"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Good and Evil

The Tai Chi (Yin Yang) This ancient Eastern symbol represents balance between the opposing forces necessary to produce the world of forms. Each carries within it the seed of the other. Male and female, right and left, and good and evil, depend on their opposites for their own expression.

Good and evil, antagonistic forces at large in the universe, are characteristically represented by irreconcilable opposites - beauty versus ugliness, courage versus cowardice, and so on. In Christian symbolism, few tread the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life, the majority following the broad road to damnation. Good and evil are embodied in the Holy Trinity and Satan, the father of lies (who is sometimes shown with three faces as a way of making the comparison between the two more explicit). In most cultures, the long-term rewards of goodness are symbolized as treasures worth pursuing, while the punishments attendant upon evil are truly horrifying. The Eastern idea of karma is less final in its judgment, allowing unlimited opportunities for redemption. Every human action is a cause that carries an equivalent effect, in this life, in the after-life, or in another incarnation in this world. There is no escaping this law, as it is as much a part of the natural order as old age or gravity.

However, many of the world's great esoteric traditions reject the idea of good and evil as opposites and teach that every action contains elements of both. For example, by cultivating the land a person might disturb the balance of nature, or by saving a life might preserve someone who will go on to destroy others. Conversely, a doctor might inflict pain to treat a wound, or a soldier take one life in order to save hundreds. Everyday existence depends upon the death of plants and animals, without which there can be no life. Thus, good and evil are not in conflict, and indeed depend on one another. This notion is clearly expressed in the Tai Chi symbol above.

The Archangel

Appearing primarily in Western religions, archangels represent aspects of the divine energy. In Christianity, the archangels Michael, Raphael, Uriel and Gabriel carry a sword, a pilgrim's staff, a book and a lily respectively, symbolizing divine judgment, protection, wisdom and mercy.

The Demon

The Greek word daimon (later daemon) originally meant god, before degenerating to represent first a nature spirit, and then an imp of hell. The demon now symbolizes an active force for evil, which can corrupt human behaviour in the service of its master, Satan.

The Monk

Followers of the monastic life symbolize piety, austerity and withdrawal from the world into a life dedicated to spiritual progress. The monk also stands for healing (hospital care was first offered in monasteries), refuge for travelers, scholarship and disciplined work.


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