As you are probably already aware, before my conversion to Christianity in 1970, I studied under an Indian guru named Yogi Bhajan. In his teachings, Yogi Bhajan explained, “What is God? Is he six hands? Ten heads? Is he matter? Is he a body? No. He is cosmic energy: it prevails through everybody. All that we can feel, can know, or can imagine is God. His identity is Nam because he is Truth; that is why we call him Sat Nam [meaning either “True Name” or “Truth is his name”]. He is Yin-Yang; he is positive and negative. He is male, female. He is the Creator and his creation.”1
In describing God as yin-yang, Yogi Bhajan was drawing from Taoism, the ancient religion of China. Tao means “way,” “path” or “eternal principle.” This religious system does not promote the concept of a personal Creator. It teaches that there is a creative principle, an impersonal energy force that rules the universe. This ‘force’ contains both negative and positive attributes. It is both darkness and light, evil and good.
Someone can yield to the negative side of this ‘cosmic force’ and become an evil person, filled with ‘darkness,’ who may exhibit destructive, occult powers. Another person can yield to the positive side of this ‘cosmic force’ and become a powerful, saintly person, filled with ‘light,’ who may even manifest constructive, supernatural powers, for the sake of accomplishing good. The source of the power remains the same. Both can be traced back to that formless, impersonal, cosmic energy identified in Taoism as Ultimate Reality.
Congruent with this worldview, Yogi Bhajan taught that “in all darkness there is a light and in all light there is a darkness.”2 There are valid applications of this principle, which could be reworded and made acceptable within the framework of any religion. For instance, in every good person there is potential for evil and in every evil person there is potential for good, just as the yin-yang symbol portrays. However, in some ways, especially its extreme application, the Taoist worldview departs from the biblical one.
For instance, Yogi Bhajan taught “spirituality has three dimensions”: black, red or white (a reference to magic or witchcraft). Black witchcraft involves utilizing ‘cosmic energy’ for evil purposes; red witchcraft involves utilizing ‘cosmic energy’ to manifest the miraculous, yet it draws attention to itself in an egotistical way. White witchcraft, or white magic, is the highest expression of the ‘universal energy force,’ causing a yielded person to “live humbly, universally, radiantly, truthfully, so that when one sees you,one sees God through you.”3
Again, the source of all three ‘dimensions of spirituality’ is the same basic essence of life. It is referred to as prana in Hindu philosophy. It is called ch’i in Taoism. The modern day movie “Star Wars” and its sequels have popularized this view of duality in the Godhead—with Darth Vader, the chief villain, using the ‘Force’ to manifest very dark, negative, occultic powers and Luke Skywalker, the hero, using the ‘Force’ to produce positive, noble powers and achieve righteous goals.
The opposite, yet complementary forces of yin and yang are represented in the T’ai Ch’i diagram that follows. Evidence of this all-pervasive duality permeates the natural world. These words identify the polarity of energies, yin being the negative and yang being the positive. Yet these opposites counterbalance one another. These two terms literally mean the “dark side” or the “sunny side” of a hill. When the yin-yang symbol below is spun or rotated it appears to blend together into oneness at the center, illustrating the union of these opposites.
Since evidence for the yin-yang principle permeates the natural universe, it is often assumed in certain Far Eastern religions that this same duality exists within the Highest Principle that governs the universe. In God, therefore, characteristics must exist that are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Judeo-Christian view of God is quite different. An Old Testament passage announces, “The Lord is upright…and there is no unrighteousness in him.” (Psalm 92:15) The New Testament verse, 1 John 1:5, explains, “God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” In the Lord Jesus Christ is “life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)
Satan is directly the opposite. His very name means “hater” or “accuser.” This fallen angelic being is “the destroyer,” “the prince of darkness,” “the prince of the devils”—the one who wielded the “power of death” in this realm until Jesus’ great victory over the grave. (Matthew 12:24, Hebrews 2:15) Satan is NOT a negative emanation of the divine Oversoul. Neither did God author the evil resident in him. Rather, he is an individual entity who willfully rebelled against God, who is an outcast from God’s presence, and who is recognizably the adversary of the human race. He is the “thief” who comes to “kill, steal and destroy.” As “the great Deceiver,” he and his associate demons have succeeded in deceiving every person entering this world. (See Isaiah 14:12–19, Ezekiel 28:12–19, John 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8, Revelation 12:9.)
Thankfully, through his death on the cross, Jesus cast Satan out of his position as “the prince of this world” and reclaimed this exalted position for himself. As the resurrected Savior, Jesus is now titled the “Prince of life.” (John 12:31, Acts 3:15) He commissions his representatives in this world to turn others from “darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 26:18) The wording of this passage of Scripture makes it clear that the “power of Satan” is totally different from the “power of God,” and that human beings are delivered from the former when they embrace the latter. The power of Satan accompanies deception in this world and the perpetration of evil. The power of God works in conjunction with the truth and the perpetration of righteousness. They do not come from the same source.
The related Far Eastern doctrines of pantheism (All is God) and monism (All is One) give birth to this notion of God’s nature being a blend of darkness and light. If God is the essence expressed in all of creation and if all things are one, then evil and death must spring from him, as well as goodness and life. But if God is a transcendent Being who exists apart from the physical universe, the dark and evil things that abound in this world cannot be ascribed to him.
1 Yogi Bhajan (Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Kalsa Yogiji), The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan, The Power of the Spoken Word (Pamona, California: Arcline Publications, 1977) p. 71, #250 (bracketed statement by author).
2 Ibid., p. 129, #508.
3 Ibid., p 180, #724.
Copyright © 2003 Mike Shreve