Good and Evil -- Karma -- How it operates -- B. Gita
May 17, 2001 04:53 AM
LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME
9 LETTER 9
By William Q. Judge
Volume 1 compiled by Jasper Niemand; Letter 9,
The Letters in Volume 1 originally appeared in The Path, December
1888 to March 1890. W. Q. Judge first published them in book form
Dear Sir and Brother:
Tell your friend and inquirer this.
No one was ever converted into Theosophy.
Each one who really comes into it does so because it is only "an
extension of previous beliefs." This will show you that Karma is
a true thing. For no idea we get is any more than an extension of
previous ones. That is, they are cause and effect in endless
succession. Each one is the producer of the next and inheres in
that successor. Thus we are all different and some similar.
My ideas of today and yours are tinged with those of youth, and
we will thus forever proceed on the inevitable line we have
marked out in the beginning. We of course alter a little always,
but never until our old ideas are extended. Those false ideas now
and then discarded are not to be counted; yet they give a shadow
here and there.
But through Brotherhood we receive the knowledge of others, which
we consider until (if it fits us) it is ours.
As far as your private conclusions are concerned, use your
discrimination always. Do not adopt any conclusions merely
because they are uttered by one in whom you have confidence, but
adopt them when they coincide with your intuition. To be even
unconsciously deluded by the influence of another is to have a
Spiritual knowledge includes every action.
Inquirers ought to read the BHAGAVAD-GITA. It will give them food
for centuries if they read with spiritual eyes at all. Underneath
its shell is the living spirit that will light us all. I read it
ten times before I saw things that I did not see at first. In the
night the ideas contained in it are digested and returned partly
next day to the mind. It is the study of adepts.
Let no man be unaware that while there is a great joy in this
belief, there is also a great sorrow. Being true, being the Law,
all the great forces are set in motion by the student. He now
thinks he has given up ambition and comfort. The ambition and
comfort he has given up are those of the lower plane, the mere
reflections of the great ambitions and comforts of a larger life.
The rays of truth burn up the covers time has placed upon those
seeds, and then the seeds begin to sprout and cause new
struggles. Do not leave any earnest inquirer in ignorance of
this. It has cost others many years and tears of blood to
KARMA -- HOW IT OPERATES
How difficult the path of action is! I see the future dimly, and
unconsciously in such case one makes efforts either for or
against it. Then Karma results. I could almost wish I did not
hear these whispers. But he who conquers himself is greater than
the conquerors of worlds.
Perhaps you see more clearly now how Karma operates. If one
directs himself to eliminating all old Karma, the struggle very
often becomes tremendous, for the whole load of ancient sin
rushes to the front on a man and the events succeed each other
rapidly; the strain is terrific, and the whole life fabric groans
and rocks. As is said in the East, you may go through the
appointed course in 700 births, in seven years, or in seven
USING ADVERSITY -- UNDERSTAND IT
The sentence in LIGHT ON THE PATH referred to by so many students
is not so difficult as some others. One answer will do for all.
The book is written on the basis of Reincarnation, and when it
says the soiled garment will fall again on you, it means that
this will happen in some other life, not necessarily in this,
though that may be too.
To "turn away in horror" is not detachment. Before we can hope to
prevent any particular state of mind or events reaching us in
this or in another life, we must in fact be detached from these
things. Now we are not our bodies or mere minds, but the real
part of us in which Karma inheres. Karma brings everything about.
It attaches to our real inner selves by attachment and repulsion.
That is, if we love vice or anything, it seizes on us by
attachment thereto; if we hate anything, it seizes on our inner
selves by reason of the strong horror we feel for it. In order to
prevent a thing we must understand it; we cannot understand while
we fear or hate it. We are not to love vice, but are to recognize
that it is a part of the whole, and, trying to understand it, we
thus get above it.
THE PAIRS of "OPPOSITES" Good and Evil
This is the "doctrine of opposites" spoken of in Bhagavad-Gita.
So if we turn in horror now (we may feel sad and charitable,
though) from the bad, the future life will feel that horror and
develop it by reaction into a reincarnation in a body and place
where we must in material life go through the very thing we hate
As we are striving to reach God, we must learn to be as near like
Him as possible. He loves and hates not; so we must strive to
regard the greatest vice as being something we must not hate
while we will not engage in it, and then we may approach that
state where we will know the greater love that takes in good and
evil men and things alike.
Good and Evil are only the two poles of the one thing. In the
Absolute, Evil is the same thing in this way. One with absolute
knowledge can see both good and evil, but he does not feel Evil
to be a thing to flee from, and thus he has to call it merely the
other pole. We say Good or Evil as certain events seem pleasant
or unpleasant to us or our present civilization. And so we have
coined those two words. They are bad words to use. For in the
Absolute one is just as necessary as the other, and often what
seem evil and "pain" are not absolutely so, but only necessary
adjustments in the progress of the soul. Read Bhagavad-Gita as to
how the self seems to suffer pain.
What is Evil now? Loss of friends? No; if you are self-centered.
Slander? Not if you rely on Karma. There is only evil when you
rebel against immutable decrees that must be worked out. You know
that there must be these balancings which we call Good and Evil.
Just imagine one man who really was a high soul, now living as a
miser and enjoying it. You call it an evil; he a good. Who is
right? You say "Evil" because you are speaking out of the True;
but the True did know that he could never have passed some one
certain point unless he had that experience, and so we see him
now in an evil state. Experience we must have, and if we accept
it at our own hands we are wise.
That is, while striving to do our whole duty to the world and
ourselves, we will not live the past over again by vain and
hurtful regrets, nor condemn any man, whatever his deeds, since
we cannot know their true cause. We are not Karma, we are not the
Law, and it is a species of that hypocrisy so deeply condemned by
It for us to condemn any man. That the Law lets a man live is
proof that he is not yet judged by that higher power. Still we
must and will keep our discriminating power at all times.
As to rising above Good and Evil, that does not mean to do evil,
of course. But, in fact, there can be no real Evil or Good; if
our aim is right our acts cannot be evil. Now all acts are dead
when done; it is in the heart that they are conceived and are
already there done; the mere bodily carrying out of them is a
dead thing in itself. So we may do a supposed good act and that
shall outwardly appear good, and yet as our motive perhaps is
wrong the act is naught, but the motive counts.
DID "GOD" DO IT ?
The great God did all, good and bad alike. Among the rest are
what appear Evil things, yet he must be unaffected. So if we
follow BHAGAVAD-GITA, second chapter, we must do only those acts
we believe right for the sake of God and not for ourselves, and
if we are regardless of the consequences, we are not concerned if
they appear to be Good or Evil. As the heart and mind are the
real planes of error, it follows that we must look to it that we
do all acts merely because they are there to be done. It then
becomes difficult only to separate ourselves from the act.
We can never as human beings rise above being the instruments
through which that which is called Good and Evil comes to pass,
but as that Good and Evil are the result of comparison and are
not in themselves absolute, it must follow that we (the real
"we") must learn to rise internally to a place where these
occurrences appear to us merely as changes in a life of change.
Even in the worldly man this sometimes happens.
As, say Bismarck, used to moving large bodies of men and perhaps
for a good end, can easily rise above the transient Evil, looking
to a greater result. Or the physician is able to rise above pain
to a patient, and only consider the good, or rather the result,
that is to follow from a painful operation. The patient himself
does the same.
So the student comes to see that he is not to do either "Good" or
"Evil," but to do any certain number of acts set before him, and
meanwhile not ever to regard much his line of conduct, but rather
his line of motive, for his conduct follows necessarily from his
motive. Take the soldier. For him there is nothing better than
lawful war. Query. Does he do wrong in warring or not, even if
war unlawful? He does not unless he mixes his motive. They who go
into war for gain or revenge do wrong, but not he who goes at his
superior's orders, because it is his present duty.
Let us, then, extend help to all who come our way. This will be
true progress; the veils that come over our souls fall away when
we work for others. Let that be the real motive, and the quality
of work done makes no difference.
Comments by J. N.
GOOD and EVIL -- How to understand them
It would seem that Good and Evil are not inherent in things
themselves, but in the uses to which those things are put by us.
They are conditions of manifestation. Many things commonly called
immoral are consequences of the unjust laws of man, of egotistic
social institutions: such things are not immoral per se, but
relatively so. They are only immoral in point of time.
There are others whose evil consists in the base use to which
higher forces are put, or to which Life -- which is sacred -- is
put, so that here also evil does not inhere in them, but in
ourselves; in our misuse of noble instruments in lower work. Nor
does evil inhere in us, but in our ignorance; it is one of the
great illusions of Nature.
All these illusions cause the soul to experience in matter until
it has consciously learned every part: then it must learn to know
the whole and all at once, which it can only do by and through
re-union with Spirit; or with the Supreme, with the Deity.
If we take, with all due reverence, so much of the standpoint of
the Supreme as our finite minds or our dawning intuition may
permit, we feel that he stands above unmoved by either Good or
Evil. Our good is relative, and evil is only the limitation of
the soul by matter.
>From the material essence of the Deity all the myriad
differentiations of Nature (Prakriti, cosmic substance), all the
worlds and their correlations are evolved. They assist the cyclic
experience of the soul as it passes from state to state. How,
then, shall we say that any state is evil in an absolute sense?
MURDER -- How to be understood.
Take murder. It seems an evil. True, we cannot really take life,
but we can destroy a vehicle of the divine Principle of Life and
impede the course of a soul using that vehicle. But we are more
injured by the deed than any other. It is the fruit of a certain
unhealthy state of the soul. The deed sends us to hell, as it
were, for one or more incarnations; to a condition of misery. The
shock, the natural retribution, our own resultant Karma, both the
penalties imposed by man and that exacted by occult law, chasten
and soften the soul. It is passed through a most solemn
experience which had become necessary to its growth and which in
the end is the cause of its additional purification. In view of
this result, was the deed evil? It was a necessary consequence of
the limitations of matter; for had the soul remained celestial
and in free Being, it could not have committed murder.
Nor has the Immortal Soul, the SPECTATOR, any share in the wrong;
it is only the personality, the elementary part of the soul,
which has sinned. All that keeps the soul confined to material
existence is evil, and so we cannot discriminate either. The only
ultimate good is Unity, and in reality nothing but that exists.
Hence our judgments are in time only. Nor have we the right to
exact a life for a life. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord
(Law); I will repay." We become abettors of murder in making such
human laws. I do not say that every experience must be gone
through bodily, because some are lived out in the mind. Nor do I
seek to justify any. The only justification is in the Law.
The innocent man unjustly murdered is rewarded by Karma in a
future life. Indeed, any man murdered is reimbursed, so to say;
for while that misfortune sprang from his Karma, occult law does
not admit of the taking of life. Some men are the weapons of
Karma in their wrong-doing, but they themselves have appointed
this place to themselves in their past.
The Great Soul needed just that body, whatever the errors of its
nature or its physical environment, and to disappoint the soul is
a fearful deed for a man. For it is only man, only the lower
nature under the influence of Tamas (the quality of darkness),
which feels the impulse to take life, whether in human justice,
for revenge, for protection, or so on. "The soul neither kills
nor is killed."
OUR MORTAL SELF
What we know as ourselves is only the natural man, the lower
principles and mind, presided over by the false consciousness. Of
the soul we have but brief and partial glimpses -- in conscience
or intuition -- in our ordinary state. There are, of course,
psychic and spiritual states in which more is known. Thus nature
wars against nature, always for the purpose of bringing about the
purification and evolution of the soul. Nature exists only for
the purpose of the soul. If we think out the subject upon these
lines, we can at least see how rash we should be to conclude that
any deed was unmixed evil, or that these distinctions exist in
the Absolute. It alone is; all else is phenomenal and
transitory -- these differences disappear as we proceed upward.
Meanwhile we are to avoid all these immoral things and many
others not so regarded by the crowd at all, but which are just as
much so because we know to what increased ignorance and darkness
they give rise through the ferment which they cause in the
nature, and that this impedes the entrance of the clear rays of
I doubt that the soul knows the moral or immoral. For just
consider for a moment the case of a disembodied soul. What is sin
to it when freed from that shell -- the body? What does it know
then of human laws or moralities, or the rules and forms of
matter? Does it even see them? What lewdness can it commit? So I
say that these moralities are of this plane only, to be heeded
and obeyed there, but not to be postulated as final or used as a
balance to weigh the soul which has other laws.
The free soul has to do with essences and powers all impersonal;
the strife of matter is left behind. Still higher and above as
within all, the passionless, deathless spirit looks down, knowing
well that, when the natural has once again subsided into its
spiritual source, all this struggle and play of force and will,
this waxing and waning of forms, this progression of
consciousness, which throw up coming clouds and fumes of illusion
before the eye of the soul, will have come to an end. Even now,
while we cannot master these high themes, we can have a patient
trust in the processes of evolution and the Law, blaming and
judging no man, but living up to our highest intuitions
ourselves. The real test of a man is his motive, which we do not
see, nor do his acts always represent it.
-- J. N.
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