The Nature of Good and Bad

I read an article the other day written by a Buddhist monk about his own spiritual journey.  He mentioned the Buddhist idea about suffering being caused by our wants or expectations.

Something about that concept and that story stuck with me.  Most of the article was about alleviating suffering in the world.  He was making the point that one’s spiritual lessons ought to be shared in the world to help make it a better place.

But, I got to thinking, what if suffering were eliminated?  What if all bad things, all evil, went away?

Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to be cavalier about pain or heartbreak or hunger or illness.  I’m just saying, what if those things are necessary, however terrible?  Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment.

The concept of homeostasis says that all things tend toward stability and equilibrium.  So how can there be balance without good AND bad?  How can we feel motivated to act without something to fight against?  How can we get ourselves out of a complacent rut without crushing ennui to prod us?  How can we find out what we are made of without some kind of shove in the back?

I think a lot of us would dearly love to get rid of all bad things. In fact, I believe that a fear of death motivates a great deal of human behavior.   But what if things aren’t simply “good” or “bad?”  What if they are opportunities?

Now, I realize it is a very great leap to say things like child abuse or torture or mudslides that wipe out entire towns are “opportunities.”  And I certainly do not trivialize those things at all.  I just wonder if those things might not have a place in the big picture too.

If I assume that reincarnation is a given, then we all have multiple lifetimes and multiple deaths.  And if I assume that one of the main points of life is to learn, then wouldn’t we need multiple lifetimes to learn it all?  And wouldn’t “all” include wealth AND poverty, illness AND health, pain AND pleasure?  I just wonder if getting rid of “bad” is not the point, but rather we might want to shift our view that death is not the enemy, that evil is certainly to be fought without it we could never learn and grow?

I suppose, too, that if we did eliminate all bad things in the world, then wouldn’t that make Earth into Heaven?  Is that possible?  Wouldn’t that then upset the homeostasis, to have Two Other Sides and No Physical Plane?

What do you think?  Is “bad” necessary?  Can we make a Heaven here on Earth?

YinYang Symbol