One effect of divine grace, as Jesus taught it, was to counter evil. Just as judgment is left to the Lord, so is punishing evil. Jesus uses conventional vocabulary at times when he speaks about Satan and possession by demons, but what rings far more true is his teaching that evil should not be resisted. As we saw earlier, learning how to overcome evil without resisting it involves a process. Jesus isn’t calling for instant conversion to pacifism, nor is he asking us to be blind to the terrible effects of evil when it goes unchecked.
What he is teaching changes as you pass through the stages of your own spiritual path. Reality is different in different states of consciousness, and that includes evil. You cannot pretend to love your enemy, yet when you come closer to God-consciousness, such compassion comes naturally.
Evil, like everything else, depends upon perception. As your perception changes, evil shifts. It’s very important that this shift occurs, because if you remain locked in a rigid hatred or fear of evil, you push your own shadow further out of sight. No matter how hard you struggle to overcome evil, unless you understand your own shadow, it will find new ways to bring back the thing you hate and fear.
Brooding on your negative traits isn’t going to bring the shadow to light. One act that will is confession. Find someone you feel you can trust. For many people, the only person might be a complete stranger, or it might be an entire support group whose purpose is healing. At a time that feels right to you, divulge something you feel ashamed or guilty about. Don’t begin with a serious crime or transgression. The aim here isn’t to confess to God, but to relate to your shadow in a new way.
The shadow can be defined as the hidden area of the self where forbidden feelings are hidden. These feelings cover a wide range, including anger, revenge, jealousy, prejudice, rampant sexual desire, and murderous rage. There is so much to uncover that people find it difficult to begin.
The only way to disarm the shadow is to relate to it in a different way, and when you reveal a secret to someone, your life in hiding begins to shift.
Evil is never pure and rarely simple. Instead of resorting to words like “evil” or “sinful,” go into the following areas:
- Why am I hiding this bad thought, impulse, or action?
- What am I ashamed of?
- How do I think I am going to be hurt if this is exposed?
- Am I being affected by memories of past punishment?
- When I hear an inner voice judging me harshly, who from my past is actually speaking to me?
- How would my self-image suffer if I revealed this?
- Have I been working within a belief system that sees human beings as innately sinful?
- Why do I choose to live with guilt instead of without it?
You need to ask these questions every time you step into the region of the shadow.