For the elders who have died, not only is there the command given by a religion, but there is the experience on the other side of death. Now of all the miseries which can follow a man into the world after death, of all the miseries, the results of drink are perhaps almost the most terrible. There is a constant craving, for not in the physical body but in the senses of the Sūkṣhma Sharīra, lie the craving, the desire, the longing for sensual gratification; and, if a man has been drunken, if he has been profligate in his life, he finds himself tortured on the other side of death by the drink he cannot enjoy, by the craving of the sex instinct which he cannot gratify. Torn by the agony of longing, frustrated by the impossibility of gratification, there is branded on that soul, as with a red-hot iron: “It is foolish to yield to gratification that brings about the misery that now I am suffering.” He has to starve out the craving by non-satisfaction, and the agonies of starvation are his doom. And so is impressed on the lasting memory of the man the knowledge that suffering follows on the undue gratification of the passions of the body. That comes back in the next life–or after many lives–that comes back in an innate distaste for this form of sense-gratification. You say: “Would it not have been better that he should have been spared this long experience?” Nay, it would not have been better; for you are only finally rid of a craving, when you cease to desire that which gratifies it; and the teaching of pain kills the _desire_, whereas the enforced abstinence, not killing the desire, would ever leave you a prey to the possibility of temptation. That is why the striking of the transgressor by the disregarded law, is the veriest mercy in the long life of Man.
Most of you have been evolved without craving for drink; most of you, if you have touched it, have thrown it aside as distasteful. It has no power over you; it has no attraction for you; you turn away from it with disgust, as that which cannot tempt; and the only way of reaching that point is to have had experience of the evil, and to know that it is the womb of pain. Now out of this grows one great lesson for those of you who are more advanced. You know that sometimes, you who are fathers and mothers, you know that against all precept, against all training, against all prayer, your son goes wrong. You have told him: “My boy, to give way to passion is ruinous”; you have told him: “If you yield, you will suffer in your manhood.” He disregards your prayer; he disregards your commands; the wild youth goes on; he will have his way. In that moment of parental agony, in that moment of despair, remember that doctrine of the Omnipresence of God that I spoke of in the first discourse: “If I go down into hell, behold, thou art there also,” and realise that God–who loves your child more than you can love, more wisely as well as more intensely–has allowed that soul to go down into hell in order that He may meet him there in his degradation and his agony, and teach him by the lesson of pain, when he would not learn by the lesson of precept, that there is a law that none may disregard and live in happiness. For God is the Pain that comes to the transgressor from the disregarded law, as He is the Bliss that comes to the man who is in harmony with law.
Now if you realise these great truths, you will understand how morality must change with the upward evolution of the individual man. When you see wrong-doing in the undeveloped, when you see evil in the savage–whether the savage who is an anachronism in civilised society, or the savage who in his own native conditions–you will realise that that man is only beginning to learn the lessons of morality, and must learn them by dashing himself against the laws he knows not. And so, gradually, he grows out of the unmoral state into the beginning of the moral state, when he knows a little distinction between Right and Wrong, and often chooses the Wrong, because of the temporary pleasure that the yielding to the Wrong affords. And then he has the lesson I have just spoken of, until, within his innermost nature, he has branded the evil to be avoided. Now it is no merit to any one of us that we do not murder a man. We do not want to do so, because we have done it very often in the past, and have found that the fruit thereof was pain. We do not want to do it now, and the not wanting to do a particular wrong is the proof of moral growth. I know how often we are inclined to say: “Oh! How admirable is the man who struggles against evil.” Yes. It is admirable for a man to struggle against temptation, to see him fighting against his lower nature. He is a hero in the struggle. But greater than the man who struggles is the man who has transcended the struggle, and who does the Right naturally, because he loves the Law and feels no inclination to turn towards wrong. That is not so often remembered. The man who has conquered in past lives, the man who has risen above the temptations that his younger brother struggles against, he is at a higher stage of evolution, for he chooses with full conviction the concord with the will of God. That means that the Divine Will in his own Spirit is emerging, and that quality, the Divine Will in the man, is the sign of approaching Liberation.