It is often asked, “If there is a God, why would (He) allow such terrible afflictions on humans?” Even Sir David Attenborough caught my attention in an interview conducted by Andrew Denton on ABC TV in Australia. He asked, “Did God invent that parasitic worm that only lives in the eyeball and makes the host blind?” What such questions are really conveying is that, if I , an individual person, had the choice, I would not construct the world like this. Even the banal movie, ‘Bruce Almighty’ was able to conclude that an ad hoc approach by any God-like power would create more damage than otherwise. But God is not God-like. We are God-like. The Creator is another level of concept altogether. Perhaps thus our real discomfort. It is easier for some to become obsessively logical in an argument to ignore the meaning of God in human society. For believers it is easier to bring that God into a controlled environment in which rewards are meted to the pious and punishments to the conflicted. Yet, an honest recognition of the possibility of God would have to conclude that God indeed created the parasite to harm the human, the earthquake to rend buildings and limbs, the asteroid to obliterate the greater part of life on the planet. So, given that God has created a terrifying, destructive environment for consciousness to arise, for eternal soul to develop, does God want our happiness? I suggest that, on one level, this is again one of those illogical questions. What is human happiness to such a magnitude of power? On another level, it is learning essential happiness that is the goal for the development of the human soul. As far as we humans are concerned this is the purpose of religion, the purpose of the Great Educators of humanity, the Manifestations of God. Perhaps from another viewpoint it is only one purpose of God for this Universe, and one small purpose among all purposes for all existence beyond this universe. In otherwords the development of human happiness is one purpose among an infinite set of purposes that can be attributed to the creation of existence. For existence is not a place of the static. There is no place of happiness, love, mercy, justice. There is a state of better happiness, worse happiness; better justice, worse justice; more pain, less pain. Some eras will be worse than a previous, some better. Overall, the true religion is creating overall advancement, and that advancement can continue as long as the human being exists in the universe. For us, though, here and now, consider whether the presentation of Baha’u’llah’s teachings by His son, Abdu’l-Baha, an the achievement of happiness doesn’t provide adequate guidance to a happier future.
“Consider carefully: all these highly varied phenomena, these concepts, this knowledge, these technical procedures and philosophical systems, these sciences, arts, industries and inventions — all are emanations of the human mind. Whatever people has ventured deeper into this shoreless sea, has come to excel the rest. The happiness and pride of a nation consist in this, that it should shine out like the sun in the high heaven of knowledge. “Shall they who have knowledge and they who have it not, be treated alike?” And the honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world’s multitudes should become a source of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight.
We should continually be establishing new bases for human happiness and creating and promoting new instrumentalities toward this end. How excellent, how honorable is man if he arises to fulfil his responsibilities; how wretched and contemptible, if he shuts his eyes to the welfare of society and wastes his precious life in pursuing his own selfish interests and personal advantages. Supreme happiness is man’s, and he beholds the signs of God in the world and in the human soul, if he urges on the steed of high endeavor in the arena of civilization and justice. “We will surely show them Our signs in the world and within themselves.”
We must now highly resolve to arise and lay hold of all those instrumentalities that promote the peace and well-being and happiness, the knowledge, culture and industry, the dignity, value and station, of the entire human race.
leaders of the people:.. have not properly understood that man’s supreme honor and real happiness lie in self-respect, in high resolves and noble purposes, in integrity and moral quality, in immaculacy of mind.
The purpose of the foregoing statements is to demonstrate at least this, that the happiness and greatness, the rank and station, the pleasure and peace, of an individual have never consisted in his personal wealth, but rather in his excellent character, his high resolve, the breadth of his learning, and his ability to solve difficult problems.”
(Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 2,3, 4, 18, 23)