I see a problem in our ways.
It haunts our attempts to make things right, it shows itself in every evil.
I think Its nature is in reaction, and like a shadow cannot be fought with fire.
We are not fighting fire with fire, friends and countrymen of the world. Our enemy is that Shadow, and it can only be fought with light. But this is my last abstract word on the matter, for too much poetry has clouded the rational of us from believing there is hope to chart these waters of violence, brutality, and wickedness.
What is the nature of evil?
It is that, which begets more evil.
So, if more evils arise as the fruit of combating the evils in our world: this cannot be the Way.
THE HIGHER WAY
I have trained as a martial artist for many years, and been the master of many students. When I have fought, a critical realization occurs to me, as it does any who practice hand-to-hand combat. A threat in sparring can operate in one of three critical levels of intensity: below, at, or above our threshold to withstand.
Should I spar with a young student, it is like play to me. But to that child, it feels like the fight of a lifetime. I feel no fear, I bear no ill, I feel no pain when they strike, and I do not wish to strike them truly: for they are but a child.
Yet should I spar one of my own level, I am ever on my toes; with them I cannot stop dancing for I know that in each misstep there is a critical turning of the tides. Should either of us have the initiative, we have the match! For the scales are balanced otherwise.
Again, should I spar my elder –one who has surpassed my skill, and not yet succumbed to age– it is an uphill battle. I know that were this not be a match, but reality, there would be no “play” in my heart. That reality finds me fighting for my life. I do not worry that I will hurt them; I strike hard. I do not worry that I will survive; for the chance of victory is slim, and there is little room in my heart for any thought but desperation.
In my studies of the human heart, in counseling my students and clients, I have found this same thing at work in all areas of all our lives.
Should a threat, being intellectual, social, moral, or physical, surpass our threshold for defense… we slip into survival mode, and bear no thought for higher things. See then that the purpose of all training, in any domain, is to increase this bar for losing oneself. One grows their domains of being until two vital things occur.
First, they find themselves regularly able to play, carefree: even under the duress of new ideas, cultures, customs, codes, peoples, convictions, challenges, injunctions, and attacks. Greater and greater, rising competence allows them to not only weather novelty, but seek it out and enjoy it.
Secondly, should any new thing surpass their threshold now, even if their sense of being has been surpassed, it has also been grown and wizened. Such that, when newness comes and they sense the thrill of a challenge beyond their realms of confidence, there is yet an insouciant light of combat in their eyes! They now see past even their instincts, and love the trials of their growth.
While this is a deep thing, it is also as intimate as every aspect of the human experience. And in each aspect, one certainly relies upon teachers who go before them, peers to come alongside them, and students to press beneath them – all of which catalyze this kind of growth.
So, as a peer to my fellow citizens of the world – outraged by the anger, growling at the darkness, and preparing arms for war – I call attention to our steps.
I do not despise my brothers and sisters of the human race who express their outrage at injustice by the destruction of their cities. Because I feel their anger. I do not despise my kindred souls who express their confusion and distress at this destruction. Because I feel their fear.
But these are only anger and only fear. And emotions are tools for the One who walks in the Ancient Way. That one is not the tool of their emotions. So, when riots erupted, and friends lashed out at friends, I stayed silent. When friendships were broken and posts taken down, I did not speak. When family conversations turned loud, or worse fell silent, I went away to a quiet place.
I think there is a higher Way, my friends, that neither enables the oppression nor destroys the innocent further.
If you also see as I have seen, and think Humanity has a chance…
STAND WITH ME.
The Ancient Way teaches those with ears to listen, that: “the answer without comes within, and the answer within comes without.” While this may sound cryptic, it is simply stated that should I be experiencing some inner turmoil that no amount of contemplation seems to solve, I should probably talk to someone about it. Conversely, should people seem to have a problem that nothing societal seems to solve, people may need to re-analyze their own hearts.
In keeping with this teaching, I resolved to think about this.
Here are my thoughts.
I think that the power of evil is in how quickly it grows… but particularly this: that it grows by empowering its own opposition with the weapons of further evils. If evil were obvious and apparent, you’d think it would have been easily dismantled ages ago. The reason it hasn’t is because its nature is to incite the “survival mode” of the human heart, and demand a reaction to combat it.
The power of shadows, are that by seeming deep with darkness, all the anger and the fear are poured into its depths: combating thin air, destroying each other, and solving nothing. Rhetoric is devised in opposition to evil, by making a cast out of it. Then people chant this ideology as if it is the one true good!
But any good made in the inverted mold of evil, must pale in comparison to the breadth of true Good. The one true Good must always be greater than the sum of many evils.
If it were not so, then it would not be the Good.
So then, when evils abound, the Way teaches the one who follows It to abide. They remain awhile. For should the incitement of wickedness bring insight of the good: beware! For the insight of the Good that comes from the incitement of evil is fraught with lies and half-truths. Never once does the enemy produce evil in the heart of man by offering overt evil…
Evil grows in the heart by the temptation of an easy Good.
But the Good, by its nature cannot be grasped or completely wielded by us as a weapon against the wickedness we see. The Good is greater than both wickedness and ourselves, and will not be our tool in this war. But it will destroy evil. And for those who seek such greater things, and wish not to be led astray by fear or by anger, would do well to abide in It.
So, what then remains for the One who would seek to actively combat evil, yet cannot stand the injustice, the brutality, and the violence? What can they do, without enabling evil, empowering oppression, or seeking good and destroying it in the process?
The answer lies not in combating the evil in our neighbor with the weapon of our own evil, but in confronting OUR OWN EVIL with the light of the Good.
“DO NOT BE OVERCOME BY EVIL
BUT OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD.”
The Way teaches that one is not to look at their neighbor’s wickedness and condemn them. They are to look at their own hearts! Seeing within the same exact evils of their neighbor, they cannot abide to let themselves become the pawn of its cancer. Like all evil, this wickedness too, is powerful only because it works to fester greater and greater versions of itself in the hearts of all enraged by it.
Becoming so enslaved by the very evils they seek to undo, they wage on! And at last another, more filled by its wickedness than even they, will undo them in the end.
What ends the cycle of death and destruction?
What empowers the Good, when evils move brother against brother, family against family, race against race, and one soul against another?
It can only be that each one confronts their own evils.
It can only be that each one demonizes the evils within, seeing that any evil they are aware of within, is always greater than any they can perceive in the hearts or even actions of others. Should One demonize another, even should that other be worthy of hatred, that One makes angels of their own inner demons and will not bring about the Good.
Until each and every person identifies themselves as holding within, a greater capacity for evil than the worst of the violence committed these past weeks…
There cannot be peace.
For anyone thinking the evil remains solely outside them, will move to make war with it… by the very weapons of evils within.
We need to all take a step back and humble ourselves. For if we move to fight while under threat of being overcome by evil, we cannot be in the Good: does light fear the darkness when it meets it in the Shadows? It is the nature of light to overcome darkness, it does not fear it. It is the nature of the Good to overcome evil, it is not afraid of it. So also, one who loves the Good more than their own hatred of evil, will wage the greatest war against it: by frustrating its attempts to goad their own wickedness.
We do not attack our brothers as a vessels of evil, for they are like ourselves! But we destroy the evil within them by starving it of its fuel: hatred. Instead we humble ourselves and love our brother, until they too see the Good beyond their many evils. Trust in this narrow Way. Trust in this higher Good.
“FOR LOVE COVERS OVER A MULTITUDE OF SINS.”
We all need to be clear of violent motivations, and self-righteous hubris, and blindness to our own complicit complacence in the downfall of our peace, our safety, our world.
I am committed to abiding in the Way.
This means being with each individual, and not engaging with the tides of their evils, but loving the Good in them until it grows!
For God does not love people in slices, and neither shall I.
But for the Good to abide, and that is the Way, we must decrease and It must increase.
Stand with me.
Friends, if you believe in what I’ve written… if you feel that there is something beyond taking sides in an endless perennial war of evil against evil… and if you see something in what I’ve said, glimmering with a hope of that higher Way…
Please share this with as many people as you can find with ears to hear.
It’s not about grand gestures, it’s not about great movements, it’s about heart to hearts between people like you and I, who believe that evil cannot overcome evil.
Only Good can do that.
The Way is to abide in the Way.