I asked you, my readers, yesterday why some people insist that the universe is morally neutral. The question means in normal words: why do people believe that evil is as inherent in the universe as good is?
I let my own thoughts on the matter be for the moment, but this post may just be the place to share them.
I have explained karma in previous posts as a moral law. That is: karma rewards good and punishes evil in the long run. There is more to it than that, but this is the basis. Since karma is one of the laws of the universe, the universe is morally on the side of good.
I could stop at that, but since it’s Friday – I thought I’d look up what Madame Blavatsky has to say on the subject. In The Secret Doctrine Blavatsky talks (p. 279, 280) about the Logos. She describes it as a collective creator or architect. The actual work of cosmic creation is done by a lower host of consciousnesses: the demiurgos, aka archangels (note) and other forces combined.
That is – the creator God is as much a unity as a forest is. As it is more correct to see a forest as a collection of trees, other vegetation and wild life – similarly the universe is constantly created and maintained by a host of beings and forces. Some of those forces are known to us, like the laws of gravity and karma. Other forces aren’t.
The point for the present discussion is: Blavatsky insists that each of these forces and consciousnesses is imperfect. In fact, there are sometimes flaws in the way nature acts. This is why, she says, the demiurgos should not be worshiped as God. However, we do owe these forces our gratitude and we ought to be working with them through the creation of ideas (the Secret anyone?) and should devote all our good actions to the Eternal Cause, while sacrificing all our bad intentions.
In other words: the best way to contribute to the spiritual evolution of mankind is by being thinking beings and doing good and giving up selfishness and sin.
In an article called ‘The Origin of Evil’ (C.W. 8, p. 110- ), Blavatsky argues that evil and sorrow are caused by ignorance and attachment. She notes that Buddha kept on living, so the overly pessimistic interpretation of his teachings is not valid. It is the attachment to living that causes so many problems. Suicide is the opposite extreme.
[Buddha’s] doctrine shows evil immanent, not in matter which is eternal, but in the illusions created by it: through the changes and transformations of matter generating life—because these changes are conditioned and such life is ephemeral. At the same time those evils are shown to be not only unavoidable, but necessary. For if we would discern good from evil, light from darkness, and appreciate the former, we can do so only through the contrasts between the two. (p. 112)
In other words: it is our wrong interpretation of the world that causes evil – because we base our action on our misunderstanding and ignorance.
I think that places the responsibility for evil right where it belongs: in the hands of people. After all – an animal which kills isn’t evil. It is merely surviving. It is only humanity which kills beyond it’s need. It is only humanity that kills for ideals so called, and economic interest, and cultural clashes.
I’ve replaced Blavatsky’s term ‘Dhyan Chohan’ with Archangel. The term stands for beings of the highest spiritual rank. Blavatsky explains them as former humans who have grown beyond humanity in spiritual attainment, but still take responsibility for its evolution. For instance: each theosophical root race has its own Dhyan Chohan.
Blavatsky presents the term as one indiginous to Tibetan Buddhism. However Christmas Humphreys notes in his ‘A Popular Dictionary of Buddhism’ that the term Chohan is a Rajput term for someone of high spiritual attainment. He also explains that the Dhyani Bodhisattvas and Dhyani Buddhas are parts of the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon as high spiritual beings. Untill the precise term Dhyan Chohan is found in some obscure Tibetan Text I think educated theosophists will have to assume that Blavatsky meant those two groups plus whatever other high spiritual beings might fit her definition. [I would of course be thrilled if someone versed in Tibetan Buddhism were to tell me that the term Dhyan Chohan or something very like it was in fact Tibetan.]