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Evil and Spiritual Work

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Good and Evil are the most profoundly misunderstood ideas in history.

The fundamental failing of modern psychology is the seemingly wholesale disregard of 'objective evil' and simultaneous reduction of everything traditionally associated with it to various forms of 'subjective mental illness'. The danger of this assumption (and it is only an assumption) is that all spiritual work inevitably descends into an ever-spiralling 'war with oneself'. It is because this perspective, so prodigious in the psychiatric and psychological industries, logically leads to treating everyone as a pathology, a disease - that fuels the pathology further.

For if I am truly the only source of my own 'evil', then, how do I resolve it? How do I confront, or reconcile this evil, the very source of which is 'me'? It is no wonder that most modern approaches to self-development produce an endless supply of 'self-referential loops', requiring the constant creation of new 'versions' of oneself (re-inventing oneself) in an attempt to move away from the one thing you can't (i.e., yourself). This clearly benefits an industry whose commercial motivation is to keep you on their gravy-train.

As long as a man does not separate himself from himself he can achieve nothing, and no one can help him. G.I.Gurdjieff page 148 "Views from the Real World" Penguin Arkana

For the Biblical authors and Gurdjieff, the source of evil is external - it is objectively real - even though its amelioration or reconciliation is conducted 'within oneself' (i.e., a conscious undertaking of spiritual warfare or the work of personal transformation). This perspective significantly changes the approach to spiritual work - in that, evil, or any other impulse, energy or force that flows through us, is not 'us' at all, as we are not the source of any of it - we are only a conduit, a potential gatekeeper of sorts.


“The Magician raises his right hand aloft. He looks upwards and whispers these words as if in prayer:

‘Lord Creator, and all you His assistants, help us to be able to remember ourselves at all times in order that we may avoid involuntary actions, as only through them can evil manifest itself.’

All sing, ‘Forces become transformed to be’.

The Magician again blesses them with both hands and says, ‘May reconciliation, hope, diligence and justice be ever with you all’.

All sing, ‘Amen’.


From Act 5. Scenario of the Ballet: ‘The Struggle of the Magicians’. G.I.Gurdjieff


In this context, the spiritual journey is clearer (and simpler) - it is to find and follow a method that can sufficiently differentiate (via 'experience and inner taste') those impulses, energies and forces to be understood that inevitably allow a discernment as to which to follow, which to resist, and which to leave alone at any given moment - but not to be 'identified' or 'attached' to any of it. This means that the development of the 'I', the true self that stands behind everything, that is separate to everything and relatively impartial to everything within, is the cornerstone of Soul creation. It is also the greatest weapon against the seduction of depression, the darkness of sleep and the key to navigating towards the awakening of light.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:10-12 KJV


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