We all must mourn the loss of innocence—of the delusion that everyone cares about others’ best interests—and accept the existence of evil in the world. In an Absolute sense, everything arises from Love. Dante understood this; in his Commedia, evil is simply twisted Love. But though evil, like everything else, arises from Love, it rejects its origin and deludes itself and the world into thinking that it is self-sufficient.
Love, as the ground of All, leads us to Unity; it is both the source and the end of every separate self. Evil, because it is the extremity of separateness, denies Love. This is why evil can never last: it denies its own foundation.
So while Love constantly recalls our separate selves to Unity, evil feeds on its own separateness and seeks to divide and conquer the separate selves around it. Both Love and evil therefore target the small self, but in very different ways: one to lead it to joy and freedom, the other to drive it to despair. The motivation makes the difference. Evil appears at first to be good and therefore deludes and disheartens the individual. Evil always gives rise to evil. Love always goes to Love. Baba used to say that both a cutthroat and a surgeon use the same action, but because their motives are different, the results are different.
Discernment is so important here. Both Love and evil strive to break the individual, but to what end? An evil person breaks another person’s spirit in order to gratify him or herself. A true Guru breaks students’ wrong identification with individuality in order to free them to be who they truly are. There is a difference between breaking an individual’s spirit and breaking one’s attachments. One destroys, and one frees.
But to a deluded person, both those actions look the same. Only when we begin to see clearly can we discern that there is no serving two masters: the individual self and God. Refinement of our character brings the ability to distinguish between Love and evil, and the recognition that we must surrender to God, which is something that evil will never do. If we serve God, everything else is taken care of—not necessarily the way we would prefer, but the way it should be.
Evil wants us to commit blasphemy and surrender to individual separateness. God wants us to surrender to God, to the Self, who we truly are. We have to discern whom we are going to surrender to, but surrender we must. Surrendering to evil is a habit; surrendering to God is a skill and a conscious practice. When we choose God, surrender means purifying our will. We all have to learn how to do this. The skill of surrender has to be honed through instruction and constant practice. Without the skill and practice of surrender to God, we go nowhere, fail to change, and remain committed to our shrunken self as the highest truth.
To learn this skill of surrender, we must have a teacher. The danger is that if you do not have either a Guru’s guidance or the most extraordinary self-awareness and discernment, you run the risk of thinking you are surrendering when in fact you are hardening into an “enlightened” individual. In conflating your individual will with Spirit, you are hardening into “goodness” and therefore separateness from God. You will turn your back on God and the teacher because you believe the teacher is trying to break your spirit instead of break down your individual prison.
If you have problems with a teacher in human form, then don’t think in terms of surrendering to that person; surrender to God, to Love, to the true Self. The teacher, if true, will then be very happy with what you are doing.
In order to surrender to God, to Love, to the true Self, we have to be full participants in breaking the delusion of individual separateness. To people who lack discernment and are committed to their own separateness, this process can look like brainwashing. The irony is that when evil looks to break the individual’s spirit, those same people do not recognize it for what it is; because they are wed to their individuality, they believe they are being affirmed even in their degradation.
Our responsibility is to wake up, learn discernment, and give up the pride of individual separateness. Then, and only then, can we practice and embody the Love that overcomes evil.
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