So much has been heard lately of passive resistance, that the term has become quite an everyday expression, though little understood: its meaning has been taken as representing the acts of certain people to combat conditions which have arisen in their life, with what indifferent success, we are all aware. Now these two words, considered in the light of Spiritual effort, involve in themselves most important and extensive possibilities, carrying within their meaning, as they do, practically the whole of the method whereby men may raise themselves out of the circumstances and conditions which impede their progress in the acquisition (if the word may be used) of Ultimate Knowledge.
The field of Spiritual endeavor is so wide, covering, as it does, action in any form, that any single item of human experience may be taken and considered, and from its consideration, some hint as to the path to take, may be derived. But we find some difficulty in putting our deductions in a form that will be , "understanded of the people," not so much from the failure to clearly state them, but from the psychological fact, that what refers or appertains to Intuitional Knowledge cannot be expressed in words, though its trend may, to some extent, be indicated by repeated statements of our results of analysis.
In this, for instance, we have a truth, but thinly veiled, which it will profit everyone to ponder over: the power of repetition is not dreamed of by the majority of men! "Constant dropping wears away stone" is an aphorism which is often used to illustrate this statement, and the constant affirmation of Goodness will have its effect in wearing away the hard stony mass of evil conditions with which man is hemmed in. The repeated reading of a Spiritual truth, no matter in what way its content may be expressed, or its portent translated, at length results in an unfolding, within our nature, of the corresponding Intuition, which makes itself evident, not so much as something freshly acquired, but as an illumination or extension of knowledge already possessed.
To comply with the words which form our subject heading, we must follow out the injunction contained in the words "Resist not evil," and though what may be said here, in explanation of this tenet, may coincide with what has previously been written on it, yet, as has been before stated, its repetition, by reason of its being a new translation of the cipher, may serve, in some measure, to give a fresh clue to the solution of the whole problem. To reconcile the two bases of this study: passive resistance to evil, is that resistance which is founded on a non-receptive state of mind: "Resist not evil" is the injunction to men to employ no active means to resist evil, considering the good and fortifying the mind against the reception of evil. Thus, the two phrases are practically synonymous in their meaning.
From the above it is evident in what manner a man may fortify himself against evil, by making himself entirely indifferent to the evil about him. To explain, as simply as possible: if a man, when evil arises, or temptation comes in his path, will turn his attention from it, ignore it, as it were, its extinction, as far as he is concerned, is complete. From this, temptation would appear to be opportunity for doing good in a passive sense: the non-consideration exercised constitutes a more effective exterminant than fighting against adverse conditions. The sum of circumstances must ever remain the same: the variant is the man, and the variation is the fluctuation of his attitude towards his environment. Evil is man's subservience to extraneous conditions: Good is his working in the direct knowledge of a Divine Consciousness. Consider evil in any form, and it becomes, to all intents and purposes, a reality: turn from it in indifference, and it ceases to exist, as a necessity, for lack of acknowledgment. Every course of action, when presented to the mind, is shown primarily as a duality: the good and evil in our lives is the sum total of our choice of the one side or the other.
Many are the delusions which we encounter in this choice of path: may be the most powerful of these is what we know as "appearance." The world is full of the worship of appearance and all that appertains to it, and, if we cast the mental eye round, considering seriously some of the dire effects of this misplaced choice, the pity of it comes home to us very forcibly indeed. To take an instance: most of us meet in our lives the person with the perpetually pleasant exterior, who never did anyone a bad turn, and, per contra, never did a good one. His appearance is for him, and we hear "Dear me!" "How desirable!" and the like. He gets the halfpence! In the same day's march we also meet the pensive one, whose aspect is possibly forbidding, but whose heart is full of love for his brother man. His appearance, however, is against him, and we hear the opposite to what we heard before. He gets the kicks! Our greatest and most loving sympathy is needed here; but, let us not mistake, not for the latter: his satisfaction in life is derived from a better source within, far above the paltry gratification of outward appearance. Our pity should be shown to the favored one, whose receipt of halfpence goes more and more to build up a wrongful character, which has vanity for its salient characteristic. Then there is the one who looks to the appearance; his share of pity should not be withheld, for he needs it. His delusion, self fed, grows and grows: an edifice of love is erected, only to be demolished in a moment, when, finally, the blow falls, and the idol's earthy feet are uncovered.
Here is one instance where the wrong choice brings final pain or unhappiness: cases innumerable might be similarly quoted, ranging through the whole category of human experience, in which the choice between the two courses is seen to bring satisfaction or dissatisfaction, happiness or unhappiness, according as the choice is of the "better part" or not.
Every evil deed has its beginning in an embryonic thought, and here is the moment of choice which we are trying to demonstrate. To sum up: every thought that enters the mind is either right or wrong, and can be either considered or rejected. If considered, the thought blossoms into physical action or doing; if rejected, or passed over, its relation to the thinker ceases. No evil deed was ever perpetrated without being first wholly embodied in a single thought, and therefore, all evil may be overcome by non-consideration of the primary thoughts at their inception.
Thus it is seen that practically the whole of the method whereby a man's regeneration may be effected, is contained in the meaning of the two words of our heading: by the constant practice of passive resistance to evil, he brings about in himself an active cooperation with Goodness.