Chapter 7

The Light and the Darkness

"God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all." We began our thoughts with this celebrated statement from 1 John 1.5, but now we have to qualify this with what we know about the demonic dimension in the angelic hierarchy - to say nothing of that in human nature. The Genesis allegory insists that everything God made was good; this applies to the human creation no less than the animal creation: "God created human beings in his own image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1.27). One may, I feel, include the angelic hierarchy in this general category of excellence. If we take the Aristotelian view of their nature, as in some way bridging the gap between the human and God himself, there is no reason why they should not have started their career as impeccable creatures. If we can accept the more mystical view that they are forms, images, or expressions through which the essences and energy forces of God can be transmitted, a definition we encountered in Chapter 5, then it seems beyond belief that these could assume a demonic character such as I have described in the last chapter.

Let us say at once that no human being can give an authoritative answer to this enigma. The weakness of the Aristotelian approach is its very accessibility: it is only too easy to make the angels anthropomorphic images who are subject to the same temptations as we humans in our life on earth. One explanation is a fall of the angels under the hubris of a particularly impressive angel called Lucifer, who has succeeded in attracting a number of his fellows under his banner. We considered the scriptural evidence, or rather the lack of it, in the last chapter. The other explanation that we have also thought about is the lust of some angels for especially beautiful women, as described in Genesis 6.1-4. Not surprisingly, God was outraged by this perversion, and vowed to destroy the whole human race apart from Noah and his family. If angels are in truth rather similar in psychology to humans, these myths are not to be disregarded, for they seem to arise from the collective unconscious that envelops and informs all of us of deep cosmic truths that normally could not penetrate the busy conscious mind intent on getting as much for the individual as possible.

However, I suspect that we are meant to broaden our conception of what actually is good for us, and what God may be challenging us to undertake and to become. If, for instance, we consider the allegory of the Fall seriously, but not fundamentalistically, it becomes increasingly evident that God sent the serpent, the devil, to tempt Adam and Eve. It is even more evident that the outcome was not only expected by God, but actually orchestrated by him. What child, if commanded absolutely by its parent to avoid something, to refrain from a special course of action, to ignore a very real focus of craving planted in its very midst, could possibly resist the temptation? If God had simply ignored the whole issue, it is very probable that Adam an Eve would have remained oblivious of the special tree with its fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. They would have lived on in happy ignorance in the country of paradise, perhaps even to this day, though of course there is no knowledge of time or space in that delectable realm. In other words, Adam and Eve would have remained in childlike ignorance, completely unaware of the beauty and magnificence of the terrain they were privileged to inhabit "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise", wrote Thomas Gray in the "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College".

Yet humans are not born to remain in the bliss of ignorance. Everything in the pattern of human growth and development militates against this comfortable complacency that produces a stifling inertia and leads to nowhere in particular. It could, of course, be argued that if Adam and Eve had had the inner discipline and patience to abide by the divine interdiction and eschew the forbidden fruit, they might have grown up sufficiently in due course for the ban to be lifted. Then they would have been able to understand the nature of good and evil in truly divine terms, and their will would have coincided with that of God. Certainly it is true that when humans take the law into their own hands, the results are frequently demonic in nature and intensity. But how will we ever know what is the divine way to perfect behaviour and relationships with the other creatures in our environment, to say nothing of the greater world in which we try to make our contribution? It seems that experience is the key to wisdom.

The real issue is between the will and the imagination. E. Coué made the paradoxical statement that when the will and the imagination come into conflict, the imagination wins. As Roberto Assagioli writes in his book Psychosynthesis, Coués statement is an empirical and paradoxical way of expressing an important law of psychological life: "Every image has in itself a motor-drive" or "Images and mental pictures tend to produce the physical conditions and the external acts corresponding to them". The power of images is well recognized by propagandists, while advertisers are keenly aware of the motor power of imagination - or what they more vaguely call "suggestion" - and utilize it abundantly, and often very ably.

The human is gifted with a strong will that is potentially free. This freedom, which is a high peak of human achievement, comes only with long experience that embraces both the civilization of the race and the education of the individual. Thus early on in life, our activities are liable to misdirection by the power of those around us; our parents and teachers should be able to direct us in the right direction, but often they fail because of their own inadequacy. However, as we come to adult stature, we have to follow our own way. If the centre of spiritual identity within the psyche, called the soul or true-self, is in command, we will indeed work from a focus of free will. But many people are still liable to seduction by images implanted into their minds from external sources because they are purely ego-centred. In such a state, what they will desire most is pure personal gratification. This was the precise situation of Adam and Eve. God had forbidden them to perform a certain deed, yet not provided them with the means of repelling the subversive imagination implanted in their minds by the angel of darkness. When they were tempted, their fall was inevitable. This is the universal human condition.

To me, it seems much more probable that God organized the serpent to give Adam and Eve the necessary shove towards self-actualization; their awareness of their nakedness after eating the forbidden fruit, so that they fashioned loincloths made from fig leaves to conceal their sexual organs, is a manifestation of their separate self-awareness. This is not necessarily to be sought in itself, but it is an inevitable step in the right direction of personal responsibility which should end in a collective caring for all that lives. When poor Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden, a lovely metaphor for the paradisical state, they are commencing their long journey back, but this time as adult members of the world order; a situation that we still envisage after countless generations of hope followed by despair, of disillusion fertilized by new hope at leads to an altered way of life. Certainly the biblical narrative on the one hand, and the twentieth century on the other, illustrate these trends with startling accuracy and pitiful aspiration. Will we never move beyond the darkness to the full appreciation of the light?

In his "Ode on Intimations of Immortality", William Wordsworth speaks of the "Soul that rises with us, our life's Star" having "elsewhere its setting", and coming from afar not in entire forgetfulness, and not in utter nakedness, but trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home. He recounts with almost unbearable poignancy the gradual successive withdrawal of the heavenly vision from the infant, the boy, even the youth, until the man "perceives it die away", and fade into the light of day. This is no sentimental outpouring from a great poet of the Romantic period of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is a true assessment of the inner world of not a few articulate young children. Those destined to succumb shortly to malignant disease of various types seem to be especially mature spiritually, to the extent of caring more about their grief stricken parents than their own suffering.

Yet even young children who are not ill can sometimes startle one with their spiritual perspicacity. Why, it may be asked, do such spiritually aware children have to grow up like the boy in Wordsworth's poem? Why does their spiritual vision have to become blurred and distorted as they enter a world of darkness, of crass materialism where self-satisfaction is advertised as the summum bonum of all true success, where salacious entertainment is blared out in the very streets? It is easy enough to blame the fallen nature of the human for these moral and spiritual atrocities. Even religion seems to have brought quite as much cruelty and destruction into the world as love and enlightenment. The reason for this apparent paradox lies in the universal human desire for absolute assurance; so long as a religious institution can appear to provide this assurance, its members may be fully prepared to bow down to the power structure inherent in that establishment. And so the human mind allows itself to be enslaved by a more powerful organization, while it basks in an assurance that may well be illusory. Only those who have the courage to search for themselves according to the capacity of the mind and soul that God has given them are likely to come to a truth that really does set them free from human illusion, a truth inseparable from the way Jesus showed in his life among us.

Who ultimately is responsible for the sorry state of affairs on earth, remembering that it seems to have been part of life right from the beginning of creation (if one takes the allegory of Noah and the Flood seriously)? The first culprit is obviously the human being. In the early chapters of Genesis, the sins of humanity serve to pervert nature until a state of enmity prevails among the animals and between them and the human. In the glorious vision of Isaiah 11.6-9, the advent of a distant paradisical peace between all creatures is described, and St Paul makes this a practical proposition following the incarnation and resurrection of Christ:

For I reckon that the sufferings that we now endure bear no comparison with the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is in store for us. The created universe is waiting with eager expectation for God's sons to be revealed. It was made subject to frustration, not of its own choice but by the will of him who subjected it, yet with the hope that the universe itself is to be freed from the shackles of mortality and is to enter upon the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8.1 8-21).

In the fallen state of the human - that is, the person who follows the disobedience to the divine command - the dark angels find a hospitable place of residence. God gave human beings the will to choose, which is the basis of free will, long before they were able to discern good from evil, and so it would seem, at least in viewing the matter superficially, that the human race brought the sorry state upon itself and, by extension, on the world too.

But where was God when all this was happening? Were not his creatures well-made, according to the Genesis story? It becomes increasingly probable that God himself cannot be exonerated from the chaos that followed, that indeed he had a major part in the proceedings, unless he was either a faulty creator or else one whose concern in his creation soon lapsed, rather like a vendor who left his article with the purchaser and then went away indefinitely. The Jews have had the fundamental insight that their God is always alive, the living God in fact. This was what Jesus meant when he reminded the Sadducees, who maintained that there was no resurrection because the doctrine was not to be found in the teaching of Moses, that God had indeed revealed the doctrine to him when Moses met him in the apparition of the burning bush: "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob", for "He is not God of the dead but of the living" (Mark 12.26-7).

God is indeed eternally alive, and is closer to his creation than its own self-awareness. Yet at the same time an enormous distance separates the two; the divine transcendence allows the creature to get on with its own affairs without God interfering like an over-solicitous parent of the old school, never letting its children live their own lives. If God's creation were anything other than perfect, he would be available like an artisan to put the mechanism right, but instead he has arranged a self-perpetuating universe that may hold out for many million years, which time we may hope that the second coming of Christ may have altered the very scheme of reality,

And yet can we really call the earth a perfect abode for humans? Apart from natural disasters like earthquake, volcanoes, floods, hurricanes, and droughts, there are the various diseases that afflict all forms of life. Many infections have come under increasing control (though AIDS remains a notable exception), but the degenerative diseases of later life, and also cancer, continue to take their toll. On the other hand, who would really want to reach an advanced age if the quality of living was seriously vitiated by dementia, blindness, deafness, or paralysis? The wise person realizes that it is these very impediments that set the seal on human greatness, for when we are diminished beyond previous recognition, something of the fully diminished man on the cross shows himself in us. What indeed is God saying to us? If we take Christ as our paradigm, we may begin to see what our pattern of life ought to be; and how in our striving for that perfection that follows human understanding we may evade the encounter with a God who is as much master of evil as of goodness, of pain as of pleasure, of darkness as of light.

It cannot be denied that God is the ultimate cause of evil, by which I mean the power that seeks to destroy all creation and produce total chaos (using the word in its theological context as a formless void out of which God effected the creation, described in Genesis 1.2). It starts by destroying human happiness and ends as an agent of death - personal, communal, and finally universal. The advent and effects of fascism in this century speak more eloquently of its results than anything that could be put down in words. And yet God, "the maker of all that is, seen and unseen" to quote the beginning of the Nicene Creed), is necessarily the effector of evil also; certainly it would not have come about had he been more careful in the creation of his cosmos! If he had not given his prize creature, the human being, a high degree of intelligence, combined with a great power of imagination and a free will, there would have been a sheep-like subservience to the divine will, the forbidden fruit would have remained uneaten, and we would all be mouldering in paradise. If only we had been given a really safe world in which to live and without diseases to trouble us, we could have gone on living to the age spans described in respect of the earliest patriarchs in the first chapters of the Book of Genesis!

However, our whole lifespan would have been spent in sleep, for where there is no challenge there is no movement, let alone growth. If only God had planted that wretched tree bearing the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil elsewhere, he need not have spent any time warning us not to tamper with it! And if he insisted on planting the tree, he could at least have excluded from its ambience that nasty serpent, the very symbol of all that is evil in his creation, and what we now call the devil. And who created that serpent if not God? Indeed, he is described as one of the members of the court of heaven in Job 1.6, and plays a vital role in Job's spiritual education. Without the devil's role as legal adversary, Job would have remained a kind-hearted, pious man who loved an image of God, while being quite distant from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob whom Jesus spoke about, and who Blaise Pascal experienced in his celebrated mystical vision.

This rather lighthearted diversion brings us to the heart of the matter. The presence of what we call evil in the world is no fortuitous circumstance, nor can it be summarily laid at the feet of self willed humans who would then simply be prime-movers in the strange sequence. Evil is an integral part of creation, as much a reality as what we call good, and we have to learn to live creatively with the whole. The via media between the extremes of a stultifying goodness and a destroying evil is a balance that can use all circumstances in life constructively. Needless to say, all this is far more easily said than done. Our present century, now drawing gratefully to a breathless close, as taught us a great deal about this way forward.

There are two very well-known parables of Christ that can help us on our journey. First there is the sad decline of the prodigal son (Luke 15.11-32). He quitted his patrimony in a state of elation allied to fierce independence, taking all the money to a distant country where he spent it profligately. In the end, though, the once-presentable young man was reduced to a pitiable state of dereliction. He had squandered his particular talents, and now all that was left was his own wretched presence. In that presence he saw who he really was, both a fool and the son of a rich father. His independence had been eroded by his stupidity, his pride by his distress, and so he could return in abject failure to his father whose presence he had once dismissed so lightly. He said, "I will go at once to my father, and say to him, "Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."" If we know ourselves well, we should not have too much difficulty in identifying ourselves with this unfortunate young man, even if we are far from the breadline. I suspect that when our hour of reality dawns, we too will see our lack and deficiency as we prepare for the great transition that we call death.

When the son came within hailing distance of his father's house, the older man ran out to greet him with arms flung around him and passionate kisses. He would hear no apologies or self-denigration on the part of his restored son, but instead prepared a feast to celebrate his homecoming. He clothed him in the best robe, put a ring on his finger, and sandals on his feet. And so the festivities began. Perhaps the most significant part of this welcome, apart from the total acceptance and love of the once-disregarded father (who is a clear image of our heavenly Father), is the son's appreciation of simple gifts that he would once have taken for granted. That meal must have stayed in his memory for the remainder of his life. One of the inevitable results of evil and the suffering it produces is to make us appreciate the apparently simple things of life, such as our health, our home, and family, and our unimpeded access to God in simple worship. Good is, in other words, the obverse side of the coin of experience, whose reverse side is evil. The one cannot be expunged without the other losing its lustre. That much is obvious, even if it is not especially palatable to our sense of moral decency.

All this is made concrete in the appearance of the anti-hero of this parable - the prodigal son's brother industrious, honest, pious, and any other complimentary moral adjective one may care to add to the list. This brother was furious when he learned the cause of the rejoicing he had heard in the distance, and quite sickened at the invitation to the festive meal. At first he refused to take part in this obvious contravention of justice: "You know how I have slaved for you all these years; I never once disobeyed your orders; yet you never gave me so much as a kid, to celebrate with my friends. But now that this son of yours turns up, after running through your money with his women, you kill the fatted calf for him" (Luke 15.29-30). How right this criticism is, we feel, for surely the line has to be drawn somewhere! But then we remember the father's defence, and our mood changes, for we suddenly see love in all its radiance trying to reconcile the good and the bad, the righteous and the squalid. "My boy", said the father, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. How could we fail to celebrate this happy day? Your brother here was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and has been found" (verses 31-2).

It is the splendid paradox of sin and virtue that the prodigal son had learned to appreciate his father's magnanimity by his open-hearted acceptance of him, sinner as he was, whereas his virtuous brother had a heart as closed as one of stone, noted in Ezekiel 36.26. The promise here was that God would remove such a heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. One does not need much imagination to discern which of the two brothers' hearts was closer to this ideal. There are some people who seem to be naturally kindly disclosed to their fellows, but many others have a long journey ahead of them before they even begin to understand the deeper meaning of Amos 5.15: "Hate evil, and love good; establish justice in the courts; it may be that the Lord, the God of Hosts, will show favour to the survivors of Joseph." When the establishment of justice is a mark of respect and love for the other person, we have a true knowledge of what is good as opposed to evil, but when justice is followed as a legal routine, it can so easily be contravened, as it was at the time of Amos and the corrupt Kingdom of Israel. The whole edifice has to be smashed before goodness can reassert itself.

The real difficulty with the prodigal son's brother is that he was seeking justice for himself in a situation where he should have been contented, and indeed grateful, that he was not required to undergo the suffering and humiliation of his younger brother. The brother came home a mature man, while he himself had experienced virtually nothing of real life; by this, I do not imply visits to gambling dens, prostitutes, and the like (though there is far worse company that any of these, who at the most ruin only the body). What real living should teach us is the nature of suffering and how best we may serve those who are in pain, the temptations of the flesh and how most effectively we can cope with them, the roots of hatred, both personal and communal, and how best we may relieve those whose lives have been scarred and distorted by prejudices of one type or another that have been hurled at them. The way of real life is inevitably the way of the cross; and few of us can escape tragedy, whether in our own health or in the lives of those especially close to us.

Without the evil of the world, Jesus would have remained respectably alive until he was old and decrepit, but there would have been no resurrection, which was the sign of a new life ahead of all of us who can travel his way of mastery by love and unending service. I suspect that if the prodigal son's brother, like many good religious people (especially of the past), had been confronted with this inventory of horrors contingent on human life day by day, he simply would not have understood. He would have said, quite sincerely, that if you lived decently like him, you would escape all this trouble. Yet what would you have to show for it at the end of the day? A just, virtuous person, yet completely devoid of love, who served his father out of loyalty tinged with more than a little unconscious resentment (did he not speak about "slaving" in his protest?), who would have been a fine client for a discerning psychotherapist.

This train of thought brings us to the second great parable of Jesus, only five verses long, about the publican (tax-collector) and the Pharisee (Luke 18.9-14). Both met in the temple to pray: the Pharisee was very sure of his great virtue, even to the extent of thanking God that he was not greedy, dishonest, or adulterous like everyone else. Quite the contrary, in fact; he fasted twice a week and paid tithes on all he received. He was especially thankful not to be like the dreadful tax-collector alongside him at prayer; these despised Jews collected taxes for the occupying power, the Romans, and probably extorted money from their fellows because of their powerful position in the Community. Yet the tax-collector, in a sudden flash of self-recognition, saw how vile he really was. And so he kept his distance, and would not even raise his eyes to heaven; instead, he beat upon his breast, saying, "God, have mercy on me, sinner that I am." God accepted him, just as the father received the prodigal son home with rejoicing. By contrast, the self-righteous Pharisee remained outside the divine love and was not acquitted of his sins in the way the tax-collector was. Let it be understood at once that it was not God who withheld himself from the Pharisee, but the Pharisee who, through his great pride, put up a barrier to a relationship with God. It was the humility of the tax-collector that ensured that he could come to God spontaneously and unreservedly.

In both of these two great parables it is the sinner who is saved, in the context of being healed, while the virtuous man remains in poor spiritual health. No wonder Dame Julian of Norwich was shown that sin is necessary, but that all will be well in the end. And Jesus too came to heal those who were sick, not the healthy. It was the latter who organized his crucifixion, not the former (who, at the most, were unthinking accomplices). What I have been trying to say is that darkness is an integral part of our lives; without it, we would not only fail to appreciate the light, but we would also not grow into mature individuals. The young people who are close to their divine origin that Wordsworth wrote about in his beautiful ode, have in due course to quit the world of distant memory and get started on a constructive passage in this present time and space. The value of the glorious past is that it gives us hope and a degree of guidance for what is to befall us in the future, but we dare not get stuck in it.

Sin is an attitude of mind that shows itself in subsequent action, in which we place what we believe to be our own advantage before that of anyone else; it is a state of radical separation of ourselves from the community as a whole. Yet if we do not give our own welfare priority, we shall perish before the indifference of those around us. It may be that we find ourselves in hospital suffering from a condition that would never have affected us had we paid due attention to our own health. This cannot be good either for us or for society collectively. It would seem that early on in our personal growth we have to take care of our welfare quite selfishly, and that the darkness of the world gives us the strength and resolution to do this. In terms of Jungian psychology, it is the "shadow" that is fed by the darkness, for it is the place of darkness within the personal and collective unconscious. The shadow brings out the worst in our character, such as lust, jealousy, gluttony, and hatred, which we normally conceal so effectively that we may remain blissfully unaware of what is going on inside our own psyche. Quite often our own friends and associates are less ignorant, for they can discern character traits that show a deeper malaise. How often do racist and sexist prejudices remain latent until a person is in some way thwarted by someone of the despised group! And then the sparks fly. It is not unreasonable to react strongly against an individual provided some sharp practice has been proved. But it can never be right to project our displeasure on to all members of the group to which that person belongs.

It is evident that the shadow is that aspect of the psyche most vulnerable to demonic attack; this shows itself in a capacity to act sinfully. Yet the shadow also provides the psychic energy that is necessary for creative work. At the end of the process of individuation the shadow with its native selfish concern is brought into full relationship with the more elevated functions of the personality, which are concerned with wisdom and service.

In short, I do not find the obvious dark aspects of reality, whether of our individual psyche, of the earth we inhabit, or of the angels around us, a great problem. What we call evil has its creative aspect in our lives no less than what is clearly good. There is no need indeed to posit either a fall in the angelic hierarchy or in human nature. Things are as they are according to the infinitely wise decision of the creator, and we are equally wise to accept things as they are and work accordingly with them. In Voltaire's satire Candide, one of the characters, Dr Pangloss, states that this is the best of all possible worlds. On a surface inspection, no contention could be more ridiculous, and this is how it is meant to sound from the lips of that foolish fellow, a parody based on the optimistic philosophy of Leibniz. Yet on a completely different and much more profound viewing, there is great sense in this contention. God did indeed make everything good, and being a living God, his creation does not end. It continues and will continue until there is a real change in world consciousness, brought about by human initiative (according to Romans 8.18-21).

There is nothing especially new in all this, for its basis is found in Isaiah 45.6-7: "I am the Lord, and there is none other; I make the light, I create the darkness; author alike of wellbeing and woe, I, the Lord, do all these things". A parallel passage is Deuteronomy 32.39, "See now that I, I am He, and besides me there is no god: I put to death and I keep alive, I inflict wounds and I heal; there is no rescue from my grasp." No group has better reason to respond to these words than the Jews, who have suffered abominably in the course of history, but have emerged a people of unprecedented spiritual and mental vigour; and who even today, in greatly diminished numbers as a result of vicious persecution, are still leaders in many of the world's noblest endeavours. Some of their suffering has admittedly followed on their practice of keeping to themselves (at least to some extent) in their worship, but the fruit of this self-imposed isolation is quite refreshing when it is compared with the florid proselyasm of some Christian and Muslim groups. The only acceptable conversion is that which follows the demonstration of a better, nobler way, as shown in the lives of the people who subscribe to it. In many religious groups, however, there is a tragically wide divergence between the prescribed way and the lives of its followers. It is hardly surprising that in not a few of the better-educated communities, religious observance is the exception rather than the rule; and yet there is no decrease in the search for God in any community.

From what I have written, it might be supposed that I subscribe to moral relativism, to situation ethics, and that I approve of the permissive society. Nothing in fact could be further from the truth. No one who has been privileged to know mystical illumination (an event I described in an early autobiographical study called Precarious Living) could be other than a stern disciplinarian (at least, in their own life). This way of living should prove an example to those close to them, inasmuch as spirituality (the quest for the living God), as opposed to religion (the practice of the way), is caught rather than taught. The angels of darkness may draw us out of the world of comfortable compliance into a wider arena of experience, but in due course their selfish thrust must be counteracted by something that is more altruistic. I recommend for thought the dictum of Hillel, a saintly Pharisee (they were not all bad, despite the Gospel tendency to pillory them en masse) who lived shortly before Jesus. The equally saintly Gamaliel (Acts 5.34-9) was his grandson and disciple, and St Paul's teacher (Acts 22.3). Hillel said: "If I am not for myself, who is for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?" Our first duty is to stay alive and sufficiently well in body and mind so that we are not a burden on society. Our second duty is to give ourselves wholeheartedly to society for the benefit of all its members; and our third duty is expeditiousness - not to put off until tomorrow that which can be done today. The angels of darkness strengthen us, at least to some extent, in the first duty, but it is the angels of light that make our life something more than a morass of selfish desire.

Therefore although by the very nature of our life we are exposed to evil influences, as well as those of a better type that tend towards nobility of character and generosity, we should learn to resist the evil and work in harmony with the good. As Jesus reminds us, "You will recognize them by their fruit" (Matthew 7.16). This fruit of the Holy Spirit is clearly defined in Galatians 5.22-3: "But the harvest of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self control." Paul, a very great mystic, is a stern disciplinarian before giving this inspiring list of praiseworthy attributes, he warns against the unspiritual gratification of the desires of our bodily nature. His inventory of the types of unspiritual behaviour, which I shall not quote directly because of its length and depressing tone, can be found in Galatians 5.19-21. These are exactly the types of behaviour that are assisted by the angels of darkness working on willing subjects - in other words, people already wracked with envy, anger, or a feeling of crippling impotence as a result of poor self esteem. This may have followed on from abuse that took place when they were children, and is a potent factor in depressive illness.

As we noted in the last chapter, mentally ill patients are not infrequently attacked by demonic spirits. There is no blame in any of this, for we each have a burden to bear in our life no less than a blessing. Fortunate indeed are they who can see that their burden is their greatest blessing. In other words, our burden nobly borne can bring us into a relationship with many suffering people with whom we can empathize and genuinely help. In the words of Jung, "Only the wounded surgeon heals." In the words of Martin Buber, "All real living is meeting." To meet, to relate on a deep level of caring, is the real reward of life. I wonder how the brother of the prodigal son would have received this information; only much experience in the common life of humanity would have opened his eyes. Those who suffer do at least have eyes open enough to see, like the man born blind whom Jesus healed (John 9.25).

So is God all light after all? Jung, in his Answer to Job, claimed that there was a dark, frankly evil, side to the Deity, no less than a holy one. This view would explain the brutalities of life in no uncertain way. I wonder, though, whether we are entitled to extrapolate the divine nature in terms of human character. I do not object to this as a "religious" person scandalized by the blasphemy of it all, for to me truth is a crucial ultimate value in the Platonic triad with beauty and goodness, or love. A scientific education has made me wary of all absolute claims, which are certainly tested in the discipline of medical practice. I knew God as love in my earliest childhood, which was not an especially happy one; how could a natural mystic be happy in the company of boisterous children in a milieu in which sport and physical mastery were the qualities most extolled? And remember, I am not blaming anybody, for things are as they are in the world, and no one has the right to alter them according to their own selfish craving.

And yet I knew God as love. I could not have loved a capricious tyrant who was half, or even quarter, evil and cruel, for I would never have known where I stood with him. I would have trembled before him as I did before some schoolteachers who were particularly sarcastic; I would have obeyed, but there would have been no love. This love enables one to flow out in unreserved compassion to all that lives, and to give up one's very life as a sacrifice in the way that Jesus did. As a youngster, I could not have put all my feelings into this type of theological language, but my heart was in the right place in all important issues - of which the treatment of the lack population was the most outstanding. (I spent my youth in South Africa.) Therefore I continue to hold that God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.

The love of which I speak is no sentimental outpouring of effusive sympathy that does little to share the burden or relieve the pain. It is, on the contrary, the very power that enables growth to take place even in the midst of terrible suffering. Proverbs 3.11-12 has it well measured, "My son, do not spurn the Lord's correction or recoil from his reproof; for those whom the Lord loves he reproves, and he punishes the son who is dear to him." This reproof may follow in the wake of some misdemeanour, but it may also be part of the spiritual training God has in store for the elect - those who have spontaneously elected to be God's servants just as Hannah entered her young son Samuel into God's service at Shiloh (1 Samuel 1.26-8). Samuel's subsequent career fully justified Hannah's undertaking. Job's sufferings were under the full aegis of God, though executed by Satan, who is depicted as a member of the court of heaven and who ranges over the earth from end to end (Job 1.6-7). The darkest love of God encompassed Jesus crucified on the cross of human malice and cruelty; it found its release and fulfilment on the third day when Jesus revealed himself to his friends in his new resurrection body. Therefore although there is indeed an element of dark suffering in God's relationship with us through Jesus Christ, the source of the pain is the pure love of God that reveals itself in uncreated light. God may have created darkness for our learning of various basic social issues, but in the end all this is to be raised up to God for a final blessing.

In Chapter 4 I quoted Origen as saying that all men are moved by two angels: an evil one who inclines them to evil, and a good one who inclines them to good. He attributed good or evil thoughts directly to these guardian spirits, but today we would see the matter primarily to be one of temperament and environment, which I believe to be more accurate than Origen's assessment of human behaviour. Yet I would not discard the concept of these two angels as being influencing agents in our lives. I have tried to show that both have their place, and that the evil one need not be summarily decried and expelled. We simply do not understand the full meaning and purpose of life sufficiently to dismiss or expel anything of a spiritual nature, any more than Peter could call unclean any food that God had made in the sequence of events that led up to Cornelius' reception into the Christian community (Acts 10.15).

Nevertheless, in my own deliverance work, I command any demonic spirits to leave their present situation where they are causing trouble, and I direct them with love "to that place in the life beyond death which God has prepared for their reception and healing". I remember that they are as much children of God as I am, and it is not for me to become imperious in my instructions. Instead, I regard it as an indescribably great privilege to do this work, and I look for the time when the dark angels will have done their essential work, and will be ready to depart finally to the divine protection and love where no doubt more will be shown them, as it is also shown to us when we make the great transition that we call death.

In my deliverance work I have also been "instructed" (by unseen teachers of great wisdom) to "free the spirits from all obedience to evil humanity". This stresses how powerful humans can be in the propagation of evil, and can actually enslave angels. The type of approach that attributes most of our human delinquencies to demonic influence is certainly far off the mark. A violent crime may be precipitated by demonic influence, but the tendency would be already fully at work in the perpetrator of the crime, who would therefore be justly accountable for his or her actions in a court of law. In the same way, it is unsatisfactory, to say the least, to blame the crimes committed by Hitler and his associates on demonic attacks made against them. Personally, I believe that Hitler was a great medium for the dark forces, yet his total responsibility remains. One hopes that he too is learning about love and forgiveness in a more understanding milieu on the other side of life.

So is there no end to the angels of darkness? Will the demons be with us for ever? God alone knows the answer to such a profound question, but such thoughts are never far from the surface of my mind. At one time, conflicts were resolved by warfare, and the victor subjugated the vanquished to a variable degree of ignominy and humiliation. In the conquest of Canaan by Joshua and the Israelites, only a complete destruction of Jericho and Ai would suffice. Today, all but some belligerent fundamentalists regard such episodes with distaste bordering on shame. They certainly show God in a quite unacceptable light. On a more secular level, the days of conquest by warfare are also drawing to a welcome close. At the end of the First World War, which claimed the lives of millions of fine young men, Germany was smashed and humiliated by France, Britain, and the United States among others. We all know the history of the German revival under Hitler: the Germans were a great but proud people who could not bear the humiliation of defeat, and the great financial depression of the late 1920's served to incapacitate any alternative government. The Germans were all set on revenge, and apart from their punitive action against the Jews, they spread insidiously over Central Europe until a further piece of aggression against Poland made the Second World War inevitable. The bestial cruelty of the Germans who overran much of Europe, including France and Western Russia, is something that even today beggars description, but six years later they and their equally cruel Japanese allies were roundly defeated by the combined might of Russia, the United States, and Britain. This time it was the civilians who suffered the most casualties (apart from the cruelty of Germany and Japan), through air attacks that culminated in the destruction of Dresden and the explosion of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

This time, though, the victors had learned an important lesson: there are no lasting victories in war. The sequel of the previous war taught them this piece of wisdom, and so both Germany and Japan were treated kindly (admittedly Germany was partitioned with a communist eastern portion under Russian control, but this was a political arrangement and not a punitive one), despite the horrors they had committed. Today both countries play an important role in the financial stability of the entire world, and are largely focuses of equity and tolerance. The same approach to spiritual matters seems to be right: good has to flow out in love towards evil, and encompass it with the power of the Holy Spirit. In such an intimate relationship of self-giving, God will enter the darkness and illuminate it fully, not with the earthly light of peace and harmony alone, but also with the uncreated light of his presence, that same light that we considered in Chapter 1 in relation to mystical experience. For God is indeed light, and in him there is no darkness at all. When the darkness and the light of the world come together in the divine presence, both are transmuted and brought into the glory of the uncreated light from which they originally sprang, and to which they are to return, bringing the whole created universe with them. Then indeed God in Christ will be all, and be in all, not merely as a theological statement (Colossians 3.11), but as a fact of existence.

The greatest mystics have had no compunction in describing God as beyond good and evil, because both these categories are limited to human understanding. We have seen how good people like the brother of the prodigal son and the Pharisee in both these famous parables may be further removed from the love of God than decidedly "bad" profligates and tax-collectors, who on the surface seem to be quite disgraceful specimens of personhood. The "good", zealous members of religious groups not infrequently tend to persecute those of whom they disapprove, whereas the "bad", indifferent ones at least have the courtesy to leave them alone - a few may even be warm-hearted enough to take them under their wing, for there is not infrequently a fellow-feeling among those who have few illusions about their frailty. By contrast, the self-righteous are seldom blessed with hearts of flesh.

It is noteworthy that Jesus himself demurred at being called good by the stranger, usually identified as a rich young man, who asked instructions for winning the prize of eternal life (Mark 10.18). Jesus answered that no one is good except God alone. I cannot believe that Jesus had a guilty conscience, for I could not imagine a better person than he. I think that what he meant was this: in this world of duality between good and evil, no one can be completely uncontaminated by evil no matter how fine a person they may be, for it clings to one like dirt. If Jesus had not been thus afflicted, he would not have partaken of the usual human condition, and therefore his humanity would have been special and unlike that of the general run of humankind. The judgement depends on what Jesus did with this clinging evil: whether he succumbed to its presence and committed sinful actions, or whether he ignored it and went on his way doing good. In his case, we know the answer.

Describing God as beyond good and evil does not mean that these categories are not significant to us and that a self-styled "spiritual" person is no longer subject to the moral law, a situation called antinomianism. God is indeed good, as Jesus said to his enquirer, but the divine nature is so superlatively good that it beggars all human categories of goodness. It is so intense that it can embrace evil into itself and convert it into good by the power of love. Therefore the highest goodness is love; and God is love, as we read in 1 John 4.8 and 4.16. He showed his love by sending his only Son into the world that we might have life through him; furthermore, he who dwells in love is dwelling in God, and God in him. True love is universal in scope; if humans can love even a few of their fellows, they are doing well. The essence of love is the giving of oneself for another's benefit in order that they may attain something of what God has in mind for them. What this may be is not one's business, lest one gets in the way by imposing one's own will and views of them, and distorting the way ahead.

To end on a practical note, evil actions are not to be tolerated. The evil-doer, perhaps a criminal, should be apprehended as soon as possible - as much for their own good as the safety of society. It is best to come to terms with one's delinquencies as soon as possible in order to embark on a better way of life at once. Every action has its reaction; God is not fooled, for as we sow, so we shall reap (Galatians 6.7). But once there has been a candid admission of sin, the punishment should be constructive rather than merely painful and humiliating; to be found out is enough humiliation for the normal person. Where the evil-doer is clearly mentally deranged, the appropriate psychiatric measures should be instituted. As I have ready indicated, there may be a place for a deliverance ministry also. Just as demonic spirits are sent to God's care, so should evil people be brought to God in prayer, and their welfare attended to by the social arm of the community. Prayer is our essential link with God, being the way of connection between us both. God initiates the prayer, and we transmit the power of the Holy Spirit to those for whom we intercede. I have little doubt that the angels of light play a vital part in this work.

The same principles hold true for the world situation. While a generalized global conflict is less likely now that peace has been restored among the major powers, there is still enough savage warfare in other countries to make the ideal of "Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace to all in whom he delights" (Luke 2.14), sung by the angels at the time of the nativity, a long way off. It is interesting and ironical that the armed forces of the major powers are employed not for national expansion, but for peace keeping duties in the various trouble spots of the world.

The question arises: what is the real difference between an angel of light and one of darkness? My own view is that the dark angel has a limited understanding of its place in the cosmos - in fact, is hardly able to see beyond its own being. The angel of light has a truly cosmic vision, and can function far beyond its own apparent situation. In other words, a dark angel is virtually blind, its vision being restricted to its milieu that it guards selfishly and with little regard to the benefit of anything else. Yet its divine origin ensures that it cannot cause irreparable damage, because at the end of the day it is a creature of light. The basis of angelic darkness is ignorance rather than ill will. Indeed, it could be argued that ignorance is the basis of human sin also: if only we knew the reality of life and stopped grasping after things of one type or another, we would not only know enduring happiness, but would also start to give happiness to everyone else. Unfortunately, sin that starts as childish ignorance can soon escalate through avarice and sordid rivalry to destructive hatred and a capacity to kill all who stand in the way of the human predator. I do not see the angel of darkness pursuing this course, even if it can aggravate human wickedness.

The degree of free will that an angel possesses is limited, whereas human free will is of impressive range and potency; no wonder the human has a greater prospect for development than an angel (see Chapter 1). So why are some humans saintly and others bestial? We may find a scientific explanation for variations in human behaviour, but these do not answer the fundamental question; they merely state it in another form. St Paul wrestles with this question in Romans 9.6-22 with special reference to "Jacob I loved and Esau I hated" (from Malachi 1.2-3). The hatred that the prophet attributes to God is clearly in direct opposition to the unconditional love God has for all his creatures. If, however, the creature transgresses the law of life, expressed both in the Bible and in the common run of civil responsibility, suffering even to death is likely to be a consequence. It is this that appears superficially to be God's displeasure. The question remains: why do people vary so much in their moral obedience? Paul comes to the conclusion that the potter cannot be held to account if the pot he fashioned is imperfect. The fact indeed that he tolerates such a bad product is evidence of his mercy; Paul is thinking of unconverted Jews in this context, which becomes quite savage as the chapter reaches its end. Nowadays this type of attitude to the non-Christian Jews is quite unacceptable, and indeed Paul himself becomes less severe in his later Letter to the Ephesians. He has come to see that Christ is already exalted, the ruler of the cosmos, and his presence as universal lord ensures the unity of Jews and Gentiles, who are now reconciled since each is equally part of the new humanity and advance together towards the Father (Ephesians 2.11-22). This understanding of Christ as already exalted over the entire creation is called the "realized eschatology", and is characteristic of Paul's Letters to the Colossians and the Ephesians.

This great efflorescence of Pauline mystical genius could well be the solution of the problem about the gross moral inequalities inherent in human nature. In our own ignorance we may have to undergo many adventures, some of enormous suffering, before we, like the prodigal son, learn better cosmic manners. Even in the course of our life on earth we can learn a great deal, especially if we are in good mental health, but fortunately this life is a small component of the development of the human personality into something of the stature of Jesus himself. Of one thing I am convinced: God loves everything he has made and nothing is condemned to total destruction. Human recalcitrance can precipitate intense suffering, but this is produced by the creature in its foolish conflict with the cosmic law (of which the Law of Moses is an earthly counterpart). Once there is true repentance, God receives the sinner home like the father of the prodigal son in the parable. The human can sink to far lower depths than the angel; but on the other hand, its potential for scaling the heights is all the greater. The end is the Lord Jesus himself.

Chapter 8
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