Immunity from Evil

by Christopher Lovejoy on October 20, 2013

How do we make ourselves immune from evil? That is to say, how do we make ourselves wholly exempt from evil? And what does this exemption imply – and require?

More to the point, does evil even exist? Or is it just a product of our fevered imaginations?

Some say that hate is merely an anagram of heat. For them, feeling the hate is about feeling the heat. For them, a truly enlightened consciousness applies transformative alchemy to hate, thus: hate > haet > heat.

A two-step translation of the letter e to the left yields the desired result: heat, where there was once hate.

Could it really be this simple? With no resistance to hate, could evil survive the absence of hate?

But then we hear of innocent people of all ages being used, verbally or physically abused, or falsely accused. If you still have a heart, you’ll feel some sort of response to this kind of conduct.

However, from a higher perspective, from a divine perspective, from the perspective of many incarnated lifetimes, is anyone really and truly in a position to judge the quality of this conduct?

Perhaps an agreement was made prior to birth to experience evil – just to experience it.

Perhaps an agreement was made prior to birth for two (or more) souls to satisfy a karmic debt.

Perhaps an agreement was made prior to birth to have evil serve as a stimulus for growth.

Even if I concede that evil exists, and it’s being played out everywhere in every moment, what can I do about it? Better yet, who can I be in relation to it, with respect to it?

Respect evil? Now there’s an odd notion. But this isn’t what I mean when I say “with respect to it”.

Assuming that evil exists (safely, I think), what kind of relationship to evil would best serve me? What inner posture with respect to evil would best grant me immunity from evil?

I say immunity from evil, which implies exemption from evil, rather than immunity to evil, which implies a capacity to resist evil.

We would do well to remember that whatever we resist, persists, in one form or another, and so, would we rather resist evil, passively or actively, or would we rather have immunity from it?

What does verse 60 of the Tao Te Ching have to say about any of this?

Tao Te Ching, Verse 60

This verse makes clear that immunity from evil is possible, but only if we “approach the universe with the Tao”. In light of my introduction, what could these words of wisdom possibly mean?

Governing a large country
is like frying a small fish.
You spoil it with too much poking.

Approach the universe with the Tao
and evil will have no power.
Not that evil is not powerful,
but its power will not be used to harm others.
Not only will it not do harm to others,
but sages themselves will also be protected.

If only rulers and their people
would refrain from harming each other,
all of the benefits of life would
accumulate in the kingdom.

Edited slightly to enhance flow and to reflect more inclusive language

Ref: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

From the perspective of a great leader, evil is both impotent (or, more precisely, evil is a confession of impotence in relation to good) and powerful as and when evil strikes and does irreparable harm.

My Impressions of the Verse

With a surface reading, this verse might give the impression of seeming more simplistic than simply expressed, but with a deeply felt reading, one might realize that it contains much wisdom.

Governing a large country
is like frying a small fish.
You spoil it with too much poking.

This seems like an odd comparison.

I’ve never fried a small fish, but I can well imagine that it would get spoiled with too much poking.

Curiously, the reality of evil is introduced with this rather benign image.

Is it done yet? Are you done yet?

Perhaps only the leadership of a large country under siege from forces within and without would ask such questions, and perhaps only a country that has fallen prey to compensatory striving with a long string of executive orders would keep asking them.

Approach the universe with the Tao
and evil will have no power.
Not that evil is not powerful,
but its power will not be used to harm others.
Not only will it not do harm to others,
but sages themselves will also be protected.

This line, “approach the universe with the Tao”, is very precise.

From a witness perspective, “the universe” is understood to encompass everything – subjective experience as well as reflective events that sometimes seem to take on a life of their own.

With a peaceful inner posture of presence, we “approach the universe” alertly and respond assuredly with access to the blessings of insight.

Alert and assured, we “approach the universe with the Tao” as and when we behave, perform, and excel with grace and ease, as and when we express or conduct ourselves with blissfully responsive, harmonious acts, actions, and activities.

The potential for evil still exists, but its manifestations are nullified by an awakened, enlightened approach.

If only rulers and their people
would refrain from harming each other,
all of the benefits of life would
accumulate in the kingdom.

Seen in a broader social context, the nullification of evil (or, if you prefer, exemption from evil) calls for a societal shift in values, where conscious refinement and restraint follow in the wake of collective virtuous action informed by the Tao.

Implications for Personal Fulfillment

“Approach the universe with the Tao” requires a capacity and a willingness to cultivate present moment awareness, to be here now, to be present to experience, to welcome spontaneity, to access and apply timeless insights, to be fluid and flexible, to go with the flow.

This is not a mindless, heartless, soulless process, but a mindful, heartfelt, soulful journey.

Emotional expression through the human animal bodies in which we occupy offers countless opportunities for involvement and engagement.

Where involvement is a matter of heart and soul for the sake of quality, engagement is a matter of mind and spirit for the sake of vitality.

Encounters with quality and experiences of vitality are the two most fundamental motives for our being here in this world.

If these motives are frustrated, all manner of drama ensues, much of it compensatory, reactive, and unpleasant.

Where a connection to quality is intimately and soulfully bound to a sense of worthiness, a connection to vitality is intimately and spiritually bound to a sense of competence.

We all want to feel worthy and competent; we all want to feel valuable and visible, confident and deserving.

All of which begs this question: are we ready, willing, and able to help each other arrive in a place where genuine feeling displaces artificial wanting (which implies lacking)?

If only rulers and their people
would refrain from harming each other,
all of the benefits of life would
accumulate in the kingdom.

The alternative to arrival for society is obvious: no immunity from evil, no nullification of evil, no exemption from evil.

Next up: A Balance of Power (Living by Remaining Low)

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This post is one of many in an ongoing series that began here.

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