The Cosmic Battle between Good and Evil, Light and Dark
If often Religion and Myth can be interpreted as spiritual allegory which communicates in coded form, truths about the sacred and eternal then one theme crops up again and again, in various guises, in the Religions and Myths of the World both ancient and modern. This is the notion of a Cosmic Battle and Eternal Struggle between Good and Evil or between the Light versus the Dark.
This theme can be found in Mythology in many ways and varieties, with a single Myth sometimes expressing the Battle between Good and Evil on many levels simultaneously . For instance the Cosmic Battle might be fought within the soul of an individual, often the hero of the Myth; while simultaneously the Mythic tale may also involve a struggle between warring armies also fighting the same Cosmic Battle except happening externally and on a larger scale.
On another level the Cosmic Battle may sometimes be depicted occurring literally on a scale that encompasses the entire Universe or all of creation. This would be the case with certain Creation Myths which often talk about the Universe or World coming into being after a titanic struggle between two opposing god like characters, one representing the good and the other representing perhaps chaos or evil. Out of this battle fought at the beginning of time, the whole of creation comes into being. So Myths are tales full of Adversaries, Adversity, Conflict and Opposing Forces; in this way they are expressing the Universal Spiritual notion of the Cosmic Battle between Good and Evil.
If we examine some of the spiritual ideas contained in the World's Religions then we can gain insights into the Nature of the Cosmic Battle and its purpose. This theme of a contest between two diametrically opposed forces or aspects of our being is found in the writings of just about all the great Faith Traditions of this planet.
In Zoroastrianism we have descriptions of an eternal struggle between Ohrmazd and Ahriman, representing Good and Evil respectively. The Zoroastrian Scriptures describe this dialectic as happening transcendentally and Universally but also emphasizes that it is happening within every individual person as well.
In Islam we have the notion of Jihad which roughly translates as 'To Struggle in the Way of God'. Once the prophet Muhammad returned from a battle with his victorious army and declared that 'We have returned from the lesser Jihad to the greater Jihad'. This is interpreted by Muslim scholars to mean that the lesser Jihad was the struggle on the battlefield fought by the army, whereas the greater Jihad means the the struggle to create a better society. Muhammad is also quoted as saying that 'The most excellent Jihad is the perfection of character'. So again we find this notion of Cosmic Battle that happens on a battlefield and also within the mind or soul of the individual. Furthermore this Cosmic Battle between Good and Evil is also seen to been fought out in Society too.
We gain an insight into the meaning and purpose of the Cosmic Battle when we examine some ideas which became incorporated into Christianity. People are generally familiar with the word Satan which is usually understood as the being who embodies pure Evil. Satan is actually a Hebrew word which means Adversary and didn't start off with the connotations that it would later acquire. Satan was translated into the Greek word for adversary, 'Diabolos' from which the word Devil was derived. In Islam again we find a similar term the Shaitan, which roughly means and is translated as 'The one who rebels.' So corresponding to the earlier discussion on the Cosmic Battle, again we have this theme of adversaries and opposition.
A clue to understanding the nature of the Cosmic Battle comes from examining the mythic character called Lucifer. The tale of Lucifer is of a fallen Angel, indeed the greatest of Angels, who was cast down from Heaven to become a figure of Evil. The reason for this varies according to different versions of the Myth. One interpretation is that he is cast down because of his pride. In another version he is thrown out of heaven for refusing to submit to God's creation man. The exact details of his demotion are less relevant to us than the meaning of his name which gives us an interesting perspective on the Cosmic Battle. For Lucifer means 'Bringer of Light'. That is the Prince of Darkness is also bringer of the New Dawn.
So this important aspect of Religion and Mythology which depicts struggles, conflicts, adversaries and adversities is really communicating the universal spiritual idea of the Cosmic Battle between Good and Evil. This Cosmic dialectic is an important aspect of the divine and something which is manifest in the Universe, in the World around us and in our lives in an all pervading and ubiquitous manner. The process of the Cosmic Battle is really an essential feature of the transcendent template of God from which the imperfect images of the divine, that we all are, is stamped. This is an important message behind many of the Worlds Myths, if not most of them, ancient and contemporary.