Consider this the equivalent of “breaking news.” Of something I have to say because the times demand it.
This is a critical time during this moment of history to understand what evil is and what it isn’t.
And I wish Michael Harner were still alive because he shared an unusual anecdote about evil in our FSS Three-Year training that I’d like to ask him a few questions about now.
He was a walking encyclopedia of shamanic explorations and discoveries from diverse cultures internationally. His life was a collection of shamanic illuminations from such a vast pool that he would often share anecdotes to illustrate a point before a teaching or initiation. His digressions always contained teachings.
He told us about a group of shamanic practitioners in England in the 1960s, serious practitioners, who decided to work to speak with the spirit of evil to find out why it existed.
Why would ANYONE want to do this? It sounds creepy as hell. But shamanically, it’s not creepy; it is consistent with the cosmology and animism. Curiosity and posits in the form of questions for our selves, our clients is what we do. And that means that — shamanically — you can communicate with the spirit of anything, and ask it questions and receive answers in the world of nonordinary reality, a place of safety, love and compassion.
The results were NOT what they expected.
After a long period of work, they discovered there was NO spirit of evil.
More extensive work with the spirits on what evil commenced. Much more journeying over months took place to discover, if not a spirit, than what was evil?
And here’s the truth of it.
Evil is the result of CHOICES made by humans, male and female, with the knowledge that the choice will cause deliberate intentional suffering for others. And that there is some profit for the person who choose the evil action regarding his/her power, money, ego, etc.
Once you understand this, the whole world changes for you. It shifts focus and perspective irrevocably, or at least is has for me. And it is entirely logical.
Have you ever made an evil choice? I have in the course of my life, and when I understand evil from this shamanic perspective (in truth, all of my ethics and integrity are based on shamanic teachings and not our cultures’ teachings now), I know why. I was hurt and too young to understand that wound, and so I hurt someone back. Intentionally. And suffering was the result.
This definition of evil, which I now use exclusively, is not only most useful and fair. It is logical and in sync with my mind, my soul and my spirit. I am whole in this. It is in accord with my experiences as an earthling and as a practitioner.
People are not shot out of the womb as evil. They are taught to choose evil through the culture and their own woundings. They are not taught to live examined lives or given the tools necessary to examine them with any depth. We have forgotten, and need to reclaim our soul’s tongue. That feel of her in our mouths.
Every child is a captive of her parents, her culture, her unique experiences. Every child comes out wild and free in every species. Every human child is taught how to choose her action by her guardians, but probably is most influenced by watching the choices her parents and her community makes. Are they in sync with what she feels and knows about the world?
I do not see any person in our culture as evil. Not one. I see, note and keep close track of the people who repeatedly choose the evil action over the compassionate, just action.
Imagine with me, for one moment, what the world might be if we could evolve to this level of consciousness.
We would then be able to say, with some measure of compassion, that someone who continues to make choices that result in suffering for others is sick, and now needs tending and treatment. They need to receive. The reasoning is this: if he or she had a full soul, a sane spirit, she would not have made that evil choice.
Her “illness” is observed when she makes bad choices that cause deliberate suffering. Those choices are symptoms of the illness; the tribe member is NOT judged as evil.
That she needs treatment, rest and care is not a matter for debate. She is ill. In some indigenous villages today, when a member of the tribe performs an evil act, the tribe surrounds that person with their bodies and their desire to infuse and imbue her with the care she desperately needs so she can heal. Surely, someone MUST be ill if she is choosing to harm others, according to this logic. The tribe MEMBER is not judged; the action is. The tribe member is helped until she is again full of his own soul and power, and receives care and healing from the village entire, and the shaman.
This is right action. It is compassionate. It is wise. It is humane. It allows that all humans are capable of anything. Including change. It underscores that there are core moral and ethical boundaries that must be respected for the society, the ill, and for the wild. It is love and compassion in action. Love and compassion without action are hollow words.