In every class I have attended on any aspect of spirituality, someone always asks a question like this:
If God exists, why does He allow evil in the world? Why does He permit my loved ones to suffer? Why do bad things happen?
Since questions like this inevitably come up, they must be on many peoples’ minds. The responses I’ve heard from teachers leave me unsatisfied so I began to seek out my own answers. This essay is the result of that contemplation. It is only for those willing to suspend their belief that what one sees around them is the sum total of what there is. Appearances can be quite deceiving.
Whether or not you agree with my answer to the question, Why does God allow bad things to happen?, I need to start by telling you how I define God. Otherwise, what I say will make no sense at all. (You very well might conclude that anyway!) My first premise is that God does exist but that God is not an entity who resides somewhere else in a remote location called Heaven, an absentee landlord who oversees the universe and sits in judgment, an anthropomorphic entity in a flowing white gown who might answer a prayer if He’s sufficiently moved but then again, might not. Rather, God is here and now, within me and within everyone and everything. God is consciousness. God is life. God is the universe and the Principal underlying the universe. God is all there is and there is nothing more. So, this is my starting point.
During periods of contemplation, I began to formulate this idea: nothing that comes into my field of view has an earthly foundation. Everything I see and everything I experience has its foundation in thought or consciousness. Since it is made of thought, it is like a dream – not exactly like the dreams I have during sleep but along that line. Both are made out of the ethereal stuff of consciousness. This is not an original idea. However, it was new to me. The dream is made of thoughts on three levels: the God level, the level of my deep consciousness (that is, my soul, the part of me that connects directly to Spirit), and my human-level thinking (my ego self). These levels do not have sharp delineations; they blend gradually from one to the other without interruption because, in the end, they are One. Together, these thoughts form my life experience.
Every person on the planet has their own dream, each constructed from thoughts on the same levels as mine. Billions of these dreams come together and blend, forming the One Dream that is the universe and everything contained in it. Everyone shares the “big picture” part of the dream, the macro level element. The portions of the dream that are made of human-level thoughts are unique to the individual. They add richness and texture and make life the exciting adventure that it is. The interesting thing is that these individual-level thoughts have a curious nature: they bump into one another. Sometimes they clash. When they interact, things happen, events occur and the dream of life takes form.
Occasionally the events are big but usually they are small like ripples on a pond. People have a strong inclination to judge these events as either good or bad, especially the large bad events. Yet these events are neither good nor bad. They are neutral. They are simply part of the dream. So the question, Why does God allow bad things to happen? misses the whole point of life. Judgment of events is the downfall of the human race. It is the starting point of worry, fear, stress and anxiety that lead to misery and disagreement on scales up to and including war. It is, of course, why most spiritual movements encourage giving up judgment as a way of life.
As for me, I spent most of my life like the majority of people, judging events. I worried and fretted about the big ones and the little ones too. I judged good events and bad equally but I obsessed over those I thought were negative. I fanatically watched and read the news and judged everything that was reported. I thought I was being responsible. (Ha!) Such was my life. Then I came to realize that, at the most fundamental of levels, it’s all a dream. And I began to reel in my judgment, not just about the events on the six o’clock news but also about events throughout my life experience on both the macro and micro levels. An amazing thing began to happen. Worry, fear and anxiety in my life shrunk to minimal levels and I became a happier individual.
These days, if I find myself judging someone or some situation, I’m almost always aware of what I’m doing right away and that leads me to be more disciplined with my thoughts the next time. For the most part, I recognize that, particularly for the large-scale negative events, they’ve already happened and there is little or nothing I can do about them anyway. So I let them go. I don’t forget about them but I do not obsess over them either.
Anytime I contemplate something like this – events as dreams in this case – I look to see what science has to say. Science is hardly an infallible indicator because we humans are interpretting the data. Nevertheless, I look to science because the voice of science (including mathematics) is a high form of God’s communication with the human-level world. This is my way of “checking” my ego-driven imagination.
In this case, physics – particularly quantum physics – has a lot to say. It says that consciousness is the undercurrent of physical reality. If you have seen the movie, “The Secret”, you have seen the animated short video about Dr. Quantum and the famous Double Slit experiment. If you missed it, you can view it here. Physicists have performed this experiement inumerable times with the same results each time. The results underscore the clear linkage between the world of atoms and molecules and consciousness. The conclusion is inescapable: the foundation of material substance is consciousness.
So this is how I answer the question, Why does God allow bad things happen? He doesn’t. The belief that He does is based on an erroneous view of fundamental reality. The way out of this error is to discipline one’s thoughts and get control of the judgment process. One day, I believe this will be the way most people think. It will be the birth of a new era on earth. Eckhart Tolle calls it, “A New Earth.”