Duality of Good and Evil Does Not Arise in World of Matter

Sri Aurobindo continues his exploration of the origin and significance of falsehood and evil by looking at the various planes of existence to determine whether we can find the action of the dualities that give rise to them at each plane. Starting with the material plane, Sri Aurobindo points out that there does not appear to be any conscious intentionality in the actions of the material world, per se, that would give rise to the conclusion that “good” and “evil” are inherent in the material plane.

He explains: “It is only by contact with conscious beings that material objects exercise powers or influences which can be called good or evil: but that good or evil is determined by the contacted being’s sense of help or harm, of benefit or injury from them; these values do not belong to the material object but to some Force that uses it or they are created by the consciousness that contacts it. Fire warms a man or burns him, but that is as involuntarily he meets it or voluntarily uses it; a medicinal herb cures or a poison kills, but the value of good or evil is brought into action by the user: it is to be observed too that a poison can cure as well as kill, a medicine kill or harm as well as cure or benefit. The world of pure Matter is neutral, irresponsible; these values insisted on by the human being do not exist in material Nature: as a superior Nature transcends the duality of good and evil, so this inferior Nature falls below it.”

While occult knowledge may find that specific material objects can have conscious influences of good or evil attached to them, “it might still be held that this does not affect the neutrality of the object which does not act by an individualised consciousness but only as it is utilised for good or for evil or for both together: the duality of good and evil is not native to the material principle, it is absent from the world of Matter.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 14, The Origin and Remedy of Falsehood, Error, Wrong and Evil

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