The origin of evil – the great mystery

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.

She says:

[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.]

More on the origin of evil

7 thoughts on “The origin of evil – the great mystery”

  1. Such a question has unfortunately suffers from a legacy or historical drag, since I believe that in truly Vedic thought both coexist without any conflict. The 2 I refer here are: Morally neutral Universal Consciousness — Atman or Brahman; and the Karma related Limited Consciousness — individual self awareness.

    Due to pure ignorance of the Self – Atman, Prakriti (Godhood) is ‘born’ for merely the necessity of an ‘Order’. That Order is what we perceive and experience in every moment of our life and living. We see in the atom, solar system, water/carbon-cycle, cells in the body, etc. etc. This Order alone is what we must recognize as the only Basis and Foundation of Life and hence Morality of any kind. This is Law of Karma, known as Dharma. The workings of Dharma is also Universal as we experience it universally.

    This Universal experience alone is what is discussed exhaustively in Puranas (Epics), Smritis, etc. The Law of Karma thus is what’s not understood properly today, for such a conflict to exist. If at all we take it as ‘Exclusive’ from the common-denominator, which is the Unversality of its application, and hence Inclusive of and Coexistence with Atman or Brahman, without any conflict! This is the message of Vedas and Sanatana Dharma — Hinduism.

    Therefore, our Exclusivity based reasoning is what must siege in order to understand Inclusiveness or coexistence, so that the 2 are not seen as “opposites”.

    This trend to take the 2 exclusively, narrowly focus on the differences such as ceremonial, or dogmatic concepts, etc. whats’ causing the endless loop of arguments going no where! This has only resulted in rancor and disagreements that are sown as seeds of violence due to the theological dogmas that it has created.

    In fact these seeds of violence, despite having no such difference, continue to get bred by the present day scholars and thinkers and has thus created an atmosphere of divisions of all sorts.

    My belief is that unless this seed of violence is removed from the human psyche external violence would not siege much less ‘spirituality’ in its truest sense could truly grow and progress.

    I’m neither a pessimist nor an optimist, just a pragmatist!

  2. It seems to me that morality is human than universal.

    Humans have discovered rules that, if followed, seem to better ones chances of ‘living well.’ Of coures these rules about ‘good and bad’ for use are about morality.

    As humans we are capabele of discovering laws about the universe that are most often amoral. Still, we seem to be at ‘at home’ in the universe. That may make it a good, moral, universes in some minds.

  3. My understanding of Mysticism is that “Evil” & suffering only exist in a Relative sense, they only exist as part of the Dream, part of the lower levels of this Divine manifestation, and that at the higher “levels” everything occurs according to the Divine Will, hence all is Bliss, all is Love and Light. Hence, Brahman is ALL! And what is Brahman? Sat-Chit-Ananda : Existence, Consciousness & Bliss! Sure, suffering and ignorance are an essential part of a Dualistic existence, such as ours. Material life could not be meaningfull with Maya. But Maya is temporary, and Brahman is eternal!
    God Bless,
    Hari Om

  4. Sure: that’s the definition of Maya isn’t it – it’s everything that doesn’t last… which is just about everything we can point to.

    [added for those who aren’t familiar with Hindu/Vedanta philosophic definitions.]

  5. Hi again, my above comment should have said “material life cant be meaningfull WITHOUT Maya”, sorry for the mistake, although I think you understood me.
    God Bless,
    Hari Om

  6. Thorwald Dethlefsen gives another rationale. The opposites are always there to neutralize each other. That would explain that we mostly consider our neighbours as being hostile . . .
    Good and bad are both sides of the same coin and who decides what is good or bad ?

  7. Both ‘good and ‘evil’ are simple human concepts as to Spiritual Lor, in REALITY there is only One Law ‘that of LOVE, The Law of Cause and Effect is the Administer and Embodyment of JUSTICE that we may conform to Law or ‘LOVE’ ‘eventually’. So we may see that ‘so called good and so called evil’ are two sides of the same coin, like yin and yang, hot and cold etc. simple isint it?

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