Hero and Adversary, The Spiritual Struggle Between Good and Evil
“The eternal struggle between Good and Evil takes place in the heart of each individual.” The Hero and Adversary are fighting a battle that never end.
Our daily actions, big and small, are the output of that struggle. I have never ever been more convinced of this in my entire life. Because in a recent moment of spiritual confusion, it has been revealed to me that all my life, I have been nothing more than a pawn in this battle going on inside me.
For you see, without going into detail, there is something I hold dear, that I really want to do. But it feels like the world is conspiring against me. Time, money, my own flawed nature, and character, and especially my family for whom I feel responsible … they are all holding me back. Sometimes it’s like I am wandering aimlessly through quicksand, and each step is sinking me faster and faster. Overwhelmed by heavy obstacles, I began to lose faith that I will ever achieve what I want. And in the vacuum of hope, I allowed cynicism and resentment to creep in. The resentment poisoned my heart and darkened my mind, an and ever-growing hatred began to consume me … Hatred at the world, and hatred of self.
Waking Up to the Struggle Between Good and Evil
I imagined myself willingly giving up my dream, just so that I could victimize myself, feed the hate, and enact revenge against myself and the world, in a way that ends badly for me. This was self-sabotage at its peak! I amazed myself how pitiful, pathetic, vile and evil I could become if I allowed myself.
In a recent article, I wrote about Regaining Freedom. You learned that between a stimulus and response, between a thought and an action, there is a space. And in that space lie our freedom and salvation. So, I listen to my own advice. And in one of my moment of morbidity, I took a step back and gave myself some space. Fiercely focused on my dark thoughts, I asked my hatred “What do you want from me? What is your ultimate desire?” After some silent contemplation and introspection answered started popping up. And the final truth revealed itself. The answer that emerged from the depth of my psyche was “When I am in that state, I want to destroy myself, in the most miserable way possible.”
Most people would have booked a visit to the shrink, but I never felt more liberated in my life. Because for the first time ever, I detached myself from my darkness. I visualized it in front of me: a black shadow in a shroud of darkness, radiating terror. Right in front of it, I saw something I never did before: a silver soldier, in an armor of light. The two forces were clenched in an epic battle. The battle between good and evil takes place in the heart and soul of every individual. I projected my own battle in front of me, for the first time.
But that is the meaning of this psychotic breakdown? In Jungian psychology, Hero and Adversary are two of the many archetypes of the collective subconscious – two aspects of human nature that live in each of us. Think of an archetype as a universal pattern of being, common to all individuals of all time. And as a result, it gains a spiritual dimension. One day I shall perish, but the archetypes that inhabit my psyche and live through my actions will continue to exist and evolve in the hearts and minds of the next generation of the human race. When I said that the spirit of hatred and revenge possessed me, I wasn’t kidding!
The Manifestation of the Hero and Adversary Within Us
How do the Hero and Adversary manifest their influence? Sometimes, regardless of how heavy our burden is, we remain open, good, and truthful. And we seek with humility to improve our condition. That is the manifestation of our heroic side – it seeks that which is best for us and to confront hardship, to engage with life, and to transform us into victors. Think of the selfless volunteers that went in the poorest places in the world to offer health and education, to get rid of poverty.
Other times, we feel defeat, and that breeds resentment and hate. Because of that, we begin to sabotage ourselves, until everything is truly lost, and all we are left with is the hatred that consumes us. That is the manifestation of the Adversary within us – it seeks to consume us. It wants our destruction, after years of betrayal, lies, and suffering. Think about the drug addict who tears their family apart just to consume something that is meant in the end to destroy them.
We all have a heroic part that wants us to succeed, and an adversarial part that wants us to fail, suffer, take revenge and be consumed. In my case, the battle between the two sides was cataclysmic. But it doesn’t need to be. When was the last time you had a fight, and instead of seeking peace, you just wanted to vent your resentment and pain? That was your Adversary acting in a subtle way.
We are all Hero and Adversary at the same time, 24 hours a day, for the rest of our lives.
And I just realized that in a very favorable moment. You see, a very important Christian ceremony is upon us, this week. I am a Serb and we have an ancestral tradition. Every Serbian family has a guardian Archangel or Saint. It is Saint George who protects my family. The Dragon Slayer, the Hero who conquers the best of darkness, the silver soldier in my vision.
Are Dragons, Heroes and Gods Real?
But are there such things as monster, dragon, heroes, and gods? I declare bluntly: yes. And we have created them. And they are more real and terrifying than we could imagine. Millennia ago, the primitive man incapable of abstract thought and self-analysis, looked up at the empty sky and filled it with whatever already existed within him. Did you notice that every Greek God and Goddess represent a human impulse which subdues us? Love, jealousy, hatred, wrath, war, and the Dionysiac frenzy of life … Gods, heroes, and monsters are real, but they are within us. We create them and place them in myth.
The fight between Saint George and the Dragon is the 2000-year-old projection, of the individual, internal battle between our two sides: the Hero and the Adversary. Incapable of understanding and accepting it, we painted it in myth.
The struggle between good and evil is real. But in real life, the hero doesn’t always win. He who wins is the one to whom we pledge allegiance. Whether we do it consciously or subconsciously, we do take sides. I surprised myself when I learned all the ways in which I betrayed myself, allowing my darkness to win.
In your day to day life, in the short but crucial moments of internal struggle, who do you side with? That is a question to ask ourselves on a daily basis.