The Problem of Evil

The Problem of Evil

by esotericist Mark Stavish

The problem of evil is a perennial one for students of esotericism.  Various philosophies address the problem in different manners, but in synthesis, there seems to be several distinct areas of overlap and agreement.

While alchemy does not address the idea of evil directly, it speaks of purification, sublimation, and other acts that suggest that our emotions, physical matter, and thoughts can exist in an imperfect state and somehow brought to perfection, or at the very least, a more desirable condition. All matter is imperfect compared to its spiritual archetype that it incarnates, but it is not evil, that is, in active and conscious rebellion against the ‘Good.’

Gnosticism addresses evil in two ways: relative and absolute. Matter and material life are seen as undesirable, as they are prison houses of the spirit.  Like various schools of yoga and Buddhism, material life is to be escaped from and is de facto ‘evil.’ Matter keeps us from being free, unhindered, and spiritual beings without temptations and passions.  This is interesting in light of the idea that the early angels united ‘with the daughters of men’ and thereby created offspring of legend referred to as ‘giants’ in the Old Testament.  Clearly being ‘spiritual’ or without a physical body isn’t enough when it comes to being ‘passionless,’ but this seems to escape most of the discussion in this area.

Qabala is among the most balanced of the approaches in that it sees evil as relative, and necessary.  It is to be overcome without condemning the material world.

In fact, in Qabala and Alchemy material life is our life.  It is where we are in the here and now. We can think of earth as a school, a prison, a blank slate, or as whatever we like. Even if we believe in life having an evolutionary purpose and the influence of astrological Signs and Ages to push humanity along, life has no meaning until we give it meaning.  All the guiding and directing in the cosmos is worthless unless we commit ourselves to a cause, something greater than ourselves, and work to express it, even if we may not live to see it.

The great cathedrals of Europe, temples of the ancients, and other places of majesty and wonder were built by people who would never live to see them completed.  While for many of them it was just a job same as any other, or forced labor as a slave or serf, many of the artisans and professional builders employed took great pride in their work and saw it for what it was – a monument to something greater than the limits of earthly human life. Even in anonymity, their lives had, and still do, great meaning as we worship, tour, or simply admire from a distance, their labor, centuries after it was completed.

If you see material existence as good or evil, this is a reflection of your inner life. We hear often of the power of positive thinking, and the more cynical among us, who are often the more intelligent as well, sneer and either disregard it or simply pay lip service to the idea.

In truth, “Positive Thinking” is in many ways a lie.  However, the reason is not in the idea, or theory, but the language used to transmit it. When we conceptualize the idea of thinking, it is often relegated to the idea of problem solving, and as such, rational and logical processes.  However, thinking is more than logic, or problem solving, it is our worldview.  Our thinking is the filter we use to process the world, how it works, our place in it, and relationship to others.

The greatest power in our ‘thinking process’ is not our ability to reason and use logic, but our ability to feel.  Our emotions are our greatest asset in this area.  If we ‘feel’ positively about life, then life takes on a flavor, color, or experience that logic and reason cannot transmit.  Emotions are the driving force, the energy of the psyche, of human consciousness.  When talk of the “Power of Positive Thinking” what is really being said is the “Power of Positive Feeling.”

Studies have shown that ‘optimists’ are more successful than ‘realists.’  This fundamental fact explains why so many smart people are often so under-achieving, under-paid, and under-fulfilled with their lives.

Modern educational systems develop the rational and logical at the expense of the emotional. Cynicism is encouraged and rewarded by the media, and academia.  Yet if we look closely at ‘realists’ we see that they are essentially looking for an excuse not to act. They are afraid of failure, of making a mistake, of essentially living, and also of dying.

If you come to accept your mortality, then fear drips away, and problems of success, failure, even good and evil take on a more manageable perspective.  Accept this – you will die, so act, and act as if it is today, for someday it will be.

This doesn’t mean that we throw away our resources, or ignore reason and logic, but instead, that after considering them, we still pick something and dedicate ourselves to its realization.

If you would like to be successful, and find meaning in your life, you must first decide what is the single thing you want to accomplish. What do you want to dedicate your limited, and numbered human days to promoting, building, and embodying even if you do not live to see its fruition?

Second, turn off your television.  Get rig of cable, satellite TV, [Katia inserts: Pokemon Go, Facebook, Cellphone addiction] or whatever it is that you plug into that drains your life force.

Third, meet and collaborate with others who are seeking to build and promote their lives, even if their projects are not esoteric or spiritual in nature, so long as they are developing, encouraging, and demonstrating the effectiveness of an ‘optimistic’ attitude.

Fourth, do not discuss your plans with anyone who cannot directly assist you in their fruition. Avoid nay sayers and similar ‘realists’ who will tell you from their position of superiority, built upon a mountain of failure and self-imposed fears and limitations, that what ever ‘It’ is, ‘it can’t be done.’

Fifth, read biographies about the great men and women who have overcome all obstacles to achieve their dreams.  Even if the books are older, and the stories slightly romanticized, read them anyhow. It is inspiration and example that you are seeking to internalize and emulate, not a ‘tell-all’ expose. A wonderful example of this kind of inspirational biographical writing is Twelve Against the Gods by William Bolitho.

Sixth, and finally, give back, here and now. Generosity is a form of confidence in the future, as well as gratitude for what you have. Give of your time, knowledge, and material wealth.  All three must be given for this to work, because in doing so, you create a chain of events and habits, that will cascade back onto you and reward you with opportunities otherwise outside your reach.  In your acts of generosity of time, talent, and treasure, your true inner attitude, deepest held feelings, are revealed.  However, the time is now, and without concern for your ‘personal reward’ that might come as a result of your actions. Give, give generously, give wisely, give regularly, and give impersonally.

In doing this, you create a better life for yourself, and a better world for others in which evil has no place to hide or to grow.

This document may be cross-posted as long as the authorship and copyright attribution remains intact.

For more information on how to use the power of belief and emotions to create a better life for yourself and others, see [Mark Stavish’s awesome new book] :

The Inner Way – The Power of Prayer and Belief in Spiritual Practice

Are Evil People Born Without souls?

Are evil people born without souls?  One of our long-time Seminarians, a smart fella, played Anne Frank’s father in a dramatic production recently.  He wrote me today with a theory that maybe Hitler was born without a soul.

Rev. Randy wrote:

As to the Holocaust, I truly believe there are those out there who are born without a soul.  My Priest always said “even Hitler could be forgiven since all our tickets were already punched,” (spoken like a true Episcopalian).  But I don’t buy it, I think the SOB was born without a soul.  It’s the only explanation how anyone could be that unfeeling.  Of course there are those who would say I could say the same things of slave owners, but to me it’s still different. Charles Manson falls in that category also. How’s that for Esoterica LOL.  Yeah, I know your Right Reverendness is cringing.

I wrote back:

Oh, not cringing at all!  I spend a lot of time pondering what as you know, philosophy and theology dub, “The Problem of Evil”.  See earlier blog posts like this one for such ponderings and gripings.  Well.   The theory that some are born without souls does speak to the Problem of Evil.   Hmmmm.  Will have to ponder that…  I already chew on the way people get souls in the first place.  Are they reincarnated? Or are they newly stirred clumps of drops of soul-stuff — like everytime you pour a glass of water you get drops that may not have yet been together in the same place before.  So much water has been thru the atoms-created-in-stars, evaporation/rain back down system.  Maybe souls are made of soul-stuff and we are a hodgepodge of a bunch of other people, I sometimes wonder, not the same exact soul passed down.  Maybe reincarnation doesn’t happen, but we have ancestral memories in our DNA and therefore we have all kinds of “flashes” of DNA memory of people in “past lives”.  Okay, so if a person is born without a soul…. how does that happen, how does he live, etc.  Wow.  Food for thought.

Eckhart Tolle, whose work we are now requiring for our most advanced Seminarians (those in the Holy Orders program) says evil people are buried in layers and layers of dark unconscious ego.  Their false mind-made self (the ego) is running their body and resorts to violence and perversion to keep its control.  When such a one gets in power like Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, heads roll.  Unconsciousness, complete lack of awareness, complete lack of sensing the Presence, causes this crap. I am currently designing a study course of his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.  This book is chock full of our type of alternative, esoteric “Zen” Christianity. Love it, love it.

Tolle’s earlier book is The Power of Now, but I recommend reading A New Earth first and then The Power of Now.  The goal of a Seminary student is to become a spiritual teacher, A New Earth is truly a manual for spiritual teachers.


Why do Innocents Suffer? We are God, The Shack, etc.

Thanks to all of you who commented on my previous entry about the suffering of children and the Problem of Evil.  I appreciate all your thoughts on this perplexing mind-bending theological, theodicy, philosophical (annoying!) cosmic question. I often ruminate on this puzzle, more-so lately, and so it came up last night at the weekly Eckhart Tolle meeting I attend.

There was a new guy at our meeting, a new author named Carlos Garcia who has just published a SciFi book called Unknown Contact where he converses with a god-like being via cellphone text messaging(!) and discusses cosmic questions, kinda like Conversations With God, but in a fiction setting with a Sci-Fi attitude.  Carlos was easy and fun to talk to and our group got into quite a gab session around the table, waving our arms, completing each others’ sentences, etc. Two laptops looked mutely on.  One belonging to Tad the shaman played a very cool video of Peruvian Shamans protecting Barack Obama with awesome dancing, smudging, and skull rattling(!).  And my laptop showed a paused Eckhart Tolle talking to Oprah.  (But I am still voting for the other guy, because despite my religious liberal progressiveness, I seem to be anti-big-government and mistrusting of anyone friendly to Marxism or terrorist “causes”.  Just don’t like bomb-throwers or Big Brother and will never understand why anyone would want to sympathize with, shake hands with, or even sit at a table with bomb-throwers to “Let them have their turn to speak, they are people, too” Ick.  But I digress…)

As I was animatedly putting forth my Big Question about suffering children, putting it forth like I did in the blog post before this one, Carlos interrupted, or rather completed my sentence, with something profound. He voiced a solution I already knew, something simple and obvious, but yet … one I hadn’t let sink in, was resisting.  You know how it is when you are grappling with something like this for years and answers to your pain just won’t click until suddenly after all the blows to the rock with no results, the 100th blow breaks the rock. (I think that’s a Shankara metaphor).

Here’s how my simple epiphany went. I was saying something like, there’s a little girl in the children’s hospital terminal ward with maybe cancer or some other fatal wasting-away painful disease.  She is one of dozens of suffering innocents in hospital.  She’s crying and full of IV tubes, and knows which substances sting when they come thru the IV tube and which ones don’t.  Once pretty hair she used to like looking at in the mirror while her mother combed it and put cute little hair ties in, is all gone.  She is in a lot of pain today and is sick of taking the painkillers, and had to turn the TV off because it showed kids running around doing kid things now denied her.  Sometimes she likes to watch kids playing and being “normal”, but not today.  She says to her mother sadly, “Oh I was thinking, I sure wish I could go to school tomorrow.  I miss Mrs. Johnson (her teacher) and the rest of my class, especially Jill, Chelsea, and Debbie who sit at my table. I miss school, it is so fun. Even riding on the bus is fun.”  Her parents think, but don’t say, “Mrs. Johnson was your teacher 2 years ago, her class has long ago moved on.  You’ve been here suffering far too long. But yeah, how nice it was when life was more like you and we hoped it would be.”   The small girl tries to be brave, her parents try to be brave — and do a damn good job of it. (I have witnessed this kind of exchange many times during my several visits to various childrens hospitals these past 5 years with my kidney-disease daughter, age 5, who has never had to stay more than a week, thank god-ess, and is going to be just fine).

So anyway back to last night’s meeting. I get to the part where I say, Why does this little girl have to suffer? No human being made a free will choice that caused her suffering, such as when a vicious predator tortures and kills a child.  Much physical suffering of innocents was caused by a flook of nature, not by mankind.  She just happened to be born with this, like my own daughter was born with destroying cysts on her kidney.  Why is pain and fear happening to this innocent kid full of IV tubes and body wracked with pain?

It’s her Karma, some say. She “chose” this in another life.  Although this looks to you like a sweet little girl, an innocent human being, it’s really someone who has lived before and done selfish or bad things….  I was saying all this at the meeting last night, and was about to say the line I used in my previous blog entry, which is: this isn’t really an innocent person you are looking at, this “girl” was a guilty person in a previous lifetime, did awful things, so she came back and decided to suffer this time to pay that karmic debt. But I never got that line out because the new guy, Carlos, completed my sentence by blurting out just after I said, “this is not a sweet innocent little girl you are looking at”,

“Right, SHE IS ALMIGHTY GOD,” and nodded his head like we were in perfect agreement, like this was common consensus.  I stopped for a half-second (amazing to render me speechless for even a half-second!) as the innocent victim’s godhood sunk in. I said, “Omg, yeah. You’ve really helped me with this puzzle.”

We all of us went on to discuss how each person is a fragment, a holographic miniature expression, of the Absolute (aka God).  We humans decided and re-decide to incarnate as all these many billion people to express our (divine) consciousness, our (divine) self-ness, or something(!) thru ourselves.  We are God.  We are God, the Universe, having relationships, becoming conscious and aware of Itself.  We are the One, the Divine One, blasphemous as that sounds.  That fits in with what Eckhart Tolle teaches in his book, his “Bible”, the best “scripture” of our time, in my opinion, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.

I also badgered the guys at the meeting (I was the only woman there last night for some reason) about individual reincarnation, which I am not sure I believe in. They gave impassioned answers, and the two hours fled by.  I think we individual “souls”, individual fragments of the Divine ONE, all get stirred up together after death, and so different and unique pieces break off of the whole each time and “re-incarnate” into bodies of new babies.  There is no specific Cleopatra piece, no separate Napoleon piece that keeps getting reborn. The Cleopatra pieces are all stirred up and mixed with other pieces of the Whole. It is like water molecules, perhaps.  They evaporate out of oceans and rivers, rain down to the soil, join the aquifer, enter your well, or the water supply, and several clumps of these water molecules end up in separate glasses of water on your dinner table.  They will never be in the same glass again after this. Those water molecules don’t go away, as the laws of physics prove, but they don’t “incarnate” in exactly the same glass (personality structure) ever again.  Yet each day we are pouring more glasses of water, there is an endless supply of soul-stuff, but it doesn’t appear in the same exact chunks.

We ALL have been Cleopatra, Napoleon and even Jesus, said Carlos and Tad the shaman at the meeting last night.

Once I got home and my family all went to bed, I picked up and read an entire Christian fiction book called The Shack. If you have lost a child, or like me you ponder the problem of innocents suffering, the Problem of Evil, you must read The Shack. It has swept the Christian circuit.

It’s also a good read for people who view God as a woman, the Holy Spirit as a woman, and ponder the existence of Sophia. It is a mainstream Christian book, yet approximately half of Christian pastors call The Shack blasphemy and dangerous, and the other half of Christian pastors (the progressive liberal Christians!) think the book is awesome.  I tend to agree with the latter, and found a lot to validate my alternative beliefs, and much to help me with solving the suffering-of-children dilemma.  I enjoyed The Shack immensely, altho some of the author’s treatment of Jesus was a bit corny for me, “sophisticated” alternative esoteric Christian that I am. <snort>  I just reminded myself the author was using metaphor and most of all allegory, wonderful colorful allegory, to get his point across. Since he does it so masterfully, I can suspend judgement thru the few corny parts to get to the cosmic questions, the theological, philosophical “meat” I so crave.


Problem of Suffering, Cooperative Pre-incarnation

I often ponder the Problem of Evil (known in theology and philosophy as Theodicy) and have many times considered the “cooperative pre-incarnation movement” someone mentioned in Kathleen McGowan’s Magdalene forum recently.  Cooperating with each other and with the Universal Consciousness (God?) and choosing, AGREEING to incarnate on earth does seem logical and more sensible than the rather loose karma-reincarnation theory.

Maybe it went something like this.  We were a group of volunteer souls about to be sent onto this egg, this earth-planet, and were gathered together for a sort of briefing, a great gathering of souls about to fill the Hall of Souls on Earth.  We could have been told something like:  You will have minds capable of full consciousness, but your bodies and physical surroundings will constantly distract you, keeping you in a kind of mundane every-day unconsciousness. Your spirit will be asleep in this unconscious state that you will be in. If you can wake up, if you can figure out you are not your body, not the thinker inside your head but the higher soul watching all this thinking going on, you will become fully conscious, “awakened.”  By waking up from the mundane unconsciousness you are one more mind in the critical mass to help the Universe become conscious of Itself — the purpose of humanity in the first place. 

But back to the mundane unconsciousness. It can lead to horrors.  Unconscious people do despicable horrible things to others.  Some of you will fall into those traps and do awful things, others of you will be victims of these horrors and not understand why or what the heck is going on.  You will get angry, desperate, suicidal.  It ain’t gonna be a picnic.  But all that pain and suffering forces your mind to go deeper, deeper until it finally says hey wait a minute, I am not really this little me, I am the field of awareness in which “me” happens!  (Read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth for the best explanation of this awakening from little me unconsciousness). 

Okay, so anyway, I like to think we were given the choice, asked if we could handle going down into the flesh and going thru incarnation after incarnation where we would sometimes be bad guys, sometimes be victims, sometimes be both, but always trying to make our way thru suffering and bewilderment, thru fear, greed, power-lust, pain until we finally looked long and deep enough to find what is really going on.  We then figure out the REAL reason we are here for — which is to wake up as individuals and thus help Universe wake up, achieve full awareness of Itself.  That is the closest I can come to “solving” the Problem of Evil.  <snort> And I have been grappling with it for many years.  The standard solutions offered by philosophers and religionists such as, ‘God gave us Free Will so we end up with some people perpetrating evils,’ do help me somewhat, but they fail to answer why God allows suffering.  (The problem of suffering is a part of the Problem of Evil in philosophical/theological discourse).  We can say that because of Free Will some men choose to do evil and that is why your little girl got molested and murdered.  Okay, painful as hell but we can see the logic of that.  HOWEVER, what about this, God?:  What causes the same little girl to be born beautiful and healthy but then get cancer when she is in first grade, drop out of school, end up bald and lying in a cancer ward frail as a waif, body racked with pain, wasting away wondering what happened to her life?  What about THAT suffering?  It wasn’t caused by Free Will.

So yeah, evil.  Ugh.  Suffering of the innocent, double Ugh.  That is the one I am grappling with now, solitary philosphical arguments going on in my head.  <laugh>   The closest I have gotten recently, and I have not yet gotten it into words (thank you list-friends for triggering yet another session) is some very wispy realizations while reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth and Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity.  Suffering of the innocent from flooks of nature like cancer and horrible lingering fatal diseases, is another thing that forces us to go DEEP.  The parents of that child and the child herself (or in the case of adults dying of fatal diseases, the person and their loved ones) are given suffering as this huge doorway, not just a window, into the Awakened Realm.  Back at the beginning when we had our cooperative pre-incarnation briefing we were also told that the system was set up so that some of us would suffer from flooks of nature, from physical waste and excruciating pain.  This suffering would then force us and those around us to think, think, THINK and to go deep and WITHIN to find cosmic answers.  Some of us might even awaken while observing such hells, others would get into despair and curse at Universe/the Powers that Be, etc.  But some would use the suffering as that window — actually nice big door — of opportunity for awakening. 

Still working out the kinks of this one.  I’ll check back in a few years (!) which is usually how long I chew on each of these elements.  <laugh>  Thanks to all the spiritual writers and bloggers who pose such dilemmas and write about them, thus giving fuel to my fodder of pondering.



Why do Kids Suffer? Kabbalah’s Answer

My Jewish pal and writing partner Dr. Lauri Loewenberg “the Dream Lady” was on The Today Show this morning.  They flew her up to NYC.  Lauri emailed this evening saying,


On the flight back from NY I was sitting across from a mother and her daughter who was probably three years old.  The little girl obviously had some form of cancer as she had hardly any hair and was wearing a surgical mask.  I heard her tell her mother, “Everything looks dizzy Mommy.”

Sigh.  I’m having a hard time getting over it.  I realize at least I CAN eventually get over it… but that poor little girl and her mommy… [they may never heal]


I wrote back to her with a less coherent and more rambling version of the following:

Oh how tragic.

I’ve given MUCH thought to this subject of suffering children since Rhea (my just turned four-year-old daughter) has kidney disease and has endured much.  I run into suffering children whenever Rhea has gone into the hospital and she has had a fair amount of suffering herself, to the point of developing PTSD.  Many opportunities make me ponder this topic.  (Rhea however is doing great since her surgery two months ago).

Just last night I stood in the bookstore and read the stirring conclusion of The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks & Feels.  It’s by the same guy who wrote How the Irish Saved Civilization and Why The Greeks Matter — Thomas Cahill, a non-Jew with very clear sight of history. Anyway, his stirring and sobering conclusion quotes Dostoevsky, “The suffering of children is the greatest proof against the existence of God.”

I remember reading that same thing in philosophy class (Dostoevsky’s novels are considered works of philosophy) and being depressed by it.  I think it’s in Crime and Punishment.

I recently read in one of the books from that all the bad deeds and evil thoughts of mankind sort of rise up and mix together into a kind of black cloud. Pardon the simplistic  explanation of this concept, but I just today formed these thoughts in order to explain it to my kids.  So bear with me, here…. Sometimes bolts of that darkness cloud come down and hit a child, a baby even, give them cancer, an abusive parent.  Or bad bolts of darkness from humanity’s collective crap hit a woman who then gets raped, a young man who gets murdered, etc.  The dark cloud then gets fed some more and grows even bigger. Innocents suffer because of all the negativity humans do and think.

Michael Berg writes that by changing our own consciousness from one of “wanting and getting to one of sharing and giving,” we can actually not contribute to this black cloud that affects us all so badly.  Furthermore, if enough of us keep doing that — adopt an attitude and even a way of life that is focused on giving and sharing and never on wanting and getting, getting, getting — we will gradually create a cloud of Light above us all, so to speak, that will cancel out that bad black cloud.

A critical mass can be reached.  We can leap forward out of this endless cycle where children suffer and life seems horrid so often.

Then something else clicked when I read a certain part of the Kabbalah book I mentioned above (the book I was reading is, The Secret by Michael Berg NOT the Law of Attraction movie The Secret, but a book which gives a true Secret, an unselfish, utterly unmaterialistic spiritual Secret).

In philosophy they call this “problem” the Problem of Evil or theodicy.  Anyway, I wrote in the margins of The Secret by Michael Berg the other night that we all agreed in unison to come to earth, to incarnate into bodies and live a life (or lives if you believe in reincarnation) in order that humanity might evolve, leap into the next level or phase.  I imagined a sort of pep talk God/dess gave all of humanity before we and God together(!) decided to create this planet and populate it.  Perhaps S/He said to all of us, “Some of you will die before you’re ever born.  Some of you will be filthy rich while others of you will starve to death, end up in prison, be born with terrible diseases.”  But.  Sick children and even crime victims “teach” other members of this human race so many valuable lessons…  you’ve heard how a sick child “touches lives” and indeed on the plane last night one such touched my friend.   Evidently we all work as a team to help the collective Mind come to higher awareness.  Poignant moments, suffering, shake us up, make us think, make us SEARCH for the meaning of death, life and the meaning of suffering, existence, evil and all those cosmic questions.  Suffering and diseases like my daughter’s and cancer compel some of us into scientific research, but for the vast majority of us, they make us question and ponder the cosmic doctrines like origins of life, why the hell innocents have to suffer, does God exist, what the freak are we here for, etc.

So I think we all said, okay, I agree.  Even if I have to be a kid with terrible cancer, or a senseless murder victim in order to help some others of us, my fellow human-thinkers, head down the deep-thinking path, thus leading us all collectively a bit closer toward the Leap of Evolution we hope to make, so be it.   How noble we all must’ve been (hah) to make such a choice.  It is said some people didn’t want to come to earth on this rather frightening mission to help consciousness make this evolutionary leap.  They felt they were not cut out for such a scary adventure, and those folks remained in whatever state they were in, and/or perhaps became angels.  In Judaism and the Kabbalah both (sometimes they are different) it is agreed that there was a finite number of souls “sent” to earth to fill the Hall of Souls.  It all makes sense to me when I merge it with my other metaphysical studies and philosophy studies.  I just love Kabbalah.  (Now that I’m forty plus, hee hee).

I really like the way the Kabbalah Centre people deal with the Problem of Evil. They don’t even call it that, not being philosophers but rather kabbalists.  They sure are tight writers, the Bergs, consisting of a father and his two 30-something sons. All three of them have the Jewish gift of parable.  Just like Jesus had…  Man can they come up with the most perfect little teaching stories.  Short and sweet and they sink right into your consciousness like a Zen lightbulb blazing on.  The Berg’s mother, Karen, wrote God Wears Lipstick: Kabbalah for Women.   I like it immensely, too.  Cool deck of cards available to go with it.  She doesn’t use the parable gift like the men in her family, but cites cool little case stories, letters she’s gotten, conversations she’s had, and vignettes from her life.  It’s sad the way critics excoriate and even mock the Kabbalah Centre and the Bergs.  I have been around the block these past couple of decades reading, meditating, studying all manner of spiritual systems from Self-Realization Fellowship, to Advaita Vedanta, Buddhism, Golden Dawn, Gnosticism, Judaism, New Age, Shamanism, pre-Christian European religion, Zen, Osho, Metaphysics, Hermetics, Christian Qabalah, Ken Wilber and my favorite tradition (the one I never left and still work in) esoteric or alternative Christianity.   I have learned to spot false gurus, greedy teachers, have been fooled by more than one.  The Kabbalah Centre people are not such.  I don’t know them personally of course, but I can read in the multitudinous words they write in blogs, books, website articles, that they are truly unselfish, giving people.  Ye shall know them by their fruits, said Yeshua.  And let the teachings they offer speak for themselves, ’cause it is good stuff.  Ancient stuff… with Judeo-Christianity all over it.  No prosperity Gospel (Jesus was a rich man, so should you be!) crap or get-rich-off-Christ stuff like Joel Osteen and others.  No get rich by winding up God.   And no winding up yourself since you are the Creator God, or co-creator, as is taught in the other book by that name, Secret: Law of Attraction.

Anyway, I still like my good ol’ Christian Qabalah but boy howdy do I like the Kabbalah Centre material too, enough to send my own students there when they sign up for our Qabalah elective course.

As for other answers to the Problem of Evil….I’ve never liked the eastern concept of Karma.  It doesn’t resonate with me, never has seemed quite believable though it does seem neat and tidy.  But it means my daughter Rhea was a bad person in a previous life so was born to suffer and “pay” for her sins this time.  Hogwash.  Ken Wilber and other modern philosophers also disagree with this you-deserve-it idea.  Ken Wilber speaks elegantly against the New Age concept that if you think hard enough, focus and believe, you can do anything, cure anyone, get any materialistic thing (the “we each create our own reality” doctrine).  Ken’s wife Treya died of cancer and Ken couldn’t heal her.  And now he himself has a debilitating illness.  He’s one of the greatest thinkers to ever live, not to mention very spiritual — got the mind-spirit union goin’ on.  Yet his mental power isn’t good enough, strong enough in his conviction to accomplish mind over matter healing? Even deep thinkers like Ken, and holy men and women around the world can’t snap their mental fingers and win the lottery or heal someone of cancer.  Mind over matter just isn’t that strong.  I think the Kabbalah Centre does teach that the Zohar can heal like that…it can bring about miracles, but it is a holy book, not someone’s personal wish for healing or riches.

Such poignant moments as what my friend witnessed on the plane, reach into us and give our heart and our very soul a little shake.  They compel us to think deeper than we normally do.  To exercise our right as a thinking one (the term mankind comes from the word mannaz which means the thinking ones).  Furthermore, we must each of us be a meaning-seeker.  The one thing that makes us different from animals is our ability and our drive to find meaning in everything from dream symbols to suffering to ink blots.  We are the same as the animal kingdom, going about seeking food, shelter and pleasure, unless we think and seek meaning in life.

We are kept on track by suffering.  Negativity encourages us to keep digging, keep seeking the meaning of life, not just stop evolving and be complacent life-enjoyers, pleasure seekers.  Slogan idea:  To be meaning seekers, not pleasure seekers.  By seeking meaning we help humanity as a whole leap into the next phase of our evolution and then all pleasures will be available to us.  Or at least we will have a new fuller understanding of what the heck pleasure is, and may not really want it for pleasure’s sake.  One thing is promised however, if we can make it to humanity’s next level:  pain and suffering won’t be around.

Perhaps we’ll be bored, who knows.  Or perhaps we’re part of the Creator’s mind, each of us a firing neuron in His/Her “brain” or of some Godling’s brain.  A Godling is awakening and we are part of that evolution to help him/her reach immortality.  Immortality would be a painful existence and might go horribly wrong if the Being in question doesn’t go thru proper phases of evolution.  Freaky thought — we are all part of an awakening God’s/Goddess’ mind.  That reminds me of yet another book I had to read in a philosophy class, in fact the first philosophy class of all, Phil 101.  Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke.  It describes in a classic sci-fi format how all earthlings combine into one Overmind, mature and “leap” into the next phase.  “Initiation,” Blavatsky would call it.  Becoming god, the New Age and perhaps even the Kabbalah Centre and the Theosis doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church would call it…