I've noticed that the more people know me, the less likely they are to believe me. I've been accused of exaggeration so many times that I tend to ignore it. Occasionally, I'm accused of out and out dishonesty or untruthfulness. Generally speaking, the more humorless the individual, the more likely he is to quibble over precise amounts and descriptions. A thousand people, for example, is not nine hundred ninety-nine plus one, it's lots and lots of people. Enough people that it's hard to count, or enough that it was startling to behold. "I stepped outside and found a thousand people standing on the lawn." Well, that's not true. There isn't room for a thousand people in the front yard. There was maybe twenty-three, twenty-four. Let me see. No. More like twenty. If there was a thousand, they'd fill up the steet.

Actually, you could fill the street with no more than two or three hundred, so a thousand, in some ways, is not only more accurate than two hundred, it's also far more interesting than twenty, twenty-one.

The truth is arrived at by increments, not something one swallows whole. People assume, most people almost always assume that others see the world exactly as they do — as if there were only one set of eyes. Of course, even our own eyes sometimes deceive us. God knows what other eyes see. The French have a delightful expression, et encore, that tacks neatly on the end of that statement. It changes the sense to even God doesn't know, but only as an afterthought. Of course the French are notorious exaggerators.

I'm writing this as an introduction. I received a comment on the side from someone in a position to know. It speaks volumes, I think. "Your writing is always beautiful. It exaggerates sometimes, but not in a bad way. I just read your blog and found it very heart warming to hear the stories about your family. Any non-knower of Evan would think you were raised in the most wholesome house in town. Not the case." I appreciated the "beautiful" part. The rest is true. But, not a truth that stands easily on its own.

People of my generation are usually comfortable with the expression bad vibes. It may be dated, but everyone has gone somewhere, done something and felt uneasy about it. Bad vibes. Good vibes and bad vibes, however, seem very different from good and evil. Mention the word "evil" and people flee, as if there's a Bible about to be thumped. We've eased the word out of our vocabularies. Evil is now a fiction, something that propels chain saw movies and gothic novels. It's as two dimensional as Satan, and almost as lovable as vampires. But, as we assure ourselves, it does not exist.

That's the part of reality we do not swallow whole. Or, one of the many parts. The Gnostics believed, if we can believe their surviving traces, that the world is a great clash of wills between good and evil, light and dark, truth and deception — two equal forces and the play between them. ShivaThe Hindus recognize something called asuric forces and represent them as demons. At the mythic level, there are Devas and Asuras, godlike entities representing good and evil. But, these are not primary forces of the world or universe, only aspects of it. Sri Aurobindo taught that there is no independent evil. Evil is a kind of vacancy, or the consequence of the vacancy created by the need to condense awareness or being into ego. In order to have individual beings, the Great Being must create the illusion or limited reality of separateness, thereby creating areas that are not truth oriented. As the need for separateness declines, evil will be reabsorbed. In the familiar picture of Shiva Nataraja, the dancing Shiva, he stands on a small demon. He does not slay the demon, he subdues it. In psychoanalytical terms, he sublimates it. George_novgorodAs part of the dance of Shiva, evil is reabsorbed. Nor is this concept foreign to Christian icon­ography. St. George slaying the dragon is an easy example. Keep your eyes open and you will see many more. While he does eventually slay the dragon, he does so in the second half of the story, the one having to do with converting the kingdom. He slays it on condition that they convert to Christianity. However, the first and more authentic part of the story has him defending the fair maiden by subduing the dragon. He charges it on his white steed with a lance. He then borrows the maiden's girdle or belt to fashion a kind of leash. The maiden leads the dragon back to town or castle where the conversion takes place. Two stories merged into one. The saint's job is to subdue and integrate evil.

Some people are sensitive to such things, some very sensitive. But the truth does not go down in one gulp, nor does it often go down at all without a sugar coating. We are too wise, too mature, to scientific to see things as they actually are. So, an important element in story telling, an essential element in rubbing shoulders with people in an uplifting manner, and an absolutely necessary element in self-discovery, is to identify and to incorporate evil into good without calling undo attention to it. The good, after all, is all that will ultimately survive.

So, I like to think that my stories are the sugar coating. If successful, they also contain truth, or a tiny portion of it. At the very least, they prepare one for the next dose. The dull and the overly wise tend unknowingly to exempt themselves. The truth, as I've said a thousand times, is what you make of it.

Shiva from Google Images, Saint George from Wikimedia Commons.