Reality, Soul and
the Worlds of God
III. The Reality of the Soul – Understanding Your True Self
F. The Natures Attributed to Man and the Soul
2. The Intermediate or Human Nature
d. Evil, Satan and Hell in Relation to the Soul
[from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:]
Say: The heavens have been folded together, and the earth is held within His grasp, and the corrupt doers have been held by their forelock, and still they understand not. They drink of the tainted water, and know it not. Say: The shout hath been raised, and the people have come forth from their graves, and arising, are gazing around them. Some have made haste to attain the court of the God of Mercy, others have fallen down on their faces in the fire of Hell, while still others are lost in bewilderment. The verses of God have been revealed, and yet they have turned away from them. His proof hath been manifested, and yet they are unaware of it. And when they behold the face of the All-Merciful, their own faces are saddened, while they are disporting themselves. They hasten forward to Hell Fire, and mistake it for light. Far from God be what they fondly imagine!
(Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection XVII, pp. 41-42)
Be fair in your judgment. Every good thing is of God, and every evil thing is from yourselves.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection LXXVII, p. 149)
….the…task of converting satanic strength into heavenly power is one that We1
have been empowered to accomplish. The Force capable of such a transformation transcendeth the potency of the Elixir itself. The Word of God, alone, can claim the distinction of being endowed with the capacity required for so great and far-reaching a change.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection XCIX, p. 200)
1(Word of God in the plural sense)
The civilization, so often vaunted by the learned exponents of arts and sciences, will, if allowed to overleap the bounds of moderation, bring great evil upon men….If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection CLXIV, pp. 342-343)
Watch over yourselves, for the Evil One is lying in wait, ready to entrap you. Gird yourselves against his wicked devices, and, led by the light of the name of the All-Seeing God, make your escape from the darkness that surroundeth you.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, “Lawḥ-i-Dunyá” or “Tablet of the World”, p. 87)
The source of all evil is for man to turn away from his Lord and set his heart on things ungodly.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, “Asl-i-Kullu’l-Khayr” or “Words of Wisdom”, p. 156)
The most burning fire is to question the signs of God, to dispute idly that which He hath revealed, to deny Him and carry one’s self proudly before Him.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, “Asl-i-Kullu’l-Khayr” or “Words of Wisdom”, p. 156)
….a true seeker…must, before all else, cleanse and purify his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge, and the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy.
(Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitáb-i-Íqán, paragraph 213, p. 177)
[from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:]
In this, the Bahá’í dispensation, God’s Cause is spirit unalloyed. His Cause belongeth not to the material world. It cometh neither for strife nor war, nor for acts of mischief or of shame; it is neither for quarrelling with other Faiths, nor for conflicts with the nations. Its only army is the love of God, its only joy the clear wine of His knowledge, its only battle the expounding of the Truth; its one crusade is against the insistent self, the evil promptings of the human heart.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selection #206, p. 256)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:]
In creation there is no evil; all is good. Certain qualities and natures innate in some men and apparently blameworthy are not so in reality. For example, from the beginning of his life you can see in a nursing child the signs of greed, of anger and of temper. Then, it may be said, good and evil are innate in the reality of man, and this is contrary to the pure goodness of nature and creation. The answer to this is that greed, which is to ask for something more, is a praiseworthy quality provided that it is used suitably. So if a man is greedy to acquire science and knowledge, or to become compassionate, generous and just, it is most praiseworthy. If he exercises his anger and wrath against the bloodthirsty tyrants who are like ferocious beasts, it is very praiseworthy; but if he does not use these qualities in a right way, they are blameworthy.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 57: “The Causes of the Differences in the Characters of Men”, p. 215)
….the paradise and hell of existence are found in all the worlds of God, whether in this world or in the spiritual heavenly worlds. Gaining these rewards is the gaining of eternal life.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 60: “The Immortality of the Spirit”, p. 223)
Man is in the highest degree of materiality, and at the beginning of spirituality—that is to say, he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. He is at the last degree of darkness, and at the beginning of light;…
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 64: “The State of Man and His Progress after Death”, p. 235)
Briefly, the intellectual realities, such as all the qualities and admirable perfections of man, are purely good, and exist. Evil is simply their nonexistence. So ignorance is the want of knowledge; error is the want of guidance; forgetfulness is the want of memory; stupidity is the want of good sense. All these things have no real existence.
In the same way, the sensible realities are absolutely good, and evil is due to their nonexistence—that is to say, blindness is the want of sight, deafness is the want of hearing, poverty is the want of wealth, illness is the want of health, death is the want of life, and weakness is the want of strength.
Nevertheless a doubt occurs to the mind—that is, scorpions and serpents are poisonous. Are they good or evil, for they are existing beings? Yes, a scorpion is evil in relation to man; a serpent is evil in relation to man; but in relation to themselves they are not evil, for their poison is their weapon, and by their sting they defend themselves. But as the elements of their poison do not agree with our elements—that is to say, as there is antagonism between these different elements, therefore, this antagonism is evil; but in reality as regards themselves they are good.
The epitome of this discourse is that it is possible that one thing in relation to another may be evil, and at the same time within the limits of its proper being it may not be evil. Then it is proved that there is no evil in existence; all that God created He created good. This evil is nothingness; so death is the absence of life. When man no longer receives life, he dies. Darkness is the absence of light: when there is no light, there is darkness. Light is an existing thing, but darkness is nonexistent. Wealth is an existing thing, but poverty is nonexisting.
Then it is evident that all evils return to nonexistence. Good exists; evil is nonexistent.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 74: “The Nonexistence of Evil”, pp. 263-264)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (no authority):]
Evil is imperfection. Sin is the state of man in the world of the baser nature, for in nature exist defects such as injustice, tyranny, hatred, hostility, strife: these are characteristics of the lower plane of nature. These are the sins of the world, the fruits of the tree from which Adam did eat. Through education we must free ourselves from these imperfections.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “Address by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the Friends’ Meeting House, St. Martin’s Lane, London, W.C., Sunday, January 12th, 1913”, p. 177)
The teachings specialized in Bahá’u’lláh are addressed to humanity. He says, “Ye are all the leaves of one tree.” He does not say, “Ye are the leaves of two trees: one divine, the other satanic.” He has declared that each individual member of the human family is a leaf or branch upon the Adamic tree; that all are sheltered beneath the protecting mercy and providence of God; that all are the children of God, fruit upon the one tree of His love. God is equally compassionate and kind to all the leaves, branches and fruit of this tree. Therefore, there is no satanic tree whatever—Satan being a product of human minds and of instinctive human tendencies toward error. God alone is Creator, and all are creatures of His might. Therefore, we must love mankind as His creatures, realizing that all are growing upon the tree of His mercy, servants of His omnipotent will and manifestations of His good pleasure.
Even though we find a defective branch or leaf upon this tree of humanity or an imperfect blossom, it, nevertheless, belongs to this tree and not to another. Therefore, it is our duty to protect and cultivate this tree until it reaches perfection. If we examine its fruit and find it imperfect, we must strive to make it perfect. There are souls in the human world who are ignorant; we must make them knowing. Some growing upon the tree are weak and ailing; we must assist them toward health and recovery. If they are as infants in development, we must minister to them until they attain maturity. We should never detest and shun them as objectionable and unworthy. We must treat them with honor, respect and kindness; for God has created them and not Satan. They are not manifestations of the wrath of God but evidences of His divine favor. God, the Creator, has endowed them with physical, mental and spiritual qualities that they may seek to know and do His will; therefore, they are not objects of His wrath and condemnation. In brief, all humanity must be looked upon with love, kindness and respect; for what we behold in them are none other than the signs and traces of God Himself.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “14 July 1912, Talk at All Souls Unitarian Church, Fourth Avenue and Twentieth Street, New York, Notes by John G. Grundy and Howard MacNutt”, pp. 230-231)
God has created all in His image and likeness. Shall we manifest hatred for His creatures and servants? This would be contrary to the will of God and according to the will of Satan, by which we mean the natural inclinations of the lower nature. This lower nature in man is symbolized as Satan—the evil ego within us, not an evil personality outside.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “27 August 1912, Talk at Metaphysical Club, Boston, Massachusetts, Notes by Edna McKinney”, p. 287)
You have asked why it was necessary for the soul that was from God to make this journey back to God?….
The reality underlying this question is that the evil spirit, Satan or whatever is interpreted as evil, refers to the lower nature in man. This baser nature is symbolized in various ways. In man there are two expressions: One is the expression of nature; the other, the expression of the spiritual realm. The world of nature is defective. Look at it clearly, casting aside all superstition and imagination. If you should leave a man uneducated and barbarous in the wilds of Africa, would there be any doubt about his remaining ignorant? God has never created an evil spirit; all such ideas and nomenclature are symbols expressing the mere human or earthly nature of man. It is an essential condition of the soil of earth that thorns, weeds and fruitless trees may grow from it. Relatively speaking, this is evil; it is simply the lower state and baser product of nature.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “29 August 1912, Talk at Home of Madame Morey, 34 Hillside Avenue, Malden, Massachusetts, Notes by Edna McKinney”, pp. 294-295)
The majority of people are captives in the matrix of nature, submerged in the sea of materiality….
Today the world of humanity is walking in darkness because it is out of touch with the world of God. That is why we do not see the signs of God in the hearts of men. The power of the Holy Spirit has no influence.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “1 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. William Sutherland Maxwell, 716 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Canada, From Stenographic Notes”, p. 305)
[from the Writings or talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (no authority):]
Addressing one of the friends, He1
says: “It is clear to your honor that before long Satan, in the garb of man, will reach that land and will try to mislead the friends of the Divine Beauty through temptations which arouse the desires of self, and will cause them to follow the footsteps of Satan away from the right and glorious path, and prevent them from attaining the Blessed Shore of the King of Oneness….”
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá quoting Bahá’u’lláh, in the compilation Bahá’í World Faith, p. 430)
[from letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:]
We know absence of light is darkness, but no one would assert darkness was not a fact. It exists even though it is only the absence of something else. So evil exists too, and we cannot close our eyes to it, even though it is a negative existence. We must seek to supplant it by good, and if we see an evil person is not influenceable by us, then we should shun his company for it is unhealthy.
(on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Unfolding Destiny, 4 October 1950, p. 458)