I was looking back through posts for things I have promised to talk about and this is a big one to tackle. The Hindu view on good and evil is exceptionally different. (Again, different Hindus do believe slightly different things, and I cannot speak for everyone).
As I spoke about in the reincarnation post, this world is an illusion and we play parts in it like it's a movie. It's like being in a dream that you believe is real, but when you wake up, it is to a better and more real world. The illusion of the world is called maya.
Within maya, good and evil exist and both are necessary. It is not possible to have a purely good world because there would be no momentum. There have to be different ideas and different points of view pushing against each other for the drama of the play to keep going.
That is all part of this play, but the reality is unity. Beyond all dualities, all good and evil, is just being. Pure being is God. There are no qualifications on it, no adjectives to describe it, it is all things at all times.
In reality, good and evil do not exist.
It is all bliss.
Anyone ever watch Dark Angel? Remember the character who always said, "It's all good, all of the time"? That's sort-of the truth. It's all right might be a better way to say it. Good is a concept that requires evil to define it, so really neither is there. Things are not good or bad, they simply are.
You will find this idea in many stories about perspective. Remember the one about the king's son who breaks his leg? He's very upset and it is seen as a bad thing until a war starts and the son is spared having to fight and probably be killed because of the leg and then it is seen as a good thing. The same action can easily be seen as both a good thing and a bad thing depending on who is doing the classifying (optimist or pessimist), but without a human being putting a label on it, what is it? It just is.
Remember Hamlet saying, "There is nothing good nor bad but thinking makes it so"?
Because of karma (or sanskara), nothing happens without a reason. The entire world is perfectly balanced in justice. This is a very comforting thing to believe and it makes me a much calmer person than I would be without it (for example, I don't have to get worked up about that lunatic who just cut me off on the highway, I can trust that he'll get the natural consequence of his action at some point. No one gets away with anything.) Again, as stated in the post on reincarnation, rebirth is never a punishment and karma is not about punishment, it is about learning. And despite this, you will hear Indian mothers wailing, "What terrible thing have I done in a past life to deserve this?" I'll have to do a post about superstition soon.
Everything is exactly as it is supposed to be. I know that that is a difficult idea to swallow. You think of horrible things that have been done over the course of history. How could that not be evil?
Well, what was it that was done? Someone killed people. Is death evil? Is death even bad? Not really. It happens to all of us and it is a very natural part of life. Again, this goes hand in hand with the belief in karma and reincarnation because with those beliefs, death is never tragic. A child who dies will be reborn to live another life and nothing that her soul learned will be lost.
Pain and suffering. Even if death isn't evil, these must be, right? Again, not really. These are parts of the experience of living in this world of maya and they can help the soul to grow. Also, if one is in tune with the bigger reality outside the illusion, one can disconnect from the body in such a way that no pain is felt (I have managed this once myself, but it is far from easy!).
This may sound like the philosophy of someone who has not suffered pain or loss, but I assure you that is not true. I have lost dear friends to death and I maintain my firm belief that there is no such thing as evil.
One of the ancient vedic prayers that my mother used to sing to me translates as follows:
That is perfect, this is perfect,
perfect comes from perfect.
Take perfect from perfect, the remainder is perfect.
Everything is as it should be and there is no reason to fear.