telling good from evil
Jan 04, 1994 12:46 PM
The subject of good versus evil has multiple levels of meaning, multiple
possible interpretations, each true in a certain sense, but all of them
capable of abuse. Consider the word *evil*. It is considered, in certain
groups, among the followers of certain philosophies, a bad word to use.
Some of us may want to avoid the word, to say that it is judgemental
and narrow-minded to use.
In talking about a particular individual, we may not want to say "that
evil man!", but rather describe him in more neutral terms, to say that
he is just a person like us, with a particular problem that we do not
have. This may be kinder to that man's feelings, but it is the right
thing to do?
When we speak of a holy man, or someone with a special sense of
goodness, we don't describe him by saying that he is just an ordinary
person, with a particular gift or advantage.
We are not being nice to someone that is bad, to describe things in
such a way as to not hurt his feelings, if in doing so, we allow him
to go along in life, hurting himself and others, perhaps unaware of
what he is doing. Certainly we should have more responsibility to him!
It is not really possible to separate the person from his actions. It
is not possible to say that this is a man that *does evil*, whereas
that is a man that *does good*. That assumes a uniform, indentical
self that is unaffected by what he does. The description would hold
true of the Monad itself, which is above and apart from anything that
the personality may do, apart from anything in the manifest world, but
not true of the personality itself. We are what we do, and in the
processing of doing good or evil, we are good or evil people.
Now it is possible to change, over time, to be an evil man that turns
for the good and changes himself. It is also possible for a good man
to become corrupted. Change is possible. But the personality, whatever
it is, is the sum total of what it has done. The personality is the
totality of actions taken, and relationships established, in this
We may look at an evil man, and choose not to associate with him.
Looking at his personality, we may not be able to pass absolute
judgement on him, because we do not know the totality of the person,
the person's individuality and karma from previous lifetimes, karma
that did not find its way into expression in the current life. We
may not know the limits of good or evil that he could aspire to, and
become, as a personality, based upon what he carries within. But we
do know his current self, his current personality, and it is a very
real part of him, something that we have to face and deal with.
We learn to distinguish the real from the unreal, to preceive through
the maya and illusion that surrounds things and perceive them
correctly. We can also learn to distinguish the good from the evil,
the right from the wrong, to perceive through an ethical and moral
maya that surrounds things, and judge the character and nature of
things. We are not judging things in the sense of the law, we are not
evaluating them for purposes of punishment or reward. But we are
judging them in the sense of perceiving their true nature, a correct
discrimination of one aspect of the truth in people and situations.
The ability to tell right from wrong is considered a sign of adulthood
in our society. It shows that one is responsible for his own actions.
It is one sign that the childhood is over, and the higher nature is
fully incarnate in the personality. And it is a quality that we need,
for in order to know what is good, virtuous, and moral, we need to
know what it is not.
There is a certain type of consciousness that we mostly lack, one
that will grow and evolve in the future. It is a *moral consciousness*,
where we are aware of the full impact and implications of our every
action in the world. We are aware of how we affect others because of
our associations with them. We are composed, in fact, of those
associations, it defines our being, and it is found in Buddhi, the
principle of inter-relatedness, the priniple of personal oneness with
This moral consciousness will become as intricate, as involved, as
complex a part of our consideration of what we do, that it will rival
the activities of the mind, the complexities of thought. This sense
is largely asleep in us at our current point of evolution, it is
instinctual and automatic in operation, lacking in self-consciousness.
This buddhic consciousness is what distinguishes us from those on a
path of evil. It is that which not only allows us to be spiritual, but
to be good as well. It contains the sense of compassion and caring for
other lives, and it is that which will one day make of us Buddhas!
Eldon Tucker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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