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Why does evil enter one’s life? || (2018)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
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The Two Hermits Upon a lonely mountain, there lived two hermits who worshipped God and loved one another. Now, these two hermits had one earthen bowl and this was their only possession. One day, an evil spirit entered into the heart of the older hermit and he came to the younger and said, “It is long that we have lived together. The time has come for us to part. Let us divide our possessions.”

Then the younger hermit was saddened and he said, “It grieves me brother, that you should leave me. But if you need so, so be it”, and he brought the earthen bowl and gave it to him saying, “We cannot divide it, brother, let it be thine.” Then the older hermit said, “Charity I will not accept. I will take nothing but my own. It must be divided”.

Then the younger one said, “If the bowl was broken, of what use would it be to thee or to me? If it be thy pleasure, let us rather cast a lot”. But the older hermit said again, “I will have but justice and mine own and I will not trust justice and mine own to vain chance. The bowl must be divided”.

Then the younger hermit could reason no further and he said, “If it indeed be thy will, and if even so thou would have it, let us now break the bowl”. But the face of the older hermit grew exceedingly dark and he cried, “O you cursed coward, you would not fight”.

~ Khalil Gibran

Acharya Prashant: What is the older hermit fighting on behalf of? The older hermit is fighting on behalf of the evil spirit. Gibran says, the evil spirit entered the heart of the older hermit and then he started bickering and quarreling. Right? Once your heart, which in my language would be, the mind - for me, the heart is the pure mind that no evil spirit can enter.

Once the mind becomes a host to the evil spirit, then it does not need a reason to fight. Then it is already fighting. The fight has already begun. The fight will manifest for this reason or the other. No specific reason is needed. What is a fight? An absence of love, division.

Had there been love in the first place, how could have the mind hosted the evil spirit? The mind has resources, time, energy not sufficient enough, even to complete the endeavor of hosting the Truth. From where did the mind get the space, the liberty, the occasion to entertain the evil? Surely, there was very little love for the Truth.

When there is lovelessness, then there is a gaping hole; It pains, a festering wound. Its mouth is open, begging to receive something, anything. When you do not have the Truth in your life, then you will be prepared to receive any kind of filth. Such is your deep loneliness.

Truth has no substitute. Truth has no competitor. There is nobody or nothing next to the Truth. So either there is Truth or there is filth. When you have no love for Truth, then you do not get something second best. Then you get that which is the lowest, the lowliest, the absolute base. It's all or nothing.

Either you’ll have Truth or you will have evil. There is no spectrum, there is no range. There is no intermediate possibility. From evil to Truth is not a progression, it is a dimensional jump. It is a quantum change. Nothing connects these two. There is no bridge. These are two separate dimensions and you cannot have one leg here and the other there.

How do you know if you are in the evil or the evil is in you? Simple, if you are not in God, then you are in evil; because there is no middle ground. The Absolute is absolutely demanding as well. The Absolute says, "Either be hundred percent with me or not at all!" You cannot be halfway through to the Truth. You cannot have a mixed allegiance to the Truth.

So we are talking of hermits, not ordinary men. They would have surely gone through spiritual practices, undertaken austerities, and yet a moment comes when the love for purity does not remain absolute. It diminishes a little, just a little; and you assume that you would be forgiven, that your slight would be pardoned.

No! We just said that the Absolute is absolutely demanding as well. Even a hint of disloyalty, and you are light years away from him. Then you are lonely, very lonely. This loneliness is a fight, this loneliness is violence. You are not at peace, you are quarrelsome. First of all, you hate yourself and therefore you keep finding faults with the world.

“So there must be a division of our belongings, of our assets”, says the older hermit. Why must there be a division? “No reason. I just don’t like you anymore”. It is not as if the older one has suddenly started disliking the younger one. The older one has first of all started disliking himself.

He wants to enter into a fight; better still a brawl and something within him would relish it if he gets beaten up because he wants to get beaten up. Obviously, the other one just won’t beat you up for nothing. So that the other one beats you up, you require to beat him up first. So you invite fights.

You invite fights because you want to punish yourself. I suppose the younger one is younger, so he would be more fit and muscular and strong. The older hermit is asking for punishment because he knows that he has committed a great folly, what’s his folly? He ditched the one that he should not have, and he invited into his house, the one he should not have. Truth was ditched and evil was invited to the house.

So he wants to be beaten up. Now he just cannot go to the younger one and say, “Come on please, do me a favor, slap me hard, and punch my nose”. The younger one won’t oblige. So this one comes up with a plot. So he says, “Listen, it's been long since I have been tolerating you. Enough. Divide the property”. And what’s there in the property? The begging bowl. It needs division.

The younger one says, “It hurts me badly that you want to go away. Why do you want to go away? But you are the senior and if so be your wish, I will respect it”. “Divide this bowl”, says the older hermit. “Sir, bad enough that you are going away. I don’t want to turn it uglier by dividing the bowl. Please take it, it’s my gift to you”, says the younger hermit.

“Gift! What do you think you are? Who do you think I am? A beggar? I don’t take charities. Cut it into half, come on!”, says the older hermit.

With every successive utterance of nonsense, the older one is praying that he receives a solid punch of a young fist right on the nose. But the younger one has not yet allowed the evil in. He won’t get dragged into this. He says, “Sir, if we cut this bowl into two, of what use would it remain?”

The elder one says, “Come on, follow me”, in the most insulting manner possible. The younger one still says, “If you want me to cut it into two pieces, I’ll do that”. Now, the older one cannot hide his frustration. He says, “Why don’t you just hit me hard? Do I have to pay you for that? Don’t you understand what I am asking for? I want to be punished.”

Most of us want to be punished, and that is why we keep living in a stupid way so that life punishes us. We want to be punished because we have done that which should not have been done. We are sinners and every sinner wants redemption, and nobody wants to live as a sinner. The sinner says, "Whatever be the price, I will pay it. But wash the sin of me. Please, liberate me."

Man will never be at rest hosting the evil within. Once you have ditched the one that you really loved, the one who is worthy of being loved, and married somebody else; you will keep on living a vacant and fake life. Or you will remain flustered, angry. You’ll keep inviting strife and conflict. You will not take care of your body. You will live in a destructive way, you will live a life of suffering.

You know what you are doing? You are trying to atone, this is your repentance. But this is a very indirect way of repenting, and such repentance rarely succeeds. Real repentance is religion, you know, it’s a beautiful word, ‘Religion’, etymologically religion has the connotation of going back, reuniting.

That is the only thing that would save you. Re-unite with the One you should always have been with. Reunite with Him, that is religion. You will have to quit the accidental partners, the fake spouses. Otherwise, this story will become your life story.

Khalil Gibran in his few words has narrated the gist of how an ordinary human being lives. An ordinary human being lives a life of compulsive, self-inflicted suffering. We do not require enemies, we are our worst enemy.

Others don’t harm or hurt us. We use others to hurt and harm ourselves. There is a great difference. Others don’t harm or hurt us. We use others to hurt and harm ourselves. We don’t like ourselves, we are very very dissatisfied with ourselves. We have done something terribly wrong, just correct the mistake. Everything else is a hollow drama, won't really help.

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