[T]he individual who wishes to have an answer to the problem of evil, as it is posed today, has need, first and foremost of self-knowledge, that is, the utmost possible knowledge of his own wholeness. He must know relentlessly how much good he can do, and what crimes he is capable of, and must beware of regarding the one as real and the other as illusion. Both are elements within his nature, and both are bound to come to light in him, should he wish—as he ought—to live without self-deception and self-delusion. C.G.Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1962), p. 330.
Of all the obstacles to spiritual maturity, dualistic thinking about God’s moral code is perhaps the most difficult to deal with and the most dangerous to humanity. For many seekers, the classic conflict between good and evil is the name of the religious game, and everything—including human life and the fate of our planet—depends on who wins. If my God has a different conception of right and wrong than yours, then the hell with you! You deserve to have your brains blown out.
Am I right? in this way of thinking, the highest priority isn’t to live and act with compassion but to have correct beliefs. Right there you know you’re talking about Epoch II because you’re all about mental abstractions and either/or judgments.
Unlike the majority of their peers, the men who founded the great patriarchal religions had evolved beyond Epoch I. Ever since Eve ate the apple, there have been serious seekers who consider heady issues like what is right and what is wrong, what is God and what is evil. The founding patriarchs had developed healthy egos and acquired consciences. And because they were trying to hard to be the good guys, they reasoned that evil must exist out there in the dark world of otherness. It couldn’t be in them.
Based on their growing self-reflective awareness and the dualistic thinking it spawned, they chose what they considered to be the good in every pair of opposites and formed their God-images around these words, qualities, and concepts. This kind of thinking was necessary if humanity was to become more conscious and morally responsible. But they misused it when they assigned the label of evil to the rejected opposite. This tendency of every Epoch II ego is the reason for Jesus’s notable and widely ignored suggestion [Matthew 7:4, 5 and Luke 6:41, 42] to look not for the mote in thy neighbor’s eye but for the log in thine own.
For example, instead of seeing the Great Mother as an opposite and complementary aspect of Creation, they portrayed her as a threat to growing consciousness. To them, Goddess represented their former Epoch I condition of instinctual behavior and moral irresponsibility, whereas the new solitary masculine God symbolized their hope of evolving toward a “higher,” more perfected and enlightened consciousness. Terrified of losing the ground they had worked hard to gain, many of them believed they had to destroy Goddess’s worship and replace it with their new bias toward God. And since they feared their own feminine sides, they demonized Goddess. This is why femininity is still associated with the unconscious and, for some people, dangerous and evil aspects of the psyche.
For the past five thousand years, Goddess has been the overarching symbol for what patriarchal religions of the West and Middle East have rejected. She is the whore male authorities have projected onto every defenseless woman who has been stripped of her autonomy, used for their purposes, and then abandoned to fend for herself. She is the witch they tortured and torched for stirring their terror of feminine power. She is the devil who tempts us to sin, the seductress who infiltrates our fortresses and weakens our resolve, the heretic who threatens to expose the pathology of our pat beliefs, the nemesis of every pious do-gooder who acts from the head and not the heart.
But before she was a symbol of evil, she represented something very good indeed: loving and creative partnership between the two complementary energies of life. By demonizing her we subverted our hopes for wholeness. By integrating her we can break out of the dualistic prison that bars our growth.
It is, however, true that much of the evil in the world comes from the fact that man in general is hopelessly unconscious, as it is also true that with increasing insight we can combat this evil at its source in ourselves, in the same way that science enables us to deal effectively with injuries inflicted from without. “The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man” (1928/1931), CW 10, par. 166.
This material is taken from Healing the Sacred Divide.
Art Image: Dualism, by Miles Johnston
Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.