Battle of the Two Wolves: An American Indian Story: An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life: “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”


What is good? What is evil? Are they things-in-themselves, or are they conditions through which entities pass? Good is harmony because it is relative perfection, and evil is disharmony because it is imperfection; and these two, good and evil, insofar as we are concerned, apply solely to our hierarchy of life. Our ‘good’ is ‘evil’ to the entities existing in a superior hierarchy. Evil signifies a state of an entity or group of entities in greater or less degree opposing the forwards-moving evolutionary stream of life.


Whence comes the Evil in the world, if the Divine which is mightier than Evil is everywhere? One would think from such a question that evil is an entity – Devil, Demon, Satan, etc, a power or a force, which flows forth from the heart of some thing or being. On the contrary, the Ancient Wisdom says it is merely the condition of an evolving entity which has not yet fully manifested the latent divinity at its core, and thus is inharmonious with its environment because of its imperfection.


This does not mean that there are not hierarchies of evil beings – according to the Ancient Wisdom – there are: These are composed of beings that make the choice of seeking power for themselves in the material side of nature – Evil. This is the – Left-Hand Path – as opposed to the – Right-Hand Path – of those beings that choose to flow with the spiritual side of Nature – what we would call the Good. If our minds and hearts are turned in the direction of the Right Hand Path we  can receive immense inspiration and help; or contrariwise with the Left Hand Path an attraction to the hellish  aspects of life which can have their own type of immense power over other people and aspects of Nature. This forms the basis of the Christian and other religious traditions of calling upon either hierarchy (Good or Evil) for assistance/inspiration/power.


The Left-Hand Path: is the way of service to self. It comprises all self-seeking, including the quest for self-liberation and self-enlightenment. Through spiritual practices applied with a personally-oriented attitude, psychic powers and expansions of consciousness may be attained, yet no purity or holiness can ever be realised in this way, and this is why one of the greatest powers in the universe – Love – always eludes the seeker with self-interest, ultimately leaving them bereft of fulfilment and happiness.

It has been demonstrated since time immemorial that the Left-Hand Path is a most difficult and painful road, fraught with all the dangerous temptations that pervade and proliferate within the illusory world of the Lower Ego.

The Left-Hand Path is strewn with potholes down which the short-sighted self-seeker may fall at any moment into an even deeper darkness of separation and suffering. If the traveller upon this path remains un-illumined by the lamp of right-seeing and therefore does not presently choose to switch to the Right-Hand Path, in time it is likely that he shall develop a sombre interest in manipulating his environment solely for himself.

The dangers are therefore certain upon the Left-Hand Path, for in his consequent sinking into greater self-obsession, and by thus promoting his own isolation and hunger for power, the self-seeker shall begin to attempt to control and exploit others, and may eventually embark upon the way of Black Magic.

So it may be clearly seen that the Left-Hand Path ultimately leads to Evil.


Evil: bears within itself the seed of its own destruction because its transgressions go against the natural, inclusive and upward flow of Evolution, which must triumph, for such is the purpose of Creation. It may be recognised, therefore, that any selfish thought is analogous to the planting of an evil seed or the fostering of an existing evil tendency that must ultimately lead to misery and self-destruction in the invincible wake of cosmic forces, which are ever engaged in service to the Universal Intelligence. Ghengis Khan, Hitler and Stalin demonstrated perfectly the typical consequences of following the Left-Hand Path.


Is Matter Inherently Evil? Good is not Spirit, Evil is not Matter, the nether pole of spirit, because that would be saying that matter is essentially evil, which, according to the Ancient Wisdom, it is not. Evil, whether spiritual or material, is whatever is imperfect and passing through a phase of growing to something better. Neither matter nor spirit is in one or the other condition absolutely, and for eternity. A spiritual entity is evolving just as much as any material entity. Nevertheless, because spirit and spiritual beings are nearer to nature’s heart, they are, collectively speaking, more perfect, therefore less evil than matter and material entities.


Does Evil Become Good? Evil per se does not become good per se, that is, one state does not become another state, the truth being that it is the evolving entity which passes from one state into another. Both good and evil are conditions of growth. This calls to mind the saying of the ancient wisdom tradition of many lands— and Christian — expression concerning entities existing in a state of “spiritual wickedness” (Ephesians, VI, 12). Obviously, if those entities, although belonging to the spiritual realms, are imperfect and inharmonious there, they are ‘evil’ in that state. If entities, belonging to the state which we call relative perfection, exist harmoniously with surrounding beings, then they are entities of spiritual good. Harmony, law, order, peace, love: all these are conditions of entities that are in accord with the onward-flowing current of evolutionary growth. Such entities are more nearly at one with the heart of Being, and therefore endure.


The Balance of Good and Evil: It is the balance of spiritual and material existences — the natural course of universal being — which gives the diversity in the universe. There is no power (or powers) which keep the universe either all good or all bad; for it is neither the one nor the other. Vast hierarchies are the universe, hierarchies on the invisible planes and likewise on that cross section we call our physical world; and it is the differences in evolutionary degree attained in these hierarchies and in the hosts of entities composing them which provide the vast diversity that the universe manifests. It can at no time be either all good or all bad, for it is perpetually advancing; and this marching army is without beginning and without ending.


Evil and Karma: We should have a lunatic universe if Karma was non-existent; if men could wreck the lives of others, and then escape scot free. Nature is not so built. Man is a god in his inmost and, because he is linked with the divine elements as well as with all the other elements of the universe, what he does, nature reacts against. He has free will, and so reaps the consequences of all that he thinks and does and is. A man who works for brotherhood and kindliness has all nature’s evolutionary stream with him; this brings strength and light and induces a cosmic expansion of his inner faculties. The man who works for hate, for selfish ends, who sets his puny will against the evolving river of lives, has all nature’s incalculable weight pressing upon him. Such action on his part is imperfection, disharmony, and therefore evil.


Good and Evil: Duality: Universal nature in manifestation is dual in character, divided into consciousness or the light side and matter or the dark side. Quoting from The Key to Theosophy (p. 112):

‘Light would be incomprehensible without darkness to make it manifest by contrast; good would be no longer good without evil to show the priceless nature of the boon; and so personal virtue could claim no merit, unless it had passed through the furnace of temptation. The ancient Zoroastrian religion strongly emphasized this duality, and this conception was very early taken over by the Christians”. (cf. The Secret Doctrine, I, 411-24, “Demon est Deus Inversus”).

But when the cosmic unit passes into its Pralaya [rest period], then good and evil vanish and are resolved back into the ineffable oneness of cosmic divinity — to lie latent until the new term of manifestation as a universe begins again.


Evil: Arising From the Conflict of Wills: Throughout the cosmos we see that Evil is the conflict among entities…Arising because of their as yet imperfectly developed spiritual powers. Applying this to man and his works, the conflict of human wills and intelligences which strive against each other, produces disharmony, pain, disease, and all the host of evils. Yet when we learn the lesson that our interests are one instead of diverse, we shall work together in a constantly increasing ratio as our spiritual understanding unfolds.


Cosmic Evil: Again, on the universal scale, cosmic evils arise from the different strivings and conflicts of the Prakritis [planes of the universe in manifestation = Matter] in nature with their respective inhabitants. Matter — the seven prakritis — is not evil per se, but crystallized or condensed spirit; and the prakritis are simply incomputably vast numbers of monads individually unawakened or unevolved and hence functioning in nature as fields of material or prakritic extent. When a universe, through evolution of all its variously differentiated prakritis, shall finally reach spiritual levels, these differentiations will merge into the spiritual unity of the cosmic monad, thus bringing about the grand consummatum est, when duality vanishes into unity.


Discord is the Harmony of the Universe: Allowing Spiritual Growth: The following passage in The Mahatma Letters (p. 401) gives a further key:

“. . . discord is the harmony of the Universe. . . . each part, as in the glorious fugues of the immortal Mozart, ceaselessly chases the other in harmonious discord on the paths of Eternal progress to meet and finally blend at the threshold of the pursued goal into one harmonious whole, the keynote in nature Sat.”

Thus, in its essence, matter is as divine as spirit, for it is merely the shadow or vehicular side of spirit.


Applying All This to Daily Life: We have seen that human nature is dual and that the Battle of the Wolves is ever going on between the Higher and the Lower Selves: the Angel and the Demon in every Man/Woman. When the Higher, immortal part dominates – there is knowledge and peace. When the Lower rules, all the dark despairing elements of human life rush in upon the unguarded soul. But man in his inner essence is a being with divine inheritance and immeasurable possibilities of spiritual evolution. So how come we manage to get ourselves into so much trouble?


Opening the Door to the Bad Wolf: How do human weaknesses creep in to our lives? Because of our dedication to selfishness – ‘I, me,me,mine’ – we open the door to our inner being and invite the obsessive, potent force of evil into our lives. Often with the power enough to destroy our very being. The door of selfish desire once opened, the incoming stranger is welcomed, entertained, permitted to enjoy the bounty of our intellectual life, permitted to sit in the very chamber of man’s being, where really only higher and splendid things should be.


How can We Shut the Door on Selfish Desire? This door may be open in any one of us. It can never be shut, and kept shut, until our feet are planted on the rock of spiritual knowledge [the seven jewels of wisdom] and of trust in their reality. Until we shut the door against the faintest tinge of evil that would mar the purity of the inner realm of mind that the soul works in and through, we are at risk of allowing evil tendencies to rule our character.

The key to it is: MAN, KNOW THYSELF!


Self-Directed Spiritual Evolution: Through honest self-analysis of our actions and motivations we can realize our mistakes and evil tendencies – and make a start on the appropriate actions to exclude evil from our lives – self-directed spiritual evolution. Our inner divinity – the Knower/Observer  – our spiritual companion within – is ever pleading to be listened to, ever waiting to be recognized, ever ready to help and serve that it may bring  the whole nature of us to its standard of godlike perfection – ie, bring out the ‘good’ part of us.


Another Way of Looking at Knowledge of Good and Evil: the Green Leaf Drawing: Look at the drawing of a green leaf on a white background. The form of the leaf was already there on the board before it was drawn, but you weren’t able to recognize it, because the positive form of the leaf and the negative nature of the background were still at rest within each other. They were completely identical. The form of the leaf was not yet separated from the Everything that is contained in this Nothing. When the leaf appeared on the board, it became separated from the Everything, and therefore recognizable.


The Complimentary Part of the Green Leaf Left Behind: The Red Leaf: Remember something very important: the fact that this leaf appears in green colour means that it has left behind in the Everything its form in the complementary colour, in this case red, as its invisible, negative picture. Whatever you see as you look about you is only recognizable because it has separated itself from its complementary half and the latter has remained behind in the invisible, unmanifested state. You can achieve spiritual knowledge only through comparing the two sides, positive and negative, which have become separated from each other. As long as these two sides are together, resting with each other, you can’t perceive or recognize anything.


Mountains and Valleys: There can be no perception unless unity is split into two halves—one of them manifested and the other, its reflection and complementary half, unmanifested — so that both become recognizable through comparison! Nothing can ever be manifested and made recognizable, unless its opposite—its complementary half—is simultaneously present unmanifested! When something positive is manifested, the negative remains unmanifested, and vice versa, when something negative is manifested, the positive is unmanifested. Wherever the one appears, its complementary half must also be present even though in an unmanifested state. The two are bound together for all time and eternity. When a mountain is formed, its complementary half, a valley, must also be formed. How could a mountain be possible without a valley, or a valley without a mountain?


Separation From Unity: Both good and evil have arisen only through separation from unity which itself is neither good nor evil but divine. Only through separation is it possible to achieve recognition and knowledge. Consequently the recognizable world must consist of good and evil. If this were not so, it would not be recognizable and could not exist at all.


Reconciliation of Opposites: As long as a man/woman seeks its complementary half outside his/herself, in the created, recognizable world, we will never find unity, simply because his/her complementary half isn’t outside ourselves, manifested, separate from ourselves, but on the contrary, unseparated from itself, in our own unmanifested part, in its unconscious. No creature could exist if it did not have its other half in the unmanifested.  

 Take ourselves for example. The opposite of everything you are and manifest in your conscious part is contained in your unconscious part which nevertheless belongs to you, and which you are just as much as you are your conscious, manifested part.

You don’t find your complementary part outside yourself—in a man/woman of flesh and blood, for example, but in the unconscious part of your true self.

When you unite in your consciousness two halves of yourself, you’ve found your way back into the infinite all and nothing, you’ve become identical with  God-consciousness again!


Finding God-Consciousness Again: Take ourselves for example. The opposite of everything you are and manifest in your conscious part is contained in your unconscious part which nevertheless belongs to you, and which you are just as much as you are your conscious, manifested part. You don’t find your complementary part outside yourself—in a man/woman of flesh and blood, for example, but in the unconscious part of your true self. When you unite in your consciousness two halves of yourself, you’ve found your way back into the infinite all and nothing, you’ve become identical with  God-consciousness again!


Good and Evil: Battle of the Two Wolves: Further Reading:


G de Purucker: The Fountain Source of Occultism:


G de Purucker: Studies in Occult  Philosophy:


Katherine Tingley: Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic:


Elizabeth Haich: Initiation:


If you wish to contact the author, please email: