The Root of Evil

Roy Masters from 'Cure Stress'

Have you noticed that you can solve everyone else’s problem, but not your own? That is because emotion drives out understanding and common sense, replacing them with rationale.

Knowledge and intellect are often substitutes for understanding and wisdom, just as pleasure is a substitute for happiness. Psychologists use the word “compensation” to describe the attempt to replace a spiritual emptiness with the nearest physical equivalent.

The feelings of fear and tension, and the desire to forget, draw to the alcoholic the idea, “If I had a drink, perhaps I would feel better.” Later on, he says to himself, “Perhaps if I had another, I would feel better still.”

Smokers and excessive eaters are similar; they think with their feelings—their feelings cause them to think. We all compensate for our “dis-ease” in millions of similar “iffing” ways. “If I had someone to love me…if I had lots of money…”

When we cannot give love, we need love. When we cannot understand, we need understanding. It is very frustrating, because no one has any to give us. We usually try to bring ourselves ease, relaxation and peace of mind through external or material endeavors, and that is impossible.

These substitutes are not truly fulfilling, and only make us crave more of what does not fill; nothing really satisfies. A person with a feeling of inferiority may seek an education in the secret hope that it will make him superior.

"The root of all our negative thinking lies in the emotions"

He has rationalized that it’s a lack of knowledge that makes him feel uncomfortable around people. Although he may gain much knowledge, he still has no understanding to use that knowledge.

The compulsive eater feels the same way, but he blames it all on his weight and thinks, “Perhaps if I could lose some of these pounds, I would feel more at ease.” Often education, drinking, overeating and smoking are compulsive attempts to remove symptoms.

The root of all our negative thinking lies in the emotions. The root of emotion lies in re-action to conditions. For example: someone is rude to you. You react.

You become angry—and your anger draws to it aggressive and negative thoughts; your thoughts in turn cause you to feel, do, or say things for which you are sorry later when the emotion is past.

In simpler terms, emotion gives rise to thoughts. You are driving down the highway and someone cuts in front of you. You think to yourself, “You stupid so-and-so, one of these days I’d like to buy an old fifty-dollar car and knock off your fenders!”

All kinds of daily irritations keep alive and revive unpleasant memories that should have been long forgotten. If we dissolve the emotion, we no longer have that problem, and our negative thoughts, deprived of emotional support, begin to dissolve.