Good and Evil in Confrontation

By Paulo Coelho
For The Bali Times

I have already talked about this subject here, but these stories that contradict one another are worth telling once more. Ever since it began, the human race has been condemned to live in the eternal division between these two opposites. Here we are, with the same doubts as our forefathers, and without any more original answer to them.

Persia: man as the ally of good

The first story about the Division between Good and Evil comes from ancient Persia: the god of time, having created the universe, sees harmony all around him, but feels that there is still something very important missing – a companion with whom to share all this beauty.

For a thousand years, he prays for a son. The story does not say to whom he prays, given that he is omnipotent, the sole, supreme Lord; nevertheless, he prays and, finally, he becomes pregnant.

When he realizes he has achieved his heart’s desire, the god of time is filled with remorse, suddenly conscious of how fragile the balance of things is. But it is too late and the child is already on its way. All he achieves by his lamentations is to cause the son he is carrying in his belly to divide into two.

The legend recounts that just as Good (Ormuzd) is born out of the god of time’s prayers, so Evil (Ahriman) is born out of his remorse – twin brothers.

The concerned father arranges everything so that Ormuzd will emerge first from his belly, to take charge of his brother and to prevent Ahriman from throwing the universe into confusion. However, Evil – being very intelligent and resourceful – manages to push Ormuzd aside at the moment of their birth, and thus is the first to be born.

Distraught, the god of time resolves to forge alliances on Ormuzd’s behalf: he brings into being the human race so that they can fight alongside Ormuzd and stop Ahriman taking control of everything.

In the Persian legend, the human race is born to be the ally of Good, and, according to tradition, Good will triumph in the end. However, many centuries later, another story about Division emerges, this time presenting the opposite view: man as the instrument of Evil.

The Bible: division brings pain and suffering

I imagine that most people will know which story I mean. A man and a woman are in the Garden of Eden, enjoying every imaginable delight. But one thing is forbidden: the couple can never know the meaning of Good and Evil. The Lord God says (Genesis 2: 17): But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it…

And one day the serpent appears, swearing that this knowledge is more important than paradise itself and that they should possess that knowledge. The woman refuses, saying that God has threatened her with death, but the serpent assures her that nothing of the kind will happen, but quite the contrary, for on the day when they learn what Good and Evil are, they will become God’s equals.

Convinced, Eve eats of the forbidden fruit and gives some of it to Adam. From this moment on, the original balance of paradise is destroyed, and the pair are driven out of paradise and cursed.

In Biblical tradition, the human race is an accomplice of the evil that spreads over the planet.

© Translated by James Mulholland

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Paulo Coelho

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