Clara M Codd

as published in “The Theosophist” November 1967

[Page 104] MANKIND has always wondered about the problem of evil and sin. He has asked;

If God is Love and all powerful how can evil and suffering come into existence? I think the answer lies in the truth that “God”, and also the immortal spirit in man who is forever and part of Him. is neither good nor evil but beyond both. Now there is no ultimate personal representative of either good or evil. There is only one, eternal omnipresent Life which is evolving countless representatives of Itself under the reign of immutable laws which are the true “commandments of God”. These nascent “sons of God” are symbolized in The Secret Doctrine when the disciple says to the Guru: “ I sense one Flame, O Gurudeva, I see countless undetached sparks shining in it”. The Christ used another simile, “Their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven”. These undetached “sparks” are our spiritual selves which have never left the Garden of Eden, that is, the higher spiritual realms, but have put down a limited representative of themselves as soul and body in order to evolve vehicles of consciousness on the lower planes of being. Says the Katha Upanishad: “The Self-born pierced the senses outward, hence the Jîva seeketh the outward, not the inner, self”. The Bhagavad-Gîtã says the same: “A portion of Mine own Self, transformed in the world of life into an immortal Spirit, draweth round itself the senses of which the mind is the sixth, veiled in matter. [Page 105]

This self-consciousness is brought about by the unceasing play of the “pairs of opposites”, good and evil, joy and pain, success and failure, etc., as H. P. Blavatsky puts it:

“Harmony is the law of Life, discord its shadow, whence springs suffering, the Teacher, the awakener of consciousness. Through joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, the soul comes to a knowledge of itself; then begins the task of learning the laws of life, that the discords may be resolved, and the harmony restored. The eyes of Wisdom are like the ocean depths, there is neither joy nor sorrow in them; therefore the soul of the occultist must be stronger than joy, and greater than sorrow.”
The Master K.H. wrote to A. P. Sinnett:
“Evil has no existence per se . . . Nature is destitute of goodness or malice; she follows only immutable laws. . . . The real evil proceeds from human intelligence . . . the progeny of human selfishness and greediness. . . . The origin of every evil whether small or great is in human action, in man whose intelligence makes him the one free agent in Nature.”
H. P. Blavatsky says that the mind in man, unilluminated by the spiritual nature, is the real devil in man.

Why has man free will? That he may learn, under the play of the pairs of opposites and their inevitable reactions how to choose the good and reject the evil. In fact to become self-conscious, self-motivated “Sons of God” instead of nascent possibilities.

What then is sin and its inevitable concomitant, suffering? “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upwards”. (Job, v. 7) Many people have been troubled over the existence [Page 106] of sin. That sweet Saint, the Lady Julian of Norwich “asked God for sin”, and God showed her that there was no sin, and that for every sorrow we suffered here on earth, we should in heaven have “added glories”. I found the answer in Dr. Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible. He writes:
“Three cognate forms in Hebrew with no distinction of meaning express sin as ‘missing one's aim', and correspond to the Greek and its cognates in the New Testament. The etymology does not suggest a person against whom the sin is committed, and does not necessarily imply intentional wrong-doing. The form translated ' iniquity ' literally means perversion or distortion and indicates a quality of action rather than an act itself. Again in the New Testament the two Greek words translated as sin presuppose the existence of a law.”

Hence wrong doing is the result of ignorance, a false step. Christianity teaches that we are all born with the stain of sin owing to the act of Eve. More mercifully the Indian scriptures state that man is born with A-vidya, or without the true knowledge. There is no sin only lack of growth. Through that lack of development men make mistaken actions — a step off the right road home, a transgression instead of a progression.

The cause of this mistaken action is desire to benefit the little self, the centre of Ahankara, egotism, against the interests of the whole, that united spirit of Life which is our only true life. But do not let us unduly blame ourselves. H. P. Blavatsky has said that that sense of I-ness, of me, and mine, and ours, is a necessary protection for the immature soul, like the eggshell protecting the immature chick, until the time comes when it can be safely destroyed and the centre remain permanently radiating without a periphery. Hence the root of “sin” is selfishness. [Page 107]

How does Nature deal with this? By the reaction which means sorrow, disaster, pain. Every action of man brings its own reward. If helping the progress of the united spirit of life it brings opportunity and happiness; if frustrating and causing pain it brings sorrow. Thus pain is the great teacher, the heavenly surgeon. Perhaps no one suffered more in life than the poet Keats. He wrote in a letter to a friend: “Do you not see how necessary a world of pain and trouble is to school an intelligence and make it a soul? ” The ancient Celts said of a man who suffered much: “He is making his soul”. The soul in man grows like the flowers, by the action of sun and rain. The sunshine of joy and success causes a man to expand and unfold: the rain of tears softens the hard ground and nourishes the plant. Thus sorrow acts if a man docs not become bitter. We would like to fashion a world with no pain. But what kind of beings would we then become? Not Self-conscious, Self-motivated Sons of the Most High, but mere robots.

This is the immutable play of the great law of action and re-action — equal and opposite — which in the East is named Karma. It means our final fulfilment and emancipation. St. Paul called it the law of sin and death, and added that the Law of the Spirit of Life had made him free of the law of sin and death. But every sin carries its own cure. “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee and thy back-sliding’s shall reprove thee”. (Jeremiah ii, 19) We do not always recognize that the derivation of the word “mercy” means the recompense. “Unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy; for thou renderest to every man according to his work”.

St. Paul is very explicit about the great Law. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”. (Galatians vi, 7) That he knew that sin's reactions were curative is also evident in other sayings of his. [Page 108]

“For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. . . . What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law. . . . Wherefore the law is holy and just and good. . . . Sin, that it might appear sin working death in me by that which is good”. (Romans vii, 5, 7, 12, 13)
That by these opposite reactions man reaches spiritual maturity is clear from the famous words of St. Paul concerning the Christ. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Hebrews v, 8, 9)

To use another simile, the man who sins takes a step off the path which leads to light, and Life turns him back saying “My son, retrace your steps”. For as the Master K.H. once said, the only repentance which is worth while is the resolve not to do it again. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day”. (Proverbs iv, 18)

The thought that sorrow is the Teacher occurs to many. Ovid wrote “Endure and persist; this pain will turn to your good by and by”. And the poet Tennyson wrote:

“Life is not as idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And heated hot with burning fears,
And dipped in baths of hissing tears,
To shape and use.”

So St. Paul exhorted his people to “Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame [Page 109] be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed”. (Hebrews xii, 12)

The man who understands cannot criticize or condemn any sinner, for he realizes that “the sin and shame of the world are your sin and shame; for you are a part of it, your karma is inextricably interwoven with the great Karma”. He knows that there is no sin only lack of growth.

Let us consider for a moment some forms of sorrow and their possible message to our souls.

Ambition frustrated. We should achieve not for ourselves alone, but that others may benefit. Therefore we should have the power to “stoop and build again with worn-out tools”.

Love denied or lost. That which hurts us most is the loss of their comforting and dear presence, not their great gain. I remember Mrs. Besant once saying to me: “When you can be just as happy when the one you love best is not here, you have learnt how to love”.

Lack of opportunity. The chance to learn patience and insight and the will to seize and act upon an opportunity when it comes. Browning wrote that “There shall never be one lost good, what was shall be as before”.

Misunderstandings. Perhaps the one we misunderstood has left us through the gateway of death. We can always contact them when free of our body at night. They are never out of reach of our loving thought.

Physical limitations. I once knew a woman whose whole life was wrapped up in hunting. One day a bad fall from her horse caused a semi-paralysis and she was condemned to a sofa for the rest of her life. She said to me, “You know, I was just a splendid body. Lying here I have learnt to be a soul”.

Seeing another suffer. This is very hard to bear, but we cannot mitigate it except by our loving presence. “None [Page 110] can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God ransom for him”. (Psalm 49, 7) But we can stand in with him. Sir Francis Bacon once wrote that a friend is one with whom our sorrows are halved and our joys are doubled.

Failure and shame. These are very hard to bear, but at least they destroy in us our own egotism and pride.

Let us take the hand of Life, and fear not, for Life is God, as Dr. Radhakrishnan tells us. Life means our final redemption and bliss. I must quote again the lovely words of St. Paul: “For I am persuaded that neither life nor death, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God”.

The Master K.H. says that the bearing of ill fortune with serene fortitude turns it to spiritual advantage. And He told Mr. Judge to “Trust your self to life and faith, which is the soul's unlearned knowledge, carry you through your life as a bird flies through the air, undoubtingly”. The philosopher-poet, Robert Browning, also put it in matchless verse:

“One who never turned his back but marched straight forward,
Never doubted clouds should break,
Never deemed though right were worsted, wrong would triumph.
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, sleep to wake.”


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