My most enduring bookwas written as an addition to this first stage of my attempt to understand the Bahá’í concept of ontology and theodicy. To the discussion of the metaphorical nature of reality, I added two additional parts.
The beginning section has to do with the concept of justice—not in the usual sense of right and wrong, but rather justice as applied to fairness, especially in regard to God’s decision to do the right thing by having us associate with a body that teases us with prurient desires, that gets sick, in time wears out, and ultimately dies!
This first part of the discussion—an examination of the Bahá’í concept of theodicy—begins by surveying some of the responses to the question of how we can believe in a just Creator when injustice seems to hold such sway in the world. And because this question has challenged thinkers since the beginning of philosophical and religions thought, I examine how the question is dealt with in the story of Job, in Plato’s Republic, or in Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, in Milton’s Paradise Lost, and, finally, in the authoritative texts of Bahá’í Faith.
Of course, nowadays, the question of how to justify the ways of God to man might more appropriately be examined as how we might justify our ways to our Creator now that we seem intent on destroying or mutilating this beauteous creation as we become increasingly oblivious to our objective of becoming good human beings and creating a just and enduring “kingdom of God on earth.”
Once determining that true justice for human beings consists in discovering who or what we are—essentially spiritual beings trying to navigate the illusion that we are physical—I then include as the second part of the work my previous discourse on the metaphorical nature of creation, the fact that God’s purpose is not disconcerting after all because He has provided us with the perfect classroom in which to discover our essential reality and, just as importantly, He has provided us Manifestations (Teachers) to show us how to utilize this earthly opportunity to fulfill our inherent purpose of becoming good people and preparing to continue spiritual development after we depart the physical realm.
The conclusion of this work derived from studies I had made regarding NDEs (Near Death Experiences). More particularly, I had tried to determine how parallel these accounts were to the same process as portrayed in the Bahá’í writings. I was especially focused on whether there seemed specific relationships between how well one had navigated this life (how “good” or moral and selfless of —the relationship between this life and the next. For while the NDEs seem to vindicate in quasi scientific research that afterlife is a fact and not a mere assertion of faith, some of those involved in this research had concluded that everyone has the same delightful outcome, a sense of bliss and relief and reunion with their loved ones, and with the Creator Himself—or Someone very like Him.
To me this did not make complete sense; justice would seem to demand that the afterlife experience somehow related to how we have done up to that point—whether we have done well or poorly—given our individual circumstances and opportunities. In other words, while only an infinitely capable Being could determine all the variables influencing the outcome of a given life and the extent to which we have done well or poorly, surely one must feel the consequence (or reward) for how one has done. Furthermore, since no two lives are alike, the relationship between performance and outcome as assessed by this Being could not be based on any set standard or any comparison between one soul and another.
As it turned out, I discovered in my research indications that not all did have exactly the same blissful experience. Some had experienced some pretty rough going and longed to get back to life in order to set things right, while those who felt pretty good about their performance indicated they would have been quite content to remain in that afterlife, and desired to return only because their departure might have left some friends and relatives quite bereaved or some really important work incomplete.