Carl Jung was ill at ease with understanding evil as a “privation of the good” and I tend to agree with him. For I, like many, experience evil both as a distancing from the good but also as a kind of force or power or malicious intelligence in our midst.
St. Paul talks about how our struggle is against the “powers and principalities.” These are spirits or negative powers or “bad angels” called “evil spirits” in indigenous traditions.
I have frequently remarked that we don’t have to call evil spirits “Satan” or “Beelzebub” or “Lucifer.” We can call them by their current names, Racism, Sexism, Anthropocentrism, Militarism, Narcissism, etc. They are spiritual because they operate in the realm of the spirit and because they possess a quasi immortality to them. They keep coming back in each generation demanding their attention.
They are intelligent and go where the power lies whether in religious headquarters or media or supreme court or pentagon or Kremlin or CIA or Wall Street…you name it. Of course, it uses humans and needs them to spread the viruses of hate and lies, of power for power sake, of destruction and death. “I put before you life and death. Choose life.”
This is why vigilance is always required and vigilance is part of being a spiritual warrior. Be on the look out in institutions but also in self, because institutions are made of selves and all of us can be infected by such spiritual viruses.
Another language used to speak of Evil is Christ and Anti-Christ. The empire of the first century was named the Anti-Christ in the Book of Revelations for example. But one needs to be discreet and not overuse such nomenclature as well. When I interviewed Lorna Byrne about angels, and asked her about bad angels she replied very wisely: “I do not talk about them. They are in almost all the headlines in the media and seek attention. I choose not to give them the attention they are so eager for.”
See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
What is your experience of evil spirits in society and/or the self? Do you agree that evil as “privation of good” is not the only way to talk of evil?