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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The Two Deaths in Mystical Christianity

I think that Christianity may have conflated Jesus’s mystical experience of an ego death, perhaps at the time of his baptism when the “heavens opened,” in which his individual psychological self “died” and he was was “reborn” of Spirit, or “raised up” (resurrected) to his identity in Christ consciousness (a consciousness of nondual union in God/Reality), with his biological death on the cross. These two deaths seem to have been conflated at some point, resulting in a supernatural conception of the resurrection.

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Qualia, Consciousness, Christ, and Cosmos

What is qualia? What is the source of individual instances of subjective conscious experience, like seeing the redness of an apple? Where does the redness come from? I don’t know, but here are some ideas.

Energy in our environment impinges upon our sense organs causing a cascade of electrochemical reactions and nerve impulses that are sent to the brain. In the brain these nerve impulses seem to give rise to a conscious perception. We know that a certain wavelength/frequency of photons, for example, striking the retina cells in our eyes correlates with the experience of red arising in consciousness. But why red? Why is it red? Why do we experience that color? Why do we experience anything?

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Ephesians 1 BHT, “Paul” talks about the Grace of Christ in All Beings

An addition to the BHT, where Paul (or a disciple of Paul) talks about the infinite Grace that Christ is found in all beings, and the type of wondrous insight and knowledge that God reveals in those who attain the consciousness of Christ.

(The photo above is of Papyrus 92, dated to the 3rd century, an early papyrus manuscript copy of the New Testament, which shows the Greek text of Ephesians 1:11-13.)

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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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A Map of Reality

Humans want to know what’s real, what’s reality, what’s true. We have explored the outside world and our inner worlds for millennia, and we seem to still not be sure what is absolutely real. I think the issue might be that what is really real is not something that can be seen or communicated through language at our dualistic level of perception. We have to transcend duality experientially and consciously in order to know the “really real,” sometimes called the Nondual, the One, the Real, the Absolute, or God. Perhaps only at that level of consciousness may we come to truly know what is ultimately Real and True.

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