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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 195-196

The Nonexistence of Evil

According to Bahá’í philosophy it follows from the doctrine of the unity of God that there can be no such thing as positive evil. There can only be one Infinite. If there were any other power in the universe outside of or opposed to the One, then the One would not be infinite. Just as darkness is but the absence or lesser degree of light, so evil is but the absence or lesser degree of good—the undeveloped state. A bad man is a man with the higher side of his nature still undeveloped. If he is selfish, the evil is not in his love of self—all love, even self-love, is good, is divine. The evil is that he has such a poor, inadequate, misguided love of self and such a lack of love for others and for God. He looks upon himself as only a superior sort of animal, and foolishly pampers his lower nature as he might pamper a pet dog—with worse results in his own case than in that of the dog.
In one of His letters ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says:—
As to thy remark, that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá hath said to some of the believers that evil never exists, nay rather, it is a nonexistent thing, this is but truth, inasmuch as the greatest evil is man’s going astray and being veiled from truth. Error is lack of guidance; darkness is absence of light; ignorance is lack of knowledge; falsehood is lack of truthfulness; blindness is lack of sight; and deafness is lack 196 of hearing. Therefore, error, blindness, deafness and ignorance are nonexistent things.
Again He says:—
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 desire, 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 desire, which is to ask for something more, is a praiseworthy quality provided that it is used suitably. So, if a man has the desire 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. …

… It is the same with all the natural qualities of man, which constitute the capital of life; if they be used and displayed in an unlawful way, they become blameworthy. Therefore it is clear that creation is purely good.—Some Answered Questions, pp. 250, 251.
Evil is always lack of life. If the lower side of man’s nature is disproportionately developed, the remedy is not less life for that side, but more life for the higher side, so that the balance may be restored. “I am come,” said Christ, “that ye may have life and that ye may have it more abundantly.” That is what we all need—life, more life, the life that is life indeed! Bahá’u’lláh’s message is the same as Christ’s. “Today,” He says, “this servant has assuredly come to vivify the world” (Tablet to Ra’ís), and to His followers He says: “Come ye after Me, that We may make you to become quickeners of mankind.” (Tablet to the Pope.)