land, or a people has meaning, then how could you possibly exploit it with a straight face? Our culture absolutely needs atheism to function, and any spirituality it can tolerate has to be of an abstract, impersonal, individualistic nature. Just close your eyes and smile like the Buddha! If you lose touch with your own human soul, you can't help but to become absorbed into the machine without even knowing it. Eternal bliss!

edwin faust said...

In all justice to the Buddha, he did not urge closing one's eyes to temporal or spiritual suffering and melting into a selfishly personal bliss. This is a misunderstanding that comes from conflating contrary understandings in Eastern spirituality, i.e. traditional Hinduism with Buddhism. It might be enlightening to note that a Buddhist critique of Western religion is that its emphasis on personal salvation is selfish and closes its eyes to the suffering of other beings. This gave rise to the Bodhisattva vows. Whatever one's arguments for against a thing, it's important to start with a clear understanding; otherwise, you end up attacking straw men to no real effect.

Nietzsche's famous declaration that God is dead is seldom quoted to include the words "even in the heart of the believer." What he meant, I think, is that the Genesis narrative - the larger story in which people had for centuries lived their individual stories - was no longer accepted as a true account. The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jesus Christ was not the God of the modern world, who was becoming more removed, abstract and difficult to relate to in a real and vital way. It seems unlikely that materialism will be abandoned any time soon and people will again see the world and themselves as Divinely created and order their lives according to some understanding of Revelation. That people are to be blamed for this may or may not be the case. To deliberately prefer of lie to the truth seems to indicate that one does not consider the lie to be a lie. Culpability is a subjective matter and it is presumptuous to judge others, as we have been told on good authority. Ignorance may appear to be culpable and perhaps it is in some cases, but as I don't know which those cases are, and blaming someone does nothing to help them or me, I can't see the point of railing against them.

As far as our destiny in Heaven is concerned: I used to fast from literature during Lent and restrict myself to spiritual reading, although I allowed myself the indulgence of going through the Divine Comedy. It struck me that as the poem progressed it weakened in power and imagination. Many have read the Inferno; fewer, the Purgatorio; and fewer still, the Paradiso. We know what it is to suffer physically and mentally; we know what it is to do penance and attempt to reform our lives; we have no actual knowledge or experience of Heaven or the beatific vision. This makes the idea that life in this world is a preparation for life in the next world a hard sell. What sort of life are we talking about? To call it a life of creativity, a continuation of soul life, a union with Christ - all these are speculative and imaginative and arguable concepts. In defense of Buddhism, it begins with an analysis of why we suffer and the nature of ignorance. I think this must be made clear to us before we are able to fly to higher things.

William Wildblood said...

I agree edwin. I have the greatest respect for the Buddha and for Buddhism. However, I do think it has been superseded as a spiritual path though it still has much to offer and lessons to teach. However, the fact is that whatever the Buddha said about not closing one's eyes etc, that is the logical corollary of his path for the arhat. The Bodhisattva is a different matter but then I believe that ideal was an influence from Christianity either directly or, more probably, through the influence of the ascended Christ after he had departed from the physical world but still poured down his influence through the spiritual planes.

Adil said...

I shall make explicit that I was not criticizing the Buddha per se, but rather the Buddha as a metaphor for what I was criticizing.

Unknown said...

The Bodhisattva seems to me an inevitable development of the Buddhist idea of no-self - at a certain point, it was realized that striving for nirvana for oneself is selfish, and likely to build ego.

The next logical development was Zen, Dzogchen, and the like - one finally realizes that all effort at self-perfection merely builds the ego, all effort to get rid of the ego builds it, and all effort to become Enlightened, to reach Nirvana, perpetuates the problem - the false notion that you are lacking.

Its all selfish, an ego trip - and as has been said, conceding that you need to get anywhere, endures you will never get anywhere.

So all effort at reaching nirvana, becoming enlightened - that was finally seen through.

But it was all there in the original doctrine of the Buddha - that desire is the source of suffering. It just had to be worked out in stages - until it was realized, that instead of killing desire - which is desire - you simply don't have to take it seriously. Thus the Buddhist doctrine of Emptiness. Desire isn't even important enough to need to do anything about.

As for ideas of Heaven always being unconvincing, that's absolutely true. Eventually, in Buddhism, Nirvana was seem as Samsara seen from the correct point of view. Maybe Heaven is total acceptance.

Daniel said...

an obvious case of good triumphing over evil

The fact that you start off with this is a dead give-away that we're dealing with utmost ignorance.

This is why people like you are always losing the battle.
It's what you deserve - to be the eternal loser.

Enjoy working for Satan !

William Wildblood said...

You think the Nazis should have won the war?

Adil said...

Some more thoughts on coffee. The problem boils down to first principles. The flattening of natural hierarchy dogmatized the professional scientific view of objective experiment so that even common man adopted it. But as someone said, where is the scientist at the Big Bang? The experiential is primary to objective facts. And this objectifying view of nature and man was later institutionalized by socialism. Nazism too of course, which was its angry version. Another problem is the Reformation which paved way for science to claim nature. The problem with the Lutheran (Cartesian?) view is that it concedes the world entirely to materialism and has belief on top. It sees nature as bad but I would argue it's the intellect that is the culprit. If matter is not innertly spiritual but made of "bits", then of course kings and priests and bishops are just arbitrary class arrangements, and the revolutionaries might as well 'seize the day'.

Moonsphere said...

It is unfortunate that Daniel has phrased his post in the way he did.

But there is a point in there. It's not a question of whether the Nazis should have won - but rather whether the Allies can really be deemed to be the good side in that fight. Can we really continue to see WC as a "good guy"? For all of his "jaw jaw better than war war" - he revelled in bloody conflict his entire life. Can we really maintain that a person who is happy to order the fire bombing of whole cities of non-combatants - women and children is "good"? If so, then what further crimes would have been necessary to make him evil.

When sufficient centuries have passed and a dispassionate, rational view of the 20th century is finally permitted - I believe that Stalin (our ally) will be named as the supreme evil of that War, with AH and WC as joint runner-ups.

The World War of the 20th century was conducted in Acts I and II and if we go back to WW1 - we find the architects are uncomfortably close to home. Terry Boardman has written some very good essays on the dark origins of WW1. It is said that the war was started by some 40 people.

William Wildblood said...

I take your point Moonsphere and I'm not saying it was pure good against pure evil but on the whole it was surely relative right against complete wrong. And I don't see how you can bracket WC, for all his faults and there were many, with AH. WW1 was a different matter, a disaster in every respect.

But none of that is the main point of the post!

Daniel said...

The people who financed Churchill's recklessness were the exact same people who financed Bolshevism in Russia. Also the exact same people who financed Hitler's rise in German politics.

So no, it's not "an obvious case of good winning over evil".

It's an obvious case of goyim killing each other so that The Chosenites can get what they want.

Like I said, you are an ignorant man.
And that is why you will lose all your battles.

Moonsphere said...


I'm not sure that such a style of communication is particularly useful or fruitful.

Which leads to the question of just how well are you "handling" the truth?

William Wildblood said...

You've missed the point of the post , Daniel. The right and wrongs of WW2 are not really relevant. What I'm saying is that the people who celebrated the defeat of one form of what is normally thought to be evil on VE Day are happily living with another at the present time without any apparent concern.