Evelyn’s meditations and the problem with good intentions

Eye of Sauron

Particularly in film adaptations, “Sauron the Deceiver” is depicted as a giant, terrifying, multi-storied eye of flame, so we know he’s the bad guy.

It is Raymond’s Way – the Way of the Divine True Heart.
– Evelyn Disk

In The Mummery Book1 – by far the best drama I’ve read to date – the most evil, manipulative, and destructive character in the story eloquently expounds some truths and good intentions at one point, just when I least expect him to.

How can this be?  I have to admit I was confused, offended, and a little angry when I noticed this, and part of me wanted to throw the book out.  I guess on some level I thought that bad guys – whether in fiction or real life – should be 100% bad, easy to identify, with a clear “bad guy” label, and look and feel nothing like myself or my friends, in much the way that “Sauron the Deceiver” is obviously depicted as “bad” in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings film adaptations.

love shirt

Perhaps in real life Evelyn wears shirts like this around the house and has a “co-exist” sticker on the back of his hybrid? (Photo by benoutram.)

So the question remains, why would a “bad guy” in a story be depicted as human, apparently charismatic, and – at times – clearly devoted to truth?  Why write it that way?

To help this feel more concrete, let’s look at one possible real-life Evelyn Disk, someone who might later be seen as harmful – with the aid of 20/20 hindsight – but who at the time, from within the Evelyn-cult, is considered not only not-so-bad, but an inspirational and dedicated leader…

Look closely at the faces and body-language:

Hitler crowd

Adolf Hitler, in an open car, with few if any secret service agents, and everyone’s faces apparently glowing with love and celebration. (Photographer and year unknown)

It appears Hitler was popular with many people, believed in God, and even went on retreat regularly.

Who says I am not under the special protection of God?
– Adolph Hitler2

According to “The Mother” of Pondicherry, a woman said to be extremely clairvoyant, Hitler really was deluded and really did think he was serving a divine being of some sort.

Hitler used to retire into solitude and remain there as long as it was necessary to come into contact with his “guide” and receive from him inspirations which he later carried out very faithfully.

This being, which Hitler took for the Supreme, was quite plainly [an evil spirit]. He had a shining appearance, he could mislead anybody except one who really had occult knowledge and could see what was there behind the appearance. He would have deceived anybody; he was truly splendid. [He was] so dazzling that Hitler could hardly look at him…

Hitler was a very good medium, but he lacked intelligence and discrimination.3

You may be surprised to know that, early on, more than half the residents at Sri Aurobindo’s ashram were supporters of Hitler. Aurobindo said nothing about this openly, but in private he remarked that his students “have no idea about the world and talk like little children.”4

Questions:

  • How could devotees in a spiritual ashram be so deceived as to support someone like Hitler?
  • If Hitler had devotion, discipline, and a strong “spiritual” orientation going for him… then what was he missing?  Or what did he have too much of?
  • If people like Hitler or Evelyn Disk convince themselves that all their actions are not only protected, but guided by God, could that be problematic? Is there any limit to what they might feel justified doing?  Can you think of anyone who’s a little bit like this – not someone foreign & far away, but someone in your own sphere?
  • In The Mummery Book (or, if you haven’t read it, think of a similar story), does the bad guy always see himself as 100% bad?  Could his positive self-image and dedicated belief in the necessity of his actions be part of why he’s so popular, trusted, and loved?
  • Do Evelyn’s followers have “good intentions”?
  • What is it that’s so attractive about fake cult leaders?
  • If you woke up one day and somehow found yourself in the scene depicted in the above photo – with everyone around you swept up in what they believe is harmless adoration – what would you say to the people, and how do you think they’d respond? Please, really consider this.
  • In The Mummery Book the narrator says, The only method of the “followers” of Evelyn, at Saint-and-Ear, is – like children – to be “abstract”. So, to make this more concrete, we might ask ourselves: are there any leaders, teachers, TV personalities, or spiritual authorities in our lives, who appear good, inspiring, trustworthy? Think of people in positions of power or visibility who are not yet enlightened, and yet who you or your friends feel could do no wrong or ever have bad intentions, simply because of their love-soaked surroundings, their popularity, the important status or position they hold, the beauty, humor, & intelligence of their words, or just how good, validated, and “snug” they make you feel.
  • How do you know what’s right in a situation, if there are no clear-cut “bad” or “good” labels given to you?  To what extent do you depend on social cues (a.k.a. peer pressure, or to use a pejorative phrase, “herd mentality”) to distinguish right from wrong?

Please share any comments you may have.

Warm regards,
BoT Student

Evelyn Disk

Evelyn Disk, the false, evil, lying, sociopathic, punitive, and self-serving, but also humorous, intelligent, persuasive, comforting, charismatic and sometimes truth-speaking cult-leader in “The Mummery Book”, as depicted a recent enactment. (c) The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam.

 

  1. A new “radio” production of The Mummery Book is coming on May 12, 2012; stay tuned for details. For more info, check here.
  2. Source: brainy quote.
  3. Excerpted from The Hidden Forces of Life:  Selections from the Works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, compiled with an introduction by A.S. Dalal.  As included in The Basket of Tolerance by Adi Da Samraj. Parentheticals added by BoT Student.
  4. 5/17/1940
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6 comments · now closed

  1. Terrence Cafferty   Thumb up +4

    Excellent article, and thank you.

    Such characters as Evelyn and Hitler come to (and stay in) power because they serve the selfish interests of the ego. The German people had suffered greatly (largely a result of the WWI victors punishing them) when Hitler showed up full of promises that everything would get better for the German people if they followed him. He also brought along scapegoats, including Jews and Communists. The German people were so sick of being deprived that they signed up enthusiastically and gave Hitler a ‘blank check’ of vast support, including a willingness to ignore always mounting evidence that he was a total lunatic and a heartless, murdering, oppressive ego-maniacal total bastard, simply because in terms of the promises he made to improve the German lot, he delivered big-time.

    Similarly, Evelyn garners great support from ‘devotees’ for a similar reason; he promises and delivers an imitation of true spiritual practice that rewards the ego-‘I’ rather than requiring ‘self’-transcendence.

    • Yes, excellent comments.

      By the way, I just thought of something. Evelyn appears to offer a way that IS all about ‘self’-transcendence. The Evelyn followers have given up their lives to worship and praise Raymond, have they not? They are enacting all sorts of religious rituals, they have given up their private time to do cooperative practices with others, they listen to presentations on the dharma, they listen to stories about the founder of their religion, they practice meditation, puja, praise-mind, cooperation, etc. etc. Some of them probably even wear “love” t-shirts and say “let us all be here in love”.

      On the face of it, a lot of this seems VERY similar to how, say, a Christian monk might live his life, or a dedicated Buddhist practitioner.

      So what exactly is the difference? Why is what they’re doing not ego-transcending but ego-reinforcing?

  2. Rick   Thumb up +3

    I’m not Evelyn….oh shit,I am.

    • Well, besides the Evelyn role, there’s also the role of Evelyn’s followers. Don’t forget about those guys! For people who haven’t read the book, Evelyn’s followers are described as being his “helper elves”, and having a more self-protective and childish orientation.

  3. Michelle   Thumb up +4

    I think Evelyn would be even more effectively portrayed by a physically atractive, charismatic type than the obviously foolish looking costume of transparent self possession that is so apparent to the audience..is it like Sri Aurobindo said – perhaps we are seeing beyond the image – if only real life were that apparent to us poor schmucks!

    • Yes, good point Michelle.

      This past enactment, on May 12th, they made Evelyn seem a lot more charming somehow. I had tried to suggest this to them over the past year, but I don’t know if that was a factor. In any case, during this past enactment, I found myself really feeling consoled by Evelyn’s company.

      They also made Evelyn’s voice less cartoonish this time. All the script says is that his voice was very deep – “intestinally deep”.

      I think this Mummery enactment has become a very powerful tool for helping us wake up out of illusion and wake up to Raymond’s joys and ordeals…. I’m starting to see why the author wanted the enactment to happen many times each year.

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