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  • Lucifer.

  • Satan.

  • Ahriman.

  • Darren Farley.

  • The devil wears many names, but just how did this being of ultimate evil come to be?

  • Throughout history and cultures, evil entities have always been blamed for various tragedies

  • that befell humanity.

  • In ancient Greek mythology, there were various entities which could perform or inspire evil

  • deeds, but the Greek gods themselves were often so cruel and evil that there was little

  • need for a centralized evil figure.

  • Hades may be the figure best representative of a traditional 'devil', but compared to

  • the shenanigans of the other gods, Hades often comes off as a choir boy.

  • Under the yoke of gods who were as capricious, petty, selfish, arrogant, and jealous as children,

  • the ancient Greeks could have been said to suffer under many devils.

  • Buddhism is one of the few non-Abrahamic religions that has a figure similar to what we most

  • closely associate as 'the devil' in our modern culture.

  • In Buddhism, the demon Mara directly opposes the Buddha's quest for enlightenment.

  • In one version of events, he sends his three daughters, Attraction, Aversion, and Delusion,

  • to strip in front of the meditating Buddah, in order to tempt him away from his studies.

  • Buddah however swept them away from his presence, ignoring the temptation and continuing to

  • pursue his personal enlightenment.

  • Mara is the guardian of passion, and uses his powers of lust, hesitation, and fear in

  • order to lead would-be Buddhists astray and off the path.

  • If you've ever felt yourself afraid of doing the right thing, hesitating to act when you

  • know you should, or cheating on a significant other with another person, then you've felt

  • the powerful pull of Mara in your own life.

  • Unlike the traditional Abrahamic devil however, Mara does eventually repent of his sins and

  • convert to Buddhism.

  • This occurs when the Buddhist monk Upagupta journeys to the ancient Indian kingdom of

  • Mathura to preach the path of enlightenment.

  • Finding great success amongst the population, Mara's palace began to tremble, and he was

  • quick to take his revenge, attacking the Dharma- or the Buddhist teachings directly.

  • In order to seek out the source of the disturbance, Upagupta slipped into a meditative trance,

  • known as samadhi.

  • With the monk helpless before him, Mara slipped a fine jade necklace over his neck, an attempt

  • to tempt the monk with vanity.

  • Upagupta then gathered three corpses- that of a man, a dog, and a snake- and transformed

  • them into a beautiful garland.

  • Approaching Mara, the monk offered him the beautiful garland as a thank you token for

  • the jade necklace.

  • Reveling in his destruction of the monk's piety with his gift of precious jade, Mara

  • proudly extended his neck and received the garland, only to have it instantly transform

  • back into the three rotting corpses.

  • Angered and disgusted, Mara fled to the heavens, seeking anyone who could help him remove the

  • rotting corpses from around his neck.

  • In desperation, he approached Brahma himself- one of the principal deities of Buddhism-

  • and begged him to remove the necklace.

  • Brahma suggested that Mara return to earth and beg for the forgiveness of the monk who

  • had cursed him.

  • Mara thus returned to Upagupta and threw himself at the monk's feet.

  • Upagupta asked if he would turn from his evil ways and cease to attack the Dharma, to which

  • Mara eagerly agreed, and then began to repent for his many sins.

  • Thus, Mara was converted from his evil ways to the path of enlightenment.

  • In early Hindu beliefs, there is no one figure, or group of figures, responsible for evil.

  • Rather, evil simply exists in the world as part of the natural cycle of life.

  • As the Hindu faith evolved however, blame for evil was assigned to demons.

  • Both demons and gods made a choice to speak either truth or untruth, with the gods choosing

  • to speak only truth and the demons choosing to speak only untruth.

  • While we may be best familiar with the concept of the devil due to abrahamic religions, the

  • devil as a singular entity of ultimate evil, is believed to actually be the influence of

  • Zoroastrianism on early Judaism.

  • In Zoroastrianism, good and evil are not part of the same coin, but rather are two completely

  • opposite and separate forces that are forever in conflict with each other.

  • The force of good is called Ahura Mazda, and the force of evil, ordestructive spirit”,

  • is known as Angra Mainyu, or Ahriman.

  • Neither of these two forces is all-powerful, meaning one cannot outright control or defeat

  • the other.

  • But, good and evil are also not equals- good is free of the bonds of time and space, while

  • evil is constrained by both time and space.

  • Thus, when the world ends and time and space are dissolved, evil will die along with the

  • old word, leaving only good to reign forever.

  • This concept of two separate, powerful entities vying for the fate of the world, is believed

  • to have influenced early Judaism, prompting belief in a devil who was powerful- yet not

  • as powerful as God himself who would ultimately win and rule supreme.

  • In early Judaism though, there was no belief in an actual devil.

  • Yahweh rules supreme, and for a long time, Satan in Judaism was not so much an individual,

  • as he was a natural inclination by people to do wrong.

  • Translated asopponentoradversary”, Satan was the sinful impulse or general forces

  • that prevent human beings from doing good.

  • There was no central figure who commanded these forces, and no tempter that played on

  • human frailty to lure people into evil.

  • A battle with Satan in Judaism is a battle with yourself, and your proclivity to be lustful,

  • selfish, lazy, etc.

  • Sometimes though the name Satan is used to reference an accusatory or prosecutorial figure,

  • who is actually also on God's side- not opposed to him.

  • Typically this is an angel which is allowed to act in a way that is adversarial to God's

  • people, in order to help them rid themselves of moral weaknesses or strengthen their character

  • and faith.

  • Perhaps the best known example of this is in the book of Job.

  • Job is one of the wealthiest men in the land of Uz, where he lives with his large family

  • and many flocks.

  • Described as a righteous man, who strives to do good and avoid doing evil, Job is blessed

  • with a large family and much wealth.

  • However, Satan approaches God one day and God boasts to Satan about how good and faithful

  • his servant Job is.

  • Satan however points out that it's easy to be good and faithful when you're living such

  • a good life, so he challenges God- take away Job's fortunes, and he'll surely curse your

  • name.

  • With that, God grants Satan power over Job's life- yet forbids him from actually killing

  • Job.

  • In just one day, Satan kills all of Job's livestock, ten of his children, and all of

  • his servants.

  • Job is not just financially destitute, but has lost nearly all of his family.

  • He shaves his head and tears his clothes in mourning, and then settles into the dust of

  • his home where he lays as three of his friends visit him and try to find the source of his

  • damnations- confident that it must be some secret sin in Job's life that brought this

  • catastrophe down on him.

  • During the course of his ordeal, Job defends his character against his friends and rebukes

  • his wife, who suggests that he curse God and die.

  • As Job refuses to blame God for his misfortune, Satan strikes him with all manner of illnesses,

  • further adding to his misery.

  • While Job expresses frustration with God, he still refuses to blame God for his woes-

  • pointing out that God had up until then, given him a long, happy life, so he had the right

  • to take it away.

  • Job's friends continue to harass him, all of them confident in their self-righteousness

  • that Job clearly must have been harboring some secret sin, or this evil wouldn't have

  • befallen him.

  • At last, God appears before the group as a whirling tempest, and with a series of rhetorical

  • questions shows the frustrated Job and group just how little they understand creation or

  • the nature of God.

  • In an act of humility, Job admits his limited knowledge, which pleases God- though God remains

  • upset with Job's friends who had for days tried to pressure Job into admitting his suffering

  • was his own fault.

  • Job however asks God to forgive his friends, which pleases God once more, and God forgives

  • the friends while restoring to Job twice as much wealth as he had before, along with new

  • children and an extremely long, happy life.

  • While Christians have turned the Satan of the Book of Job into an individual entity

  • diametrically opposed to God, the ancient Jews understood the Satan of Job as merely

  • an actor in God's heavenly court.

  • Furthermore, while scriptural literalists will believe the Book of Job to be a real

  • story, it's widely acknowledged that the story was clearly a poetic exploration of deep theological

  • questions.

  • In Islam, itself an offshoot of Judaism, God created Adam- the first human- and then ordered

  • all of the anglels to prostrate themselves before Adam, signifying that man with his

  • free will and ability to choose, was the superior being.

  • All of the angels prostrated themselves except for one- Iblis, or Shaitan- who out of pride,

  • claimed that he was superior to a mere mortal.

  • For his pride, God cast Iblis out of heaven and into hell, but not before granting Iblis

  • his request that he be allowed to lead mortals astray.

  • Knowing that temptation would challenge and strengthen his people, God gave Iblis permission

  • to attempt to sway humans to evil.

  • Both good and evil are created by God in Islam, as Iblis was after all God's own creation.

  • God's will however is always good, even when it doesn't seem like it- thus evil in the

  • world is simply part of God's plan.

  • An argument could be made that the Holocaust couldn't have possibly been anything but mindless

  • evil, until one considers the resolute determination by modern nations today to never again repeat

  • such a horrific atrocity.

  • In this example, the evil of the Holocaust was still God's will, as it created a future

  • good that the victims of the Holocaust may not have seen, but which would potentially

  • save many more future lives.

  • In Islam, there is a strong emphasis on resisting evil, believing it to always be a test from

  • God.

  • When a believer is the victim of evil, it is their chance to prove that they trust God,

  • even if they cannot see the benefit or meaning to their suffering.

  • Islam's Iblis differs from Christianity not only in origin, but also in purpose and power.

  • While Christians believe that Satan rebelled against God directly, in Islam Iblis rebelled

  • against humanity.

  • Also, Iblis plays a much lesser role than Satan does in Christianity, where he is the

  • architect of all evil.

  • Instead, Iblis is reduced to a tempter, not capable of anything more than merely whispering

  • temptations into the ears of believers and unbelievers alike.

  • Finally, we get to the best known version of the devil in modern culture- the Christian

  • Satan.

  • In Christianity, Satan is evil incarnate, and at perpetual odds against God.

  • Because he's unable to hurt God directly, he instead targets what God loves most- humanity.

  • Thus, he attempts to lead humans astray, or bring about great calamities and evil.

  • While you've likely heard of the term Lucifer used to describe the devil, the truth is that

  • this is a misunderstanding of the use of the term in Isaiah 14:12.

  • Meaning 'bringer of light', the name Lucifer is believed by many to be Satan's angelic

  • name, before his fall, but is in fact a reference to a Babylonian King.

  • Most of what we know about the Christian devil comes from the Book of Revelation, apocalyptic

  • writings that are believed to be heavenly revelations to mankind on the behind the scene

  • workings of heaven and hell, as well as what the end of days will entail.

  • Here, we learn of a war that breaks out in heaven, though the motives are rather vague

  • and unclear.

  • Many reasons have been attributed to this war, with most accepting that it was Satan's

  • pride which led him to convince a third of the angelic host to try and overthrow God.

  • Interestingly, though many Christians accept that a third of the angels followed Satan's

  • lead, this is only because of a reference to a third of the stars being cast down by

  • a great dragon a few verses before the mention of a heavenly war.

  • There is no reason to believe that a third of the angelic host joined Satan in rebelling

  • against God.

  • For all we know it could've been Satan and two of his best friends, or Satan and 99%

  • of the angels.

  • All we know is that the archangel Michael and his own angels triumphed over Satan's

  • forces and cast them out of Heaven.

  • Satan is also believed to be the serpent that tempted Eve, as well as the accuser who brought

  • Job low- but again, there is no specific reason to believe, even within the Old Testament

  • texts themselves, that this is true.

  • Satan has merely been appropriated by Christians to replace all instances of evil, testing,

  • or tribulation in scripture, despite playing a shockingly small role in all of the text.

  • What is agreed upon in Christianity however is that today, Satan is prince of the earth.

  • This is a reference to the inherent wickedness of earthly ways- or our basic, selfish impulses.

  • Satan is allowed dominion over the earth so that we can strive against him and overcome

  • our own evil natures, and thus be made more righteous like God.

  • When the end of the world comes, Satan will rule over the earth for a set period, and

  • lead mankind's armies against God- only to be defeated and cast into the lake of fire

  • as punishment.

  • Then, a second earth will be created, free of the imperfections and evil of this one,

  • for the faithful to enjoy for eternity.

  • Now go watch 50 facts about the devil you didn't know, or click this other video instead!

Lucifer.

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    Summer posted on 2021/07/28
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