Who is responsible for suffering and evil?


If God is the doer, then the non-fundamental person has no free will and is not responsible for anything that happens. A murderer is not guilty: God was the doer. God is playing chess with himself, what is the point in that ?

The doer, God, tortures and the victim, again God, suffers, or rather the character suffers pain and God observes. From the perspective of the person, life is pointless ,all is predetermined, nothing is of his doing to be cast aside at his death as a worn-out toy?

—David, thailand



Your comments strike to the heart of the question that thoughtful humans must and always have addressed: who is responsible for suffering and evil!

The ages old teaching that all creation is but a manifestation of God is not, stated alone, intended to suggest that it is GOD who perpetrates evil and suffering.

Not surprisingly (and even your tone suggests disbelief) it is NOT that simple.

Entire books are written on this subject so to pen a reply on one of the deepest and most important questions we face is a bit daunting but I’ll do my best and I’ll use the tone and language of Paramhansa Yogananda whose teachings we represent:

“God is One and Eternal.” Complete in Himself. How then did this immense and complex universe come into being? God had to create an illusion. By the movement of His consciousness by intention and energy, God vibrated the universe into manifestation in three stages of thought, energy, and matter.

Vibration, like a tuning fork, is a movement from a center of rest in opposite directions. By the movement of pairs of opposites (and neutral), positive, negative, action, reaction, male, female, heat and cold and so on is created the appearance (“maya”) of these three stages of creation. An illusion.

For after all, outside of God no-thing exists. There was no planet or hardware store or laboratory to go to obtain the building blocks of creation. From the void or apparent no-thing came the creation just as from the seeming no-thing-ness appears new ideas and thoughts which, when we act upon their inspiration, become action and then matter.

God is triune in the sense that while remaining apart from the creation, He exists also AS the creation, and at the same time has imparted the seed of his intention and very nature (as bliss) into the still vibrationless center of every atom and every heart.

But to complete and then perpetuate the creation and seeded by divine consciousness, the creation included intelligent forces and Beings with, you might say, specialized skills and tasks.

Armed with intelligence, reason and the impulse and God-implanted intention to create, the outward moving Force began to assume its own separate awareness and like God in Genesis “said it was good!”

The appearance of separateness may be an illusion but creation and the act of creation are also energizing and blissful experiences (we see this as obvious in the pleasure of procreation through sexual means).

The outward flowing Force of maya in creating the illusion of separateness began to identify with that separateness and to reject the thought of losing that separateness by acknowledging, attuning and merging back into God. In short, an act of rebellion.

In a single human life we see this after puberty. As the sex force appears powerfully in the young human body, the ego is strengthened and the former child wants to separate, go his own way and become his own person.

Thus the Divine Self becomes eclipsed by the ego self both in the macrocosm of creation and of the vast universe of consciousness, AND, in the microcosm of human consciousness. This rejection of the invitation to act in harmony with the One Self of all is repeated daily not just at some point in time.

Thus God as Doer becomes Maya, the Force that affirms separateness (often at the expense of other selfs), and God as my Divine Self becomes ego: pursuer of desires, prejudices, and fears.

The person who has embarked upon the journey back to God is sometimes counseled to see all his actions as God the ultimate Doer. But this intention is merely an affirmation until the soul actually achieves enlightenment.

This affirmation is not intended to justify evil or wrong acts. It is intended to help the devotee begin to identify more and more with the indwelling Divine Self.

As described above we can refer to evil as a cosmic force or as an impulse within individual consciousness. The difference is not that important except only in this: as we awaken spiritually, we can experience the power of the fact that we can distance our identity from our past errors, seeing them simply as errors arising out of the force of Maya with which we cooperated. But by re-directing our identity from the hypnosis of separateness, we can choose a higher awareness of reality which is to say that the ultimate Doer (Force) is God.

Thus in the highest metaphysical sense, God IS the Doer but in creating a universe whose perpetuation depends on all organisms to view themselves as separate (in order to survive!) there was no choice but to allow the opposites (good and evil) to operate in a ceaseless flux of apparently innate reality (separateness).

Yogananda wrote (as a further reference I encourage you to read the book ESSENCE OF SELF REALIZATION), “The drama of life has for its lesson that it is, simply, that: a drama.” Good and evil are both necessary for the perpetuation of the drama. Souls can be freed from the drama only by an act of will and choice. We can choose to remain in the drama for what might seem an eternity if we choose to. Thus the drama continues while only individual souls awaken and get to leave (forever).

From the God’s eye view, this drama, being innately illusory, is just that:a drama. Neither good nor bad but a great play whose purpose is to invite the players, one by one, to want to know the Playwright and to want to give up their acting careers.

God is One and Eternal. “In the beginning was the WORD, the WORD was with God and the WORD was God….and nothing that was created was created without the Word of God…..this is the reference in the first chapter of the gospel of John describing the vibration of the Holy Spirit (Aum) that is the “first” or primordial movement of consciousness that creates and sustains the creation. Its further movement outward becomes the Satanic force of Maya seeking, as is necessary for the drama, the perpetuation of the great play.

I hope this is helpful but I must warn you: great saints and Yogananda himself protested to Divine Mother that this is all unfair to us. He even went so far as to suggest to devotees that we “blame” God for our dilemma. Blame here is meant to help us detach from the drama sufficiently to begin re-identifying with God as the sole Reality: the Doer!

But no explanation will EVER suffice to answer your question satisfactorily. Yogananda himself admitted that and said simply when pestered: “when you find God you will look back and say what a great play!” No true saint has ever turned away saying God is a scam.

Faith, St. Paul said, is evidence of things unseen. Belief is a good beginning but faith is knowing through intuition rather than logic or philosophy.

I wish you well and applaud your sincerity and depth of your desire to know “the truth that can make you free.”

Joy to you!
Nayaswami Hriman

PS. If I had more time, this would have been shorter in length.