What About Evil, Hell and Sin?
Path to Siva Commentary, Lesson 25
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2017-05-20
Hindus believe in each individual as a soul, a divine being who is inherently good. We all have a threefold nature: instinctive, intellectual, intuitive. Develop the intuitive/spiritual/soul nature with compassion, devotion, penance. Use the intellect to help subdue the instinctive mind. Guilt is not a part of Hinduism. There is no eternal hell. You have a continuity of consciousness when you transition to the inner worlds. There is no devil, but there are mischievous "asuras."
Path to Siva, Lesson 25.
Path to Siva, Lesson 25.
Good morning, reading Path to Siva, Lesson 25
"What About Evil, Hell and Sin?
"In the highest sense, there is no good or bad. God did not create evil as a force distinct from good. He granted to souls the divine laws of dharma and karma along with the freedom to act as they wish in the great ocean of experience. This is God's grace allowing us to learn and evolve. There is no eternal hell, nor is there a Satan. However, there are hellish states of mind and painful births for those who think and act wrongfully. Sin is related only to the lower, instinctive-intellectual nature as a transgression of dharma. Man's true nature is not sullied by sin, and no bad deed can cause the soul to be forever lost or damned. Still, wrongful actions are real and to be avoided, for they return to us as sorrow through the law of karma. Bad deeds can be atoned for with sadhana, worship and penance. As Saivites, we do not see a sharp contrast of good and evil in the world. Instead we understand that all people have a threefold nature: instinctive, intellectual and spiritual. The instinctive nature is the outer, lower or animal nature of I, me and mine. When it dominates, people become angry, fearful, greedy, jealous and hurtful. The intellectual nature is the soul's mental aspect. When it rules, people can become arrogant and prone to argument and conflict. the spiritual, or superconscious, nature of the soul is the source of compassion, insight, modesty, peace and understanding. The animal instincts of young souls are strong. Their intellect, which is needed to control the instincts, is yet to be developed. When we encounter meanness and wickedness in others, we recall this threefold nature and have compassion for those in the lower, instinctive states. We know they will continue to evolve, as they learn from their self-created karma. We also know there is no intrinsic evil."
And, Gurudeva's quote:
"Hinduism is such a joyous religion, freed of all the mental encumbrances that are prevalent in the various Western faiths. It is freed of the notion of a vengeful God. Is is freed of the notion of eternal suffering. It is freed from the notion of original sin."
Isn't that nice.
When it comes to this topic I always think about the interfaith event we had in Midland Texas in 2012 because it was such a clear juxtaposition of the two different ideas about man's nature. The question we were answering was:
"In your faith is humanity considered a one family?" That's the question. My answer was:
"The Hindu belief that gives rise to tolerances of differences in race and nationality is that all of mankind is good. We are all divine beings, souls created by God. Hindus do not accept the concept that some individuals are evil and others are good. Hindus believe in each individual as a soul, a divine being who is inherently good. Scriptures tell us that each soul is emanated from God as a spark from the fire, beginning a spiritual journey which will eventually lead us back to God. All human beings are on this journey whether they realize it or not."
Then we had the Baptist minister who we've known for many years, Dr. Randall Everett ,gave his point of view which is amazingly different.
"The idea of the oneness of humanity, this is where Christianity would differ from some other religions. We do believe in the oneness of humanity but that the oneness of humanity is that we are all a fallen people..."
So in that agenda, so different. "...We do believe in the oneness of humanity but the oneness of humanity is that we are all a fallen people. We do not believe that we are inherently good. We believe we are inherently selfish and self-centered. And that's why we need to be rescued or redeemed. And Christ rescues us from the domain of darkness."
Very different, right? Clearly the Baptist theology is focusing on what we call the instinctive nature, not talking about the other two natures being there, you know. We agree, you know, the instinctive nature has these qualities. "Inherently selfish and self-centered." Yes, that's our instinctive nature. But we also believe that without anybody's external help, we also have intellectual nature and more importantly the soul nature which is who we really are. The other natures are just around for very different idea altogether.
The threefold nature, which is what this is focusing on in the last part, is a very good concept to understand our self as well as others. And, as the text points out, the instinct is controlled eventually by the intellect getting developed. The intellect is very important in that that is what controls the instinct. But if we stop there, you know, we're not a spiritual being yet. Because the intellect, as this says, is prone to argumentation, intellectual pride. So, we have to develop the soul nature, the spiritual quality, the compassion, devotion to soften the intellect, put it in its place.
I like to say the intellect is like a computer. A computer, particularly when it's attached to the internet can be very distracting, go all over the place. But the computer, when we use it in a disciplined way is a great tool to get work done much more efficiently than we could without. If we're keyed to the intellect is the same. We need to use it in a disciplined way. As the computer is a tool for a disciplined person, so the intellect can be a useful tool for a disciplined soul. Something he can turn on and off when he needs it. You need to solve a mathematical problem you turn on your intellect. You're done with the problem you turn it off. You know you don't want it running all day long, constant analysis of life. Turn it on and off just like you would, then intellect is a useful tool to us and it's there to initially help us subdue the instinctive mind.
So these three qualities we can see in our self. Therefore, when we start to get angry we know that's a part of the instinctive mind. If we do get angry we know we can compensate for it. Through apology, doing some penance, skipping a meal. If we do something wrong we can get rid of it. We should never feel guilty about something we did. Hinduism is not a religion of guilt. If we did something and it makes us feel guilty it means we haven't done enough penance. We haven't apologized to enough people. We don't want any sense of guilt. Guilt is not part of Hinduism. We're not trying avoid it. Members of the Hindu religion don't need to be feel guilty. Trying to get rid of guilt.
And likewise, when looking at others we can see here, if we're upset and angry that they're in the instinctive mind and feel compassion toward them. Realize that's just a part of their mind, we also have intellect and soul nature and if we know them well we can help them move out of that instinctive area. So therefore, we can understand our behavior, with behavior of others by referencing it to these three phases of the mind. We call them phases. How the mind functions. States of mind are like rooms in a building. Phases of the mind are how the mind functions. It functions instinctively, intellectually or superconsciously. We can also call it intuitively if we want, three "i's:" Instinctive, intellectual and intuitive. Sometimes I do that in a keynote, that have the three "i's."
Another important point that this lesson makes is the idea of hell. It says very directly there is no eternal hell. Because we did something or we didn't do something we just don't go to an eternal hell. We don't believe that. But what is hell? Well hell starts out, as does heaven, as a state of mind. State of mind in the present. Hellish states of mind, heavenly states of mind. Someone can be in hell right now because they're totally disturbed on the inside. They're a constantly disturbed person, one reason or another. That's a hellish state of mind. We can be in a heavenly state of mind. Just come out of the temple, we're in a heavenly state of mind. We're in heaven.
Why do we say that? Because when we transition to the inner world we're still the same person. It's just like walking into another room in your house. You're still the same person, you're just in another environment. Your consciousness is unchanged from what it was before you walked into that room. Therefore, if you were in a hellish state of mind before you walked into that room, you're still in a hellish state of mind. One of the qualities that Gurudeva describes for the inner worlds is that like, is with life, just different than your, different things are all spread out. Cause in the inner worlds criminals gather together in the hellish states of mind. Saints gather together in the heavenly state of mind. But, so people gather together according to their natures in the inner worlds.
But it's not different, clearly, than the state of mind you're in in this world before you transition. kumbhabhishekam You just have a continuity of consciousness. You don't become a different person just because you don't have a physical body.
And then the last point, no Satan. What does that mean? It means there's no super villain, super force of evil. In Hinduism we just have asuras, none of them is a super being. None of them is Satan. They're just asuras; they're beings that cause mischief. Temples have to have guards for protection so that asuras don't get in. It's very important. I remember k, was a very simple kumbhabishekam, this little temple. And a priest was doing a homa, just one priest. And I've never seen someone put so much energy into creating protection. He was really, the half an hour ceremony was just devoted to protecting that homa from negative forces. Cause it was a construction site. And he was very concerned about negativity coming in disrupting the ceremony.
So, it's very important when you're out there, you know, in a construction site there's no protection that's been created. And we were advised, even for Iraivan Temple, not to do homas there. We did homas there a couple of times and we got scolded. So sthapati said: "You can't do that, there's no protection. You haven't established protection." Fire attracts all kinds of beings. And you can't just do a homa fire in an unprotected environment; it's not prudent. You can chant. It's fine to chant there but you don't want to do a homa fire in an unprotected environment. Even if you created protection then the presence of construction there takes it away. Presence of the weather can take it away too if you don't do ceremonies very often.
So protection is needed to keep asuras. And asuras aren't, as I say, super villains. They're just ordinary beings that take delight in causing mischief.
It's interesting to watch children. I have known some of the children in Malaysia. And one of them really liked, delights in causing mischief. He's not an asura. Unexaustingly playful and shall we say distracted by the opportunities to cause mischief. Easily distracted by the opportunities to cause mischief. So not an asura but childish. So he's not serious, he enjoys causing mischief in situations; I'm sure you know some children like that too. Asuras are more than that but they're nothing to be feared. But a temple needs to protect against that. That's well one of the reasons a temple feels so different is it has protection against certain beings and certain energies that you would feel in other places.
Well, thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.