Sunday, June 28, 2009

struggling with evil

adam pulled "the meaning of happiness" by alan watts off the bookshelf. a friend loaned it to me several years ago, but i never could get into it. recently, i opened it at random and was just blown away by this passage:

The exaggeration of the power of temptation can hardly be a positive means of overcoming it.... As long as in our struggle against evil we regard it as strong and enticing, and at the same time both awe-inspiring and forbidden, we are not going to achieve any radical or final victory over will remain invincible as long as it is so regarded.... the attraction of evil is a lie and an illusion.... Only the knowledge of its absolute emptiness and tedium can give us victory over it.

This states perfectly something that has gradually dawned on me over the years, but had never quite put into words for myself.

There is a great deception in the world on this subject. It quite possibly has been fed by well-meaning sermons, which insist that we must never let down our guard, and always renew our strength to battle temptation.

Trying to be strong and rigid against an enemy that we perceive as relentless is exhausting, and eventually one must break.

The alternative is seeing the enemy as who he really is, a deceiver, who tricks us into thinking that extramarital affairs are fun or fulfilling, that lies will make our lives easier, that stealing is worth it, that we are entitled to hold grudges. We simply must see the lies for what they are.

Faithfulness, truth, integrity, and humility are what we want in our lives. Each of these leads to peace. There is no need for an endless struggle.

I'm going to start at the beginning and see what other gems this book has to offer.

1 comment:

Wordsmyth said...

I think you're exactly right.