You can read the original debate between myself and my typical Christian detractor here. With some reluctance and after a lot consideration I have finally chosen to address these accusations, well aware that with my apologia I might create even more confusion instead of shedding light on this topic, or even stir up some more upset feelings, and perhaps even inspire some to threathen my sorry heretical arse with enternal damnation in hell, at least in the minds conditioned by dualistic theology. I have used the ensuing debate as a template for this essay, added upon, further developed and embellished with some more thoughts on this matter that has come to the surface of my conscious awareness lately in pondering and contemplating these matters. I must add that the preparation of this essay has been quite exeptionally time consuming and slow, no doubt because of the sensitive contents of this matter.
At the outset of this discourse I must state my opinion, nay firm conviction, that people who cannot phantom a reality and nurture a holistic world view, that take both evil and good into equal account, are hopelessly trapped in a dualistic world view which is overly simplistic, and thus false. However, I don’t blame anyone for being such; this is the common trait of the conditioned mind. But, I cannot follow in the steps of the common and natural man’s reasoning as I am walking along a entirely different path. I am not stating that my conclusions represents the truth either, but at least they do try to embrace the complexity of existence as a fact; that truth is not always what it seems and that it should be looked for further, beyond the usually obvious.
To illustrate this whole issue, and raise the temperature somewhat, a very interesting, albeit equally predicable, question was raised by the typical Christian apologist – if I cannot see any real difference between the actions committed by Adolf Hitler and that of Mother Theresa? God forbid even to suggest that Hitler and Mother Theresa were both humans facing equal existential problems and opportunities in life, having emotions of love and hate, as with any of us! Any effort made to humanize evil characters such as Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussain or Osama Bin Laden, trying to understand their psychology, is seen as highly dangerous by most individuals today. In the consensus opinion of contemporary society Hitler is simply evil, a monster not fit to be considered or assessed with the same standards that we expect ourselves to be judged.
As a starter, I see a great problem (and hazard even) to demonise any individual, also such arch-villains as Adolf Hitler. Or in demonising me for that matter who has the nerve to suggest that “evil” is the dark side of that same coin which contains also the “good” side. To me this line of thinking, which the common and politically correct individual represents, only serves his own defence mechanisms of the ego; pointing one’s finger towards that “evil” person outside of oneself instead of looking into the mirror and looking for it in one’s own self. Demonisation is an easy escape strategy (or mechanism). One of the easiest, actually. Sadly enough, it is a common trait by the majority of people to look outside of oneself and condemning one’s neighbour, instead of looking for the evil inside and distinct from that other person.
In my opinion monsters as Hitler or saints as Mother Theresa are as human as the rest of us. We all share the basic existential conditions. We have all our dark and brighter sides. Hitler also had this dual nature. As well as he could hate an entire race he could also love his close ones. He was a vegetarian and abhorred the hunting of animals. Mother Theresa also had her dual nature; as well as she did help the sick she also showed the typical repressing traits of the common Christian Catholic missionary and even showing neglect in the face of human suffering. There is both an angelic and demonic side to all of us; that is what it is to be human. Dehumanise arch-villains as Hitler and you will stop looking for the tyrant and racist inside of you. Idealize icons as Mother Theresa and you will start legitimising your own spiritual pride and patronizing traits.
Thus I don’t believe in all “evil” or absolutely “good” humans. Humans are simply humans – of a dual or two-fold nature. To become more than human we must unite all opposites within us. That means stop pointing fingers (i.e. projecting) and start looking inside and scrutinizing ourselves. Naturally, there are good and evil actions; though we mustn’t condemn man, only his actions. All people are capable of both evil and good actions, without neither being essentially bad nor god in themselves as persons. Why? Because we are the microcosm – a reflection of the macrocosm which also expresses this two sided nature; the dual contending forces.
Thus, I have never stated that there is no “right” nor “wrong”, or not any “good” nor any “evil”. I have simply said that these two facets of existence are both stemming from the divine, from one common source. The ancients understood that principle better as they saw evil deities being part of the cosmic forces. In Hindu mythology, to take but one example, you have Kali which is an integrated part of the great cosmic All, as is any other of the “good” deities. Likewise, Set (the Egyptian Satan) is the brother of Osiris (the solar deity of redemption and resurrection). Set is also somtimes depicted as the twin of the god of light or Horus (see image at the header).
My typical Christian detractor accuse me of being inconsistent in claiming that there are good and evil actions when evil and good ultimately is one and the same thing; thus there is no standard where we might measure actions. People have misunderstood my point though. I have never said that good and evil is the same thing. All I have said is that they are two aspects or contraries within the same thing. This one and the same being or power has this dual nature of contending forces as an innate quality. Light manifests either as a particle or a wave; thus it has both natures which are diametrically different. The world wherein we exist is paradoxical; as humans we are likewise paradoxical, contradictory and ambivalent.
This concept of one Supreme Being with two natures seems to have originated in the teachings of Zoroaster or Zarathustra. And here it must be remembered that all of the Abrahamic religions – the Hebrew, Christian and Muslim alike – originates in the teachings of Zoroaster, at least in part. In him we have received the concepts of monotheism, i.e. the belief in one and supreme God, the battle between one good spirit and one evil satanic figure, the concept of free will of Man, the belief in angelical beings, the transcendence of God, the belief in hell and a paradisiacal existence, the salvation of man, the Last Judgement, etc. Gnosticism, both in its Judaic / Hebrew and Christian / Greek forms, have its origins in Zoroastrianism as well.
According to Zoroastrianism that great and transcendent God Ahura Mazda, emanates two contending forces or spirits from itself. These are the two opposing angelical beings; Angra Mainyu (also referred to as Ahriman), the “Destructive Principle”, we may recognize on the side of the evil as striving to bring the principle of chaos into play, and on the side of the good we may realize Spenta Mainyu (also known as Ormus) as the instrument or “Bounteous Principle” of the act of creation. This is reminiscent of the thoughtless and thoughtful lights of the Qabalistic Ain-Soph, the former resenting creation while the latter propagating it. But we mustn’t forget that both of these combatants originate from the same source, that of Ahura Mazda, i.e. Godhead. Thus they are both part of Ahura Mazda in essence, but only one – the good angel Spenta Mainyu – will prevail.
We will find the same theories being developed by Sigmund Freud, but in the microcosm – Man. He talks about the death (thanatos) and life (eros) instincts. But he also talks about the necessity of fusion between them two, as the death instinct (in the form of aggression) may serve the life instinct if conjoined to it. Thus, in fusing “good” and “evil” you effectively root out the worst evil behaviours in man and may even enhance the good ones, as lots of psychic energy is stored up in what we consider to be the bad and repressed aspects of ourselves.
Now, good and evil are as two great emanations of Godhead or cosmic rays which inflicts and affects us. It may also be likened to two water streams which stems from a common source. After leaving the source of the water that great river eventually divides itself into two streams, through the progression of involution in the creation process; somewhere in the descent there is a watershed. As humans we may choose to enter any of these two streams at any given time. We are free to do that. Standing in one of these we will be saturated by the quality of that water. But at any time we may step out from the water to descend into the other and contrary river. We may follow that water and let it take control of us, and see where it leads us, or we may choose to take a swim and move upstream instead. In doing the latter we will eventually pass the watershed and finally enter into that one great river which is neither good nor evil, it only IS. And that final state is fundamentally good; not tentative as in the lower and minor river of goodness. After entering that One and primary river of the life-power, in which both the principles of death and life are at play but eternally fused, we are short in reaching the final goal or destination; the source of the well. Bathing in that calm well we will transform ourselves into immortal demi-gods, leaving humanity behind.
Thus we are at the liberty of choosing wherein to bath in the streams of the waters of life and death. We have eaten from the fruit of knowledge and are able to distinguish between good and evil. We must therefore guard ourselves against attributing a person an overall quality only because they generally behave in a certain way to us. If only showing “good” traits, such as doing and saying “intelligent” things, does that necessarily mean that they are “intelligent” only? How can we know that they are not only adapting to what we are expecting of them? In an entirely different context compared to when they normally interact with us, they might show qualities that we generally would attribute as “bad” or “evil” even. A person in one particular context may be highly intelligent or sane, but in another completely stupid or insane. Thus a man is not just his observable actions, which are only at the surface in his interaction with us; he is lots more that that.
This brings us naturally to the topic of punishment, especially of the state sanctioned variety. Should we kill murderers or rapists, etc.? If you would ask me I would answer: No, I don’t believe in the “eye for an eye” philosophy of the Torah or old law. It cannot be a question of government-sanctioned revenge. Should we incarcerate criminals? Yes, of course! Contrary to what people might have construed from my apparent opinions, I do believe we should correct criminal behaviour, both for the sake and security of our community and for the sake of rehabilitation of antisocial behaviour.
I do believe that most of deviant and criminal behaviour originates not inside man itself but through his adaptation to his environment; certain interactive environments, social considerations and structural conditions do effect the development of the character, both for “good” or constructive and for “bad” or destructive. Still, regardless of origin of this deviant behaviour, it does create a guilt which must be refunded to the community according to the principle of cause and effect. There is such a thing as Karma, the Sanskrit word meaning “action” and denoting “cause and effect”. All actions have consequences, both good and bad actions. We are all part of a great web of interaction with our environment, especially the social dimension. Still, we mustn’t condemn the man, only his actions. As humans we are all equal in that Great and Eternal ALL, even if we have different conditions and possibilities.
To use the two examples already suggested: although history has condemned their acts as a crime against humanity (and rightly so) the nazis during the Second World War nevertheless regarded themselves doing the handiwork of the good, ridding humanity from what they believed to be an evil and a dire threat to mankind. Many regard Mother Theresa being a self-sacrificing humanitarian while others regard her and any of that clerical ilk to be hypocrites, representing pure evil, remote from any good. Mother Theresa followed a tradition of church activism, representing a long chain of Christian missionaries who during medieval times helped destroying entire cultures, such as the Aztecs and Incas in South-America (seeing the Indians as being soul-less animals in human form, quite reminiscent of the nazi “untermenschen” ideology) and putting their once grand civilizations into oblivion; history has condemned them too.
Although I do believe that there are absolutes regarding truth and ethics, it is quite difficult as a human to know which is actually a “good” behaviour and which is a “bad” one. Most acts and behaviours are adequate. Not all, of course, but most. Even those that the majority regards as objectionable, or even abhorrent. In my profession I work in counselling and many behaviours that my clients are exhibiting are condemned by most in our modern society (even by me sometimes), but still looking closely what actually motivates them or in what context (and from which history) they are acting, their behaviour is as adequate as mine.
So in the final analysis I neither believe that any human individual is born evil nor good. I am truly convinced that we develop a survival strategy or a philosophy of conduct which is determined by our experiences from the first breath in our life to the last, which develops our unique set of defence mechanisms and unconscious internal conflicts, coupled with the choices we make according to both the opportunities or hindrances that we encounter in our social interaction and in relation to our peculiar unconscious dynamics (although even our “free will” is determined by our unresolved unconscious conflicts). I would love to have both Adolph Hitler and Mother Theresa on my analytic couch! Both were motivated by their own unique neuroses or personality disorders in their respective “missions”.
In a way I’m glad that Hitler and Mother Theresa were brought up in this discourse, by someone else than me, as they commonly represent the two opposite ends of human behaviour – the evil and the good respectively – in our occidental christianized minds. However, I must add that the act of picking these two extreme examples in the name of rhetoric, or that of child abusers (which is the most common rhetoric trick to use), is typical of someone who wants to effectively silence this kind of problematization or discussion. I have seen this happen on several occations. These types of behaviours, that both Hitler and Mother Theresa or any other exceptional or deviant examples showed, don’t represent any typical traits in human behaviour. I am talking about darkness and brightness which resides in all of humanity, in both great and small, but still within the common man. Picking extremes won’t further any fruitful discussion or lead to a greater understanding of human behaviour and a proper approach towards wise conduct and spiritual development in fusing the disassociations of the soul.
Returning to my previous talk about Zoroastrianism, actual dualism eventually started to creep into its tenets, and suddenly Ahuru Mazda or God was identified solely with Spenta Mainyu or Ormus, while Angra Mainyu or Ahriman became the opposite of God itself. These concepts soon also creeped into the later Abrahamic religions, although the Hebrew religion retained most of the original concepts of Zoroaster while dualism became a strong feature of both Christianity and Islam. In these two latter religions we se Satan as an opposite force primarily to God himself, not to any angel of light such as Michael per se. They forget that Satan (or Samael) and Michael – which are the true cosmic contraries as the angels of darkness and light – are both “Sons of God”, both equally serving the Supreme Godhead.
Thus exoteric Christians read the Book of Job differently from the Hebrews, or that of Esoteric Christians as myself for that matter. They regard my interpretation of the Bible as faulty. They state that, even if Satan (“the accuser”) is said to be among the “Sons of God” (the Beni Elohim) this doesn’t at all mean that his actions were approved by God, rather that he belonged to a certain “angelic category”. Certain angels are by exoteric Christians compared to humans in their god-given free will to express evil or good intentions. Thus now we enter the topic of “fallen angels”; is there even such a thing as a fallen angel?
In the Old Testament of the Hebrews we have only one obvious narrative of something that possible could be a reference to “fallen” angels, that of the Nephilim, which in the King James Bible is translated as “giants” but actually should be translated as “the fallen ones”. I have taken the liberty of changing the meaning of that word accordingly in the Kings James translation, and also that of the God name. Thus Genesis or the 1st Book of Moses states:
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the Beni Elohim (Sons of God) saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And IHVH (the Lord) said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were Nephilim (fallen ones) in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the Beni Ha-Elohim (Sons of God) came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4)Thus, if we are to read the Bible somewhat to the letter (not taking into consideration that there also are pointers to a possibility that the “Nephilim” were not the offspring of angels but that of Cain), it is not the angels themselves who are fallen here but their offspring. As man is a fallen creature according to Genesis, also half-breeds (i.e. half men and half angels) must be fallen; it is the human part of the Nephilim which is fallen, not the angelic.
In reading the New Testament we find a different interpretation or view upon the angels. Now suddenly we may find not only heavenly messengers (angels) but also “the messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12.7). Thus, from the exoteric Christian perspective, we have the concept of rebellious angels, cast down from heaven. It is said that Satan was the foremost and most loved of angels, who rebelled against God over Man, and thus became Lucifer – the fallen angel. We suddenly have the concept of heavenly wars, with Satan and God as commanders or warlords. It is also here that we find Michael being the foremost champion of God against the Luciferian angelical armies of the Dragon, i.e. Satan or the Devil (Revelation 12:7-9).
The fact is that the name “Lucifer” was coined with the Latin translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament by Hieronymus, referred to as the Vulgata (Vulgate), written in 382-405 AD. It is nothing short of a direct revision of the original Hebrew and Greek, especially in the former text. Thus in the Book of Job instead of “morning” we find the latin word “Lucifer”, a traditional name for Venus in pagan times (Job 11:17), as well as in Isiah:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isiah 14:12, King James Version)However, the original Hebrew doesn’t say “Lucifer” but הילל בן־שׁחר (Helel Ben-Shachar) meaning “morning star, son of dawn”, probably a reference to Venus. Both the Hebrews and the Christians regarded the stars of heaven representing cosmic forces; as the pagans revered the stars and planets as gods and goddesses, Hebrews and Christans saw them as expressions of angels. However, they also warned against worshipping of the stars, i.e. the angels, as only God was worthy of worship, represented by the Sun which outshines any star or planet. Later the concept must have crept into the minds that shooting or fallen stars actually represented angels falling down form the sky, being cast down to Earth by God.
However, the problem is actually not of translating “star of morn” into “Lucifer” but rather the shift of meaning in that latter Latin word. Prior to Origen and his contemporaries of the 3rd Century, the name Lucifer wasn’t synonymous with that of Satan. Thus when Hieronymus later translated the original Greek text of 2 Peter 1:19, which reads “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts…”, being a student of Origen he named the day star Lucifer as a reference to Satan.
However, not all of Christian dualistic conceptions about the nature of “evil angels” can be attributed to a faulty translation. Peter later says in that same book, reflecting Jude, thus:
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment... (2 Peter 2:4)Thus we see also amongst the earliest Christians notions of fallen angels going against the will of God, a though which was quite foreign to the Hebrews, with the possible exception of the reference to the Nephilim. That reference to the offspring of humans and angels could have passed us by as a quite innocent sentence, if it wasn’t for the fact that there exists an apocryphal and pre-Christian book called the Book of Enoch. In that book the author develops the idea of giant half-breeds roaming the land and making all sorts of blasphemous and sinful acts. But that is not all, the angels who begot these Nephilim where fallen themselves, i.e. revolting against God and teaching mankind all sorts of useful skills, such as making swords and armour. Interestingly enough, God sends the Arch-Angels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel (who we in the Golden Dawn recognize as the Elemental Angels) to correct these rebels. Thus, these four Arch-Angels are the foremost protectors against the evil demons and their offspring.
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 1:6)
The Book of Enoch never made it into the canon of the Old Testament, which isn’t at all surprising as it was once regarded to be blasphemous to even suggest a thing as angels rebelling against God. However, certain Christian Orthodox churches (the Ethiopian and Eritrean) took that book to their hearts. The Book of Enoch is also referred to and even quoted in Jude:
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 1:14-15)Thus it is not a stretch to imagine that the Book of Enoch became popular amongst Christians, which is also understandable as it confirms early Christian theology concerning rebellious angels and wars in heaven, resulting in the angels falling from the sky and hitting Earth. And as such Christians have a tendency to interpret the Old Testament in that new light as well, in an effort to justify their New Testament dogma. Thus in Psalm 82 we read:
God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.Exoteric Christians find proof in this passage of cosmic forces being contrary to God. However, in this passage we see YHVH standing amongst other gods, passing his judgment upon them for not taking pity on the poor and needy, condemning them to mortality in the process. Here we see the Hebrew god being one of several gods, all of them (including IHVH) being subservient to an even more exalted Deity. Scholars agree that this passage is a remnant of the earlier monolatrial phase of the Hebrew religion. We know that in Exodus the God of the Hebrews waged a successful war against the ancient Egyptian Gods. Thus this passage cannot be judged and compared to later Hebrew texts and that of the Christian New Testament which are steeped in a monotheistic mould. Besides, all of the gods present in that assembly answer to the Most High, in a similar manner as the dark and light spirits do in relation to Ahuru Mazda.
Thus there is no actual dualism evident in the Psalms such as may be found in the New Testament. Even if it wasn’t the Christians who originated the concept of “fallen” angels, an idea originally foreign to the Hebrews, they surely enough popularised it. Later that new paradigm was incorporated by the Prophet Mohammed when compiling the Qur’an. Thus in the Surah (chapter) 17 it reads regarding Iblis (Satan):
And [mention] when We said to the angles, “Prostrate to Adam,” and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He said, “Should I prostrate to one You created from clay?” [Iblees] said, “Do You see this one whom You have honored above me? If You delay me until the Day of Resurrection, I will surely destroy his descendants, except for a few.” [Allah] said, “Go, for whoever of them follows you, indeed Hell will be the recompense of you – an ample recompense.” (17:61-63)It is easy to interpret this passage on its face value (that is exoterically) as a clear reference to arrogance and disobedience. However, some Sufis present an alternative and non-dualistic esoteric interpretation of this cosmic occurrence. According to them God put Satan to the test of the latter’s love for and devotion to Him; one surely cannot worship anything other than the One. Thus God never had the intention of forcing Satan to worship Man, a lesser being than that of Satan; he couldn’t be expected to reject God. Between two evils – that of disobedience and that of rejection – Satan chose disobedience of and love for God, even if it meant eternal suffering in Hell. Thus Iblis is the least incredulous of all the angels. But as submission seems to be the greatest virtue in Islam, even greater than love and loyalty (the word Islam means “submission”), Satan is punished for his crime. According to the Qur’an angels do not possess free will and thus worship God in total obedience.
Now, when speaking about concepts of “evil” and “good” I follow the original point of view of the Old Testament. I don’t agree with exoteric Christianity’s or Islam’s dualistic world view (although the concept of “fallen angels” is a good mythical motive to understand certain phenomena and conditions of terrestrial existance). The Hebrews understood questions of evil and good better than that of the exoteric Christians and Muslims. My conclusions arrives from reading Hebrew mysticism, i.e. the Holy Qalalah, which is based on traditional and original concepts, which clearly became misunderstood and misused by the later exoteric Christians and Muslims.
So basically, the typical exoteric Christian has a faulty understanding of Old Testament (that is Hebrew) mythology. An Angel is by the very definition of the Bible and the Qur’an a “messenger” or מלאך mal’ach (ملاك malak in Arabic), one who delivers the word of God, a spiritual being which expresses His Will. Satan surely is such a messenger in his original form. Was he evil in tempting Job, or did he simply put Job’s faith to the test, as he did with Jesus in the desert? Were the Angels which God sent to Sodom and Gomorra, to destroy these cities and massacrate all their inhabitants, evil as well? Is that a good act? It surely is not an act of love.
The exoteric Christians answer that the angels was sent to Sodom to perform a judgement of the inhabitants, in an act of love towards justice and righteousness. They state that people may deserve the punishment of death, and when such is executed it is not in itself an evil act. I don’t agree with them at all. I regard capital punishment to be both offensive and criminal; definitely evil. I regard the U.S. invasion of Iraq to be equally “evil”, as well as any war waged against any country or enemy. And yes, all destructive forces are part of the “evil” sphere, including God killing men, women and children because of their supposed sins.
Much of the Old Testament is a recount of bloody wars waged by the Hebrews when they seized the promised land from its original inhabitants. According to the Bible, they exterminated several different nations and peoples, on the direct command of God. We are not talking about occupation; we are talking about genocide. No one was spared, neither children nor women; in some cases God allowed women to be spared to be abused by the Hebrew males (i.e. with the objective of rape). What we see being described in the Torah, Judges, etc. is nothing less than ethnic cleansing, acts we today regard as abominable. But all of this was done in the name of God and on his direct command. Thus Holy Wars! During the Christian expansion we had the equivalent in the crusades. In Islam they have the Jihad. Thus we see a God of War and of Peace, expressing two contrary modes which easily categorizes themselves as evil and good respectively.
However, the process of putrefaction in nature is also part of the evil phases of existence, as well as death (remember the death instinct of Freud), but it serves the life principle nevertheless. In all cycles of life and nature you will see the destructive and constructive forces supersede each other in a cyclic manner. When in equilibrium, it upholds life and promotes evolution. Likewise, war can also be waged in the name of “good” even if it is an evil act in itself; any power or country starting a war regards it to be justified according to what it considers to be good (and evil) and in some instances sanctioned by God Almighty.
That said, in the final analysis I believe that God transcends both “good” and “evil” (remember the river and streams analogy that I referred to above), especially the human conceptions of these two terms (which I believe is a construction that changes with the times). But God is also the source of both these forces in nature and universe, and in Man, which we may regard as “evil” and “good” in their expressions. Thus, nothing can be un-approved by God. In Him we live and move and have our being. Noting that exists can be outside of Him. Nothing. Everything is an expression of Him. He is the ALL. The ONE. We as humans, as well as the Sons (i.e. angels) of God, are parts of Him. To become more than human is to become a Son (or Daughter) of God.
My typical Christian detractor finds these last statements repulsive, especially that Man is part of God, and God is incarnated in Man – Deus est Homo. Forgetting that the Gospels make the same claims regarding Jesus (the son of man), in his dualistic mind he accuses me of creating confusion between the concept of God as being the sustaining cause of everything and the conception of Him being everything. And as an extra measure, he finally throws in that ultimate weapon in defence of his dualistic tower of Babel: Am I bold enough to state that, in everything being an expression of God, this also applies to the rape of children? Does God rape God then?
I am of course aware of the delicacy of this question, and of any answer which may follow. I wish I could say “no”; I have small children myself that I am raising and protecting. But reality isn’t that simple. All I can say as an answer to this ultimate question is that I remain strong in my conviction that my God is both transcendent and immanent. God’s transcendence is unphantomable to Man; yet in Man does God express His immanence. Man is part of God, and God lives in Man. We as humans express divine intention and will, always. This we do both consciously and unconsciously.
Throughout creation and in particular through Man, God beholds God, in whatever aspect that one may imagine. The expression of God is indeed beautiful and blissful, but He can also raise an equally ugly countenance. Remember the divinely sanctioned genocides accounted for in the Old Testament; even the brutal killing of children and rape of women.
Christians have a hard time accepting any evilness of God or divine sadism; they even call massacres and genocides as expressions of “goodness”, as God is above all criticism. A divinely inspired murderer is beyond reproach; a murderer motivated by greed is condemned to death instead, even if he commits exactly the same act as the murderer following the commands of God. Thus for an exoteric Christian, a good intention makes an evil act good; the end justifies the means. The Qabalists on the other hand, at least those following the teachings of Nathan of Gaza and all subsequent Sabbathian doctrines, recognizes that God expressed evil as well as good, hate as well as love and compassion, severity as well as mercy. There simply cannot be another explanation for the narratives of the Old Testament. The esoteric doctrine teaches us to remember that, “in the midst of material gloom…the Divine Darkness is the same as the Divine Glory” (Golden Dawn Equinox Ceremony).
Following this, one may justly ask me that if it’s true that God is both equally good and evil, is it not equally true that to become more than human is to become a Son of the Devil? However, such a question presupposes a fundamentally dualistic world view. As a non-dualist I don’t even believe in the Devil (or Satan), at least not as an independent force non-attached to God. If he even exists he surely is on God’s payroll, expressing God’s commands as any angel would. But why would I like to become one with any aspect of him, be it Samael (Satan) or Michael or whatever intermediary or messenger, as I could become one with the All instead? Remember the admonishment made not to worship the minor stars and planets, the lesser deities and angels. Thus there is only the option of becoming one with God, which means embracing both His dark or evil side, as well as His bright and good side. In the final analysis, in all that God created God saw that it was good.
From the above remarks some may consider me advocating amorality and instigating antisocial behaviour, or libertinism, following the nietzschean creed, “god is dead, there is no truth, all is permitted”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Contrary to what people may construe from my previous words and declarations, I am no cultural relativist and I do not believe in social constructionism as the answer to all human behaviour and belief systems. Neither am I a nihilist. I do believe in absolute truths and I do believe there exists true ethics. I am not a liberally minded guy; people who know me well also know me to be a quite conservative guy. I am a professed Traditionalist in the sense of modern thinkers as René Guénon, Julius Evola and Frithjof Schuon.
However, I also believe that there is an exoteric and esoteric understanding of truth and of ethics. There is the conditioned mind of the common man, driven by his so-called “common sense” and there is the trained and opened (as in receptive) mind of the initiate and mystic. Or to use the terminology of the Gnostics, the psychics and the pneumatics respectively. Opinions between the exoteric and esoteric world view are often opponent or goes contrary. It simply is impossible to reconcile. Debates between these two camps are futile.
Exoterically minded people tend to create God into their own image; they project any wants and fantasies about the divine from their own subconscious neuroses. The same goes for the majority of ideologies, philosophies and creeds concerning truth, morals and ethics. Social constructionism is an adequate theory to describe the mechanisms and to understand the human majority as a collective. However it falls short when trying to describe esotericism and the quest for truth of magicians and alchemists. An esotericist makes great effort in transcending the consensus opinions of his exoteric contemporaries. He also makes an effort to transcend his own socially and materialistically conditioned mind.
Esotericism is antinomian by its very nature; it unconditionally goes contrary to established norm and convention, especially in the realms of epistemology, moral codes, philosophy and religion, even politics. That’s why esotericists and mystics have been banned, condemned, shunned and excommunicated by society and religious institutions or even burnt at the stake, throughout history. Today we know what happens to Sufis at the hands of Wahabis. The worldview of esotericists appears to be repulsive to the outer world, even irrational or contradictory. It goes beyond superficial understanding and literal meaning. It is heterodox, radical, anti-fundamentalist and non-dogmatic, at least when viewed from the conditioned and “natural” mind; verily, it represents a true orthodoxy and dogma which shatters the worldview of the common man, natural scientist and exoteric theologician, not governed by Ratio (rationality) or Logos (logic) alone but more so by intuition, Gnosis (knowledge) or in other words Illuminatio (illumination).
For me, however, there is but one ethical creed to follow which seems to be universal enough, even amongst both exotericists and esotericists, conditioned and unconditioned mind alike. Sometimes man cannot escape truth. It requires the faculty of empathy, which supersedes that of logic. I’m talking about the way of the heart, that of Compassion, which expresses itself in practical application as the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And also its negative consequence or Silver Rule – Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you. This implies a respect for your neighbour’s integrity, as well as your own. This rule was expressed in the doctrine of the Christ, the Buddha, Confucius, and it is represented in most religions all over the world. Even the ancient Egyptians and Greeks followed this rule. Compassion is the creed of the Bodhisattvas. According to the Tibetans, Compassion is a prerequisite of the manifestation of the so-called “rainbow body”, the final liberation and transmutation of the elementary physical body.
The doctrine of Compassion as central tenets in spirituality have been, and still are, represented by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth (the Christ) and Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha). It is interesting to see that Christianity and Buddhism arose approximately during the same time in history (Siddharta predated Jesus with some 500 years). Perhaps the time was ripe for mankind to open up their hearts in a never before seen manner? It is quite obvious that the God of the Torah and the God of the Gospels are quite different in tone and intent, the former representing a stern and severe Father (some even regard Him to be a sadist considering what He commanded the Israelites to do in His name), the latter a merciful and loving one. The early Christian sects regarded themselves being liberated from the old Law of the Torah through the death and resurrection of the Christ and the quickening of the Holy Spirit. They now followed the Way of Compassion.
The old covenant of the Old Testament was that of Severity (Tetragrammaton or יהוה); the new covenant of the New Testament is that of Mercy (Pentagrammaton or יהשוה; the Holy Spirit being the fifth letter of Shin inserted into the Yod He Vau He). Obviously, here we are able see the Qabalistic connection to the Sephiroth Geburah (Severity) and Chesed (Mercy – the Sephira of Compassion) of the Tree of Life. And in the Sabbathian Qabalah the side of Severity (the Black Pillar) upon the Tree of Life represent the left-hand emanation (i.e. evil side) of God, while the side of Mercy (the White Pillar) represent the right-hand emanation (i.e. good side) of God. Thus, in a way, the Old Testament (Black Pillar) describes the severe and evil aspect of God while the New Testament (White Pillar) represents His good and compassionate aspect. On face value these two (the Hebrew and Christian) may seem to be altogether different gods, but they are eternally united by the Greater Deity which transcends these dual contraries.
However, Compassion is not only to be directed towards our fellow men, and especially towards those who deserves it less. It is more so supposed to be directed towards ourselves, especially towards the lowliest parts or ourselves, the personal demons or qlippoth of the subconscious. And as towards any transgressor or evildoer, compassion must be tempered by severity. This is “that Great Arcanum, the proper equilibrium of mercy and severity, for either unbalanced is not good; unbalanced severity is cruelty and oppression; unbalanced mercy is but weakness and would permit evil to exist unchecked, thus making itself as it were the accomplice of that evil.” (Neophyte Ceremony of the Golden Dawn).
Remember Christ who “did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). That is, he didn’t only bring compassion but severity as well. Figuratively, in his left hand he held his heart and in his right a sword. Again we may interpret this using Freud and his controversial thoughts regarding the life and death instincts. The sword may be brought into service of the heart, in the same manner as the death instinct (thanatos) may be made to serve life. This is especially true when dealing with one’s own dark sides, the Jungian Shadow, or the qlippoth (demons) of the microcosm. The Sword of Severity must be used to hold the dark powers in check. But we mustn’t extinguish or annihilate them with our Severity – we mustn’t kill the demon with our Sword – but instead bring them into the light and the greater whole, in the name of Love. We must forgive all transgressions but not allow any more evil acts to be expressed. Only in this way may we unite our dark side with the inner light.
Thus, when analysing the dual aspects of God or the All – the Macrocosm or Universe – we should foremost do it towards ourselves. It is in Man or the Microcosm that this division is the most apparent and alarming. It is Man who commits the most atrocious acts; the evilness of one human may descend further than that of God as a Whole, or the All. It is through Man that the dark powers of the universe finds most expression; nevertheless it is still part of Divine Intention and Will, manifesting in the form most suited for that purpose. This is no strange thing, considering that Matter according to Lurian Qabalah is the most fallen and thus “evil”. Through the shattering of the vessels in the process of creation, these shells fell down and mixed with the Kingdom (Malkuth) and made it the realm of the demons or qlippoth (shells). Man is a “child of earth” to use Golden Dawn terminology. The name Adam means “of earth”. Man’s realm is that of Assiah, the World of Action. Thus the qlippotic forces easily grab or even obsess our being.
As humans we are basically shattered beings. The Great Work of Alchemy aims at re-uniting ourselves into a coherent whole. In this way we as the Microcosm will better mirror the Macrocosm and thus receive true Illumination. At the same time we will also help restoring the Greater World from its fallen and divided state. This is the task of Mankind, living in the World. To do that we must first recognize our dark and evil side and reconcile it with our bright and good side. For this to happen we must bring back our projections from our fellow men and start looking at ourselves instead. Instead of looking four faults in our neighbour we must start searching for our own flaws in the deepest recesses of our subconscious.
If we fail in doing this; if we refuse to acknowledge any personal evil and only recognize our goodness, that doesn’t mean that there is no evil inside of us. On the contrary, through blissful ignorance evil will take a greater part of our nature, even if we are unconscious of its expression. Instead we find ever more faults in our neighbour, masking the fact that it is our own neurosis – not that of the other person – which motivates our condemnation. In short, we develop a stern and severe character, that is an unbalanced Severity. But through Compassion, strengthened or tempered with Severity, and through introspection may we fulfil our great task – that Great Work – of truly rooting out the evil inside of us. This is an esoteric interpretation of the New Covenant.