Is there a place called hell, or heaven? Some branches of Christianity use fear of the devil and going to hell as a recruitment tool. The Catholic church has a procedure for exorcism of evil spirits, which can only be spoken by priests pure of heart. Buddhists don’t think of heaven and hell as places to end up; they practice a middle-road spiritual path, with meditation that transforms the human experience of darkness and misery into a life of awareness, light and compassion. An old saying goes something like, “When the devil is on your mind, you’re on his mind; or, when you see him, he sees you.” I like that many of the Eastern spiritual paths focus on love and compassion (which are manifestations of God) and skip the whole ‘devil’ matter altogether.
Yet darkness does tap our minds and hearts. It is easy enough to see in mass / serial killers or the maniacal power-hungry who have no concern for other humans or our home planet. Any time you and I purposefully hurt other people or seek revenge, we are circling evil. If we are living without our ‘consciences as our guides,’ it is easy enough to get sucked into selfish, dark thinking and it is downhill from there. I once got to talk with a man in prison who had raped a young woman in the laundry room of their apartment building. At first the sexy billboards got his attention, then he bought sex-magazines, until at last, he began to see scantily clad women as taunting him. He could clearly see his road to prison and he knew he did not check himself.
It feels like the darkness is a heavy blanket thrown on top of us, but that heavy blanket only exists in one state of mind, or one state of being. In the loving world, the world of light and compassion, there is no heavy blanket. We each have to toss off the blanket–to choose the world of love to live there. In the 1970s movie, Clash of the Titans, the gods of mythology live in a place where they observe human interactions and, though they’re not supposed to interfere in human affairs, they do anyway, from little nudges of inspiration, to fathering half-human children, to sending monsters after the good guys. Maybe we created those Greek gods in trying to understand all the different parts of ourselves.
The biggest lie I ever believed is that I did not deserve goodness and love and light. I deserved misery, darkness, torment–my list went on and on. I have observed that this belief system is far more prevalent than we might think. A good number of us experience guilt, for everything from a small slip others would think absurd, to serious, long-term misuse and abuse of others, to the most heinous of crimes. And yet, all guilt is a lie (not remorse–guilt). If there are ‘tools of darkness,’ guilt must be near the top of the list.
All humans slip up. It is a part of who we are; it is how we were made. What could be a more perfect tool than to use guilt about our errors to keep us out of the world of light? Guilt is like worry–they are a waste of energy, energy that we surely need to live and grow, to understand ourselves, to know who we are, where we come from and our purpose in life.
I think of the guilt-ridden state of mind as the fake world, a place where we must draw back the curtain, no matter how scary it is, to see the true world where we are beloved children. Behind that curtain is Love in every form, from our Creator to those who helped us draw back the curtain. In that instant, we are healed of our guilt, our worries, our troubled minds and hearts. Being loved and loving is our destiny.