Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users' questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: I always believed that human beings were basically good and that "bad" behavior was caused by some form of abuse or suffering in the past. I've recently had a change of heart. I think I may have been naïve in my belief that evil was not real. My question to you, Dr. Chopra, is: Do you believe that evil exists?
— Teresa B., Chicago, Illinois
What would my answer mean to you? Let's say you decide to make a project of asking 100 authorities (whatever that means) whether evil exists. When you tally up their answers, would you have arrived at your own answer? Let me propose that if all 100 said that evil was an illusion, you'd still worry, and if all 100 said that evil was totally real, you'd still have happy, sunny days ahead. These big questions are to be answered by taking a personal journey. There's no other way.
So let's consider your journey so far. You accepted that evil is the product of abuse or suffering. That seems like a reasonable place to start; it's optimistic, spiritual, idealistic. More than one great thinker has walked the path on the same belief. But you shrink from having your belief tested and challenged. To really know what good and evil are, don't you have to face a lot of both? Experience tells the tale; otherwise, our answers are all theory, no proof.
Don't be discouraged that you have come to a stumbling block. There are a lot of steps ahead on your journey. Don't buy into the collapse of your belief, because you weren't naïve. You just haven't walked the walk far enough. I hope you do. To me, a belief in Satan or cosmic evil—I assume you are referring to that—or a similar belief in the inherent evil in human nature are highly reactionary and nonproductive to promoting human well-being. I'm happy to answer your question in a few phrases, but do seek an answer inside yourself.
Every week, Deepak will be answering questions from readers just like you—ask your question now!
Deepak Chopra is the author of more than 50 books on health, success, relationships and spirituality, including his current best-seller, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, and The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, which are available now. You can listen to his show on Saturdays every week on SiriusXM Channels 102 and 155.
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Published on July 07, 2010