Inter -  Faiths  Dialogue

Others > Good & Evil

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G od said to Moses once: "Go out and find
The secret truth that haunts the devil's mind."
When Moses met the devil that same day
He asked for his advice and heard him say:
"Remember this, repeat it constantly,
Don't speak of 'me', or you will be like me."
If life still holds you by a single hair,
The end of your toil will be dispair;
No matter how you prosper, there will rise
Before your face a hundred smirking "I"s.

Islam / Sufism Quote n°4524 | 
The Conference of the Birds, p150. 

O nce there lived a housewife named Vedehika who had a reputation for gentleness, modesty, and courtesy. She had a housemaid named Kali who was efficient and industrious and who managed her work well. Then it occurred to Kali the housemaid, "My mistress has a very good reputation; I wonder whether she is good by nature, or is good because my work, being well-managed, makes her surroundings pleasant. What if I were to test my mistress?"

The following morning Kali got up late. Then Vedehika shouted at her maid, "Hey, Kali!" "Yes, madam?" "Hey, what makes you get up late?" "Nothing in particular, madam." "Nothing in particular, eh, naughty maid, and you get up late?" And being angry and offended, she frowned.

Then it occurred to Kali, "Apparently, my mistress does have a temper inwardly, though she does not show it because my work is well-managed. What if I were to test her further?" Then she got up later. Thereupon Vedehika shouted at her maid, "Hey, Kali, why do you get up late?" "No particular reason, madam." "No particular reason, eh, and you are up late?" she angrily hurled at her words of indignation.

Then it occurred to Kali, "Apparently, my mistress does have a temper inwardly, though she does not show it because my work is well-managed. What if I were to test her still further?" She got up still later. Thereupon Vedehika shouted at her, "Hey, Kali, why do you get up late?" and she angrily took up the bolt of the door-bar and hit her on the head, cutting it. Thereupon Kali, with cut head and blood trickling down, denounced her mistress before the neighbors, saying, "Madam, look at the work of the gentle lady, madam, look at the action of the modest lady, madam, look at the action of the quiet lady. Why must she get angry and offended because I got up late and hit me, her only maid, cutting me on the head?" Thus the housewife lost her good reputation.

Analogously, brethren, a person here happens to be very gentle, very humble, and very quiet as long as unpleasant things do not touch him. It is only when unpleasant things happen to a person that it is known whether he is truly gentle, humble, and quiet.

Buddhism Quote n°4282 | 
Majjhima Nikaya i.123-24, Kakucapama Sutta 

E vil and good are not equal, even though the abundance of evil may amaze you; so heed God, you men of wits, so that you may prosper!

Islam Quote n°4280 | 
Qur'an 5.100 

I s there a "righteous man" who is good and a righteous man who is not good? He who is good to Heaven and good to man, he is a righteous man who is good; good to Heaven but not good to man, that is a righteous man who is evil... But a wicked man who is evil to Heaven and evil to man, he is a wicked man who is evil; he who is evil to Heaven but not evil to man, that is a wicked man who is not evil.

Judaism Quote n°4279 | 
Kiddushin 40a 

H ear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.... Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man.

Christianity Quote n°4278 | 
Matthew 15.11-20 

N ow the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.

Christianity Quote n°4277 | 
Galatians 5.19-23 

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Christianity Quote n°4264 | 
Romans 7.15-24 

A las, all my efforts have come to nothing!
I have not lessened my pride,
I have not cast down my vanity:
My mind is still the slave of evil impulses!
Nanak prays, O Lord, save, save!

Sikhism Quote n°4263 | 

R abbi Isaac said, "Man's evil inclination renews itself daily against him, as it is said, 'Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil every day.' [Genesis 6.5]." And Rabbi Simeon ben Levi said, "Man's evil inclination gathers strength against him daily and seeks to slay him... and were not the Holy One, blessed be He, to help him, he could not prevail against it."

Judaism Quote n°4262 | 
Kiddushin 30b 

E ven those who seem to be "devils," derive their existence from the Good, and are naturally good], and desire the Beautiful and Good in desiring existence, life, and consciousness, ... And they are called evil through the deprivation and the loss whereby they have lapsed from their proper virtues. Hence they are evil only insofar as they lack [true] existence; and in desiring evil, they desire non-existence. (1)

... Even so, we say that the air is darkened around us by a deficiency and absence of the light; while yet the light is itself always light and illumines the darkness. Therefore, evil inheres not in the devils or in us, as evil, but only as a deficiency and lack of the perfection of our proper virtues. (2)

Thus evil has no being, nor any inherence in things that have being. Evil is nowhere qua evil; and it arises not through any power but through weakness.(3) ... in a word, evil is weakness, impotence, and deficiency of knowledge... (4)

Christianity Quote n°3675 | 
(1) The Divine Names, IV.23; Rolt, 1920 ; (2) The Divine Names, IV.24; Rolt, 1920 ; (3) The Divine Names, IV.34; Rolt, 1920 ; (4) The Divine Names, IV.35; Rolt, 1920 

E verything good and bad comes from your own mind. To find something beyond the mind is impossible.

Buddhism / Mahayana / Zen (Chan) Quote n°3248 | 
The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma. Trans. Red Pine. New York: North Point Press, 1987. The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma. Trans. Red Pine. New York: North Point Press, 1987, p. 77 

T he disciples of Abu al-Bistami once complained to him about the Devil. They said, "The Devil takes away our faith.' The sheikh then summoned the Devil and questioned him. The Devil said, I cannot force anyone to do anything. I fear God too much to dare to try that. Actually, most people throw their faith away for all sorts of trivial reasons. I simply pick up the faith they throw away.

Islam / Sufism Quote n°2948 | 
Essential Sufism, by James Fadiman & Robert Frager, Harper SanFrancisco, p.172 

T he signs of misfortune lie in four conditions: eyes that have never experienced tears, a heart that is cruel and hard, long chains of desires that never end, and wishing for an extremely prolonged life.

Islam Quote n°2915 | 
Hadith, Essential Sufism, by James Fadiman & Robert Frager, Harper SanFrancisco, p.88 

R abbi Abraham said:
"I have learned a new form of service from the wars of Frederick, king of Prussia. It is not necessary to approach the enemy in order to attack him. In fleeing from him, it is possible to circumvent him as he advances and fall on him from the rear and force him to surrender. What is needed is not to strike straight at evil but to withdraw to the sources of divine power, and from there to circle around evil, bend it and transform it into its opposite."

Judaism / Hassidism Quote n°2781 | 
Martin Buber’s ten rungs, collected Hassidic saying, p.95 

I n the story of the Creation we read: ". . . And behold, it was very good." But, in the passage where Moses reproves Israel, the verse says: "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil." Where did the evil come from?
Evil too is good. It is the lowest rung of perfect goodness. If you do good deeds, even evil will become good; but if you sin, evil will really become evil.

Judaism / Hassidism Quote n°2779 | 
Martin Buber’s ten rungs, collected Hassidic saying, p.89 

Q uestion: The Talmud says that the child in the womb of his mother looks from one end of the world to the other and knows all the teachings, but that the instant he comes in contact with the air of earth an angel strikes him on the mouth, and he forgets everything. I do not understand why this should be: why first know everything and then forget it?
Answer: A trace is left behind in man through which he can reacquire the knowledge of the world and the teachings, and do God's service.
Question. But why must the angel strike man? If he did not, there would be no evil.
Answer: But if there were no evil, there would be no good, for good is the counterpart of evil.
Everlasting delight is no delight. That is how we must interpret what we are taught: that the creation of the world took place for the good of its creatures. And that is why it is written. "It is not good that the man" - that is to say the primal man God created-"should be alone," that is, without the counter effect and the hindrance of the Evil Inclination, as was the case before the creation of the world. For there is no good unless its counterpart exists. And further on we read: "I will make him a help meet for him" - the fact that evil confronts good gives man the possibility of victory: of rejecting evil and choosing good. Only then does the good exist truly and perfectly.

Judaism / Hassidism Quote n°2778 | 
Martin Buber’s ten rungs, collected Hassidic saying, p.89 

A ll things of this world, be they seemingly good or bad, faulty or faultless, effect-producing or not effect-producing, receptive or non-receptive, may be divided into two classes: evil out-flowings and the non out-flowing good. The five grasping elements that make up the aggregates of personality, namely, form, sensation, perception, discrimination, and consciousness, and that are imagined to be good or bad, have their rise in the habit-energy of the mind-system, they are the evil out-flowings of life. The spiritual attainments and the joys of the Samadhis and the fruitage of the Samapatis that come to the wise through their self-realization of Noble Wisdom and that culminate in their return and participation in the relations of the triple world are called the non out-flowing good.

Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2570 | 
Ch.IV, p.303, in Dwight Goddard, A Buddhist bible 

I n the original substance of the mind there is no distinction of good and evil. When the will becomes active, however, such distinction exists. The faculty of innate knowledge is to know good and evil. The investigation of things is to do good and to remove evil.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2450 | 
Wang Wen-ch'eng Kung ch'uan-shu, or Complete Works of Wang Yang-ming, Instruction for a Practical Living, 3:45b-47b, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 35 
This conversation concerning the famous "doctrine in four axioms" raises a fundamental issue and led to a bitter controversy both inside and outside the Wang Yang-ming School. The issue is whether the mind in its original substance transcends good and evil, as the Buddhists would say, or is fundamentally good, as the Confucianists insist. In his teachings Wang Chi interpreted the four axioms to mean the absence of distinction between good and evil and that sagehood comes through a direct intuition of reality in its totality. Ch'ien Te-hung, on the other hand, interpreted them to mean that the distinction exists and that sagehood comes only through moral efforts to do good and overcome evil. Actually Wang Yang-ming taught both, as the conversation clearly shows. It is only because they represented two sharply divergent tendencies within the Wang Yang-ming School, one emphasizing intuitive awakening and the other emphasizing moral endeavor, that they have given the doctrine a one-sided interpretation.

T he Teacher said, "The highest good is the original substance of the mind. When one deviates a little from this original substance, there is evil. It is not that there is a good and there is also an evil to oppose it. Therefore good and evil are one thing."
Having heard our Teacher's explanation, I know that we can no longer doubt Master Ch'eng Hao's sayings, "Man's nature is of course good, but it cannot be said that evil is not our nature" (1) and "Good and evil in the world are both the Principle of Nature. What is called evil is not originally evil. It becomes evil only because of deviation from the Mean." (2)

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2445 | 
Wang Wen-ch'eng Kung ch'uan-shu, or Complete Works of Wang Yang-ming, Instruction for a Practical Living, 3:12b-13a, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 35 
(1) I-shu, 1:7b. (2) I-shu, 2A: I b.

I n that case, good and evil are not present in things at all.
"They are only in your mind. Following the Principle of Nature is good, while perturbing the vital force is evil."
"After all, then, things are devoid of good and evil?"
"This is true of the mind. It is also true of things. Famous but mediocre scholars fail to realize this. They neglect the mind and chase after material things, and consequently get a wrong view of the way to investigate things. All day long they restlessly seek principle in external things. They only succeed in getting at it by incidental deeds of righteousness. All their lives they act in this way without understanding it and act habitually without examination.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2442 | 
Wang Wen-ch'eng Kung ch'uan-shu, or Complete Works of Wang Yang-ming, Instruction for a Practical Living, 1: 47b-49b, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 35 

T he Teacher said, "The state of having neither good nor evil is that of principle in tranquility. Good and evil appear when the vital force is perturbed. If the vital force is not perturbed, there is neither good nor evil, and this is called the highest good."

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2439 | 
Wang Wen-ch'eng Kung ch'uan-shu, or Complete Works of Wang Yang-ming, Instruction for a Practical Living, 1: 47b-49b, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 35 

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