By Shepherd Hoodwin


"It is always the case that souls who are not currently physical accompany on their path those who are. A few people keep them at bay, but most are in touch with spirit in some fashion. Part of the reason many are not consciously aware of this is that they do not know what it would be like to be without the accompaniment of spirit, so they take it for granted, rather like air. You would know it if you temporarily lost access to air. Even those who do evil, in the sense of willfully harming others, are accompanied on their path by loving souls."
--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin, October 5, 1999

The physical plane school each of us attends requires the possibility of evil so that we can learn to choose. We become more conscious of light by seeing it clearly against its absence, darkness. Genesis says that on the first day of creation, "God divided the light from the darkness." That also happens for souls on the first plane of creation.

As with all things, there are healthy and unhealthy versions of darkness. Darkness is a necessary half of creation--it provides raw material. For example, we are perpetually in darkness about the future, which gives us the possibility of creating new things. However, unhealthy darkness, such as misery, is optional.

There is necessary and unnecessary destruction, too. A fire in a forest may be necessary to allow new life. Leaves disintegrate in the autumn to feed spring's growth. Facades of ego may need to crumble in order for someone to be reborn as her true self. Unnecessary destruction includes evil, which violates others.

From the soul's point of view, evil is not "bad." The soul's priority is evolution, however it comes. Like all adversity, evil is a teacher: it tests what we know and shows us where we still need work. Without it, we would probably grow less (note the similarity of "evil" and "evolve"). Although unwelcome at the time, we sometimes look back on harsh experiences and see that we were not merely broken but broken open, and, in the end, became more fully realized as a result.

Michael emphasizes that we need not grow this way--we can choose to grow through joy. However, so far, much of our growth has come through pain. In fact, human beings have taken destructiveness to unspeakable extremes. No decent person can fail to be horrified by the atrocities humans commit. A metaphysical understanding of evil can help us make some sense out of what often seems senseless.

The concept of evil tends to create an either/or, divisive view of life--we use it to demonize people, to project our shadows (what we don't want to see about ourselves) onto others. "We're the good people, and (fill in the blank) are the evil ones." In our lack of conscious self-awareness, we often somehow see the fault in conflicts as being totally someone else's; few of us acknowledge our own responsibility. There are instances that are one-sided, but most aren't entirely, at least. With such pervasive ego defenses, it is hard for us to move forward. Ironically, it is that same unconsciousness that leads to actual evil.

Reality is three-dimensional; people are complicated and changeable. A cartoon devil is a childish conception. The current nonsense in the U.S. of making comparisons to Hitler and Nazism that are not remotely valid illustrates the pitfall of such labels. That's why some people don't like the term "evil," and some even argue, with good reason, that it doesn't really exist, that all people are good, although obviously there is much ignorance and immaturity. Of course, with words, it's a matter of how you define them. In the quote above, Michael simply defines evil as willfully harming others, which certainly occurs. Some prefer the word "negativity." As usually used, though, negativity also includes destructive emotions that don't necessarily generate deliberate harm to others.

We are all eternal souls, part of the same grand experiment in expanding love's understanding of itself. Whatever we call deliberate harm, the way to avoid dualistic, us vs. them thinking is not by denying it exists, but by not judging it. Being nonjudgmental isn't saying that harmful behavior is okay; it's holding compassion for all parties involved, so that we can help find true solutions and bring darkness to light. It's refusing to see others as less than human or to subscribe to the illusion that we're separate from each other. It's recognizing that most of us believe that we're in the right most of the time, even if we're misguided, but we need to find common ground and a respectful way to resolve disputes if humanity is to survive.

Being nonjudgmental is a trait of unconditional love. We never know what the result of loving unconditionally will be, since everyone has free will--a gift of love may not be received until far in the future, and it may not be received at all. However, we don't do it for a result, but simply to be aligned with love.

Unconditional love doesn't imply that we feel equally connected to everyone, or even that we like or would choose to spend time with everyone. We naturally resonate more with some than others. It does imply that we keep an open mind about others and do not tear them down; we support their own journey toward greater love wherever possible.

It is sometimes necessary to take strong action to stop evil from harming others, such as through police or military action. However, even that can be done with compassion. Harming no more than is necessary to contain aggression, and helping perpetrators heal when they are open, helps limit the continuation of ill will. Love is not a doormat, but it isn't harsh, either. Love takes no pleasure in the use of force against others.

When we feel hurt, we often want our friends to agree that the offender is completely at fault and a terrible person. One way we can create a more peaceful world is instead to ask our friends to simply to support us and hear us compassionately, and do the same for them. When we are ready, they may be able to help us explore what we can learn from the experience, including what our part in it may have been and the other person's point of view. Forgiveness, which releases negativity, is possible without understanding, but true understanding includes forgiveness and goes beyond it.

We cannot be human without causing some harm. For example, most of us sometimes contribute to pollution, damage our bodies, or lose our tempers. We are sometimes ill-informed or simply make mistakes. It would be paralyzing to try to be perfect in this regard. It is enough to do the best we can. It is the *intent* to harm that increases darkness.

A thought or feeling itself is not evil. The critical issue that determines whether harm is done is the choice (conscious or unconscious) a person makes about it. If she identifies with a negative impulse and furthers it, that can lead to evil. If she recognizes it as something needing to be evolved, she can neutralize it.

Most of us have done some evil acts, willfully harming in at least small ways, such as speaking spitefully. We might reserve the term "evil person" for those at the far end of the spectrum, who not only do a lot of evil acts, but whose hearts have fully hardened, who are unreachable by love. They have no sense of connection with others or the whole--they are completely self-centered. There are few truly evil people, if we define them this way. Someone may do many evil acts but prove to be capable of redemption.

Most of us have a mixed bag of good and evil to some extent. Simplistically, we could think of it as a bell curve, in which, say, five percent of the population is consistently altruistic, five percent is consistently ruthless, and the rest is somewhere in the middle. Even among the consistently ruthless, most still have a glimmer of humanity; even among the consistently altruistic, most still struggle with their choices. And although we vibrate, on the whole, at a certain level, each of us is more evolved in some areas than in others. Therefore, it is hard for us on the physical plane to evaluate where anyone is on the curve, especially when our biases are activated, so it's a good idea to give others the benefit of the doubt. Looking for people's humanity, even when it seems scarce, can help reinforce it, whereas engaging with negativity reinforces that. At the same time, it's wise to be realistic about the limitations of the people we deal with; if they are not currently open, nothing we say or do will likely have an effect.

In general, the closer to the evil end, the heavier and more unpleasant a person's energy feels to an open, loving heart; the closer to the good end, the more uplifting. There are caveats, though. A person's outer energy can temporary degrade due to various factors, such as illness or circumstance. Those under the influence of alcohol or drugs or who are mentally ill may act more destructively than they normally would; repressed darkness that may not actually represent the majority of their self may take over. Foreign entities may enter through their wounds, exaggerate their negative behavior, and make it harder for them to change course. The way a person shows up in a given moment or even a given lifetime may not represent well the whole of the person.

Like attracts like. Foreign entities, such as parasitic lower astral plane energies, are drawn to human negativity and feed off it. Once embedded, they try to increase it. Removing them is often an important step in spiritual healing. This is a large topic that I touch on at http://summerjoy.com/attack.html.

When harm to others is great enough that their right to choose is significantly abridged and their ability to follow their path is diminished, it forms karma, an energetic imbalance--a debt is incurred. Karmic harm is tangible. Simply hurting someone's feelings or failing to meet his expectations is not karmic. Choosing what is within one's right to choose is not karmic. The Michael teachings do define a form of karma called "mind fuck," in which a person deliberately disrupts someone's sanity, but that interferes with his ability to lead his physical life. Psychic attack can also be karmic if it is severe enough and leads to tangible harm. Karma is basically taking something significant that belongs to someone else.

We are all responsible for our actions, but karmic implications are tempered by the motivations behind them; for example, a murder committed under the influence usually has a different, less grievous, karmic imprint than one committed in cold blood.

The main impetus behind evil acts, karmic or not, is unresolved anger that we choose to express harmfully. Learning how to constructively deal with anger is an important part of our growth. It allows us to break the vicious circle of retaliation, in which we react to harm by creating more harm. In dealing wisely with evil within ourselves, we can also deal with it wisely outside ourselves.

Anger is part of our instinctive urge for self-preservation; it provides energy to help us push away current threats (or, at least, what we perceive to be threats). If the opportunity to take constructive action passes, we need to release it. Like food, it spoils with age. The nature of energy is to move, and when it is stuck, it causes damage. It is especially important to heal and release anger formed in childhood or other times we were powerless to act on it. Letting it fester and obsessing about "getting even" can destroy many lives, including our own.

Unfortunately, the desire for revenge is hard-wired into our bodies. Instincts are designed to keep us alive without the application of intelligence--they are crude, "one size fits all" solutions. In the primitive world, revenge kept tribe members in line in the absence of more enlightened reasons to behave. As human culture developed, it became increasingly problematic. The idea of "an eye for an eye" was originally a step forward, designed to keep revenge-seekers from taking *more* than an eye. Then, Jesus suggested that even that was obsolete, and suggested turning the other cheek. Exactly what that looks like has been debated, but it is about meeting hate with love, which we're discussing here. Even today, few do more than pay lip service to that idea. However, we look to the rule of law to maintain order, and discourage people from taking matters into their own hands.

In any case, it is clear that, although some form of redress can satisfy our sense of justice, revenge tends to make things worse. For those who wish to get off the karmic wheel, there is no substitute for letting go of things we cannot do anything about, which can be challenging. We can therapeutically release anger without harm using methods such as hitting pillows or pounding the water while swimming. A more advanced, less draining approach is to meditate and feel the anger until it burns off, simply witnessing it. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and TAT (Tapas Acupressure Technique) can also be used; they instruct the nervous system to release charges of various kinds. The pivotal factor is our intent to let go.

Those few whose hearts have become profoundly hardened are generally younger souls who had many harsh experiences early in their incarnations and didn't properly get their bearings. It usually starts with their being victims of extreme abuse and not having the resources to rise above it. Instead, as part of their strategy to stay safe, they become stuck in a pattern of seeking power over others and exacting revenge. As they harm more and more innocent people, they become overwhelmingly enmeshed in karma, and lack the insight to see their own culpability. Eventually, love is not able to get through. They invest so much energy in preserving their physical body that they cannot perceive themselves being anything more than that, let alone an eternal soul.

Evil people are often thought of as getting away with things and having more fun. They may gratify their appetites freely, but karma is a heavy weight to bear; there is a built-in incentive to pay it back because it feels so bad. Those who have done much harm to others live in a self-created hell. They may further dull their feelings and live in denial in order to cope with it, but there can be no real joy (heaven) in such a state. We can have compassion both for them and their victims. Granted, that is not always easy to do, but it is well worth the effort--hating perpetrators increases our own negativity and brings us down.

Some believe that everything is self-created and that there is no such thing as victims. However, we live in a free-will universe, and individuals can choose to impose on others. Some people attract negative treatment because of their karma or beliefs (self-karma), but some just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. To believe that one creates everything is to believe that one can fully control other people's actions, which is clearly not the case. When someone forms karma with you, you are technically a victim, by definition, although you may choose to frame it as a growth opportunity, which it is, albeit a painful one. Karma is part of the lessons of the physical plane. It often takes us by surprise and challenges us in new ways. Especially during younger soul ages, people can become bored without some karma to stir things up.

We can learn to avoid negativity, especially as we lose our fascination with karmic drama and instead truly love peace. We also avoid trouble more often when we listen to our spiritual guidance. Fear is useful in the presence of an imminent threat--like anger, its flip side, it mobilizes our attention to take action (anger is the instinct to push away something; fear is the instinct to pull away from it). Chronically fearing evil, though, just feeds and attracts negativity. It's more useful to cultivate neutrality, and recognize and practice the powers we have to keep ourselves safe, including common sense. Evil should be handled with care, but is not as powerful as it's generally thought to be. If others do harm us, our knowledge that we're eternal helps put it in perspective--we have less to lose. Our lives are valuable and worth protecting, but we cannot truly lose what we are and love.

Sensitive people who struggle with demons may think themselves worse off than those without conscience, but in moving forward with integrity, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and joy becomes increasingly available. Only integrity lets us align with our true self; to be out of integrity is to drift closer to nothingness. Ironically, those plagued by guilt, deserved or otherwise, have much less to be concerned about than those with no empathy, because at least they care, rather than simply rationalizing their harm of others. Guilt communicates to us that we need to examine our behavior. However, guilt can feed ego, too; when it dominates, it can paralyze us and stand in the way of our actually rectifying our mistakes.

Evil is both destructive and self-destructive. The rare soul that cannot find its way out of hardened evil, lifetime after lifetime, eventually self-destructs. Not all souls complete the physical plane and continue on; a few return to light by disassembling rather than by evolving, when there is no hope of it. It's like flunking out of school. However, anyone with remorse, who wants to find a way out, can eventually break through to an ability to feel at least somewhat connected to the whole and act more harmoniously with it, which is a definition of goodness. Some souls remain a highly mixed bag even until the end of their cycle of human lifetimes, like those who graduate with a C- average, so perfection is not required. However, those who break through can bring great gifts both to self and to the whole. In the same channeling quoted in the beginning, Michael said:

"A person who plays upon the larger stage of human drama represents all the people who feed into him. Those who give him his power are tied to him energetically. His growth, however it may come, can be their growth, to some extent, and their growth can be his. Therefore, anyone who wakes up, who was blind but begins to see beyond a negative collective consciousness, can empower others to do the same more quickly than would have been the case on their own. No experience is wasted, because when learning results from it, it can help all those who participated in it to evolve.

"It is a paradox that good can ultimately come out of evil. When souls have been enmeshed in the dark but finally come to the light, they appreciate the light more than they would have had their path been easier, and have knowledge they cannot lose. They are inoculated against the patterns they perpetuated when they were in darkness. They have a sense of how precious love is, and what hell it is to live in the absence of that, which is what evil is--the absence of love, a partial void."

That brings to mind the song "Amazing Grace."

We have taken ourselves to the brink of total destruction. In our era, we have the opportunity to shift onto an easier path of growth. We do that by facing ourselves fully, both the good and evil, the evolved and unevolved. "Resist not evil." Healing and integrating our shadows allows us to discover our true nature of love, truth, and beauty.