The importance of knowing evil
It is difficult to fight an enemy that you see and know; how much more difficult would it be to fight an enemy that you neither see nor know? That is why it is necessary to explore such an enemy, so that you know how to deal with him in order to be victorious in the forthcoming battle. That is why it is of great importance for the eternal life of the spirit to know Heaven and Hell thoroughly.
It is not the purpose of angelic spirits and of human beings to cleanse and care for Heaven, but only that which was, from time immemorial, unclean. That is why it is much more important to know the place of filth more thoroughly than the place of cleanliness. Only the place of filth must be cleansed; when it is clean, Heaven will make its appearance on its own.
It would be absolutely foolish if you were to ask someone constantly to point out and praise only his good characteristics, and never to think about his bad characteristics, nor to exercise self‑criticism. Goodness does not require praise, because it stands out by itself. But it is absolutely necessary that every human being go after his evil thoughts and desires, and work to eliminate them. It is much better if you say, “Lord, be lenient and merciful with me, a miserable sinner!” than to say, “Lord, I thank Thee that I am not like other people, such as the customs officials and all the other sinners!”
Judge for yourself which is the more important of the two: to know the ground you walk on, or to know the firmament on which no one has yet hurt himself. The ground carries us; therefore you must know how firm it is, whether there be chasms, and how you may avoid them. Whosoever wants to avoid evil must know it first; otherwise, he remains an immature child. That is why it is very important to explore evil thoroughly, so that each may easily recognize it within himself.
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