Unity Metaphysics 1
Lesson 07 The Problem of Evil
In Unity, we believe that God is Absolute-Good. We also acknowledge that humankind, made in the image and likeness of God is essentially good. Where, then, does evil come from? Who creates it? Why does it seem so powerful? In this chapter, we will explore our Unity beliefs about the exact origin and nature of evil. We will discuss the meaning of sin and its consequences. Also, we will consider what part our free will plays in the creation of evil. As we develop a clearer understanding of the specific cause of evil, we will gain a greater ability to transform its effects on our lives. When we realize that evil is not an independent power outside of ourselves, that it is not an enemy we have to constantly fear and fight, we can approach it from a standpoint of spiritual strength and poise. Evil is a problem that is meant to be overcome.
7A DEFINITION OF EVIL:
"Evil - That which is not of God; . . . error thought; a product of the fallen human consciousness; … Evil is a parasite. It has no permanent life of itself; its whole existence depends on the life it borrows from its parent, and when its connection with the parent is severed, nothing remains. …Apparent evil is the result of ignorance and when Truth is presented, the error disappears “(Revealing Word/Evil)
It is most important to keep in mind that we, in Unity, do not believe in evil as having permanent or independent existence of its own.
7B ORIGIN OF EVIL:
"Man came out of God, is of the same mind elements, and exists within the mind of God always. Yet by thinking that he is separate from omnipresent Spirit he has set up a mental state of apartness from his source and he dwells in ignorance of that which is nearer to him than hands and feet" (Teach Us To Pray 160).
"By and through the imaging power of thought man can produce illusions that confuse him. This occurs only when he fails to look to Divine Mind for the source and nature of his ideals. Obviously, many are deceived into thinking that they are indeed bound, and the unhappy conditions claimed do show forth in them. This is only consciousness entangled in its own effects" (Keep a True Lent 63).
The origin of what we perceive as evil does not originate in God-Mind as such but is a product of human consciousness.
7C FREE WILL AND EVIL:
"All experience develops personal identity - the consciousness of the powers of Being in the self. This is the bringing forth of free will, which is inherent in all" (Christian Healing 55).
"It is possible for man to form states of consciousness that are out of harmony with the God principle, but these do not endure, and through experience man learns to adjust his thought to that of God… God is free to do as He wills, and he has implanted that same freedom in man. When we understand this ego-forming capacity of man and even of nature, we have the key that unlocks the many mysteries and contradictions that appear in every walk of life" (Atom-Smashing Power of Mind 19).
Misuse of freedom of thought, belief, and will are the mainsprings of our continuous sojourns into evil and useless, unnecessary suffering (hell). Freedom of choice in how to think, what to believe, and how to react gives us a unique place in the universe. We generate our own heaven or hell. We may continue to blame God for creating heaven and hell, but God has only given us the resources and the freedom to use those resources in any manner we choose.
"Sin—Missing the mark; that is, falling short of divine perfection. Sin is man's failure to express the attributes of Being -- life, love, intelligence, wisdom, and the other God qualities" (Revealing Word/Sin).
"Sin is simply the concealment of man's son-of-God self. The sin is the changing experience, the failure to express the whole, the divine potential, the changeless reality" (Eric Butterworth Celebrate Yourself 132).
"What theology calls a lost soul is a soul that has lost sight of God's omnipresence… The act of ignorance is the act of sin" (What Are You? 9).
"Transgression of the law brings its own punishment. We are not punished for our sins but by them" (Keep a True Lent 32).
We sin because we fail to accurately identify the true good and we fail to accurately assess the consequences of our action or non-action. Sin is the result of forgetting our oneness with God and our divine nature. We forget who we are every time we look to the manifest world as the source of our good. Each of us is capable of becoming distracted and fascinated with the sense of personal power and immediate pleasures we have created in the visible realm. As a result, we suffer a sense of separation from our divine Source.
7E SATAN AND THE DEVIL:
"In the course of his demonstrations of Being, man arrives at the place where he feels his own ability, and he knows that he can exercise it without restraint. “Satan” is the personal mind that tempts man to try experience without knowledge" (Christian Healing 55).
"Devil — the mass of thoughts that has been built up in race consciousness through many generations of earthly experiences and crystallized into what may be termed human -personality, or carnal mind, which opposes and rejects God. The 'devil' is a state of consciousness adverse to the divine good… There is no personal devil. God is the one omnipresent Principle of the universe, and there is no room for any principle of evil, personified or otherwise” (Revealing Word/Devil)
Both “satan” and the “devil” as literal personifications of evil are not part of Unity theology. Yet these terms are valid as metaphysical symbols) which represent aspects of our own consciousness which place the human "personality as sovereign in our lives. This is a collective phenomenon of the human consciousness, which can appear to exert considerable influence on the relative plane of existence. However, neither "satan" nor the “devil” have any existence in spiritual principle.
"True repentance means the changing of the mind and all its contents of error belief" (Mysteries of Genesis 340).
"True repentance is always followed by forgiveness, which is a complete wiping out of the error thought from consciousness and a full deliverance from the inharmony that the error thought has produced" (Mysteries of Genesis 337).
In overcoming sin we must choose to let go of error beliefs and allow them to be transformed so that they reflect the Truth more fully. Such a correction of our thoughts enables us to be free from our errors and their consequences.
"Man therefore contains within himself the capacities of Being, and through his words uses the creative principle in forming his environment, good or bad. So we make our own heaven or Hell" (Mysteries of John 76).
"The fact is that everybody has a soul to save, not from the hypothetical hell after death, but from the sins and the delusions of the sense consciousness that we make hell here and now" (Talks on Truth 139).
Hell is not a geographic location but a state of consciousness. It results from our maintaining beliefs in lack, limitation, loss, and pain. It is the experience of suffering which we cannot currently explain or know how to overcome. In other words, hell is a state of mind that reflects our sense of separation from the Source of our good.
Heaven is everywhere present. It is the orderly, lawful adjustment of God's kingdom in man's mind, body, and affairs; ... a state of consciousness in harmony with the thoughts of God. Heaven is within every one of us; a place, a conscious sphere of mind, having all the attractions described or imagined as belonging to heaven" (Keep a True Lent 177).
Heaven is also interpreted as a state of consciousness. I t results from our perpetually aligning our thoughts with "divine" ideas, such as life, love, order, and wisdom. Such of a state of consciousness produces experiences of limitless good in all areas of our lives.
IN UNITY, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT EVIL EXISTS IN GOD-MIND OR THAT IT HAS AN INDEPENDENT EXISTENCE. EVIL ORIGINATES IN THE HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS AS A RESULT OF THE MISUSE OF OUR FREEDOM OF THOUGHT.
SIN IS THE RESULT OF FORGETTING OUR ONENESS WITH GOD AND OUR DIVINE NATURE. WE DEFINE SIN AS “MISSING THE MARK” OR “FALLING SHORT OF OUR DIVINE POTENTIAL.”
"SATAN" AND THE "DEVIL" ARE NOT LITERAL PERSONIFICATIONS BUT METAPHYSICAL SYMBOLS THAT REPRESENT ASPECTS OF THE HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS WHICH NEED TO BE TRANSFORMED.
REPENTANCE IS A CHANGING OF THE MIND FROM ERROR BELIEF TO AN AWARENESS OF TRUTH.
NEITHER HEAVEN NOR HELL ARE GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS: RATHER THEY ARE STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS. HELL REPRESENTS THE SUFFERING WE EXPERIENCE WHEN WE FEEL A SENSE OF SEPARATION FROM THE SOURCE OF ALL-GOOD. HEAVEN IS AN EXPANDED AWARENESS WHICH IS IN HARMONY WITH THOUGHTS OF GOD.
TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
- If God is Absolute Good, why is there evil in the world?
- Define Unity's understanding of Satan and the devil.
- Share your understanding of heaven and hell. Have you ever experienced either of these states of consciousness in your life? Explain
THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION AND MEDITATION
“Spiritually, what are you? You are a soul that has forgotten its divine identity; a soul now struggling to remember, in the mists of time and in the confusions of experiences, that you are the living son of the living God” (Imelda Shanklin What Are You? 10).
Lynch, Richard, Know Thyself, chapter 5, "The Problem of Evil."
Butterworth, Eric, Discover the Power Within You, chapter 5, "From Miserable Sinners to Masters."
Transcribed by Rev. Evan Coleman on August 19, 2017.
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