Why Does God Allow Animals to Be Treated So Cruelly?


I have been meditating daily for over 11 years now and have read Yogananda's book "Why God permits evil" several times but I really have big problems in understanding why so many animals are being treated so cruelly by people and have to suffer so much. A human has a certain capability to defend itself which an animal has not. I am very sad about it and really become desperate. In fact I am often angry with god about this. Why does it happen and how can I learn to cope with it?

—Sabine, Austria


Dear Sabine,

When we make a commitment the spiritual path and have been practicing for a while, God often invites us to go deeper and tosses us a challenge. Consider that you have received one of these. You are asking a deep question that strikes at your fundamental values.

Paramhansa Yogananda would very occasionally express his anger at God for allowing cruelty and injustice to prevail. Yogananda was already a free soul and incarnated to guide others to freedom, but he also lived in a human body and was able experience the suffering of others. Devotees who are sensitive to the injustice that seems to prevail may long for a world free of negativity. Such sensitivity is a powerful motivator to seek a place of kindness, compassion and peace. This is found by going within, where we tune into God’s presence beyond duality. It is here where we can experience the perfection we seek.

We live in a world of opposites: every positive is balanced by a negative, and darkness is balanced by light. Creation is sustained with the vibration between opposites called duality. Every particle vibrates. This vibration is how God manifests the universe.

Each living being is a soul-spark of the Divine and is destined to grow through incarnations to eventually be reunited with its Source. In animals there is little self-awareness and thus little suffering in the same way people experience. Their progress through incarnations is fairly automatic. Animals kill one another through the instinct for self-preservation. Once soul evolution reaches human form, there is free will but that will is still quite bound. Souls who have had only a few human incarnations act mainly from instinct, subconscious desires, and the balancing scales of karma. They kill animals without awareness of the soul dwelling within them. Only as the human advances does sensitive awareness of others develop to include animals and then an awareness and desire to tune into God’s will.

We might ask God why He created this world of opposites, why souls are not already perfected when born into bodies. But then why bother with birth or creation at all? The answer from the East is that this is God’s play or lila and it is the soul’s duty to grow toward God-realization within the circumstances where we are placed. If we accept the nature of duality and the blueprint for the individual soul’s journey, then challenges and resultant suffering are often just what the soul needs to advance. If there were no challenges, then why take the trouble to change and grow?

I encourage you to express your anger to God. He likes that you trust Him enough to express your most personal feelings. Yogananda assured us that we cannot offend God. God just waits for us to connect with Him. Think of God as your most personal and intimate Friend.

Now reflect on how you keep your human relationships strong. If you are upset with someone and you value the relationship, you will let the person know what is going on for you in an honest and open way. Do this with God. Then take the time to listen for His answer. Meditate, tune into subtle whispers behind your thoughts, and be aware of clues in your environment and from others that may bring clarity.

See this stumbling block as your next spiritual growth opportunity. Working with this may very well help remove an obstacle in your relationship with God that has not been apparent to you. There may be a great blessing awaiting once you overcome it. God sees the sincere devotee’s heart and knows when it is time to expand. Embrace the challenge.

Many blessings,
Nayaswami Mukti