A Mystical Perspective on the Problem of Evil

A friend asked me what my take was on the problem of evil, or theodicy, so I thought I’d write about it here.

Here was the question:

How do you handle the problem of evil? Coming from a Mormon background, evil had its place in the plan of salvation. If you are right about the idea that to be godly is you be one, then why does the devil of our egos get in the way? What’s the point of a fall in the first place?

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A Psychological and Mystical Interpretation of the Myth of Adam & Eve and the Garden of Eden

The story of Adam & Eve can be considered as a mythological allegory describing humanity’s “fall” of consciousness into the complex dualities of self-awareness, subject/object relationships, and all the opposites of existence (male/female, light/dark, hot/cold, day/night, happy/sad, health/sickness, etc.). This is symbolized in the partaking of the “tree” of knowledge of good and evil, i.e. dualities.

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Is There a “Healthy” Ego?

In spirituality and mysticism we often encounter discussion about the ego, the psychological self, the “self” that we think we are. This is often referred to as a kind of illusion, something to rid ourselves of to see reality as it really is. It is called an obstruction, a veil, something which hides the Divine from us, which obscures our perception, and that it must be torn from top to bottom and done away. Sometimes mystics loudly denounce the ego, loathe the ego, punish the ego, calling for its death, its annihilation, its crucifixion, its extinguishment, extinction, falling away, passing away. This all sounds quite harsh to the “self” that we think we are, and so some spiritual teachers deny that we need to eradicate the ego, but rather transform it into something good. Which is it? Do we need to allow the ego to fall away, or transform it into a “healthy” ego? I’ll share some of my thoughts about that. Continue reading “Is There a “Healthy” Ego?”

Is Sam Harris Unaware of “No-Self” in Jesus’ Sacrifice?

In the second night of the debate between Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson in Vancouver on June 24, 2018, Harris said this in regards to the concept of human sacrifice:

Christianity is actually a cult of human sacrifice. Christianity is not a religion that repudiates human sacrifice. Christianity is a religion that says, actually, no, human sacrifice is necessary and there was only one that in fact was necessary and effective, and that was the sacrifice of Jesus. And I think that is, when you dig into the details, not only a morally uninteresting vision of our circumstance and how we can be redeemed, it’s morally abhorrent.

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What Good is the Ego-Self?

Over the past several months I’ve explored the nature of the human ego as it relates to spirituality in many of the major religious and spiritual traditions, as well as in science. As I noted in a series of posts, it seems that a recurrent theme throughout many of them is the idea of sacrificing ego, overcoming ego, transcending ego, even experiencing a kind of “death” of the ego, so as to realize the true nature of the self, of reality, and of God. We might ask then, what good is the ego? Is it all bad? Do we want to destroy our ego? Is that true spirituality? Continue reading “What Good is the Ego-Self?”

Video: Harvard Buddhist Psychologist on the Constructed “Self”

I thought this short video was a beautiful summary and illustration of Buddhist philosophy from Dr. Daniel Brown, a Harvard Psychologist and Tibetan Buddhism scholar. I believe this philosophy may similarly be found in most of the world’s religions, framed in a multitude of different symbols. This is perennial wisdom. I’ll describe some of these further down. (Transcript under video.) Continue reading “Video: Harvard Buddhist Psychologist on the Constructed “Self””