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are we good or bad based upon our actions?

Jan 06, 1994 12:35 PM
by eldon

The subject of good and evil covers a broad spectrum of ideas, and
touches upon many of the different theosophical doctrines. It is easy
to buy into some packaged belief, like fundamentalist Christian,
humanist, or some variant of eastern philosophy, and form rigid
beliefs. But why settle for some popular belief system when we have
Theosophy, and have learned how to contemplate, study, and achieve
a growing understanding of truths? Why not take the keys that Theosophy
offers and apply them to the subject, and go further than can be
found in any of these popular beliefs? It is possible to do, and we
should certainly try!

When we go into the subject, we may find certain ideas that resemble
the Christian, others resembling humanist ideas, and still others
resembling Buddhism. There may be similarities, but not necessarily
deep ones, and the truth is not found entirely in any one of these

Some may wish to find good and bad in everything, and sharply define
things in white-and-black terms. They may wish to judge others in
terms of their own personal preferences, their own personal lifestyles.
Others may wish to find everything on a spectrum of grey, and to be
unable to tell one person from the next, with everyone considered ok.
It is as wrong to make false distinctions, where there are none, as it
is to deny differences, when they clearly exist.

We are taught that it is motive that makes the difference in our
actions, that the same act, done with differing motives, could be in
one case considered evil, and in another, considered good. There are
different levels to us. One breakdown would give the physical, the
psychological, the spiritual, and the divine. Actions are the making
of karma, and there is physical, psychological, and yet higher types
of karma that we can make. Just as there is physical karma, there is
physical good and evil. And at a higher part of ourselves, wherein
the motive resides, there is higher karma that is being made, and
a higher sense of good and evil.

It is possible to consider people, and to apply simplistic labels,
and never really understand them. We have created a simple thought,
and look at that thought, that image we've made of them, and never
see the real people. Any attribute may be so applied, including
brilliant or stupid, loving or cruel, spiritual or materialistic,
and good or evil. You can clearly distinguish a genius from a person
of poor intelligence. You can tell a saint apart from a malevolent
person. When there are differences in the extreme, differences that
stand out, the distinction is beyond dispute. But when the differences
are minor, we may not be able to tell a person one way from the other.

The nature of good and evil resides in that part of a person that
might be called his character, wherein the conscience resides. The
sense of knowing the right, and of following it, takes on different
forms, depending upon how we follow it. When we maintain our awareness
centered in the personality, we may interpret it in the sense of
doing battle with ourselves, in the sense of opposing certain parts
of ourself and taking side with other parts. This is often the wrong
approach to take, though, for when we dwell in the spiritual, and
forget the personality, and bathe ourselves in selfless, impersonal
consciousness, our personality will naturally change, over time, to
reorganize itself for the better, without any sense of internal
struggle or battle.

Looking at a person, we can observe his actions. We can see if
that person is helpful or harmful to others. We cannot directly
perceive his motivation, but we can sense what is going on inside
him, to a degree, since all of life is interrelated. We don't get
a good insight into that person if we too readily label him. But
we can learn something of this person, and observe the effects of
his actions upon the world.

There are two modes of experiencing life: the standpoint of the
fixed self, and the standpoint of a stream of consciousness. From
the standpoint of a fixed self, we could separate a person from
his actions, and say that he is different, and could always choose
to change to good actions at any time. From the standpoint of a
stream of consciousness, there is no self, apart from the actions,
apart from the continual self-manifestation, and no separation is

If someone is predisposed to certain negative activities, we might
try to get them to disassociate from the behavior, to picture
themselves as different than the things to do. This is a helpful
technique for psychological growth and change, and for the education
of children. But in a metaphysical sense, this separation is both true
and untrue, depending upon which part of our nature that you are
talking about.

The personality *is* the sum total of the actions of this lifetime.
And those actions are karma, living relationships with other beings,
relationships that have been exercised in some way. When we do
things, we create ourselves. We weave a karmic web of which our
self is ultimately composed. What we build up is the ultimate sense
of self, above and beyond even Manas, the sense of unique
separate existence. Our relationships with others, established through
the events of our lives, the actions that we have taken, compose our
ultimate individuality.

For us, human Egos on Globe D, we have accumulated a massive amount
of karma over many millions of years. We have spun a web of which only
a tiny cornor can appear in any one life, appearing as one of a
series of differing personalities. Each such personality is mortal,
composed of that part of our natures which comes out in its lifetime.
And that coming out, that emanation of latent karmic bonds, is in
the form of taking *action*, of doing things, and the process makes
the personality into what it is. As a personality, we are the sum
total of the actions that we've taken in this life.

On the other hand, moving above the manifestation of consciousness,
coming to the Monad, untouched by existence, we find a part of our
natures that is truly apart from any of our actions, neither good
nor bad depending upon what we do and make ourselves, but rather
existing in a state of nearly-pure perfection.

When we make the statement that *we* are good or bad, depending upon
our actions, the statement is true, or not, depending upon which
part of us we call ourselves, which part the *we* refers to.

                     Eldon Tucker (

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