When I was a young guy in my mid-twenties, I was a born again Christian and deeply involved with Pentecostal churches. As a consequence, I can still speak in tongues. This stream of Christianity is intrinsically Evangelical and involved predominantly in social outreach. The precursor, Jesus spent his time with the poor and marginalized.
In those days I studied the Bible fastidiously. I was insistent on learning all I could. In due course, I even studied ancient Greek. The New Testament was written originally in Greek. I became knowledgeable concerning biblical scripture for an average Christian guy. Within a couple of years, I discovered that Pentecostalism and the born again Christian movement was too emotionally charged and did not offer the depth I wanted.
I explored more contemporary Christian churches. The Baptists, and Church of Christ, ultimately I gravitated to, and enjoyed. Then I got involved with para Christian organizations that assisted the poor, also, I was involved in helping homelessness. These types of organizations offered a great deal, that being so, mainstream churches lost their appeal.
About this time my inquisitiveness with religious study, lead me to do a Bachelor of Theology. While I was studying I volunteered at a food bank feeding the poor. The delight I experienced helping people inspired me to undertake a Graduate Diploma in Pastoral Care. Simultaneously, I was an intern at a specialised oncology hospital as a Pastoral Care Practitioner. This work awarded me three Clinical Pastoral Education certificates and one was advanced.
These days my focus has been Theravada Buddhism and staying at the monastery is one of my favourite things I do as part of my spiritual practice.
Here is a Buddhist thought.
What about the Devil, devils. ‘You yourselves must strive; the Buddhas only point the way. Those meditative ones who tread the path are released from the bonds of Mara.’
276 Dhp XX
PTS: Dhp 273-289
Read the contemporary Christian thinking here.
My hypothesis relating Satan, devils, Mara or whatever language you use. I have witnessed Satan used as a scapegoat in many scenarios. People say its the Devils work or the person is evil. Why? Because in connection with evil, it’s a simplified narrative, instead of the convoluted mystery concerning atrocities humans commit. The savagery people commit is unthinkable, especially war crimes. We require a scapegoat, after all, people of their own free will could not do such evil?… What wouldn’t they?
The medieval Satan caused countless loss of innocent lives who apparently had the Devil in them. These days neuroscience has discovered areas damaged in criminal minds. With surgery, they correct the issue and the person runs a normal moral life. We have progressed in our consciousness enough to use behaviour science and consider neurological disorders may be an issue for some. As impenetrable as it may seem, there are many legitimate reasons why people have the capacity to be, “Evil.”
My personal approach is looking after my mind, after all, our minds are the place nasty, and spiteful seeds can germinate. You hear many say, “ trust your heart,” Christians and Buddhists. The non religious also says this, it’s extremely popular and dangerous as well. Our hearts and minds not being cared for correctly, i.e. filling our brains full of rubbish day in day out and then trusting our hearts is insane. Our ignorance has always been our failing. Below is a good Buddhist understanding of how to nuture our minds and hearts. Sadly, I don’t know the author of it….
‘The loving kindness or metta meditation is the most commonly used. The great value of a meditation like metta is threefold. Firstly, it promotes the opening of the heart to other living beings. Secondly, it has the immense benefit of nurturing the meditator’s positive feelings towards themselves, thus developing self-esteem (for we Westerners do have this propensity to dislike our self-image, and carry around such a negative, heavy burden of self, the like of which, I’d hazard, has never been known in the history of Buddhism). This nurturing of metta through meditation can also harmonize with the loving kindness nurtured towards ourselves whilst practising in daily life through our contain- ment practice. Thus we naturally make friends with ourselves because of this developing non-judgemental relationship.’