THEOSOPHY, Vol. 38, No. 12, October, 1950
(Pages 537-540; Size: 12K)
(Number 4 of a 10-part series)

[Compiler's Note: All 10 articles have the same name.]

KERNELS OF WISDOM

"The corruption of the best produces the worst."--Greek
THE problem of the Origin of Evil presents itself perennially for solution. By formulating fixed creeds and dogmas, the theologians of the day pretend to have solved the question for all men, and for all time. They assure their adherents that belief in the dicta of the church is all that is required or necessary, that beyond such belief nothing can be known or discovered. But the human mind and heart are such that blind acceptance cannot long satisfy. Every human being is faced constantly with the problem of both Good and Evil in the affairs of his own life. They arise anew each day, and must be met with a perception and understanding that are fresh, alive, firsthand. It is not enough, if one would act wisely and avoid evil, to acquaint himself with the beliefs and dogmas of a church. It is not enough to be told that the act of some distant ancestor led to the Fall, and that as a result the whole human family is now born under the curse of sin and iniquity. Like all true myths and legends, the story of the Fall is symbolic -- an ever-present drama enacted each day upon the stage of every man's life.

The above quoted aphorism confirms the saying, "Evil is but Good gone astray." Is it not true that there can be no false coin unless there is first a genuine currency to falsify? Is it not a fact that there could be no such thing as sickness or disease unless there were laws of health for men to violate? And does not the Bible itself declare that Satan is the Son of God, that Lucifer, before his fall, was the highest and noblest of the archangels? Every ancient mythology depicts the same great tragedy, the constant and eternal struggle for predominance between God (Good) and the D'Evil (Evil), the ever-living representation of mankind's rises and falls.

The legend of the "Fallen Angels," in its esoteric signification, contains the key to the manifold contradictions of human character; it points to the secret of man's self-consciousness; it is the angle-iron on which hinges his entire life-cycle; -- the history of his evolution and growth.... It gives a clue to the vexed question of the Origin of Evil; and shows how man himself is the separator of the ONE into various contrasted aspects. (S.D. II, 274.)
It is the teaching of Theosophy that every human being is a God incarnate -- a pillar of Light within, a form of clay material upon the lower surface. The legend of the Fallen Angels refers not only to the descent into matter of mankind as a whole, but also to the individual incarnations of each soul every time it assumes a body of flesh and blood. Upon entering the body, the nature of Manas, or mind, becomes dual. This old tenet is the source perhaps of the Kabalistic doctrine of the Dual Ego -- the higher side of which they called Metatron, man's guardian angel, and the lower, Samael, his evil demon. Allegorically, these two are represented as inseparable companions of man through life -- the one inspiring, illuminating, and urging on to greater heights, the other transforming those inspirations into personal greed and ambition.

The holier and more sacred a thing or function may be, the direr its results if misused or perverted. The more basic and necessary any element is to the well-being of an organism, the greater the damage if it is lacking. Is it not a fact that the deepest heartaches come from those we love most? Is it not true that the worst crimes in history have been perpetrated by men of highest intelligence? The whole of our experience tells the story that the most destructive forces in the world at any time are those which represent corruptions or perversions of that which is most basic and real.

Present day religion is an example. All great Sages have declared that religion is the most sacred of sciences, that its function in the life of man is of paramount importance. Everyone recognizes that the religious elements in his own nature are the deepest, subtlest, and most profound. The troubled and afflicted always fall back in the last resort upon their religious or spiritual stamina. We all realize the importance of a balanced moral sense, but why is it that when things go wrong we do not have the courage to question our religious foundations, upon which that sense depends? Why is it that so few are honest enough and impartial enough in their thinking to see that in a world so full of chaos something very basic must be wrong, and to trace the evil to its proper source -- corrupt religion, with its spores of warring sects.

The term religion comes from the Latin re = back, and ligere = to bind. It means to bind back to the Source, to tie together into one great Whole. The essence of true religion is unity, solidarity, brotherhood, non-separateness. Yet, is it not apparent that organized sectarianism is one of the most separative forces in the world today, that instead of uniting men and helping them to live as brothers, it divides them race from race, one man from another? Who can deny that the deepest schisms and antagonisms are religious ones? Who can fail to see that the hates and jealousies among men arise more from sectarian instruction and differences than from any other cause? Until individuals, of whatever creed, are willing to question their sacred misconceptions, no real advance can be made. Until men are ready to consider any statement of truth on its own merits, regardless of by whom made -- whether by Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, or Confucius -- the chief source of animosity will remain.

The real name for modern sectarianism is religion gone astray. Instead of stimulating feelings of brotherhood and compassion, which are natural expressions of the inner moral sense, present-day sects encourage jealousies and divisions. Instead of pursuing knowledge and understanding, they hold men in ignorance and fear. Instead of inculcating self-reliance, they teach dependence upon outside powers for help and guidance. It would be almost impossible to calculate the injury that is being wrought daily upon the human mind and heart by corruption of the religious instincts in man.

The dogma of miracle is another example of how corrupt religious teachings produce evil results. In its present perverted form, the idea of miracles destroys all sense of responsibility. It leads men to believe that in some supernatural way they can act evilly and get away with it, that the effects of wrong causation can be wiped out. It leads them to hope that by prayer or favor the burden of their sins will be relieved vicariously.

The idea of miracle is an obvious perversion of the universal Law of Karma. Both Science and Religion perpetuate the delusion by their limited interpretations of that which is eternal, inclusive, unlimited. How can there be miracle when everything that happens is the result of an antecedent Cause? By restricting the operation of Law to what they call inert matter, scientists deny thereby the possibility of higher super-sensuous Laws in the universe, which alone can account for the unexplained phenomena of life. Theologians corrupt the doctrine by endowing their saints with the power to override the Laws of Nature -- as though they were but toys!

The corruption of the best always produces the worst. Democracy, perverted, and not lived up to, leads to licence, chaos, tyranny. Does the fact of living under a system of freedom make men free? Can it be said that because people adopt a form of administration that provides opportunity for self-government, they are therefore self-governed? Democracy, in its true spirit, is a way of life -- not just a form of government. It is based upon the principle of self-rule as opposed to the principle of oligarchy or dictatorship, and the maintenance of its spirit therefore requires self-rule. It requires of its advocates a continuous exemplification of the principles of sacrifice and self-discipline, of tolerance, trust, and respect for the rights of others. Its spread is through the power of example -- not through intellectual preachments nor by the use of force.

Demon est Deus inversus. Under the shadowy influence of the lower selfish mind, brotherhood turns to clannishness, self-respect turns to pride, enthusiasm to fanaticism, and generosity to extravagance. Under the lethal promptings of one's inner "demon," all high attributes of soul undergo subtle transformations and reappear as evil, sorrow, suffering. Where is the man who can find the line of demarcation between the high and the low aspects of his own mind? Where is the person who knows the difference between love and infatuation, between tenacity and stubbornness, between faith and blind belief? Where is the individual who has mastered the mystery of his dual Ego, so as to assure himself that he is not daily crossing over the line that divides the Satanic from the Divine? The Origin of Evil is not to be found in some particular place or time in history, but in the recurrent impulses of a mind governed by desire.

The price of freedom, it is said, is eternal vigilance. By the same token, the price of preserving the "best," of maintaining the true spirit underlying every old idea and custom is an honest, unbiased mind, a pure devoted heart. Buddha held that the Temple of Philosophical Knowledge must be constantly re-edified by inquiry, study, work. As the house that is not kept in repair falls into decay, so it is with Knowledge. A truth perceived and not acted upon turns to poison in the system. The Esoteric philosophy alone, says H. P. Blavatsky, is "calculated to withstand, in this age of crass and illogical materialism, the repeated attacks on all and everything man holds most dear and sacred, in his inner spiritual life."


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KERNELS OF WISDOM
"Nothing is easy to the unwilling."
(Part 5 of a 10-part series)

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