First, it’s good to remember that the world is structured in layers. The more manifest or physical, the more inertia it has. Inertia has a quality of heaviness and darkness to it. Flow is reduced to a standing vibration.
That heaviness is required for physical structure and for it to be sustained in our experience. The key is balance. From a Yuga perspective (the cycles of time), an 80/20 rule holds – 80% light, 20% dark is in balance. You need enough dark for there to be form but not so much that the dark overshadows the light. We’re rising out of a period where dark was predominant and the light more hidden.
But darkness isn’t evil any more than night or space is evil. It’s simply dark. Some of our natural emotions are darker, like fear and grief. They have necessary parts to play, as the film ‘Inside Out‘ so beautifully illustrated. Those heavier, less pleasant emotions can help resolve incomplete experiences and bring us back to the light.
But dark can also lead to evil, which is acting against the light, creating harm.
Evil favours darkness to work in secret and because light weakens it. It likes to culture darker emotions because it feeds on that kind of energy. It favours fear, doubt, and delusion.
It’s easy to see where someone is coming from if we pay attention to the feel. When they speak, do we feel uplifted and inspired? Or angry and fearful? Do they share accomplishments or a litany of complaints and things to be fearful of?
Now, sometimes it is necessary to share our grief or to get people angry so they’re motivated to change. That’s where we look to the results. Is the result a relief or a positive change? Or fear our society is falling into the mud?
Harm is not just physical. It can also be emotional and mental. Innocuous things can create unintended harm because we acted from shadow rather than light, we acted against rather than for.
“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”
— Mother Teresa
Many classic religious stories are about the light overcoming evil. But all too often people consider darkness inherently evil and avoid it or seek to destroy it. This is resistance and does not lead to resolution. Instead, we want to make our light strong enough, then bring light to our shadows. That takes a willingness to go into our dark places. Not by destroying them but by bringing the light of attention. That will dissolve our shadows and complete the unresolved.
Often, it is our greatest challenges that lead to our life mission.
Many spiritual communities struggle with shadows. Everyone wants to stay in the light, leaving shadows unaddressed. Anything else is dismissed as ego or unstressing. And that means the shadows will rise up and cause trouble and divisions. Shadow work and healing have to be part of the process or we’re just bypassing. That will limit progress.
All that said, this assumes a duality. More expressed levels of the world have all sorts of polarities. But more deeply, there is no duality. All is inclusive. All is light. But not everywhere is like that and you can’t apply the reality of one level to another and not have some dissonance.
The complexity increases when we realize evil is also relative. People speak of “little white lies,” for example. Or they fudge the truth a little. The connection between truth, consequences, and happiness may not be obvious. And if harm results, was it so little?
Inversely, violence can sometimes be necessary to combat a greater harm.
The more we’re able to embody light, the less presence evil will have in our lives, aside from the karma that is unfolding. And the more the light, the greater a lighthouse we become for others.
The basics are simple. But the scenarios that arise can be very complex and nuanced. It can take discrimination to see the truth and not act out as so many are today. Be with the light. Feel into it. The light will find a way.