As with everything else, good & evil looks different depending on the view. And they are ideas that this particular culture seems to have a fascination with, probably because of its traditional dualism and preference for abstractions.
From a perspective that is strongly dualistic and attached to abstractions, good & evil can almost appear as tangible objects – something real out there. This view is sometimes perpetuated in popular culture and among certain social commentators, although is increasingly seen as an outmoded way of understanding human behavior.
Now, there is more an understanding of the impacts of biology, culture and personal history on how people view the world and act in the world. There is a general understanding of the basic findings of mainstream psychology.
Contraction vs. Opening
Another way of looking at it is in terms of contractions and openings. When we contract, we are apt to behave in ways that bring suffering to ourselves and others. When we open, we are more likely to act in ways that support ourselves and others. Often, we are at the mercy of the conditioned process of the personality, and triggers in our outer situations, when it comes to contractions and openings.
Blind Identification vs. Awareness
When there is a blind identification with the processes of the personality – when “me” is these sensations, emotions and thoughts – then we are in for a rollercoaster ride of contractions and openings, triggered by the changing and unpredictable outer situations.
One way out of this is to bring focus to awareness, and to find triggers for openings. When we stay with awareness, the fluid processes of the personality unfold – there is a sense of overview and perspective. There is more of a choice in how we relate to the inner/outer situations, and how we respond to the inner/outer situations.
Some triggers for awareness can be coming to the breath, the weight of the body, asking ourselves can I be with what I am experiencing right now? Regular practices such as meditation (staying with awareness), Breema, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Yoga, etc. can help us more easily come to awareness in difficult situations.
There is a difference between aiming at switching contractions into openings, and of coming to awareness. One aims at changing inner processes unfolding, the other at giving more space to them unfolding. One may or may not work, and involves a certain amount of struggle and precariousness. The other allows whatever unfolds to unfold, and there is space and overview to choose how we relate to it.
The trick is to recognize contractions when they happen, know in our being the suffering they lead to if we identify with and act on them blindly, know how to come to awareness, and choose to come to awareness. It is a continuous practice – always deepening, always required.
Even when this becomes more habitual, there will be moments where we may be hooked – getting blindly caught up in sensations, emotions, thoughts.