Duality of evil and good

A thoughtful time…
If only there were evil people somewhere, insidiously
committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate
them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the fine line
dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human
being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Some interesting reading …
Prominent American psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, writer of such tomes as “The Road less Travelled” and “People of the Lie”, describes evil as “militant ignorance”. Peck characterizes evil as a malignant type of self-righteousness which results in a projection of evil onto selected specific innocent victims. Peck considers those he calls evil to be attempting to escape and hide from their own conscience through self deception and views this as being quite distinct from the apparent absence of conscience evident in sociopaths.

According to Peck, an evil person:

    * Is consistently self-deceiving, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self-image of perfection
    * Deceives others as a consequence of their own self-deception
    * Projects his or her evils and sins onto very specific targets, while appearing normal with everyone else
    * Maintains a high level of respectability and lies incessantly in order to do so
    * Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency of destructiveness
    * Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim
    * Is intolerant to criticism

Peck draws a profile of the evil: they have no regard for the truth; they lie and live in a world of lies. They are masters of disguise and cloak themselves with masks of respectability, goodness and often piety. (Peck tells us that religiosity is a common and effective disguise.) But it is the appearance of propriety and respectability that is the important factor.

Some thoughts…
There is today a disease, a disease of hatred. It’s very existence is a form of group narcissism. If a group does not have an enemy, it will most likely create one. The groups become cliques. Those who do not belong to the group are despised as being inferior or evil or both. The best way to cement group cohesiveness is to foment the group’s hatred of an external enemy. Deficiencies within the group can be easily and painlessly overlooked by focusing attention on the deficiencies or ‘sins’ of the out-group. Thus the Germans under Hitler could ignore their domestic problems by scapegoating the Jews.”

The problem with being surrounded by a group of evil people?….Every time we believe a lie, our mental health is diminished as we become subsumed by the group narcissism.

Some philosophy…..
According to the general teachings of the Buddha, “evil” means “harmful” and refers to  both the three selfish emotions — desire, hate and delusion; and also to their expression in physical and verbal actions. Specifically, “evil” means whatever harms or obstructs the causes for happiness in this life, a better rebirth, liberation from samsara, and the true and complete enlightenment of a buddha (samyaksambodhi). Ignorance is defined as the root of all evil.



Some balance…..
There has always been duality in the struggle between evil and good. Good and evil have been inherent in life since time without beginning.  From the joy of special views and the awe-inspiring sight of the perigee moon this week, I was able to look around at the beauty inherent in the environment, wonder at the beauty and strength of nature and I was comforted by the thought that no matter how bleak things may look, the sun will still come up tomorrow. Walking in nature is a great way of cleansing the soul – of bringing oneself back into equilibrium  and some peace of mind. Thus we may recognise and accept the duality of good and evil.

RIMG0074IMAG0057 RIMG0081



About David Adlam

I am a conductor, composer, clarinettist and examiner for Trinity Guildhall working in Auckland, New Zealand and overseas
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2 Responses to Duality of evil and good

  1. Ann says:

    You don’t sound in a good place, mentally and emotionally, David. What brought this on? Is it the turmoil of the world?

    Yet, I rather get the feeling that someone has hurt you deeply and you’re battling to cope with it. I’m only concerned for your happiness and well-being – don’t want to pry.


  2. Matthew says:

    Self deceit is the biggest evil

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