Often one wonders at this saying in the Bible, and it
is not always given the right interpretation. To interpret
it, the first thing is to explain what evil means. Is there
any particular action, is there any particular thing that
one can point out as being evil? No doubt man is always
apt to point out a certain action as evil, but nothing can
be evil according to a fixed principle. What then is evil?
It is something which is void of harmony, which lacks beauty,
something from which love is missing. Beyond and above all,
it is something which does not fit into the accommodation
of life. What fits into the accommodation that life offers
cannot be evil; it is the characteristic of evil that it
does not fit into it.
Evil may be likened to fire. The nature of fire is to
destroy everything that comes into its fold. The power of
evil is as great as the power of fire, and at the same time
evil is as weak as fire, for fire does not endure, and so
evil does not last. As fire destroys itself, so evil is
its own destruction. Why is it said, 'Do not resist evil?'
Because resistance gives life to evil, non-resistance lets
it burn itself out.
In the form of anger, passion, greed, or stubbornness
one sees evil, and also in the form of deceit and treachery.
But the root of evil is one, and that is selfishness. In
one person's heart the evil is perhaps manifest on the surface,
in another person it is in the depth.
There is a saying in the East, 'Do not invoke the name
of Satan or he will rise from his grave.' An inconsiderate
or tactless person always falls into the error of awakening
this evil even if it is asleep, for he does not know the
music of life. In order to live in the world one should
become a musician of life. Every person therein is a note,
and the one who feels this way has an instrument before
him: the whole world is an instrument upon which a symphony
is to be played.
Even in small things one can observe the same law.
Very often the great trouble that one has in life is not
due to the difficulty of others, but to a lack of
comprehension of human nature. If one knew human nature,
not to resist evil would be the first and the last lesson to learn, for resistance becomes fuel to its fire. If one
tells someone, 'Do not do this,' if one asks someone, 'Why
did you do it?' if one says to someone, 'You have done such
and such a thing,' by all these words one only makes evil
stronger; one makes the person firmer in his fault.
Everyone in this world can be a teacher – but not a real
teacher. A real teacher is the one who always teaches himself,
and the more he teaches himself, the more he finds that
there is so much to be taught.
This self has so many lacks that a whole lifetime is not
enough to teach it. The more the self learns, the more it
overlooks the evil in others. It does not mean that the
evil is not in others; it only means that one finds in oneself
the enemy which one was seeing outwardly. And the worst
enemy one was faced with in outer life one finds to be in
one's own heart. It makes one feel humiliated, but it teaches
the true lesson: one finds oneself having the same element
which one wishes to resist in another.
Life is a place where gentle movement is necessary. In
thought, speech or action, in everything the rhythm must
be controlled; the law of harmony should be observed in
all that one does. One should know that, when walking barefoot
on thorns, even they will not allow one to be free from
the accusation: the thorns will accuse one of having trampled
upon them. If the delicacy of living in this world is to
that extent, can one say, 'I have gained sufficient wisdom,'
or can anyone say, 'I can afford to live in this world without
giving a thought to this problem?'
The problem of evil is great. Many cannot tolerate to
hear the name of evil, but they are faced with it every
moment of their lives and therefore to leave this problem
unsolved does not help. Besides this, everyone is ready
to judge, to observe, or to take notice of the evil in another,
not knowing that sometimes the surface of a thing is quite
different from its depth. Maybe what seems evil has something
good inside it, or what is good in appearance may have a
spark of evil inside. By what standard can we determine
evil and good, and who can judge the evil and good of any
If one can judge something it is one's own evil and good.
No one except God has the power to judge another. The sense
of justice that is given to man is for judging his own actions,
and if he judges himself he uses this sense best, because
it is for this purpose that the sense of justice has been
given to him.
When we look at life through a telescope, we shall find
that it is nothing but a struggle for living, individually
and collectively and it appears that, if there is anything
worthwhile in this life, it is what is besides this struggle:
giving and taking kindness and love, doing any action of
unselfishness. However qualified a person in the things
of the world, his qualification reaches a certain extent
and does not go beyond. The whole qualification required
is the understanding of life, understanding of the law which
is working behind it. It is this qualification alone which
will diminish man's continual struggle in life. It will
diminish his struggle in this way that it will give him
less to resist. It will make him more tolerant of the natural
condition of human beings. As soon as one realizes that
one cannot expect from anyone something of which he is not
capable, one becomes tolerant.
The difficulty is that everyone demands more of another
person in the way of thought and consideration, of kindness
and love, than he does of himself. Man wants more justice
and fairness on the part of another than he is himself
to give; and his standard may be so high that another person
cannot keep up to it, which in turn makes him disappointed.
What generally happens is that one does not just remain
quiet after being disappointed but one resists, and so the
struggle of life continues. One should not expect the pear
tree to bear roses, nor the rose bush to produce jasmine.
Every person is like a certain plant, but not the same plant.
We may be fond of roses, but every plant does not bear roses;
if we want roses, we should seek only the plant on which
roses grow, and we must not be disappointed if what we find
is not the rose plant. In this way we can correct our own
When people say that someone is bad it really means
that the surface has become bad. The depth cannot be
bad, however bad a person may seem. For goodness is life
itself; and a person who would be all bad could not
live. The very fact that he is living shows that there
is a spark of goodness in him. Besides just as there are
various objects so there are various persons; some show
softness inside; some are very good in the depth and evil on the surface;
and some are
evil on the surface and good in the depth, for there are
as many different varieties as there are souls.
What education, what point of view, what attitude in
life is the best and will give the greatest happiness? It
is the attitude of overlooking evil instead of resisting
it. There are three ways of living one's life, which can
be compared with the struggling in the sea whose waves are
rising and falling all the time. The first will struggle
as long as life will permit; but the rising and falling
of the waves in the sea continue forever and ever, and in
the end he will be drowned. And so it is with man. He struggles
along, intoxicated by his struggle. How long will it go
on? As long as his energy will permit it, and in the end
he will be drowned. In this struggle he may seem powerful,
he may seem to have overcome others, he may seem to have
done things greater than others – but what is it after all?
In the end that person is drowned.
There is another man who knows how to move his arms harmoniously
in the water, and who has got the rhythm of moving his arms
and legs. He swims with the rising and falling of the waves,
he is not struggling. This man has a hope of arriving at
the port, if only the port is near. If his ideal is not
too far off, then he is the one to accomplish it.
The third person is the one who walks above and over
the water. It is this which is the meaning of Christ's walking
upon the sea. Life is just like waves, it is making its
way continually. The one who allows himself to be disturbed
by it will be more and more disturbed every day. The one
who does not take notice of it will keep the quietness which
is his own within himself. The one who sees all things and
yet rises above all things is the one who will walk upon
No one can reach the highest summit of life, the
summit of wisdom, in a moment's time; even a lifetime is
too short. Yet hope is necessary. The one who hopes and
sees the possibilities walks towards the summit. The one
who has no hope has no legs to mount on this hill of wisdom,
the summit of which is the desired goal.
Question: How can anyone at the head of a business or
institution possibly keep to the rule of not resisting evil?
Answer: I have seen people at the head of certain factories
who had won the heart of every worker, and another head
of a factory whom every worker was speaking against. It
may be that the latter made a greater profit than the former,
but in the end he would find the profit of the former more
durable than his own.
The manner of wisdom and tenderness cannot be made into
principles to which people should be restricted. A brush
cannot take the place of a knife, and therefore, everyone has
to use every manner and action according to the situation.
Nevertheless, the thought of not resisting evil should always
be at the back of it.
Question: How can one manage a person who is really bad?
Answer: If a person is 'really bad' it means that the
whole surface has become bad, but still the depth cannot
be bad. However bad a person, the depth cannot
be bad, for goodness is life itself and a person who is
all bad cannot live. The very fact that he is alive shows
that there is a spark of goodness in him. Besides, just
as there are various objects, so there are various persons.
Some show softness outside, hardness inside; some show harness
outside and softness inside. Some have good in the depth
and evil on the surface, and some have evil in the depth
and good on the surface, because as many souls there are,
so many are the varieties.
Question: Is there a system to take away evil?
Answer: That system is understanding life more and more;
it is keeping the love element alive, trying to keep an
harmonious attitude as much as possible, and then keeping
beauty before oneself.
It is difficult, but it is possible when we have the
spirit never to be really grown-up, never to close our heart
to learning, always to be ready whatever our age, to accept
what is harmonious and beautiful. When one thinks, 'What
I think is right,' and one finds arguments and reasons to
make it right and when one thinks, 'What the other person
thinks is wrong' and one finds reasons to make it wrong,
one will always remain in the same place. But when one is
ready to accept, even from a child, that something one says
may be wrong, one thinks, 'Even though it is a child who
said it, it is a profit for me to accept it.' God has not
spoken only through His prophets, He speaks through every
person, if we open our hearts to listen. The difficulty
is that we become teachers. If throughout our whole life
we remain pupils, teaching will come all the time from within
and without. As soon as we become teachers we close our
hearts from Him who alone is our Teacher.
Question: If we want to be kind to a person, how can
we prevent him from abusing our kindness?
Answer: Our part is to be kind; that person's part is
to use it rightly. It is not our part to see that the other
person makes the right use of our kindness. If we think
about that we shall forget our part.
Question: How can we help a person who does not understand
our kindness and is doing harm?
Answer: Love is a conqueror, and in the end will conquer.
It is not only the person outside whom love will conquer,
but it will conquer the self of the one who loves. This
is the conquering of the kingdom of God. The power of love
is penetrating, nothing can resist it in the end, and by
giving kindness we have not lost anything. It is an element
which is never lessened, it is a treasure which is divine.
When we consider whether a person is worthy or unworthy
we limit our love to a channel, but when we allow that feeling
of kindness to flow it will develop into a continually flowing
condition. Then kindness will work out its destiny without
any intention on our part.