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"Evil" and its Cause

by Martinus

We have all experienced in people's behaviour and way of being something that we call "evil". And the whole of human existence has for countless centuries been a struggle against this evil. Evil shows itself in the being's behaviour as a sabotaging of the life of others. And as long as the behaviour of human beings is infected with this tendency to sabotage other living beings to a greater or lesser extent, the living beings are bound to live in fear of one another. They must build up defences against each other. Living beings are the enemies of other living beings. And who are really without grounds to fear their fellow beings? Even though today a being can have an extremely loving way of being, it can later on change its mind and "evil" can emerge in its behaviour. And in the worst cases the being can become a deadly enemy, doing all it can to destroy the lives of people who previously had been very good friends. It goes without saying that this tendency in human behaviour in the first instance is something "evil" for the living beings themselves. But where does the origin of this evil lie? Is it something that one can protect oneself against? People have through the ages been given many precepts as to how to combat "this evil", but one cannot say that evil has become less widespread among people. The precepts have sometimes been completely contradictory. What was previously considered to be the way out of evil has later been claimed to be precisely what has driven people into evil. In fact people have even worshipped evil in a religious way. People have murdered and killed and even sought to be killed themselves because they believed that it would be pleasing to the gods and so must be what is right and perfect in existence. Later on they strongly claimed that murdering and killing was definitely not pleasing to the gods or Providence and so was sinful, or something that people should not do. But people have frightful difficulties complying with this religious warning that they must not kill. People plead that they are compelled to defend themselves against other people's wickedness. If they did not they could be trampled down themselves, beaten into submission or wiped out. The warning of the fifth commandment "Thou shalt not kill", the warning that one should "turn the right cheek when smitten on the left" and the warning that one should forgive one's neighbour's wickedness not just seven times a day but seventy times seven times, seem to be pure madness, the absurd attitude of a fanatic and the height of primitiveness and sheer stupidity. But the intelligent and humanely orientated human being of modern times is in actual fact not blameless at all; nor is he helpless when it comes to knowing what he should and should not do in a situation of evil that one's neighbour puts one in. We must look at life and how it was formed. If we look back at life in the perspective of a long evolution, we see that it has developed from a primitive to a more perfect state. At first the Earth was a sea of fire, later it cooled down. It was one single great volcanic desert. No life could survive yet on the physical plane. Gradually it became possible for plants to grow and after that for animals to appear on the Earth. And out of the animal kingdom grew the human being. And the human being is still evolving. If we look at this evolution, we can see that it has taken life to more perfect and more complex forms. One can already see that the aim of this evolution is to perfect life for the living being. It is therefore one and the same being that has evolved through the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms and is evolving towards the now incipient human kingdom. And as evolution is continuous it becomes clear that as yet nothing is finished or perfect in this process of life-improvement. Humans are the beings that have come the furthest in improving or perfecting the experience of life or existence. But they have not yet become finished or completely evolved beings.

So what is there left in the human being for Nature to perfect? What is there in human existence that disturbs the being's everyday existence? Is it not precisely what we call "evil"? And this evil in its worst form is what produces hostility between people. The fact that it is possible for hostility to arise between people is actually what remains for evolution to remove from human existence. When hostility can no longer arise between people evolution will have reached the end of its mission. The human being will then appear in the image of God.

It is true that animals live in combat with each other. For them killing in order to live is a condition of life. But evolution has not perfected them as much as it has humans. That is why humans have become human beings; they are more advanced in evolution and so are above the animals. For this reason the human being cannot use the animal as a model for its own existence. An animal kills in order to live because it is a condition of its existence. But you cannot say that the same applies to the human being. It is true that people have not as yet realised this at all. Humankind is only just in the initial tender stages of waking up from the animal states. It has still not realised that in fact it is liberated from the killing principle. It still believes that it has to defend itself. This is a consequence of past animal traditions going back thousands of years.

But it is not only the idea that the human has to defend itself against attack; the mistaken understanding that it must go on using the principle of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" as the real basis of life still gives rise to fights with its neighbour too. And it also believes that it cannot live without having to eat the organisms of other animals and that it is totally dependent on eating animal food; for this reason it is compelled to kill. Even though humans long ago have left the area where eating animal food is a condition of life, they still believe quite instinctively - for it cannot be through a process of reasoning - in these traditions as a condition of life. They have no inkling of the great process of liberation that they have embarked on. In the whole of this area, the relationship to one's neighbour is bound by tradition based on the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, and the relationship to nutrition is similarly bound by tradition, that is to say on conceptions based on instinct. In this respect the modern civilized human being is just as much a believer as the religious person who believes in the dogmas and traditions of the church. Even though the beings that proclaim the morality of revenge, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, and believe that animal food is the right kind and that killing animals is quite natural, even though these beings are very strongly developed intellectually as far as material matter is concerned, or concerning technology, chemistry and many other subjects and areas of material science, they are nevertheless only believers when it comes to life's most important fields. And so that means that in the way they relate to their neighbour, in the way they relate to animals and in the way they relate to their own nutrition, they are ordinarily only instinctive, believers. Their life has become intellectual only in purely dead areas. In these dead areas, that is to say the materialistic ones, they have quickly become intellectual and creative geniuses. We have seen what a colossal difference evolution has made here between animals and humans. But in relation to living phenomena, their neighbour, that is to say their fellow human beings and animals, they still live in a darkness that has its roots right back in their animal origins. At this point it is easy to see that what remains for evolution to perfect is the humans' still unfinished condition in their relating to their neighbour. And it is just as obvious that before humans become as intellectual in their relating to living things as they now are in their relating to dead things or matter, it will be impossible for them to reap in this field a sense of well-being and blessing equivalent to that which they have long since reaped in their relating to physical matter.

So what will evolution change in this still unfinished field of Man? Evolution will liberate him from the heavy burden of having to maintain his life by killing, of having to live in fear and dread of other beings, of having to live in fear of death. This heavy burden that these days weighs people down to the Earth and causes so many sufferings, indeed even Hell or Armageddon, will of course be banished from the daily life of humans just as much as the heavy burden that working with physical matter once was has now been banished by means of technology, science and machinery from the physical backs and hands of humans.

But just as people will not gain mastery over physical matter through belief, but through intellectuality, in just the same way they will not be able to gain mastery over psychic matter, or be released from the dark enslavement of war and massacres, without intellectuality combined with the beginnings of a new faculty in humans, namely humaneness. With intellect and humaneness combining and working together in the consciousness and thereby affecting the will, humans become released from the prison of belief and dogma in relation to their neighbour. This combined intellectuality and humaneness, which is high intellectuality, is what will explain to people that all the manifestations that bring about death, that are poisonous and bring about hostility between people are foolish, cause illness and undermine all civilisation and everything that works for peace. It will show people that hostility cannot be overcome by hostility but only by friendship. Everything that people do to one another in the direction of creating hostilities thus comes about exclusively through ignorance and superstition. So it is necessary to excuse these beings, even though one naturally has to protect oneself against them, but absolutely not by using anger, punishment or execution. In this lies the great saving or the salvation of humankind, in other words through understanding that evil does not arise from wickedness, but from ignorance on the part of its originator. Christ knew this on the cross when he said about the people crucifying him, "...they know not what they do". Similarly humans will also, through their talent for humaneness and feeling, be released from the superstition that eating meat and killing animals is a condition of life; they will come round to eating food from plants, where the degree of killing is a very small fraction of the degree of killing involved in procuring animal food, quite apart from the illnesses one is freed from through eating vegetarian food, which is the only rightful food for humans.

Furthermore evolution will lead people on to being able to live off pure fruit flesh around the core, in which case there is absolutely no killing involved at all. This fruit flesh dies an unnatural death unless it is taken up as nourishment in an organism.

So the cause of evil lies in the fact that almost all people on the Earth are still uninformed, instinctive believers in the way that they relate to living things, their neighbour, living beings, even though they are highly scientific in the way that they relate to physical matter. They will come to see that the cause of all wickedness is ignorance. And the only way to counteract wickedness is through education, personal experience, understanding and friendship not through hostility. So people's superstition today is that they believe that hostility can be wiped out by hostility, hatred by hatred and war by war. Hostility can only be banished by friendship, hatred by love and war by peace. Spiritual or mental science is therefore the salvation of the world or its liberation from evil.




From a lecture Martinus gave at the Martinus Institute on Sunday 5th February. Martinus' manuscript for the lecture was proofread and typed up by Tage Buch.

Original Danish title: "Det Onde" og dets årsag.

First published in the Danish edition of Kosmos no. 7, 1981.

Translated by Andrew Brown, 1995.


Article ID: M1860

Published in the English edition of Kosmos no. 5, 1995


© Martinus Institut 1981,

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