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Good & Evil

I can’t hear the words “good” and “evil” without thinking of Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” The title of that song has its own mythology about how it came to be, but all the different versions boil down to the idea that somebody in the band was intoxicated and misrepresented the actual title of “In the Garden of Eden.”

You remember that old biblical story, right? In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve ate an apple from the tree of knowledge and learned about good and evil. That story is one way to conceptualize why bad things happen in life (evil). Philosophers have wrestled with that question for millennia: What is evil, and why does it exist? The common theme of these dialogues and writings is that, like beauty, evil is in the eye of the beholder.

Theist philosophers – those who believe in God – specifically wrestle with the question of, “How is it that there is an all good, all knowing, all powerful God, and yet evil exists?” Whereas, atheist philosophers – those who do not believe in God – tend to wrestle with defining what evil is.

On one end of the spectrum, evil can be defined as terrible acts of pain inflicted onto another person (e.g., genocide, murder, the Holocaust). On the other end of the spectrum, evil can be as simple as an event that went against the way we wished (e.g., spilled cup of milk). Sometimes evil is controlled as an act perpetrated with purpose (e.g., robbery), or sometimes evil is random, such as a hurricane that destroys the homes in a community.

In the Buddhist tradition, there is less emphasis placed on experiences of evil, and greater emphasis placed on individuals’ intrapsychic (internal) reaction to what we experience in life. The common theme here is that pain and suffering in life is the result of resistance to the life that is.

Let’s tie this all together as it relates to counseling: Bad things happen in life. And, with over 5000 years of discussion on the subject of bad things happening, there is no definitive answer as to what defines a bad thing or to explain why such things happen. However, it seems that we experience more than just the bad thing that happens, we also experience extended and repeated discomfort as we reject and resist our lives long after bad things have happened. Therefore, it is essential that, as human beings having human experiences, we process what has happened by experiencing our emotions, making our own sense of what happened, and finding ways to move forward in life with the least resistance possible.

All lives include bad experiences, and maybe you have brushed up against your share of bad things. If you would like to talk to someone to make sense of the bad things that have happened, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors. 

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