GOOD AND EVIL
G. de P. — In a recent meeting of this Lodge, one of the speakers made the statement that all the forces and substances, energies and attributes, of universal being are in their essence divine. Now this statement, abstractly speaking, or absolutely speaking, if we carry our thought inwards into the very heart of Parabrahman, is true. But the statement as made is not enough. If it were sufficient in statement, then there would be no evil anywhere in infinity. In other words, there could be no division of high and low, good and bad, right and left — in other words, no "pairs of opposites" — for all would be divine. It would be a corroboration of the unphilosophic chatter of some modern absolute-idealist theorists: "All is good" — which certainly is no truly philosophical statement.
Let me tell you that while it is true enough that in the absolute sense of the statement, no particular objection probably can be taken to it — for there is the Divine, utter divinity, Parabrahman, the heart of it, and beyond and more inward still, which is the Rootless Root of all things and beings — but here we are speaking of Para-brahman, infinitude in its inaccessibly highest reaches, unattainable by any human intellect; the reference here is to infinitude, and show me a time when infinity changes itself into "pairs of opposites" and in consequence undergoes manvantara on the one hand or pralaya on the other hand. Infinity means absolute, frontierless, beginning-less and endless immutability in the sense that infinitude, as infinitude, never becomes finitude or limitation; but within infinity there are multitudes of worlds and of systems of worlds endlessly, for ever and for ever throughout eternity moving in evolutionary changes, and characterized by "pairs of opposites." So that there never is a time, ever and unto the utmost for ever, when everything, i. e., all infinity, vanishes into the heart of Parabrahman; because that would mean that infinity changes, and sometimes is in manvantara and sometimes is in pralaya. But these changes are predicable only of manifested things, and infinitude, as infinitude, never is subject to manifestation, for only finite things change. As long as infinity is, as long as eternity endures, which means endlessly for ever, "good" and "evil," signifying "opposites," shall be the Universe's eternal ways; and right and left, high and low, and the endlessly differing contrasts of manifestation, and hence good and bad, shall equally endlessly offer their contrasts.
There is a warning of importance that we must draw from this. Do not be deceived in refusing to accept it. There is good, endless good, but in the manifested states of universal being; and there is likewise evil, endless evil, but in the manifested states of universal being; and these in their complex and intricate combinations are the world's eternally dual ways. What are the Mamo-Chohans, those dread beings who preside at the pralayas, who preside in the material realms now, playing their parts in the Cosmic Drama, just as the divine gods play their opposite parts in the same Cosmic Drama? In this thought you have the truth, the two sides: darkness and light, right and left, good and bad, high and low, for ever and for ever and for ever endlessly in infinitude. Here is a secret that the Christians got partial hold of, a fragment of the occult teachings of the Sanctuary, and twisting it and distorting it, indeed caricaturing it, called one end of the contrast "God," and the other end of the contrast the "Devil." Such distortion is correct in neither of its aspects! This contrast is simply the eternal and ever-changing structure of the manifesting Universes in utter infinitude, this infinitude being the playground, the scene, the frontierless theater, of Universes appearing and disappearing, because playing their parts as the Kosmic Sons of Light; including the Mamo-Chohans and their legions playing their own parts in constructing the material universe, and holding it together, guided nevertheless by the Sons of Light, and ascending from darkness into light throughout eternity, continually renewed by fresh influxes into the Kosmic Scenery as the gods pass onwards and upwards, and the Mamo-Chohans trail along behind them in the rear. Do you get the picture?
The warning is: don't let your brains ever be twisted with the idea that it is at any time safe to play with evil, in any connexion, on any occasion, in any way. Such play means going backwards, degenerating, joining forces with the Mamo-Chohans, the forces of darkness, of evil, of spiritual death. Light is light, and dark is dark — opposites. Good is good and bad is bad — opposites. Right is right and left is left, unto eternity. No wonder the Masters cry, the gods cry: Who is on my side? Make your choice. You are all free agents. You cannot play with the forces of Nature. Occultism is the weighing of your own soul in the balance of destiny. You will either go up, or you will go down. There is no other choice; and I think it is high time that these facts became better known. They are not a bit esoteric in the sense of being secret and told only to a select and chosen few. They are openly stated in all our standard books. These facts of Nature were the basis of the universal duality which formed the substance of the Zoroastrian system of thought, and of others.
There is immense comfort and happiness and peace in understanding these great facts properly, because they bring intellectual harmony and spiritual illumination into the mind; and will someone explain to me, if only good is and there is no natural evil, how can evil exist at all? If you say that evil is but illusory, which is true enough when we understand what illusory means, this is not denying that evil exists, albeit it exists as an illusion. We human beings live in a world of maha-maya or cosmic illusion; and merely to call it "illusion" does not annihilate that form of maya which we men call evil. Do you catch the picture? If infinity is "good," it is obviously infinitely "good," and then there is therein no room for evil and imperfection, and the cosmos-wide series of pairs of opposites and contrasts; and heaven knows that they exist!
Be therefore on the side of the gods, the Sons of Light, of the Spirit. Go onwards and upwards: Excelsior, ever higher! There is our Path. But do not play tricks with your thoughts in this connexion, for think what you will and say what you may, you are either on one side, or on the other.
G. de P. — After speaking a fortnight ago upon the topic of Good and Evil, I heard misconstructions of what I then said, and I thought it good to seize the first opportunity offered to me in order to say a few words to disabuse the minds of those who misapprehended what it was my intention to say. When I spoke of one side of the Universe as being evil, and of the other side being good, and of the interconnexion of these twain, which contrast each other and thus set each other off, as being the world's eternal ways, these were general statements, abstract statements, and had only an indirect although real enough application to human problems — human good and evil, and so forth. I had no intention whatsoever to give utterance to the old Christian theological idea that there is an infinite personal God who is "good"; and an infinite something or somebody which or who is evil, and which or who, if not the Devil, is nevertheless the Devil under another coat! No, that was not my meaning at all.
Now, try to follow me in thought, not only in time but into abstract space, which means no particular portion of space like our Earth, or the planets Venus or Mars, or again the Sun, or the Polar Star; but space generally, anywhere, abstract space; and the same with regard to Time: no particular point of time like now, or tomorrow, or yesterday, or a thousand or ten billion years ago, or the same period in the future. But abstract time, any time, anywhere. If change, division, opposites, opposition, contrasts, light and dark, matter and spirit, good and bad, short and long, these and all other eternal contrasts, were to vanish from the infinite Boundless, then every thing, high and low, from spirit to utmost matter, would vanish likewise, because all the Universe in all its infinite manifestations — and I use the word "Universe" here in the utterly boundless sense — is builded of these contrasts. We call that path or aspect leading upwards, the right hand, often also the side or path of light, of good, of compassion, of harmony; we speak of the other side or contrasting side, the side of imperfection, of constriction, of lack, of not yet unfolded attributes — in fact of every thing that is the opposite of the right hand, as the evil side of Nature, the dark side or the left hand.
Now then, are these things which are evil on the one hand and which exist by force of contrast with the things which are good on the other hand — are these same identical things, I ask, eternally evil, eternally unchanged, for ever fixed in essence as evil? Obviously not. There is as it were a constant turning of the Wheel of Kosmic Life, of the minor Wheels of Cosmic Lives; so that the evil rising on the Wheel becomes less evil, less imperfect, for imperfection slowly passes into relative perfection. It is the imperfection that we call "evil"; the relative perfection we call "good." This process has been going on from utter eternity, and it is endless. There never was a beginning; there never will be an end of it, throughout timeless Time, throughout spaceless Space. These two poles of manifested being — of manifested being, please understand — whether spiritually manifested or materially manifested, these twain compose the eternally Kosmic Dual. Wipe them out, and all manifestation would vanish, because then there would be no contrasts. Is, then, imperfection infinite? Where can you show me a place where manifestation — imperfection — ends? I know no such place. It is, therefore, endless. Contrariwise, show me a place where light is not, where the other side, the other pole called the good, is not. Where does it end? I know of no such place. Thus the "good" and the "bad," the perfect and imperfect, and all intermediate and relative degrees of both — but never an ending to the perfect and never an ending to the imperfect — all exist within and through and because of that utter, ineffable, unthinkable Mystery which we men with our imperfect minds can refer to only in the words of the Vedic sage — That.
Imperfection and perfection are relative terms, because there are degrees of both; and both are comprised in the encircling, comprehending, bosom of the endless fields of the Boundless. They are all children of the Boundless. Even the imperfect is manifested by the Boundless. This does not mean that the imperfect is eternally good, for it is not. But turn in the other direction, to the right hand. Look at what we call the "perfect." The mere fact that there is perfect, and the more perfect, and the still more perfect, throughout infinity, shows us that even what we speak of as the right-hand — if we make distances between abstract points great enough — is a rising series of grades or stages or steps enlarging ever more to the right, and that these relative stages of increasing perfection we call "good," so that even that which is less to the right side we likewise call good. The same rule of thought applies to the left hand. What we call the highest imperfect, or the most perfect of the imperfect, is really divine to beings and entities so far more to the left, to the imperfect side, that by right of contrast, by right of evolutionary unfolding, of growth, of change towards the right, towards betterment, this less imperfect can be called relatively spiritual or divine. Thus there is no absolute dividing line between the right and the left.
Now comes a point which is exceedingly important. Matter is not evil per se. What we call concreted matter is simply incomputable armies and hosts of monads aggregated together in compact order; and, as it were, when compared with us relatively wakened human beings these armies and hosts are asleep. Each such monad in its heart is divine, yet it is manifesting as matter. These are elementary thoughts, and yet they are a sublime teaching. One cannot therefore say that matter is essentially evil. It is merely less perfectly evolved or unfolded than is what we call spirit and the spiritual ranges which the gods occupy.
The whole truth is really simple enough, but people become perplexed about it because of its simplicity. The ideas of Western minds have been distorted by the teaching that there is an infinite Mind, an Individual, infinite, without body, parts, or passions, without any qualifications whatsoever, and that it is essentially distinct, nevertheless, and separate from the things which this Mind creates — a perfect nightmare of theories illogical and unsustainable throughout.
Now then, while it is perfectly true to state that evil, even cosmic evil, as we men speak of it, is imperfection, imperfection in growth — imperfect beings living in an imperfect state because of their imperfect evolutionary unfolding, of their imperfect development — while this is so, giving constant hope to imperfect beings to grow better, nevertheless hearken: this does not mean that imperfect things or beings are essentially good. I cannot commit an evil deed, and cheat my brain into saying that the essence of the deed is divine and therefore I have done no wrong because there is no evil in the Universe. What I am trying to point out is that manifestation is the interblending of opposites; otherwise there could be no manifestation, which means limitations of all kinds of unfolding growth. But hearken also carefully to this: It is sheer folly for a man to accept and to believe that one side of the Universe is composed of innumerable hierarchies of bright and shining gods, who are our ancestors, the spiritual roots from which we draw our higher portions; and that all the other side of Nature, because of the law of contrast, does not balance or support the good side. In other words, I mean that there are evil powers in the Universe, evil forces: not absolutely evil, not essentially evil, not outside the womb of the Utterly Divine, but because of their relatively great imperfection they are distinctly evil to the race of men and to other beings more or less occupying our state on the Ladder of Life. Furthermore, for the same reason, there are localities in the Universe which to us are evil; they are true hells, not however in the Christian sense of the word, but globes so densely material that life or living there to us humans would be hell; and hence their influences on men are evil, and urge men to evil, for these influences are in large part the gross and heavy effluvia flowing forth from the dark side of Nature, and they are largely responsible for the temptations to which men too often succumb.
Just precisely as it is our duty to ally ourselves with our "Father in Heaven," with the divinities, our guardians and protectors whose strong hands hold us safe if we but follow them: in other words, just as it is our supreme duty to follow the right-hand Path; so on the other hand if we do not, and become negative and subject to the gross effluvia from the densely material spheres, then we shall as surely take the downward path — as otherwise we shall surely follow the path to the gods.
It is these thoughts, originally of the Sanctuary of the Mysteries, which were taken over into some of the exoteric religions, such as Christianity, and often grossly distorted, twisted. But there is one point on which the Occult Teaching and Christian theology agree, for a wonder! Christian theology denies that matter is essentially evil. So do we. Even in the most hellish parts of the Galaxy, in its grossest and darkest spheres, and there are some that — well, if you knew about them you would not sleep tonight — even in those places, every mathematical point of the spheres and globes of which these places are builded, is as divine in essence as are the spheres of light in which the gods live in their realms. Hence, do not think that matter is evil per se. That would mean that from eternity evil is evil and cannot ever pass from imperfection into a growing perfection, in other words that beings cannot ever from evil become good. Evil abstractly consists of transitory states or conditions — however long it may last — in which monads pass during certain phases of their endless peregrinations upwards and onwards.
Nowhere, therefore, is evil eternal because essentially unchanging; and nowhere is what we men with our imperfect intelligence call "good," crystallized in immobility and remaining there in such state eternally. Half of manifested infinity is imperfection, in its innumerably relative degrees; and the other half is perfection in its innumerably relative degrees; and there is no absolute dividing line between the twain. It is obvious, of course, that I speak from the standpoint of a man, and because of my humanity make my own dividing lines between good and evil. A god would make different dividing lines. A Mamo-Chohan again would likewise make different dividing lines; but the rule as stated would be identic for all.
G. de P. — I should like once more to say a few words about something which I had occasion to speak of some weeks ago — twice, or it may be thrice. It was with regard to the esoteric teachings concerning the two Ways, the eternal Ways, of the Universe — good and evil. Now I have at different times said a good many things on this matter; but when I ceased speaking on the last occasion, I realized that I did not emphasize sufficiently one point, and this point was that when we look upon the Universe as Boundless Space, without frontiers or limits, then we always find that while in some parts of Boundless Space Universes are appearing and manifestation is going on, in other parts manifestation is disappearing — Universes are passing out of their manvantaric existence.
As long as there is manifestation, there is imperfection, which is what we men call evil. Consequently, as we are now dealing with boundless infinity and eternity, it is perfectly correct to say that evil and good are the world's eternal ways; otherwise expressed, perfection and imperfection are in Boundless Space from beginningless duration, and will last unto endless duration, endless eternity. But this does not mean that there are two infinities, to wit, an infinite of perfection and an infinite of imperfection. Obviously not. If there were an infinite of perfection, there could be no imperfection, no manifestation which is imperfection.
Next, and now passing from the boundless spaces, let us take an individual. Outside of and beyond and within the Kosmic infinite duality, our minds oblige us to recognise cosmic unity, and it is out of this unity that the duality springs; the duality has its heyday of manifestation; and then into the unity it vanishes again. This unity does not mean "one," because that would be the beginning of numeration which is the beginning of manifestation, and it would likewise be the same mistake that the Christians made, in imagining their infinite personal God. The "one" I here use in the sense of the mystical zero, as H. P. B. employs it, signifying all-encompassing infinitude, from which the one, any one of the multitudes of ones, is born.
To illustrate: Take any one of us, a human being. We are beings in manifestation, therefore are we imperfect, and throughout beginningless and endless time we shall in various hierarchies and in different degrees of perfection, or of imperfection, on lower or on higher planes, be running the eternal cyclical round of developing and of unfolding ever more and more. But that ineffable Rootless Root within each one of us, is the utterly Boundless. This is a very important point of thought. It is upon this thought of non-duality that was based all the teaching of the great Hindu Avatara Sankaracharya; and his form of the Vedanta — a word which means "the real meaning of the Vedas," i. e., of the books of Wisdom — was called Adwaita, which means non-dualistic, because his thought dwelt mainly on this endlessly Divine, the Rootless Root which is the core of the core of the core of every unit in boundless infinitude.
Thus, then, strange paradox, so easily understandable and yet so difficult to explain: while the fields of boundless infinitude, or boundless space, are never empty of manifested, manifesting, and disappearing worlds, all of them are born from and return to that ineffable, unthinkable Mystery which we call That. That is not dual, and this is about all we can say concerning it. Hence it is not imperfect; it cannot even be said to be perfect; because perfection and imperfection are terms of human understanding, which means terms of an imperfectly developed intelligence — the human. It is beyond both perfection and imperfection. It is the All, the source and fountain-head of all the hierarchies of the gods, as high as you will; and of the lowest elements of the material worlds, put them as low as you like. It is the All — we have no words with which to describe it. The Vedic Sages simply called it That. It is not a God; from it all the gods spring. It is not a World; from it all the worlds come; and like the gods, they ultimately return to it. It is not personal, it is not impersonal, for these again are human words signifying attributes of human perfection or imperfection. It is beyond all of them. It does not ever manifest, because infinity does not manifest. Only things and beings manifest. Yet from It all beings and things come. It includes within its all-comprehensive bosom all that ever was in boundless time everlasting, all that now is, and all that ever will be in endless time, or what we men call the limitless future. It neither thinks nor does it not think, because thinking and not-thinking are human terms or expressions, and emphatically it is not human. It is neither intelligent nor non-intelligent, because these again are human attributes — godlike attributes on the one hand, and limited attributes on the other hand.
As Lao-Tse said, imbodying the same thought: As long as ye have good men in the State ye will have evil in the State. Why? Not because of the presence of good men; but there can be good men only when we have bad men and their bad actions showing off the good men by contrast. Do you catch this profound thought? As long as there is light, obviously you will have darkness. These things, light and darkness, are limited, however vast they may be, however small; and they again are not That, but are all included within That. That is beginningless. The gods begin in any one manvantara, and keep cyclically repeating their beginnings. The Universes begin, they end, and they repeat the cycles of manifestation throughout eternity, albeit ever rising on loftier scales. But That is without because beyond cycles. It is not an Individual; it contains all individuals. Any individual is limited, otherwise it would not be an individual. An individual is a being or an entity which we know by contrast with other beings and entities against which the entity is set. You could not tell one flower from another flower unless you saw the contrast of flowers. Individuality is a sign of imperfection, of limitation; personality a fortiori even more so.
That is why the ancient Books of Wisdom state that That is neither good nor bad, neither intelligent nor non-intelligent; neither alive nor dead; neither long nor short nor high nor low. All these are attributes of limited things which we cannot predicate of the Unlimited Boundless. If it were long, however vast the length might be, it would have an ending and a beginning. Similarly with intelligence, kindliness, goodness, compassion, harmony — all these things are attributes of limitation, albeit of spirit. It is beyond them all encompasses them all, enwombs them all. From it they all spring; to it they all will return.
I would not weigh so frequently and so heavily on these thoughts were I not keenly sensible of the fact that they comprise questions of high metaphysics, questions of high philosophy, questions of high religious import which some day our Theosophical exponents will have to deal with. They will have to give an account of our sublime Wisdom to the keenest minds of the world. We shall be asked to explain our convictions, no longer to kindly audiences such as we gather in our halls and auditoriums; and we shall then need trained and polished minds, capable and capacious intellects, men and women fully acquainted with our sublime Thought-Wisdom, so that they can make statements in exposition which will have clarity, succinctness, and persuasive power to those who come to us and ask for light.
Evil has no existence per se and is but the absence of good and exists but for him who is made its victim. It proceeds from two causes, and no more than good is it an independent cause in nature. Nature is destitute of goodness or malice; she follows only immutable laws when she either gives life and joy, or sends suffering [and] death, and destroys what she has created. Nature has an antidote for every poison and her laws a reward for every suffering. . . . It is the blind law of necessity and the eternal fitness of things, and hence cannot be called Evil in Nature. — The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, pp. 56-7