Is there good and evil? Is there a Creator God?


Concerning good and evil, suffering and enjoyment, there is an interesting passage in one of the main texts of Advaita Vedanta, the Brahma Sutras. As the teaching goes there is no essential difference between the individual and Brahman (Consciousness or the Absolute). But then, an objector observes:

On account of the other (the individual soul) being stated as non-different from Brahman there would arise (in Brahman) the defect of not doing what is beneficial.

In his commentary to this passage Shankara, the greatest Indian philosopher, admits: If Brahman were the cause of the world, He/It would be open to that charge, and He would not be omniscient. Rather, It/He would have created a world where everything would have been pleasant for the individual soul, without the least trace of misery…

In the sequence, the scripture (sruti) itself retorts: … Brahman is something more than the individual soul. Shankara then comments: He (the Creator God) knows the unreality of the world and what is taken to be an individual, and is not attached to them, being merely a witness. He has neither good nor evil… For the individual soul, however, there is good and evil so long as it is in ignorancethe differences between the individual soul and the Creator are based on imaginary distinctions due to ignorance. It is only when Knowledge dawns that the individual soul realizes its identity with Brahman. Then all plurality vanishes, and there is neither the individual soul nor he Creator.

(Is there a Creator God? There are three theories of creation in the Upanishads, but that needs another post)

About amartingarcia

General surgeon (retired). Studied Western philosophy at U of Toronto. Afterwards interest turned to advaita vedanta and non-duality for past 20 yrs, plus a long interlude in Sufism coinciding with that period. Now contributing in ’Advaita Vision’ with regular posts and discussions.
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