Why is it difficult to apprehend the root of all evil?
The reason it’s difficult is because, although the critical distinction can be apprehended, it is impossible to use conceptual understanding to apprehend it. Rather, it must be directly experienced.
Because of this fact, there are a number of ways to talk about the critical distinction. None of those ways, however, is adequate from the standpoint of conceptual understanding. They are all signposts, pointings, mere gestures.
All conceptual understanding is dualistic. To understand conceptually is to classify (sort, discriminate) using some concept or other. A concept is a principle of classification. For example, if you have the concept of redness, you can classify any object into red or not-red.
One of many ways to state the critical distinction is to state that it is the distinction between unity and non-unity (duality or plurality). What, though, is the conceptual understanding of unity?
All it could be is to negate non-unity: unity is non-duality or non-plurality. True.
Is it helpful?
No. Conceptual understanding breaks on the rock of unity.
Here’s what needs to be apprehended nonconceptually:the root of all evil is being stuck in non-unity.
Although glimpses of unity occur spontaneously, because most of us have no idea what to do with them, they remain as experiences among other experiences. They may be interesting, but they don’t seem important, much less life-changing.
In that sense, most (perhaps 99%) of us humans are stuck in non-unity. The root of all evil comes from humans who are so stuck in non-unity.
So what is the root of all evil? It is anything characteristic of Becoming.
For example, the root of all evil is conflict. The root of all evil is ego. The root of all evil is time. And so on.
Without time, there is no suffering. Time is egoic, whereas timeless Being is nonegoic. The ego is all about suffering and separation or division, whereas the nonegoic is all about healing and unity.
Selfishness or egocentricity are egoic, whereas selflessness and “Self-fullness” are nonegoic.
Time and timelessness conflict until time is realized to regain timelessness.
The ego’s religion is the denial of Being.
Think of unity as Being, which is characterized by eternal peace and joy. Think of non-unity as Becoming, which, at best, is characterized by temporally brief periods of peace and joy.
Being is nonegoic, whereas Becoming is egoic.
Your ego may be thought of as your sense of separation. Since separation causes suffering, to be egoic is to suffer. Therefore, since the ego is the root of all suffering, we may conclude that the root of all evil is the ego.
There is no suffering in Being. All suffering is in Becoming.
Another way to state this is to state that suffering requires time. Since Being is eternal (timeless), there is no suffering in Being. All suffering occurs in time, in Becoming.
Another way to state this is to state that suffering requires separation. Since Being is unity, there is no suffering in Being. All suffering occurs in Becoming.
Here’s the good news: If, as the Buddha argued, ultimately there is no ego or separate self, then the ego is a delusion. If it is a delusion, we shall only continue to suffer as long as we mistakenly take it to be real. As soon as we stop clinging to it, it disappears. With its disappearance, suffering disappears.
(It’s important to understand, as I have stated many times in this blog, that there is a difference between physical pain and psychological suffering. The end of suffering, then, is not the same as the end of pain. Pain, though, ceases to be a big problem once there is no suffering.)
It’s helpful to think this way: being only a persistent delusion, the ego’s existence is incessantly threatened. To make itself stronger, it seeks division and conflict. It’s perpetually looking for something to attack, for something to fight against.
Except momentarily, the ego is never satisfied, never at peace. Notice how, once it gets something it desires, it immediately wants something else.
To be attached to ego is to be afflicted by the someday syndrome: someday I’ll get what I want and be happy. To get to that fulfilling future, I want X, which is whatever is desired next.
Life becomes one desire after another. This is the way of the world. Grasping for more pleasure, profit, or whatever else we want to gain.
The Buddha said, “. . . avoid the road to profit and pleasure . . . Don’t follow the way of the world” (in The Dhammapada, Easwaran, tr.).
Of course, since the future always remains nothing but a thought or an imagining, it never arrives. So, if you follow the way of the world, discontent persists until death.
This whole approach to life is fallacious. Since it is a delusion, the ego actually has no power whatsoever! All it really does is to cause us to identify with our thoughts. Naturally, our self concepts are always at the heart of our thought systems!
If your ego keeps you busy enough fighting battles, you won’t notice this. Even if you do notice it, it’s impossible to think your way out of it.
The only way out is to let go of your whole thought system. That’s awakening from the dream of thoughts.
Your attachment to your thoughts will weaken as soon as you realize, as A Course in Miracles puts it, “Not one thought you hold is wholly true.”
How could it be? To think is to conceptualize and to conceptualize is to divide. A thought may be relatively or partially true, but it can never be wholly true because unity always is beyond it.
Being is limitless.
Its peace and joy come from its being unlimited.
So the root of all evil comes from your belief that you are limited. That is why you spend life always trying to hang on to what you have and to get more. Since nearly everyone else is also doing that, it’s why conflict seems perpetual.
Our human purpose is to escape from Becoming into Being, to escape from conflict to peace, to escape from incessant dissatisfaction to abiding joy. It’s to escape from thinking that you are some little egoic self always trying to gain more to realizing that your true Self is unlimited. It’s to escape from insanity to sanity.
It’s to realize your True Self as Being.
This cannot be conceptualized. As many sages have said one way or another, “Truth can only be experienced. It cannot be described and it cannot be explained” (from A Course in Miracles).
It’s not necessary to seek and find something that you are not. Ultimately, there is no inner/outer distinction.
In other words, you are already what you are looking for. The only task is realzing it. There’s no need to seek Being because you already are Being.