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Sunday, July 01, 2018

Confronting Evil

Dr. Bud Harris: "Evil is a call, perhaps a demand from life, for us to develop a more profound sense of self-knowledge and consciousness. It may help us to recall Jung in an interview when he passionately says,
"The world hangs by a slender thread and
that thread is the consciousness of man.
WE are the great danger.
What if something goes wrong with the psyche?
But we know nothing about it and it seems
that if we are well fed and clothed we have
little urge to learn about ourselves and that
is our greatest mistake of all."

...Each time we integrate part of our shadow we reduce the evil in the world but when we fail to do this, to confront and integrate our shadow, we add to the truth of the statement that Reinhold Niebur made in the mid-twentieth century, "that most evil is not done by evil people but by good people who don't know what they are doing." .... "Jung helped us to understand that it is important to be conscious of evil and we as individuals and as a society cannot learn to deal with the complexities of evil until we can truly acknowledge evil and confront it as a reality. I [Bud Harris] believe that the evil we face in the world has the purpose of calling or compelling us out of our childlike state of unconsciousness, our obsession with the good life, the happy life, the secure life, and to force us to engage in the blood, sweat, risk, tears, love, and laughter of real life. And while absolute evil may not be able to be integrated it can perhaps awaken us to our better selves and our need to look to the kind of consciousness that Dr. Jung thought our future depended on." ... How do we respond when we have to look evil in the face? Jung makes a striking statement when he says in (his book) Aion that it's quite within the bounds of possibility for man to recognize the relative evil of his nature but it is a rare and shattering him to gaze into the face absolute evil but this is exactly what we have to face as well when we run into a person, group or society that has become possessed by the archetype of evil or possessed by a myth dominated by this archetype. How can we face unrelenting malignant progression? But I must admit that I don't really know the answer to that question but there are two lines of thinking that inform me. The first thing that I think is that we must do our best to take a clear moral stand against this kind of evil. This means that we must stand with strength and use the full force of benign aggression [ ] to preserve and protect life even if it means we must become completely ruthless in our actions and we must remember that to slip into the ___ sentimental idealism or to fight evil half-heartedly opens us to being contaminated and even absorbed by it, but we must stand not only with strength but also with great humility, not righteousness. The nature of life teaches us repeatedly that we are unable to see the evil in the good, and the good that is in evil, taking place in our lives [See the Koran story of Moses and Al Khidr to get this point just made by Harris]. Some of you may remember that in Goethe's great drama, Faust, we find Mephistopheles the Devil in the drama complaining that people don't appreciate him because the don't realize that without him nothing would ever happen in the world. When asked by Faust who he is he replies that he is part of that force which would do evil yet forever works for the good. So in the face of absolute evil I think we must be able to respond with strength and, if necessary, with ruthlessness, and yet, with humility and a renewed search for consciousness. There is another question we have to face as well, what happens when we are the victims of absolute evil? I've worked with people who have been tortured, abused as children and held as sex slaves. I can easily understand that these situations can be more than the human heart can understand and yet deep in our souls there is the possibility of the resilience in the depth of our humanith that can heal and transcend these experiences. In order to illustrate this possibility I would like to share a story which informs me. It is part of Sir Laurens van der Post's story...Sir Laurens is the author of over 20 books and was a great friend and a biographer of Jung. As a British author he spent most of WW2 in a Japanese prisoner of war camp for British soldiers and from that experience he tells this story: "I remember a particularly nasty execution which my friend Nicolas and I had to stand in formation with our young officers to watch. "They were executing 2 soldiers who had gotten too close to the prison fence. The way these soldiers died was indescribably moving. One was tied between two posts driven into the ground and they had bayonet practice on him. The other was beheaded as he kneeled on the ground. "At the moment the execution started a British officer standing between Nicolas and myself, was frail because he had been tortured, began to collapse. I said to myself "this must not happen because it will spread." I felt we must face this upright and look it in the eye and I put my arm around this man in a way the Japanese couldn't see to hold him up. As I did so I felt Nicolas from the other side instinctively doing the same thing. I felt the officer between us straighten up. We stood and looked at the man being beheaded. "I wanted to look away and pretend it wasn't happening but a voice inside of me said, 'You can't do that because you would be betraying the man who is being killed if you do that. You must go through it with him. That is your contribution here and now. You must go through it. You must be killed with him if you're going to understand what is going on.'"
This story has informed me as I live and work. For years it has helped me look at reality, including suffering and evil, in the eye. It has helped me work with people who have suffered horrible things and it makes me face God that I have never faced evil this way. It also makes me thank God for how in the face of such evil the human spirit can respond with a depth of consciousness and humanity that can inspire and inform us all." Bud Harris on YouTube "Confronting Evil." Transcribed by Warren Falcon.

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