Tuesday, March 19, 2002

The Buddha and the Devil

One particularly lovely March afternoon, the Devil came up quite unexpectedly to Shakyamuni Buddha, who was sitting in meditation under the Bodhi tree, and began to question him:

Devil: Hey there, Shakyamuni! Meditating on a beautiful day like this? I've heard something strange, and wanted to ask you about it.
Shakyamuni: And what would that be?
Devil: Well, you know--I usually hang out in the area west of Israel, so there's a reason why I'd come all the way to India today. It seems that there's a religion that started in the 20th Century in this country called Japan, and they teach that "there is no evil." That in itself is pretty strange, but they also say that you teach the same thing, too. I thought, "You gotta be kidding," but, since I'm not exactly up to par on the Buddhist teachings, I thought I'd come here and ask you straight out.
Shakyamuni: You mean, you want to ask me whether or not I teach "there is no evil."
Devil: Right.
Shakyamuni: And why do you want to know this?
Devil: Well, it's really very important to me.
Shakyamuni: And why is that?
Devil: Why, I'm the Devil. If there's no evil, that means that there's no me.
Shakyamuni: Who said you're the Devil?
Devil: Who said??? Everyone! On earth, in the heavens, in the Spiritual World, in the Astral World. Every living thing calls me the "Devil" and I think so myself!
Shakyamuni: Why do you think you're the Devil?
Devil: Because I'm bad and evil. I mean, really evil!
Shakyamuni: What do you consider "evil"?
Devil: Hahahahah. Listen to what I've done just recently?
Shakyamuni: What have you done?
Devil: September 11, 2001.
Shakyamuni: What happened on that day?
Devil: What??? You mean to tell me you don't know????
Shakyamuni: What exists around me is only Paradise.
Devil: Oh, well, that makes it worth telling you all about it, then. To put it simply, I crashed an airplane, with hundreds of passengers, into a building where thousands of people work. That was really something. Not only once, either, I did it twice. I tried it a third time, but, unfortunately it was a little off target, so there weren't that many victims.
Shakyamuni: Isn't there about the same number of victims when there's a large earthquake?Devil: What? Are you saying that an earthquake is worse than I am?
Shakyamuni: No, I'm not saying that.
Devil: When I said, "really evil", I meant the fact that I blamed all the stuff that happened in those disasters on God. In the human world, none of those things happened because of the Devil. They blame everything on people--the very religious Muslims--who claim they were doing it in the name of God. So the Muslims are being condemned, and it's not only that the Christians have started a war of retribution to retaliate, but now there's even fighting going on between the Muslims and the Hindis. With all this happening, there are a bunch of people who've stopped believing in God. "There's not one good thing about religion", is about it. No earthquake could do this.
Shakyamuni: So, that's what you mean by "really evil"?
Devil: Right. There's nothing in this world, or any other world for that matter, that's even close to being as bad or evil.
Shakyamuni: Why do you think what you did was evil?
Devil: What? You mean to say, you don't think so?
Shakyamuni: If the same kind of meteorite that dropped on the earth millions of years ago, and destroyed the dinosaurs were to drop again, Man might start a world war in order to save himself. In such a case, they can't be bothered by religion.
Devil: Oh, right. There you go bringing up all that cataclysmic stuff. Trying to put me down again. You're really mean.
Shakyamuni: For Tathagata, there is no such thing as that. Aren't you the one who is trying to be obstinate?
Devil: What do you mean?
Shakyamuni: You insist on being the most evil.
Devil: Why, of course. After all, I am the Devil.
Shakyamuni: By the way, what makes you think that September 11 was the worst thing ever to happen?
Devil: I think I've already answered that question. I've already explained why I'm really evil.
Shakyamuni: No, not that. How can you determine things to be "a little evil" or "pretty evil" or "the worst"? How can you measure "evil"? What type of scale do you use to measure it with?
Devil: I've never thought of that. But, now that you mention it, I guess I have been putting evil in rank order. Yup, I think so. That scale that you were asking about is this--How much I can disappoint humankind by destroying everything people hope for. The level or magnitude of evil depends on how much I can crush their hopes. I'm the Devil, so, for humankind, I cause the most desperate and hopeless situations.
Shakyamuni: So then, that means that all humankind hopes for "good."
Devil: Oh, very keen observation. You can't necessarily say that, though. When one comes over to my side, he wants evil. Like that Osama guy.
Shakyamuni: So that Osama guy is sometimes more evil than you.
Devil: No. He just did those things because I gave him the idea.
Shakyamuni: So, does that mean that he wouldn't have created those disasters if it hadn't been for you?
Devil: That's right.
Shakyamuni: Then, that makes Osama a good guy at heart.
Devil: Well, I guess you could put it that way, but there's no way that there could be a "without me", so he is evil.
Shakyamuni: Hmmmm. Well, does that only apply to Osama? In other words, if the Devil, who is you, did not exist, does that mean that only Osama could be a good person, or all other persons could be good as well?
Devil: Shakyamuni, I am the root and source of all evil. If it weren't for me, humankind would still be in the Garden of Eden.
Shakyamuni: Well, if the cause for evil is not with Man, then it all comes back to the question of whether you, the Devil, are really evil.
Devil: You know, you talk just like Socrates.
Shakyamuni: I've been in Ancient Greece, too.
Devil: And I've been there, too.
Shakyamuni: So, should we ignore the details regarding humankind, and concentrate on whether or not you are evil?
Devil: Sure. It's really quite obvious.
Shakyamuni: What's obvious?
Devil: That I am the most evil.
Shakyamuni: I don't think it's so obvious. Let's talk about that "scale of evil" you mentioned.
Devil: Sure.
Shakyamuni: How much or how far does that scale measure? In other words, you say that "the worst", or most evil thing, were the incidents on September 11, but do you have a way of determining "fairly evil" and "a little evil"?
Devil: That all depends on how crafty I am. The craftier I am, the worse it gets.
Shakyamuni: You said that the "evil" depends on how much you can disappoint or betray humankind, did you not?
Devil: I did.
Shakyamuni: Which means that you know what humankind's hopes are.
Devil: I guess so. If I didn't know, I wouldn't be able to disappoint or betray them.
Shakyamuni: Then you know when someone is thinking about doing something good.Devil: Yes, and I try to prevent that from happening.
Shakyamuni: And that's because you recognize the fact that what that person wants to do is "good."
Devil: Yes.
Shakyamuni: Which means that you have something within your mind that is divinely inspired by "good."
Devil: I don't like the word, "divinely inspired." I have something that "detests" the good in humankind.
Shakyamuni: But, if you weren't able to be divinely inspired by it, then you wouldn't be able to detest it.
Devil: Then I'm divinely inspired by it and detest it.
Shakyamuni: That's why you have within you, the ability to be divinely inspired by "good."
Devil: What if I do? What happens then?
Shakyamuni: That which is divinely inspired by good is only good.
Devil: Even if one creates evil as a result?
Shakyamuni: That's because you detest it. Just stop doing that.
Devil: Stop kidding around, Shakyamuni. If I stopped doing that, I wouldn't be the Devil.
Shakyamuni: You don't have to be the Devil. You have sensors for "good" within you.
Devil: Ohhhhhh. I'm all confused. Those sensors are there for me to be able to hate. It's for me to perceive goodness and destroy it. It's like a mouse trap or a snare. It's to perceive the prey and kill it.
Shakyamuni: Mouse or bear traps don't perceive prey. The animals perceive the bait in the traps and come up to it.
Devil: Same with me. Humankind perceives evil and comes to me.
Shakyamuni: Don't fool yourself. You just said that you perceive good and destroy it.
Devil: Just what are you trying to say?
Shakyamuni: I'm not trying to say anything. You said it.
Devil: What???
Shakyamuni: That you have sensors to perceive good.
Devil: And?
Shakyamuni: Only good can perceive good.
Devil: So?
Shakyamuni: So you are good.
Devil: Hahahahahaha. If the Devil is good, then there is no evil.
Shakyamuni: That's right.
Devil: But, the Devil is "evil" because evil exists.
Shakyamuni: You know that evil is evil because you have sensors to perceive good.
Devil: Then why is it that I create evil even if I have the sensors to perceive good?
Shakyamuni: That's because you refuse to accept the compassion of the Buddha.
Devil: Shakyamuni, There is no "Buddha" in my world.
Shakyamuni: Then "God." You refuse God's love, so you hate good even though you know what it is. That mind of hatred manifests evil.
Devil: There's no way I, the Devil, can accept God's love.
Shakyamuni: Why not?
Devil: Well, God doesn't love the Devil.
Shakyamuni: That's only what you think. God loves you.
Devil: What are you saying? Don't say things that you can't prove.
Shakyamuni: The fact that you have sensors that detect good is proof in and of itself.
Devil: But, I abuse that.
Shakyamuni: There, that's what I mean. The fact that you realize you are "abusing" things is proof that you know what needs to be done to use it for good. All you have to do is follow that knowledge of good.
Devil: Are you saying that the Devil has knowledge of good?
Shakyamuni: Stop calling yourself the Devil. Having sensors that recognize good, and having knowledge of good--that is not the Devil.
Devil: I don't have any reason for living, then.
Shakyamuni: God loves you and has given you sensors to perceive good as well as the knowledge of good. Recognize these things and live as a part of God.
Devil: Then there will be no evil.
Shakyamuni: There was no evil in the first place. Don't get attached to things that are non-existent and think of them as being yourself. Evil always translates into good. That's because evil is a pretend existence. The extinction of dinosaurs led to the birth of humankind on the earth. Slavery eventually led to multiracial coexistence. The second World War led to the formation of the United Nations and the international monetary system. The events of September 11 will, some day, lead to something positive. It's meaningless to become attached to evil which will eventually disappear entirely. The Devil and such do not exist.
Devil: I don't exist?..
Shakyamuni: No, that's not it. You are actually an angel, a Buddha.
Devil: Oh, Shakyamuni! I'm disappearing!
Shakyamuni: That which disappears is not real. You will be reborn as a child of God.
Devil: Ahhhhhhhh....

- MT

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