By Chet Yarbrough
Living with the Devil ( A Meditation on Good and Evil)
By: Stephen Batchelor
Narrated by: Stephen Batchelor
Stephen Batchelor offers a view of religion and reality in an attempt to move beyond the “let it be” implication of a meditative life. Batchelor places Buddhism in the context of most religions’ beliefs. He explains Buddhism personifies the devil as a master of seven dimensions of heaven.
The devil assigns one of the seven heaven’ disciples to inspire sin in human life. That disciple is Mara who is directed by the devil to seduce Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism. Mara assumes the visage of a woman but fails to distract Siddhartha from “the way” and, like Christ in Christian belief, Siddhartha becomes a symbol and guide for humanity.
Image of Mara who takes the image of a woman to seduce Gautama Buddha, (Siddhartha).
Batchelor explains Buddhism is the door to “the way” which recognizes the devil as a part of life’s yin and yang. Hardship and death are part of life. Those seeking eternal life delude themselves. It is not possible to have life without death. It is not possible to have “the way”, a path without evil because evil defines good by being its opposite. This leads to a “let it be” mentality of those who meditate on “the way”. Batchelor is not condoning the evil of violence, destruction, or death but explains its role in defining “the way”. Therein lies a criticism by some.
Buddhist guidance is described as “the way” by Batchelor.
One presumes, it is the same “way” referred to in the adventures of Disney Studio’s “The Mandalorian”.
Batchelor describes the path that most of humanity takes is deflected in the same way as a human walking with one leg shorter than another. The path of humanity is circular which suggests why history seems to repeat itself. (To paraphrase Mark Twain–history may not repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes.)
One who is not a Buddhist is not comforted by Batchelor’s explanation of “the way” or his acknowledged acceptance of living with the devil. Batchelor, like Buddha, Jesus Christ, and a Divinity, may be correct in their knowledge about human life but it does not give one comfort. It proffers fear that violence and destruction is to be tolerated by humanity because it is a part of living life as a human being.
Batchelor implies homelessness, despair, and human degradation are incurable and acceptable because the devil’s work helps define “the way”.
Accepting Buddhism seems to encourage meditation at the expense of human effort to give succor to those in need. All religions and societies should be focused on social and economic equality for all. Accepting less is failure. “The devil made me do it” is a cop out.