CHAPTER 8, FALL AND DEVIATION
Footnotes complete through the 13th passage.
Click on the number for a link to the passage; click on the citation for a link to the footnotes and further connectivity.
The scriptures of all religions testify to demonic beings and
powers. Some regard them as real and rival powers to God (Dualism);
others consider them to be a manifestation of ignorance and ultimately
unreal (Monism). They testify that at their head is a chief, known by
various names: Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Iblis, Mara, Angra Mainyu,
among others. We have already met some of them in the various accounts
of the human fall and the origin of evil. But the demonic powers are
continually active, drawing people's hearts to do wickedness. While
rationalists have difficulty accepting the reality of the Devil, merely
looking at the horrors of the twentieth century causes one to realize
that the capability of human beings to inflict evil on one another
transcends the realm of reason. Scriptures teach that when a person has
the desire to do a small evil, the devil has a claim and may influence
him to do something far worse. Conversely, many people on the religious
path experience the temptations of the devil precisely at the point when
they are about to make great progress in their path.
We begin with descriptions of the Evil One from the texts of many
religions. Some emphasize the devil's power, some his enmity to God,
and some his wrong teachings. Some identify him with death and disease,
others with lusts and selfish desires. We then include two passages,
one from Zoroastrianism and one from Native American religions, which
describe a dualism in which the Evil One creates all evil in the world
to counter God's good creation. However, for the monotheistic faiths
that emphasize the goodness of God's creation, the demons themselves are
resultant beings who must have fallen from being good creations of God.
Thus, the following group of passages in this section portray the fall
of the angels. A fourth selection of passages treats the theme of the
devil's disguises as a being of light, and next come two passages on the
devil's positive role to test and prove the faith of human beings.
Finally, we give texts on the devil's temptations and the manner in
which people make themselves vulnerable to his influence.
The Evil Ruler spoils the Word,
the plan of life, by his teachings.
He, indeed, deprives me
of the exalted goal of Good Thought.
With the word of my spirit,
I pray to You, O Wise One, and to truth!
Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 32.9
O believers, follow not the steps of Satan; for whoever follows the
steps of Satan will assuredly be bid to indecency and dishonor. But for
God's bounty to you and His mercy not one of you would have been pure
ever; but God purifies whom He will; and God is All-hearing,
Islam. Qur'an 24.21
Jesus said to them... "Why do you not understand what I say? It is
because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the
devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer
from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there
is no truth in him. When he lies, it is according to his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies. But, because I tell the truth,
you do not believe me."
Christianity. Bible, John 8.43-45
For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the
principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this
present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the
Christianity. Bible, Ephesians 6.12
The foremost of your armies is that of Desire, the second is called
Dislike. The third is Hunger-Thirst and the fourth is Craving. The
fifth is the army of Lethargy-Laziness and the sixth is Fear. The
seventh is Doubt and the eighth is Obstinacy-Restlessness. Then there
are Material Gain, Praise, Honor, and Fame... These, O Mara, are your
forces, the attackers of the Evil One. One less than a hero will not be
victorious over them and attain happiness.
Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 436-39
The Essence of Mind or Suchness is the real Buddha,
While heretical views and the three poisonous elements [greed, anger
delusion] are Mara.
Enlightened by right views, we call forth the Buddha within us.
When our nature is dominated by the three poisonous elements
We are said to be possessed by the devil;
But when right views eliminate from our mind these poisonous elements
The devil will be transformed into a real Buddha.
Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 10
You, trees, hear my words, and you, grass, hear my words, and you,
Divinity, hear my words and you, earth, hear my words. Repeat, ee! O
Divinity, because of sickness, you help out my tongue. For we have
dedicated the ox and invoked over it. And if a man has hated Akol [and
his sickness is the result of malice] then that man will find what he
deserves.... And you, ox, we have given you to the Power [the illness].
And you fetish-bundles, they say that you kill people. Leave off, you
are shamed. You fetish, I have separated you, cease! And you Macardit
they say that you kill people, I have separated you, cease! Thus!
African Traditional Religions. Dinka Invocation at an Ox
Seated on his golden throne, blazing like flame, Ravana resembled a
great fire kindled on an altar kept alive by sacrificial offerings.
Unconquered by gods, gandharvas, rishis or other creatures, that
warrior, who resembled death itself with wide-open jaws, bore on his
person the wounds inflicted by the thunderbolts in the war between gods
and titans... He, the scourge of the gods, who transgressed every moral
law, the ravisher of others' wives, the wielder of celestial weapons,
the destroyer of sacrifices, who descended into the city of Bhogavati
and subdued the serpent Vasuki, from whom, on his defeat, he stole the
gentle consort; he who scaled Mount Kailasha and overcame Kuvera
depriving him of his aerial chariot Pushpaka, which transported him
wherever he desired; he who in his anger destroyed the garden of
Chaitaratha, the lotus pool and the Nandana Grove and all the
pleasurable retreats of the gods... proud of his strength, he stole the
Soma juice, sanctified by mantras, before its pressing by the twice-born
in the sacrifice; this perverse wretch, Ravana of evil deeds, slayer of
the brahmins, ruthless, pitiless, delighting in causing harm to others,
was verily a source of terror to all beings.
Hinduism. Ramayana, Aranya Kanda 32
The first of the good lands and countries which I, Ahura Mazda,
created, was Paradise, by the good river Araxes. Thereupon came Angra
Mainyu, who is all death, and he counter-created by his witchcraft the
serpent in the river and winter, a work of the devils.
The second of the good lands and countries which I, Ahura Mazda,
created, was the plains in Samarkand. Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who
is all death, and he counter-created by his witchcraft the fly Skaitya,
which brings death to the cattle.
The third of the good lands and countries which I, Ahura Mazda,
created, was the strong, holy Merv. Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who is
all death, and he counter-created by his witchcraft sinful lusts....
The eighth of the good lands and countries which I, Ahura Mazda,
created, was Urva of the rich pastures. Thereupon came Angra Mainyu,
who is all death, and he counter-created by his witchcraft the sin of
Zoroastrianism. Videvdad 1.3-11
Many winters in the past, the Earth was entirely covered by a great
blanket of water. There was no sun, moon, or stars and so there was no
light. All was darkness. At that time, the only living creatures of
the earth were water animals such as the beaver, muskrat, duck, and
loon. Far above the earth was the Land of Happy Spirits where lived
Rawennio, the Great Ruler. In the center of this upper world was a
giant apple tree whose roots sank deep into the ground.
One day, Rawennio pulled this giant tree up by its roots. The
Great Spirit called his daughter, who lived in the Upper World, and
commanded her to look into the pit caused by the uprooted tree. This
woman, who was to be the mother of the Good and Evil Spirits, came and
looked into the hole by the uprooted tree. She saw far below her the
Lower World covered with water and surrounded by heavy clouds. "You are
to go to this world of darkness," said the Great Spirit. Gently lifting
her, he dropped her into the hole. She floated downward....
[The water animals then dive beneath the water to find some dry
land for her to land upon; they erect the land on the back of a giant
After a time, the Sky Woman gave birth to twins. One, who became
the Good Spirit, was born first. The other, the Evil Spirit, while
being born, caused her mother so much pain that she died during his
The Good Spirit immediately took his mother's head and hung it in
the sky. It became the sun. From his mother's body he fashioned the
moon and stars and placed them in the sky. The rest of his mother's
body he buried under the earth. That is why living things find
nourishment in the soil. They spring from Mother Earth.
The Evil Spirit put darkness in the western sky to drive the sun
before it. The Good Spirit created many things which he placed upon the
earth. The Evil Spirit tried to undo the work of his brother by
creating evil. The Good Spirit made tall and beautiful trees such as
the pine and hemlock. The Evil Spirit stunted some trees. In others he
put knots and gnarls. He covered some with thorns, and placed poison
fruit on them. The Good Spirit made animals such as the dear and the
bear. The Evil Spirit made poisonous animals, lizards and serpents to
destroy the animals of the Good Spirit's creation. The Good Spirit made
springs and streams of good, pure water. The Evil Spirit breathed
poison into many of the springs. He put snakes into others. The Good
Spirit made beautiful rivers protected by high hills. The Evil Spirit
pushed rocks and dirt into the rivers causing the current to become
swift and dangerous. Everything that the Good Spirit made, his wicked
brother tried to destroy.
Finally, when the earth was completed, the Good Spirit fashioned
man out of some red clay. He placed man upon the earth, and told him
how he should live. The Evil Spirit, not to be outdone, fashioned a
creature out of the white foam of the sea. What he made was the monkey.
After mankind and the other creatures of the world were created,
the Good Spirit bestowed a protecting spirit upon each of his creations.
He then called the Evil Spirit, and told him that he must cease making
trouble upon the earth. This the Evil Spirit refused to do. The Good
Spirit became very angry with his wicked brother and challenged him to
combat, the victor to become ruler of the earth. They fought for many
days; finally the Evil Spirit was overcome. The Good Spirit now became
ruler over the earth. He banished his wicked brother to a dark cave
under the earth. There he must always remain.
But the Evil Spirit has wicked servants who roam the earth.
These wicked spirits can take the shape of any creature that the Evil
Spirit desires them to take. They are constantly influencing the minds
of men, thus causing men to do evil things. The Good Spirit continues
to create and protect mankind. He controls the spirits of good men
after death. The Evil Spirit takes charge of the souls of wicked men
That is why every person has both a bad heart and a good heart.
No matter how good a man seems, he has some evil. No matter how bad a
man seems, there is some good about him. No man is perfect.
Native American Religions Mohawk tradition
How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who weakened the nations!
For you said in your heart,
"I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation,
in the sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will be like the Most High."
Yet you shall be brought down to hell,
to the depths of the pit.
Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 14.12-15
And when We said to the angels, "Bow yourselves to Adam," they
bowed themselves, save Iblis; he said, "Shall I bow myself to one whom You
have created of clay?" He said, "What do you think? This [creature] You
have honored above me, if You defer me until the Day of Resurrection I
shall assuredly master his seed, save a few."
Said He, "Depart! Those of them that follow you--surely hell shall
be your recompense, an ample recompense! And startle any of them whom you
can with your voice; and rally against them your horsemen and your foot
[soldiers], and share with them in their wealth and their children, and
But Satan promises them naught, except delusion.
Islam. Qur'an 17.61-64
The Lord God spoke to Moses, saying, "That Satan... is the same who was
from the beginning, and he came before me, saying, 'Behold, here am I; send me,
I will be Thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that not one soul shall be
lost. Surely I will do it; therefore give me my honor.'
"But my Beloved Son, who was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, s
to me, 'Father, Thy will be done, and the glory be Thine forever.'
"Therefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy
the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I
should give to him my own power; by the power of my Only Begotten [Christ], I
caused that he should be cast down;
"And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to
deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as
would not hearken unto my voice."
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pearl of Great
Price, Moses 4.1-4
The gods and the demons, both having the Creator as their origin, were
rivals of each other. So the demons, swollen with pride, said, "In what,
pray, should we place the oblation?" And they proceeded to place the
oblation in their own mouths. The gods then proceeded to place their
oblations each in the mouth of one of his fellows. And the Creator gave
himself over to them. In this way they became owners of sacrifice, for
sacrifice is really the food of the gods.
Hinduism. Satapatha Brahmana 22.214.171.124-2
Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Christianity. Bible, 2 Corinthians 11.14
Mara the Evil One will expound to the bodhisattva a counterfeit of the
Buddhism. Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom 382
O men, God's promise is true; so let not the present life delude you, and
let not the Deluder delude you concerning God. Surely Satan is an enemy
to you; so take him for an enemy. He calls his party only that they may
be among the inhabitants of the Fire.
Islam. Qur'an 35.5-6
When I first heard Buddha preaching the Greater Vehicle,
In my heart I was greatly alarmed:
"Surely Mara is playing Buddha,
Confusing my thoughts!"
The Buddha by resort to various means,
Parables, and cunning phrases preaches,
But his thought is as calm as the sea;
When I hear him, my net of doubt is severed...
The World-Honored One preaches the Real Path,
While Mara has none of this.
By this token I know for a certainty
That this is no Mara playing Buddha,
But that I, through having fallen into a net of doubt,
Thought this was the work of Mara.
When I hear the Buddha's gentle voice,
Profound, far removed from the ordinary understanding, and
Setting forth the pure Dharma,
My heart is overjoyed,
My doubts and second thoughts are cleared away forever.
Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 3
The Maras who play the devil in the innumerable universes of the ten
directions are all bodhisattvas dwelling in the inconceivable liberation,
who are playing the devil in order to develop living beings through their
skill in liberative technique. Those miserable beggars who come to the
bodhisattvas to ask for a hand, a foot, an ear, a nose... a kingdom, a
wife, a son, gold, silver, jewels... these demanding beggars are usually
bodhisattvas living in the inconceivable liberation who, through their
skill in liberative technique, wish to test and thus demonstrate the
firmness of the high resolve of the bodhisattvas. Why? Bodhisattvas
must demonstrate that firmness by means of terrible austerities.
Buddhism. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 6
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before
the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, "Whence
have you come?" Satan answered the Lord, "From going to and fro on the
earth, and from walking up and down on it." And the Lord said to Satan,
"Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the
earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from
evil?" Then Satan answered the Lord, "Does Job fear God for naught? Hast
thou not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every
side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have
increased in the land. But put forth Thy hand now, and touch all that he
has, and he will curse Thee to thy face." And the Lord said to Satan,
"Behold, all that he has is in your power."
Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Job 1.6-12
Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a
roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.
Christianity. Bible, 1 Peter 5.8
One of the nights [when I "lamented"] the bad spirits came and started
tearing the offerings off the poles; and I heard their voices under the
ground, and one of them said, "Go and see if he is crying." And I heard
rattles, but all the time they were outside the sacred place and could not
get in, for I had resolved not to be afraid, and did not stop sending my
voice to Wakan-Tanka for aid.
Native American Religions. Black Elk (Sioux)
When a man grasps at things, Mara stands beside him.
Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 1103
The Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance
fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do
well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must
Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 4.6-7
The Messenger of God said, "There is none among you with whom is not an
attache from among the jinn (evil spirits)." The Companions said, "With
you, too?" He said, "Yes, but God helps me against him and so I am safe
from his hand."
Islam. Hadith of Muslim
And Satan says, when the issue is decided, "God surely promised you a true
promise; I also promised you, then I failed you, for I had no authority
over you, but that I called you, and you answered me. So do not blame me,
Islam. Qur'an 14.22
"We do not do all the evil that we do because of our own desire," said the
Rakshasa. "It is because of your evil karma, and your disfavor toward us.
Our faction increases because of the brahmins who behave like Rakshasas
and the evil actions of the other three classes. Those who dishonor
brahmins become Rakshasas, and their ranks are swelled by the sexual sins
of evil women."
Hinduism. Vamana Purana Saromahatmyam 19.31-35
Whoever lives contemplating pleasant things, with senses unrestrained, in
food immoderate, indolent, inactive, him verily Mara overthrows, as the
wind blows down a weak tree.
Whoever lives contemplating the impurities of the body, with senses
restrained, in food moderate, full of faith, full of sustained energy, him
Mara overthrows not, as the wind cannot shake a rocky mountain.
Buddhism. Dhammapada 7-8
Shall I inform you on whom it is that the devils descend? They descend on
every lying, wicked person, into whose ears they pour hearsay vanities,
and most of them are liars. And the Poets--it is those straying in Evil,
who follow them: do you not see them wandering distracted in every valley?
They preach what they never practice.
Islam. Qur'an 26.221-26
Endowed with two dharmas does the Bodhisattva become one hard to assail by
the evil Maras: he surveys all phenomena from emptiness, and does not
abandon any being. Endowed with two other dharmas does the Bodhisattva
become one hard to assail by the evil Maras: as he speaks so he acts, and
he is brought to mind by the Buddhas, the Lords.
Buddhism. Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom 431