The most difficult question in philosophy is called ‘the problem of evil.’ I have reluctantly explored the issue since first having been directly exposed to evil in the last year of the Soviet Union.

But just what is it? Evil is the intentional component of the collective darkness in human consciousness. It is the calculated expression of the entire content of the willful ignorance, hatred, envy, jealousy, and selfishness built up in the human mind and heart over the generations.

This understanding has been forged not through philosophizing, but through questioning and insight after direct encounters with evil, beginning with encountering the devil or something close to it when I was in the USSR in 1990.

It was the most terrifying experience of my life. I didn’t believe that there was such a thing as the devil before this metaphysical (and to a lesser degree physical) assault in the Soviet Union, but the experience left no doubt, as I was nearly destroyed by it. That began a long period of spiritual and philosophical questioning into the nature, origins, and operation of evil.

I discovered that these ‘things’ (the devil and all the legions of demons) are man-made, not some supernatural phenomena. I also saw that they repeat, with new twists, the same old stuff over and over again, with boring sameness (giving a lie to the notion that darkness and evil are much more interesting than goodness).

Darkness is the undifferentiated and unintentional background of evil. It’s a vast content, needless to say, and it’s not only accumulative, but it is growing exponentially.

As such, personal and general darkness must be confronted within, or it will snuff out the human spirit, perhaps soon. If that happens, it won’t matter how much longer the human race goes on physically.

The legions of living dead are people who have been exposed to collective darkness, and have chosen to deaden themselves as a way of coping with its enormity. Jesus must have lived in a culture like this, though perhaps at a point when a significant number of people wanted to live again–unlike America and other places at present, in which most of the walking dead are comfortable in their deadness.

Carl Jung’s description of the “shadow” is synonymous with this darkness within us, which is inextricably connected to collective darkness. But undifferentiated darkness must be distinguished from evil, which is intentionally directed. So Jung’s word is too benign, at least as it’s come to be used, with the term “shadow side” having been appropriated by countless New Age and feel-good ‘life coaches,’ spiritual guides, therapists, etc.

The result? Individual and collective darkness have continued to increase unabated. Indeed, these soft-soaping approaches have encouraged the growth of malignancy in the human heart and malevolence in collective consciousness, because they are designed to hold the terrible reality at arm’s length, while convincing people that they are spiritually growing by touching the edges of their ‘shadow side.’

In the ‘real world,’ when one comes into contact with evil outside, it brings up the deepest darkness within one. Therefore the denial of evil outwardly, and neglect of darkness inwardly, allow it to grow within one, and therefore in human consciousness.

I don’t believe even the worst people, like Stalin (whose legacy was integral to what I encountered in Russia) are evil. Rather evil is the most impacted and intentional component of collective darkness, out of which some people act.

It isn’t just serial killers and such who are capable of acting out of darkness and evil, but anyone in a dead, darkness-saturated culture who has numbed themselves beyond human recognition. And since more and more people in the global society are becoming zombies, the challenge for the living person is to have discernment without paranoia, and strength without ill will.

People can have a considerable degree of darkness within them, as almost all of us do, but when someone refuses to own their own darkness, they act as conduits for collective darkness. And even though everyone is responsible for his or her own actions, the individual person is not the source of evil, despite what this hyper-individualistic culture likes to drum into our heads.

What is the goal of evil? It wants to make every person and every people like itself–inwardly dead. In how many people, and peoples, has it already succeeded?

No matter how far it extends, collective darkness and evil can be a spur to learning in the individual—if one has the deep intent to learn. Indeed, learning turns the tables on collective darkness in oneself, and to some degree in collective consciousness.

I’m sure that if even a small minority of people adopted this approach, not only would the evil in the world greatly diminish, but also the growth and emergence of true human beings would greatly increase.

Martin LeFevre