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Religion Library: Baha'i

Suffering and the Problem of Evil

Written by: Moojan Momen

According to Baha'i scripture, there are many aspects to the question of suffering and evil. Baha'is believe that God created the universe and since God is the source of all good, there cannot be any evil force in it, such as Satan or the Devil or evil spirits.

From the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah

O SON OF MAN!

Upon the tree of effulgent glory I have hung for thee the choicest fruits, wherefore hast thou turned away and contented thyself with that which is less good? Return then unto that which is better for thee in the realm on high.

O SON OF SPIRIT!

Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself.  Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.

O SON OF THE SUPREME!

To the eternal I call thee, yet thou dost seek that which perisheth. What hath made thee turn away from Our desire and seek thine own?

The human being has a physical and a spiritual aspect . If the spiritual side of a human being is underdeveloped, then it cannot control the physical side. Thus for example, while food is a necessity, if the spiritual side is underdeveloped and fails to control the animal aspect of the human being, the result is gluttony; if the impulse for sex is not controlled, the result is lust and promiscuity; if the natural desire to acquire sufficient wealth to provide for oneself and one's family is not controlled, the result is greed and avarice. Any human in whom the lower nature is not balanced and controlled by the spiritual nature becomes the embodiment of evil. It is this, Baha'is believe, that the scriptures of other religions have referred to as the Devil or Satan. 

The problem of suffering is more complex and has several aspects. If humans allow their physical nature to dominate their spiritual nature, while the short-term result may seem pleasurable, the ultimate consequence is suffering. Physical pleasures never give lasting satisfaction and the effect fades so that each time a greater stimulus is required just to get the same level of pleasure. Thus these desires are insatiable. Ultimately this leads to such a distortion of human nature that mental and physical suffering are inevitable.

ALAS! ALAS! O LOVERS OF WORLDLY DESIRE!

Even as the swiftness of lightning ye have passed by the Beloved One, and have set your hearts on satanic fancies. Ye bow the knee before your vain imagining, and call it truth. Ye turn your eyes towards the thorn, and name it a flower. Not a pure breath have ye breathed, nor hath the breeze of detachment been wafted from the meadows of your hearts. Ye have cast to the winds the loving counsels of the Beloved and have effaced them utterly from the tablet of your hearts, and even as the beasts of the field, ye move and have your being within the pastures of desire and passion. (From the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah)

 

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