True forgiveness is an essential choice that many successfully embrace in seemingly despicable circumstances. In my younger years, I sensed great truth in the saying “Tout comprendre, tout pardoner.” Translated, this oft-quoted phrase means “if you understand someone else completely, you can pardon all of their actions.”
This supposition hinges on the notion that humans react similarly to various specific challenges, and assumes that we all pursue rational solutions to our problems with others. Does this apply in the face of apparent evil, such as the spasm of terrorism and efforts at counter-terrorism that grip our modern world? Can we truly come to fully understand the life and motives of a terrorist, to the point of “pardoning” their actions? Doesn’t the rampant killing of innocents violate everything that a sane human being holds dear?
Our official response, as a culture and as a nation, is often to label the perpetrators as “evil,” and to base our actions on a standing principle of retaliation when wronged, and on a newer policy, at least in the USA, of destroying anything or anyone we label as “evil.”
After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, then-President George W. Bush referred to the rogue states of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the “axis of evil,” which he claimed to be the main source of terrorism at that time. Since then the world has witnessed an expansion of institutional terrorism as well as a spike in “evil” activity by individual, disgruntled terrorists or malcontents across many countries and continents. The concept and consequences of “evil” are as old as time, but the choices we make about how to confront it or root it out in today’s world have more far reaching consequences than ever before.
Episcopal priest Steven Paulikas recently wrote a thoughtful op-ed piece in the New York Times (6/27/16) concerning the “fool’s errand” of trying to stamp out the evil expressed through terrorist acts. He highlighted the writings of philosopher Paul Ricoeur, who was orphaned when his father died as a soldier in the first World War, and who himself spent five years as a French prisoner-of-war held by the Germans. Ricoeur realized that evil exists not as a thing per se, but as a black hole of thought, making it a much tougher entity to simply “extinguish.” He stressed the importance of responding to evil appropriately, mainly in the form of addressing the suffering of the victims. This wisdom espoused by Ricoeur involved “an unwavering commitment to relieve and prevent suffering,” as Paulikas put it.
Ultimately, I believe any such eradication of evil will come from a deeper understanding of the experience, emotions and motives that drive all involved. As much as the National Rifle Association would urge us all to take up arms and take this fight to the level of Armageddon, I know that our ultimate solution will involve love, compassion and forgiveness. Otherwise, it all mires down into an endless cycle of repetitive violence, revenge, and misery for all concerned. The falsehood that one can destroy such “evil” through military might has been exposed and disproven time and again in the recent decades of escalation— the status quo is not leading towards a solution. And these cycles, when replicated on a micro-scale in our own neighborhoods and families, deliver no better results.
The way out? To express our free will in the face of this madness. To break the cycle of revenge and retribution will involve choosing a higher view, one that is broad enough to engage a win-win strategy and that includes all of us together on this journey. This view is no Pollyanna dream, but a potential goal strongly supported by emerging scientific notions of the nature of consciousness, and the ever-evolving evidence that we are all part of One Mind — thus to harm my neighbor (or my enemy) is to harm myself, in a very real sense. Combine this awareness with compelling evidence from the study of the mind-brain relationship: that the consciousness of which we are all a part is eternal, and that the rich literature on near-death experiences (NDEs) offers much evidence for a fundamental reality that is spiritual at heart – a reality that derives its essence from the power of unconditional love at the core of all creation. With clearer vision, one begins to glimpse a pathway out of this morass.
Having your life “flash before your eyes” is not just some recently discovered concept – the “life review” aspect of NDEs has been described across numerous cultures, belief systems and continents for millennia. The life review at the end of one’s physical life is the stage on which our higher souls (and soul groups) judge the various thoughts and actions of our lives that still have important lessons to offer. Given the strong purpose of justice and of learning that is inherent in one’s life review, it serves as a powerful corrective in one’s eternal soul journey, gently but firmly providing lessons that steer us more towards love, compassion and forgiveness. Each lesson helps us to integrate our individual desires with the Oneness so often and affectionately described by the millions who have been there as a result of an NDE or similar forms of spiritually-transformative experiences (or STEs).
The life review of someone who has killed others will be a hellish experience that involves feeling the pain and suffering not only of each of the victims, but also of all the other souls who felt pain when coming to know of their act of killing. This reality comes not from the dogmatic preaching of ideologues, but from the empirical evidence of human experience–from those who have been there, as revealed by the increasing number of stories of NDEs and similar STEs liberally annotated over the internet in recent decades. Much of the absolute tsunami of such evidence comes as a result of enhanced techniques of cardiac resuscitation available to physicians worldwide over the last half century or so. The world is populated with literally millions of souls alive today who have been to the other side and returned to share their experiences. And, the increased number of incidents and expanded reporting through books, media and the internet are not by accident or coincidence. Ignoring such evidence is a choice we should not make.
As the reality of the One Mind, of our interconnectedness, and of the core presence of love as a fundamental constituent of our evolving universe becomes more established and begins to alter our perceptions of ourselves and of our role in this evolution of consciousness, this reality will displace the false sense of separation so prevalent in our current materialistic world view. We will finally begin to mature as a sentient civilization, choosing to move towards the loftiest of realities of human potential—one based in peace, harmony, and a focus on the higher good. Even if only a small percentage of souls currently recognize this reality, it is nevertheless present in every soul’s fundamental essence, waiting to be turned on, to be expressed instead of repressed. On a practical level, we can exercise free will guided by oneness and love in matters of everyday experience as well as in those of international policy.
We are all, truly, in this together. But we have fooled ourselves into a false sense of separation, whether from secularist and deterministic Newtonian science or the competitive dogma spewed to the masses from religious zealots of diverse beliefs that run counter to the original unifying principles in the mystical traditions of all of the great faiths. The fundaments and birthright of this universe are based in love, compassion and forgiveness.
I believe we have reached a major juncture, from which we can choose either awakening to these eternal truths, or committing planetary suicide. The choice is ours. I, for one, am optimistic that our destiny is to choose awakening.
Our biggest enemy is fear, covering hatred, bigoted religion, greed, all develops into madness. Even dealing with this as hero’s to save humanity one might say also can bring about discord of the mind. So we all need healing and this need comes from very likely many lives here on this Earth, and possibly lives on other planets and dimensions. Where is the AHA moment that one would look for in humanity? There is available an answer, and that is to continue practicing love, forgiveness and grace, then perhaps, all together now! that moment, that release, will come. I send you all much love and blessing. Margaret.
To dr Alexander
Before we speak of evil, we must first reveal what does it mean to be a spiritual being.
My personal belief is that (1) a spiritual being is spiritually connected to God. (2) that the spiritual being is a harmonious being and (3) that the being is above all an intelligent being. For without intelligence, harmony would not be included in our daily life. (4) And that the spirit of this being is expressed psychologically. (5) Furthermore I believe that the during the thousands of years of existence here on earth humanity has deviated from its spiritual path. To reintroduce humanity to a spiritual existence, psychology is the science needed to guide the being to its rightful spiritual path. The laws of a society are nothing more than a psychological expressions of our political leaders. The laws implemented from our leaders should be used to minimize human suffering. Should that be the case, then we are ruled by spiritual leaders, or better yet, intelligent leaders. Today the majority of the global community, is suffering and suffering has become the norm. This is the result of not psychology but rather psychologism. Psychologism which is the product of ignorance.
Regarding evil: an evil act, is spiritual disconnection from God.
Thank you and God bless
Plato also said “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
If our earthly life is for the evolution of our souls, our consciousness and our journey to reconnect with our creator, God – then we are here to learn about love and forgiveness, for I believe that they are one and the same.
Jesus talked about how the true test of love is not in loving our loved ones, for that is easy – it is in loving our enemies that we truly learn to give love and forgiveness. In loving those who are hardest to love – the unlovables – we are really loving.
I now understand why there is ‘evil’ in this world – for without it we cannot learn how to truly love and forgive; and until we are able to unconditionally love and forgive our enemies, our friends and ourselves, we cannot evolve our soul consciousness and be ready for heaven.
Thank you for this article…One way we cannot go to evil is to stop eating innocent living beings and their secretions….I prayerfully ask if you want to awaken right now is to watch The greatest speech by Gary Yourofsky….as it stands right now the country of Israel is going to be the first Vegan country because of This speech…TO DATE it is the most watched speech in Israel on YouTube…True honest awakening means dying to self’s ego and that means caring about the victims point of view….much love and light…
I love reading these replies. There is apparent evil, however we have a choice. Let’s just admit, life doesn’t seem fun at times. Whether it is “evil” or someone seemingly purposely causing chaos in your world, it can be hard. As a person who has experienced a spiritually transformative experience, the point is we are creating this stuff together. I laugh a little. Sure there is the appearance of evil, sure it seems real, it’s designed that way so we in our human experience have a full believable experience. I love to shoot guns, but I would never own one. I just can’t imagine taking a life, especially with a gun. Now in the midst of an illusion of evil, I’d say it would be hard not to at least look for a gun. As Eben states, when we focus on helping the victims and come to somehow find a place where we can equally get along and meet halfway, we have jumped into a new arena. Thinking something through and not reacting. I wish I could meet all the people on the other side to watch them figure this out, that we are not any of these things we believe in. So when you do cross over, if u see someone on the side giggling, that would be me. It’s not easy to accept nor even integrate in life even when you’re somewhat aware of the truth, but I still try to remember, everything I experience is brought on by me. Could be a soul contract, could be my state of mind. Namaste
Eben, well thought out and delivered article. Bravo. I will admit though, that I would be so happy to have a person close by with a legal permit gun to take out someone on a killing rampage, before that killer got to me or any other soul there.
Thank you again Dr. Alexander I knew you would respond to this current human tragedy, it is very difficult to forgive. I can in my own mind feel how the loss of any of my children by anyone could cause me take revenge there is unconditional love in my heart for my wife and the children she gave to me, I will not own a gun but having served many many years ago as a soldier we were taught to kill, but then I met the enemy of our country and found out he or she were just ordinary people like me and after that I cannot hate but will avoid people that want to hurt anyone it certainly helps me keep my sanity. Thanks Tom
I have the right to defend myself, I do not have the right to attack anybody – it’s my simple Law to get through the day.
Two years ago my son was amongst a large contingent of men and women asked to intervene in the slaughter of the Yazidi people who had been hunted by ISIS and were trapped at the foot of Mount Sinjar. After a long illustrious journey that included beheadings little girls and parading their headless corpses about town, ISIS jihadists took to raping the Yazidi women, that is after burying the children up to their necks and stoning them in the presence of their mothers, after hacking the breasts of pregnant women so they could never nurse the children they carried — after that… Courageous men and women willing to stand in between the innocent, the defenseless-/ and men with swords and guns and spiritual problems met their violence with lethal force. They would have preferred other means of resolution. But the jihadis at Sinjar were not interested in negotiation or redemption. And so those who they could save were saved through military operations. And there was nothing unloving about it.
Exactly, thank you. It’s completely possible and probably even necessary to engage in combat even while forgiving your enemy. Sometimes there’s just no other way to stop atrocities from being carried out, you have to provide some negative feedback to get the attention of the perpetrators. Some people will choose not to follow their higher reason and seek redemption, sometimes because of some sick desire, sometimes because of circumstantial upbringing, other times because of brainwashing. The reconciliation part will have to come after the ass kicking.
There’s a quote by Robert Heinlein that illustrates this beautifully: “If you have to kill a man, do it quickly and without prejudice, for no man is the villain in his own mind.”
To do nothing to defend the innocent in the immediate face of evil is abdicating moral responsibility. Men committing such acts are temporarily beyond all reason and are probably ideologically possessed.
I agree with everything you have said, but I believe the way you have expressed it goes over the heads of most people. Referring to “false sense of separation,” “eternal consciousness,” “eternal truths,” etc., simply doesn’t register with most people, as they need to be able to visualize the words you are using. I realize that it is considered somewhat simplistic and unsophisticated in professional circles to use words or terms like “fear of death,” “life after death,” “afterlife,” etc. and therein is the challenge in effectively communicating the root cause of all the chaos and turmoil in the world today.
Let me recommend “The Undying Soul,” a 2010 book by Dr. Stephen J. Iacoboni, to you. Iacoboni seems to have the ability to get to the point without beating around the bush.
Iacoboni is an oncologist, who at the time of publication, had 28 years of experience and had witnessed many thousands of deaths, the majority of them people dying in a state of despair. He began his medical career as a hard core atheist, commenting that “discussing a concept like soul was unthinkable.” Fresh out of medical school, he wanted “to prove that science and logic could triumph over anything – even cancer.” However, after establishing himself in his career, he began to realize that something was missing. Neither he nor his colleagues were able to offer any real comfort to those who had exhausted all medical treatment and were deemed terminal. He observed an “unspoken conspiracy of silence” relative to imminent death among his colleagues and patients. The medical approach to the spirit side of things was “not science, not our job.” As a result, many patients expired whimpering and with gnashing of teeth.
As Iacoboni came to see it, the real enemy is the fear of death – “a fear that can only be overcome by recognition that we each have a soul that will never die.” This fear needs to be addressed in words that the masses can visualize and relate to.
I agree with Stan. What are we supposed to do then? Not defend ourselves and let terrorists take over? We have to use our military might to keep from being wiped off the face of the earth.
Reading your article and the comments make me think that those who commit terrorist acts may not be able to experience a NDE where they feel the pain of the victim. Would their ability to use Free Will for their personal evolution then be hampered? I wonder then how the Loving Presence can get through to them.
Bigger picture. In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjun is frozen on the battlefield, terrified of taking lives. Krishna assures him that all is well, that these lives, and the drama of creation is completely within God’s purview. We are blessed with intellects and the capacity to think. Your perspective is important, inspired (at least in part) by the evil being perpetrated by exceedingly immature beings on the planet.
We are truly interconnected in ways far beyond our ability to comprehend.
Thank you very much for sending us your insightful thoughts. I can feel your love for us in your letter! Marlene Watson
The blame can not soley be placed on the nra. There is a strain of Islam that wants to destroy western society. And the government even ours is trying to control it from living freely.
Thank you, Dr. Alexander for this healing and inspiring letter that reminds me of my need to organize my heart, mind and life around love, compassion and deeper understanding. I’m deeply grateful for your books and all your work.
Great write up for brighten up our souls more deeply…Thank you so much for the good writing. Love & Peace always!
Thank you Eben and Karen,
There is indeed a global shift on the consciousness of humanity and it is essential that we go with it’s flow.
I have recently been watching the documentaries from Dr Steven Greer.
Certainly ties in with what you have been speaking about since your own transformation. Thomas Campbell’s My Big Toe and the works of William
Buhlman, DM Murdock,Iands, Theosophy and The Monroe Institute in my opinion are leading the way.
Thank you again for your courage and your tenacious commitment to INTEGRITY.
But those who torture should not be forgiven. We do not torture and laugh while doing so. Evil does exist.
i completely agree; i think eben is wrong here; denial of evil is a dangerous mistake of some spiritual seekers; should we have offered to ben laden a psychotherapy paid by taxpayers over many years? and what about hitler? Eben, go and watch the movie clockwork orange, and then try to deny that evil does exist and cannot always be forgiven, but must be actively struggled with and stopped by all means
Please consider reading these very important books:
Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil by Paul Levy
“There is a contagious psychospiritual disease of the soul, a parasite of the mind, that is currently being acted out en masse on the world stage via a collective psychosis of titanic proportions. This mind-virus—which Native Americans have called “wetiko”—covertly operates through the unconscious blind spots in the human psyche, rendering people oblivious to their own madness and compelling them to act against their own best interests. Drawing on insights from Jungian psychology, shamanism, alchemy, spiritual wisdom traditions, and personal experience, author Paul Levy shows us that hidden within the venom of wetiko is its own antidote, which once recognized can help us wake up and bring sanity back to our society.”
and this one:
Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes) Andrew M. Lobaczewski
The original manuscript of this book went into the furnace minutes before a secret police raid in Communist Poland…Political Ponerology is a study of the founders and supporters of oppressive political regimes. Lobaczewski’s approach analyzes the common factors that lead to the propagation of man’s inhumanity to man. Morality and humanism cannot long withstand the predations of this evil. Knowledge of its nature and its insidious effect on both individuals and groups – is the only antidote.
I think that as we approach a darker and more bleak future for this world in terms of human beings not being able to get along with other , there will be bright lights showing the way. In a world of imperfect people, the call to forgive one another is really the only answer. If we all were to keep a record of wrongs done, our happiness would be gone, and intense bitterness would take its place. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a spontaneous violent act. Violence is the harvest from planting seeds of rejection and bitterness in the heart, watered by a refusal to forgive. I totally agree that forgiveness is humanities only hope. Forgiving our enemies does not come naturally to humans. We need supernatural help to forgive.
Thank you for another encouraging and joyfull letter, and please stay connected with me…
Amen Brother!!! I talk to angels and have popped onto the other side and yes, yes, yes! All one! I find that when we embrace tiny areas of our own darkness it is much easier to pray and send energy to those who are completely lost within it. Beautiful message! The angels say if we want to end the vibration of terrorism, we must stop terrorizing not only each other but also ourselves, we must learn to love and accept all as part of this beautiful quantum puzzle of light. A big YES to free will choices of love!
I was helping the streaming guys at last years IANDS and met you both – what a treat! Thank you both for being messengers of the truth of love upon this planet!
Dear Dr. Alexander, Thank you! This is magnificently inspiring. All of creation seems to groan as we collectively wait for the revelation of truth. We must overcome violence and evil with gentleness and good. Good means forgiving all through Love. If we kill those who would seek to kill us, we have become our own enemy! We will have lost who we are. And so we have…lost our compass. Each side views the other as the evil one. And so in the name of good, ( or the name of God ) we justify killing each other. We need to know the truth and you are sending this beautiful message that points towards this truth. God is love and we are all one in this love!! We need to humble our hearts and our minds to cultivate the hard ground within us. This will empower you’re message towards growth within each willing soul. Thanks again!!
Good lUCK WITH THAT ONE, BEN – IF WE PURSUED THAT YOU WOULD
SOON BE IMPRISIONED, KIDNAPPED OR JUST SLAIN AS ANOTHER “INFIDEL” – Study some history on this!
The Major “evil” of the 20th century was Nazi Germany. It was met with brute force (after Chamberlain’s passiveism failed) and eliminated. Germany is now a peaceful, productive country. What did the Allies do wrong and what would your response have been to Hitler?
I am a big fan of yours with tough questions.
I do believe all he is saying however it is not right to sit and watch evil deeds when you can stop them. This is what the Allies did. Imagine all the lives that would have been lost if nobody did anything to stop Hitler. You can be compassionate and understanding of why someone does something bad but it is not right to allow them to do wrong if you can stop them. This is best for your karma and theirs.
Christian values tell us that this temporal life is but a short time, compared to that which is eternal, and that suffering is never endured alone. I deeply agree in principal with the theme of your article and it requires a lifetime of effort to achieve a true practice of forgiveness. But it does NOT to me mean that we tolerate radical behavior or extremist violence. If one commits heinous crimes against humanity should not that person be stopped from commission of such crimes? To be separated from a society that one harms is of course an ideal course of action. How to do that without retributional violence is the difficult part. There are far different values in this world, religion merely used as an excuse to exercise and fuel hatred and terrorist acts. There are no easy answers, no dialogues, no meeting of minds if there is no shared desire to truly live peacefully and tolerate differences. Wonderful and insightful commentary. Perhaps the entire world would benefit from an NDE…
Dear Eben, thank you for this beautiful essay. Recently I’ve been struck by Jesus’ response on the cross: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
It seems to me that people who commit heinous acts of evil are lost and don ‘t know, but they think they do. Also, I’ve also always loved Plato saying we all want the good. We never NOT want the good, but many times we don’t know what the good is. Hate and fear seem to co-opt the consciousness. This is where prayer comes in. You ask God what to do because you don’t know. Ask and you shall receive is a law of the universe.
Thank you for the excellent article.