About what is good and what is bad
“It is surprising how even good people are unable to make the difference between what is good and what is bad.” – Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi , Navratri 17 10 1999
Over thirty years ago we were discussing on the political science campus of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore a book entitled “Between Good and Yellow”. The point of the book was that notions of good and evil had become obsolete.
The Roman ruler of Palestine is remembered for washing his hands after having engineered the crucifixion of Christ. He is reported to have asked “what is the truth?” perhaps not as one who wanted to know the answer but as one who wanted to stress the irrelevance of the question.
If so he is the first of the modernists. With the age of reason, cleverness lost touch with wisdom. Contemporary thinking is indeed pervaded by relativism; truth is a matter of opinion. We locked Plato in his cave.
Mozart struggles with the two paradigms in his operas. In “Cosi fan tutte” all women are frivolous and it is reasonable to accept it while, in “don Giovanni”, the hubris of the seducer is punished by the statue of the Commandeur. In the first play, bad is good and in the second, bad is bad. It is “cosi fan tutte” that shall win the trend.
In the aftermath of the eighteenth century, the “free for all” constructs of the ego won the day. Rationalism begets relativism and relativism paves a royal avenue for moral ambiguity where, what is good… is basically what pleases me. This is fertile ground for the Prince of Seduction, notably in the aftermath of the Freudian fraud.
Good and bad lose their meaning at a cost to society. The greatest cunning of Mephistopheles is to make believe he does not exist. This is accepted in the world of politics where deals with the devil must apparently be cut every second day. In the field of economics bankers turned thieves ruin societies in full impunity. This is possible because, in the social realm, people respect the one who wins, not the one who is righteous or just. Yet the great success of Mephisto manifests in the field of religion which, admittedly, should have been based on ethics. You can bet this achievement gives him great satisfaction. Mephisto rules OK.
Ethics differentiates between right and wrong. Yet we face every day with so quote “spiritual” people a tendency to accept that “tout le monde il est beau tout le monde il est gentil” and if not, the psychiatrist shall explain why. In the name of divine love and confessional harmony, that are indeed most desirable, one accepts behaviors and people who in fact are practicing exploitation, injustice, violence, depravity or dissent.
As religions turn into sects, faith has nothing to do with logic. In the name of the faith one must love people who will make sure that love shall dry out. So we end up with fraudsters fleecing the faithful, televangelist bullies, fake gurus, killer mullahs and pedophile priests.
In such a world, the hypocrite has the upper hand, the fireman is stoned and the arsonist invited on the podium.
Yet the prophecies of Judgment Day contained both in the Bible and the Koran are only a warning that Truth does exist. It shall find its own ways to claim the Last Day. In the momentum towards this climax we witness, both in individuals and societies, an emerging process of exposure: whatever we build on deviations from the truth is not sustainable in the long run. It contains the seeds of destruction.
This shall lead to a probably painful correction. The notion of retribution is also embedded in the law of causality or karma of Eastern philosophy which sees a distribution of rewards or punishment according to our aptitude to cling to the safety of a central path of evolution. This path is the Way of the Truth.
If evil people would be ugly and good people beautiful, as was the case in the golden age, Mephisto could not seduce. In this age of confusion, intense to the extent of full darkness, evil and evil people are commanding, attractive. Vulgarity is sexy hot. But let us sharpen our eye because truth shines also in the eye of the beholder.
Hence, the good news is: the devil that is seen loses much of its strength. The wrong and the bad exist, and it is not so bad because, as soon as we realize it, we are equipped to correct it. What is the practical way of doing it? Christ reminds us to start with oneself. Perhaps, one day, we should exit from our slumber and take notice. It just takes a little courage to wake up.