Where does evil come from and can we get rid of it?
Before Creation there was only one undifferentiated essence in the universe. This essence contained within itself the potential to shape itself into any form whatsoever, visible or invisible. With the event known as the Big Bang, scientists hypothesize that this undifferentiated oneness became a boiling plasma soup from which both matter and antimatter emerged and the creation of our Universe ensued.
Genesis: 1-5 explains Creation in a more literary way: "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day."
So what does all of this have to do with evil? Whether we prefer the scientific approach to the creation of the Universe or a more symbolic spiritual interpretation, it is clear that as a result of a major event (the Big Bang, "Let there be light")--the One essence manifested two different sides of itself--a positive aspect (matter, Day) and a negative aspect (antimatter, Night). Duality, in other words, is inherent in physical creation and is the explanation for the existence of both good and evil in our world.
For millennia, the quest of spiritual seekers has been to overcome evil--to transcend duality--and merge with the one essence behind Creation. Interestingly enough, both science and Western religious teachings provide the answer as to how to do just this.
According to a September 19, 2002 New York Times article, "Matter and antimatter are like the good and evil twins of nature; they are endowed with equal and opposite characteristics like charge and spin, so if they meet they obliterate each other, releasing a flash of energy upon contact." In other words, when confronted with each other, matter and antimatter merge and transform into another state altogether, that of pure energy. Interestingly, in human and some animal reproduction, the merging together of the male and female of the species in sexual union is the process by which a third new member of the species is created. Two must become one to create a new one.
Various scriptures In Judaism, Christianity and Islam teach that in order to transform an "evil" situation and create the conditions for one’s own spiritual union with divinity, it is necessary to meet evil with good.
In Psalms 37:27, God counsels humanity to "Depart from evil, and do good; So you shall abide forever." Jesus addresses this same theme when he advises his followers to "Resist not evil" (Matthew: 5:39) and to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew: 5:44) As in Psalms, the reward for meeting evil with good is to enjoy the status of being "children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good..." (Matthew 5:45) And in the Koran, Allah reveals to Mohammed that: "The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better, then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it except those who are patient..." (Fussilat 41:34).
The Koran’s admonition that in order to overcome evil we must cultivate patience cannot be underestimated. Unlike the instantaneous and effortless transformation into pure energy that results from the merging of matter and antimatter or the sudden illuminating experiences of some spiritual seekers, most often great patience is required to overcome an "evil" situation or to achieve enlightenment. Even in human reproduction, great patience is often required before the woman becomes pregnant with new life. And in Nature the period we call night is only transformed into day as the Earth gradually revolves on its axis and light from the sun begins to merge with and then overcome the darkness.
As spiritual seekers, let us approach every "evil" not as an obstacle to our quest for union with the divine, but as an opportunity to apply goodness, understanding, and love. Like the transmutation of matter and antimatter into pure energy, our transformation into true children of God is assured.
Copyright © 2004, 2016 K. Weissman & T. Coyne