Monday, July 27, 2009

Satan is an Angel

"Innocence is a mystery greater than evil." --James Hillman

There is a long tradition in human history of Satan, or an entity with similar characteristics called by another name. Tradition holds that Satan, also known as Lucifer, the Deceiver or the Devil, is indeed an angel; a very powerful angel who exerts great energies into the world. Some would like to suppose that angels are all goodness, that they are without their own will, that they only perform the will of the Creator, of gods. However this simply is not so.

Many presume this force which is exerted by the angel, Satan to be a negative one. Yet like Mara, the evil one of Buddhism, Satan is a much needed energy in the world. Why so? Because without the Evil One, the Buddha would not know his goodness, the good would be without a name. One cannot know by experience the way or the good without being tempted; one cannot exercise his free will or be whole and complete without an awareness of the world in its entirety. All things are present in the world at all times.

And angels have, and do indeed, tempt and corrupt. The Bible in 1Corinthians11 for example says, "a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels." Revelations claims that the angel, Satan, must be "seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan, and tied up for a thousand years."

Also interestingly the name Lucifer means "Light Carrier." And in Judaism, the Devil is an angel who causes not only mischief, but disorder; he is an adversary. Tradition going back to Judaism unto the present declares the Devil to be:

"the Devil and the other demons were created by God, good in their nature, but they
by themselves have made themselves evil... Here it is clearly thought that the
Devil and the other demons are spiritual or angelic creatures created by God in
a state of innocence, and that they became evil by their own act. It is added
that man sinned by the suggestion of the Devil."

Tradition further teaches that as angels, demons are:"the Devil, and the other demons are but a part of the angelic creation, and their natural powers do not differ from those of the angels who remained faithful. Like the other angels, they are pure spiritual beings without any body, and in their original state they are endowed with supernatural grace." The choosers of darkness for light, of evil for good, and while it would seem that [these choices] can only be accounted for by some ignorance, or inadvertence, or weakness, or the influence of some overmastering passion. But most of these explanations seem to be precluded by the powers and perfections of the angelic nature.

The weakness of the flesh, which accounts for such a mass of human wickedness, was altogether absent from the angels. There could be no place for carnal sin without the corpus delecti(the physical body). And even some sins that are purely spiritual or intellectual, seem to present an almost insuperable difficulty in the case of the angels."

As well, it is false to suppose as already mentioned, that the Judeo-Christian tradition alone largely holds well developed views of devilry. In the world, as we experience it, there are many traditions, some already mentioned holding strong conceptions of an evil doer. From the teachings of the Bon to the Tao, to the Hindus multiple creatures of mal, the Muslims, indigenous spiritualities around the world, the Zoroastrians and many others. Why is it so? What is there to learn about life as it is--suchness by learning of an evil doer? What are our assumptions, our notions? Do we hold a belief that my faith isn't involved with that, that I am better or above such notions?

It seems to be a facet of human nature, of ego, of deficit, to not countenance the face of ill will, to suppose that angels are only for the desire and bidding of gods, or that they can do no evil. The everyday world tells us other-wise. Many transgress the precepts, fall short of the teachings of their acknowledged faith, or simply live in a lower, darker state, more than an animal and less than an arhat or a seeker of the Way. Like the angels, there is only a difference in the choosing. We often seek to substitute our own will and ego for that of the Creator, the unknowable One. And then we suffer. Innocence and evil, as Hillman writes, are indeed a mystery.

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