Some Practices to Prepare for Facing Evil

We continue our meditations on Evil and Hatred.  To go deeper, to face these realities, we must become stronger.  How do we do that?

A light in the darkness. Photo by Subhro Vision on Unsplash

Just as one does not go into a mine without a lantern, so too, one does not take on Evil without preparation, inner preparation.  It is necessary to bring a lantern into the darkness that Evil and its shadow spread.  Here are some practices to consider.

1.    Root yourself in the Sacred.  Wherever you find it—in nature, in music, in prayer, in Scripture, in reading the mystics, in studying the stars, etc.

2.    Let the Sacred take you to the Source.  Aquinas: “God is a source without a source.”

3.    Remember Thomas Merton: “Every non-two-legged creature is a saint.”  Hang out with saints.  The more-than-two-legged ones like your dog or cat or horse or bird or plants or trees, etc.

“Best friends.” Photo by Michael Walk on Unsplash.

4.    Fill up on goodness.  Original Goodness (Aquinas).  Original Wisdom (Hildegard).  Original Blessing.  Original Buddha Nature (Buddhists).  Original Christ Nature, the Cosmic Christ in us (Christians).  Image of God (Jews).  Etc.

5.    Become a camel.  That means, learn to store your experiences of goodness and beauty, wisdom and insight, and the reverence and Joy that comes with them, the Trust and the Gratitude.  Be a camel carrying such memories and experiences into the desert, the void, the via negative that awaits you.

6.    Be a light. To yourself first.  Find the light within, the “spark of the soul” within that Eckhart talks about where a holy birth takes place constantly.

7.    Remember the Breakthroughs, the ecstasies, the Oneings, that generate in you experiences of Immensity, Intensity, and Intimacy.  Carry them with you wherever you go and wherever you find yourself whether among friends or foes, alone or with others.

“Meditation.” Photo by Essenj on Flickr.

8.    Practice emptying and taste Nothingness.  Bring Nothingness to the table. 

9.    Practice subtracting, knowing that “the soul grows by subtraction, not by addition.” (Eckhart)

10.  Practice Forgiving.

11.   Call on the Black Madonna to assist your at-home-ness with darkness and mystics like Mechtild of Magdeburg, Meister Eckhart, John of the Cross, Hafiz, Rumi and others familiar with the apophatic Divinity, the via negativa and dark night of the soul.

12.  Roll up your sleeves and go to work.  “Hope is a verb with the sleeves rolled up.” (David Orr)  Work like hell—and with imagination and creativity—for Justice.  And for healing.

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, Part I, “Blessings of the Flesh: The Sacred Flesh,” (of the Universe, the Earth, the Human Body including the Seven Chakras), pp. 21-130.  

And Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 297-307, 231-244.

Also see Matthew Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Prayer before action: protestors gather at the San Francisco Civic Center in a sunrise ceremony (11/15/2016) supporting the water protectors at Standing Rock. The ceremony was followed by a march to the SF Army Corps of Engineers to stop permission for the laying of pipe under the Missouri River, a source of water for the tribe and millions of others. Photo by Peg Hunter on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Which of these practices are you already engaged in?  Which other might render you even more courageous and alive and strong enough to stand up to Evil in our fraught times?

Recommended Reading

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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16 thoughts on “Some Practices to Prepare for Facing Evil”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today in our Queries for Contemplation you ask us: “Which of these practices are you already engaged in?” Of the twelve practices you list and suggest (1) I root myself in the Sacred by playing music, in prayer, in Scripture, in reading the mystics. (3) I hang out with saints. The more-than-two-legged ones like your dog or cat or horse or bird or plants or trees, etc. (4) Fill up on Original Blessing or Original Wisdom–which I did in my own book: THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON. (5) I learn to store my experiences of goodness and beauty, wisdom and insight, and the reverence and Joy that comes with them. (7) I remember the Breakthroughs, the ecstasies, the Oneings, that generate in you experiences of Immensity, Intensity, and Intimacy. And I carry them with me wherever I go. (10) Practice Forgiving–always. (12) And finally I work like hell—and with my imagination and creativity—for Justice. And for healing.
    “Which other might render you even more courageous and alive and strong enough to stand up to Evil in our fraught times?” I start where I am. I teach spirituality in a tolerant and non judgmental way at “Spiritwind”–my Creation Spirituality Community, and I write books about these things. I just need a larger platform to speak and write from !!! Who knows what the future holds…

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    Jeanette Metler

    I am so grateful for todays DM… that reminds how I can and am kindling the light, the flame within my soul… of the Original Blessing… which focuses on the GOOD, the BEAUTIFUL and the SACRED… that is, was and ever shall be, present in its presence.

    Reflecting upon what Mathew listed, I see how I have been preserving this within myself… rooting myself in the SACRED, through spending time in nature and also reading the mystics… letting the SACRED lead me to experiencing and encountering for myself the Source of this sacredness… hanging out with the mystics, not only reading their sacred writings and being inspired by their personal testimonies, that bear witness to this pathway of Original Blessing, but also engaging with the lineage of the mystics of today, through this little community within the DMs… I hang out with the Saints in this same manner. Through all of this, I drink from the One River, with Many Wells, quenching my thirst for living water that feeds my soul, filling up on the Original Blessing of that which is GOOD, BEAUTIFUL and SACRED. Throughout this engagement of relationship of union and communion I learn to kindle the light, that spark of the Divine within not only my own soul but my own humanity as well… daily preserving this light of the Original Blessing within. The Cosmic Mother, and Her archetypal essence and presence… the Great High Preistess… the Holy Shekina… is the midwife that continuously comforts, consoles and wisely counsels me, in remaining committed to this labouraous inner work, of not only preserving this Original Blessing, but of also seeing and participating in the unfolding, evolving and emergence of birthing this from within myself… expressing and manifesting this in various ways throughout the daily rounds of my life journey, within all that I experience and encounter, both within my inner world and the external world.

    We, the mystics, the prophets, the saints in the making… embody the archetypal spiritual essence and presence of “The Hermit”… whom stands upon the solid foundational stones of the Original Blessing… holding the Staff of Balance… those lessons learnt of finding the central axis mundi, between the dark and the light… that sacred heart center… which the Source of all that is GOOD, BEAUTIFUL AND SACRED, strengthens from within. We are the faithful remnant, the preservers, the kindlers, the torch carriers, barriers, and birthers of the eternal Original Blessing, continously unfolding, evolving and emerging within this world, as it is.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, You’re getting good on the tarot card symbolism !!! “the Great High Priestess… “The Hermit”… whom stands upon the solid foundational stones of the Original Blessing… holding the Staff of Balance…” Thank you for your comments !

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    Jeanette Metler

    “Every one of us alive, is a spark of an eternal candle and a smoldering ember snatched from the fire. Without us knowing it, every one of us is crowned with the Holy. Let us learn to be aware of the majesty which hovers over our existence” (Abraham Heschel)

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Heschel was a Jew and a mystic (one of the class rooms at the University of Creation Spirituality was named the Heschel Room). In Judaism, the mystical path is called the Kabbalah. In Isaac Luria’s version of Kabbalah, the creation takes place through a process of contraction (“Tzimtzum”) where all of the vessels of light are shattered–these are the sparks spoken of in Kabbalah. These sparks then become covered by husks or “qliphoth.” Therefore our work on earth is to rescue the sparks from the husks that cover them–this is the goal of Tikkun Olam or fixing the World. I hear Matthew say one time, that if he were stranded on a deserted island all he would need to read was Heschel… Goggle: “Lurianic Kabbalah” to learn more if you are so moved…

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    Matthew’s list or agenda makes great sense. Thanks! I recall a motivational speaker named Brown, I think, who presented two contrasting models of human action. The hyena is bent downward so he sees the lower side of life, he attacks and ridicules the mass of creatures. The giraffe, tallest of animals, sees the big picture, enjoys the trees and the endless sky. He also has the largest heart of creatures, which makes him compassionate and generous.

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    The ‘Source without a source’ is an eternal generator that constantly generates and regenerates, animates and super-animates. It’s work is to generate itself from the infinite invisible into the field of time incarnating and imaging there. Its creation’s job to be generated and incarnated from that radial axis point lying at the center of all things at all scales, quark to quasar. All energy and creativity are generated from there, the magnetic stillpoint (axis mundi) between the polarities, especially darkness and light, goodness and evil. Rest there equipoised between the visible and invisible worlds, and all contraries that go into the making of the grand electromagnetic field (light), visible and invisible, that is our universe. God is light, who “leads me beside the waters of repose” (Ps 23). Reconcile all your polarities there in stillness and silence, rather than be divided asunder in constant conflict by them.

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    Damian Maureira

    Great and profound DM Matthew of the importance of our mystical and prophetic traditions for all of us in these destructive and dangerous times that we live in, especially with the climate crisis and threats of nuclear war… Our Faith~Hope~Divine Love~Healing~Prayers~Compassionate Actions are more important and urgent than ever on earth and the Cosmos in our inner and outer lives with one another, and our ongoing co-Creation/Evolution of our souls with-in our Loving Source~Creator….

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    I hope it’s ok that I copied this DM. I will put the copy in my journal and meditate on these points. Some of them I engage—and have, unknowingly, for some time. Others, when I read them, became like glimpses through a window of a scene I had thought existed but never looked for.
    This is a wonderful DM for the evil days we find ourselves in. I have wondered and wondered how to cope with the things that are happening and that point toward a future heretofore unthinkable in this country. These methods will stand us in good stead going forward.
    Thank you.

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    I totally agree that “This is a wonderful DM for the evil days we find ourselves in”.
    I am dreaming the impossible dream that one of the more soulful American billionaires will fund the construction of a neon billboard of today’s DM to be put on display in front of every State and Federal building in the USA…or better yet…every high school and university where minds may still be open…

    And to Matthew and Richard’s point about Heschel:
    While the political climate degrades at warp speed in both the USA and Israel there should be a move afoot to raise statues of Heschel in front of all places of worship – Jewish Christian and Muslim…all three groups having balkanized into competing sub groups at war with each other… with no idea of the underlying cause…

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, Thank you for the point you have made. Heschel was a great mystic-prophet, and a great man who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. for civil rights, and spoke out against the Vietnam war. I wasn’t aware of the plan that you speak of, but if it is the case that there is a “move afoot to raise statues of Heschel in front of ALL places of worship – Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, I think that Heschel would be against it himself. For he realized that when it came to religions, there was only one river, into which all the wells drew their water from…

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    Thank you as always for your wisdom. I especially love the camel image and the definition of hope. We all have to get to work in some way, and there is always an avenue, whether it is keeping our “representatives” in Congress accountable by phone calls and other means of messaging, showing up at peaceful protests, speaking out and speaking up every time we hear hatred and evil, etc. To fall back into pessimism will only make the evil stronger, as you pointed out yesterday.
    The only practice you did not specifically mention, unless I missed it, is metta, the practice of lovingkindness, which has helped me a lot. My practice differed from the standard in that I made a circle with people linked arm in arm with my closest nearest and extending around to the one I had the most trouble reaching out to and including. It took some time and effort to wrangle that one into the circle next to me. Now, I also try to look at the person and remember that he/she was once a sweet baby and even now is God’s beloved, though I cannot make myself listen to them spew hatred and ignorance.
    Peaceful protests may not have the desired effect on those who should listen, but I think that they produce solidarity to the cause, and we all need every bit of supportive community that we can find, including this space. Thank you for that, dear Matthew.

  10. Avatar
    Uma Laurie Bowman

    Thank you very much for giving actual practical methods that can be practiced. So many people know what’s wrong, but they don’t know what they could do, or how to address it.

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