The Three Faces of Evil

By far and away, the most popular podcast on this website is the one about the Three Faces of Evil. These are: materialism, separation and confusion. Let’s look more closely at each, uncovering their ills, their upsides, and the way out.

The Ills

First up is materialism. It’s hard to fault anyone for getting lost here, since we do indeed live in a material world. And let’s face it, most of us would like to have nice things. But while having more money can certainly be healthy, helpful and enjoyable, it’s by no means a cure-all for what ails us. For if that were true, there would be no wealthy alcoholics, no rich drug addicts and no well-off sick people. There’d be no well-to-do people who are spiteful, petty or stingy, and certainly none who are hateful, angry or belligerent. Frankly, that’s just not the case.

Often, when evil grabs hold of money, it turns it into greed. So having nice things isn’t the problem, but rather the way people clamor to have it and hoard it. When such darkness seeps in, we see money as a mirage that has the power to overcome a God-shaped inner desert.

Material goods, per se, then aren’t the evil, but rather the way we abandon good sense in the belief they can bring everlasting joy. This is where we get lost. We’re propelled by the idea that we’d feel better about ourselves if we had bigger toys. But if that’s what we truly believe, wealth will come with an overwhelming fear: Who would we be without our money?

We see money as a mirage that has the power to overcome a God-shaped inner desert.

In fact, having unresolved issues with money—lack of generosity, shortness of self-responsibility in being self-sustaining, or the inability to handle money wisely—is a surefire way to get a future return ticket to Earth-town. Why? Because money is an aspect of this dualistic reality, but it doesn’t exist in the Spirit World. There, where things like generosity, self-responsibility and maturity truly count, there’s no material way to learn those lessons. Hence, when necessary, we come here and have to pay the piper.

With our dimmed-out awareness of the Spirit World, many of us have the perception that Earth is the original home of all life. We may understandably think that life starts here and then the “afterlife” comes next. If we believe in the concept of reincarnation, heaven is a nice place to hang out in between lifetimes. If we don’t, heaven is the second step in a two-step process.

But there’s another way to see things that might prove enlightening: the Spirit World is the greater reality; Earth is a place we occasionally visit. So what really matters most isn’t the size of our bank account, but the lessons we take to heart that will go back home with us. Our willingness to be open and honest will be worth a lot when we return. Our ability to share will also serve us well. All our material treasures, on the other hand, won’t gain us a thing.

Duality is what tells us there’s a limited supply, meaning if someone else has something, there must be less for me. Duality, however, is an illusion that humans have been buying into ever since egos first made an appearance. As such, our work must be to go deeper, to where our spiritual home lies. That’s the land of unity where unlimited abundance is for real.

But to get there, we must check our egos at the door. We must let go of our limited beliefs and open ourselves to a greater reality, what many call the Oneness. In short, we must learn to trust. For many, that seems just too high a price to pay. So we keep hanging on, as if for dear life.

Living here, then, as we do, brings us face to face with the second evil: separation. This is the perpetual view of Us versus Them, or Me Against the World. Many of us can trace this one all the way back to childhood, where unavoidable hurts left us feeling devastated and defeated. Growing up, we vowed that this time we would win. This time, we’ll come out on top.

We must learn to trust. For many, that seems just too high a price to pay.

Armed with such misguided thinking—for it’s a mistake to believe we were actually defeated, and therefore equally untrue that there is such a thing now as being the victor—we take on life and the people in it with a spirit of competitiveness. Our goal: to always be right, to be better than the other, to come out ahead. The actual outcome: never truly feeling met.

Here’s where confusion comes into play, which is the third face of evil. To be the winner, we’ll use whatever weapon is on hand, and half-truths are easy to find but hard to refute. They’re confusing as hell, in fact, most of the time. Lies of omission seem harmless, except when they’re not. And using something truthful where it doesn’t belong, well, that’s a grey area, right? Wrong.

People play fast and loose with the truth, and then wonder where all their disharmonies are coming from. Indeed, it’s tempting to buy the untruths being sold to us, especially when they’re paired with promises of material gain, or better yet, a chance to—finally, at long last!—get the upper hand. For materialism and separation tend to trot around together wherever deceit, and the associated confusion, reigns.

The Upsides

The Spirit World has a knack for drawing good out of even the most negative turns, so there have been some upsides along the way. For example, our move toward materialism has caused us to embrace a level of self-responsibility people hadn’t known before. Many have worked hard to get ahead, providing advantages for themselves and their families. Enjoying the material world and the beauty it holds can be genuinely pleasurable and enriching, in a good way.

Separation, when viewed from the standpoint of healthy independence and an ability to stand on one’s own feet, can be a steppingstone toward freedom. It can spur us to take care of ourselves and not become a burden on others or society. To individuate from our parents is, for the most part, a healthy development.

Confusion can be an indication that something’s not ripe yet. Until we become clear, we need to take time to allow ourselves to become ready. Going off half-cocked on any endeavor, or skipping steps and hoping to cheat life, will have us tripping and falling headlong into chaos and crisis. The Spirit World is orderly, methodical and patient. We would do well to behave likewise.

The Way Out

So what to do, then, when we find ourselves caught in a struggle, trapped in a tangled web that’s woven together by these three evils? First, we need to slow down and breathe. Avoidance through distractions—like drinking, drugging, eating, gaming, sleeping, gambling, watching TV and the like—in hopes of bypassing our burdens, only pulls the knots tighter, dragging us in the wrong direction and pulling us farther from freedom.

At the center of every disharmony lies an untruth.

Bringing our awareness to the present moment with each deep breath, we can offer up a prayer to know the truth. If we don’t like the idea of praying, we can call this what it is: a simple question aimed toward the center of our heart: “What is the truth of the matter?” Really, this is all it takes to start the unraveling process. For at the center of every disharmony lies an untruth.

This question is the way out of every struggle. For truth is the foundation of peace. Truth, in fact, is synonymous with love; we simply cannot have one without the other. Truth, then, is the doorway to what we’re all seeking: loving connection. Indeed, underlying every impulse to stay separate is a spirit that longs deeply to connect. And love, the Guide teaches, always exists in harmony with courage and wisdom. These are the divine qualities that evil hopes to keep us away from by filling us with fear and messing with our minds. This means that when we’re ready to live in truth, we will be able to know love and live in peace.

That’s a promise evil cannot make.

—Jill Loree