“The Evil One is he that hindereth the rise and obstructeth the spiritual progress of the children of men.” ~ Baha’u’llah
The Bible states that the devil is not a flesh and blood being; “Put on all of God’s armor so that you may be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. For we are not fighting against people made flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies, the evil rulers of the unseen world.” (Eph 6:11-12).
The Bible says to be wary of the machinations of Satan, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…”(1 Peter 5:8). Baha’is are also warned of the Devil’s ways, when Baha’u’llah writes, “Watch over yourselves, for the Evil One is lying in wait, ready to entrap you. Gird yourselves against his wicked devices, and, led by the light of the name of the All-Seeing God, make your escape from the darkness that surroundeth you. Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self.” But Baha’u’llah goes on to explain who this ‘Evil One really is when He writes, “The Evil One is he that hindereth the rise and obstructeth the spiritual progress of the children of men.” (GWB, p. 94). Therefore, Baha’is believe that the ‘devil’ is used as a symbol and, therefore, that the use of the ‘devil’ imagery in the Bible is another use of a parable designed to educate us.
Baha’is believe that people have two natures, one is heavenly, the other is animal. The heavenly nature comes from our souls, which are the realities that give us free will and consciousness. The animal nature comes from our material bodies that gives us our lower nature. The animal nature is innate, the heavenly must be cultivated. The animal nature we are born with. The baby is the perfect incarnation of this animal nature, perfectly greedy, self-centered, and completely oblivious to anyone else’s needs or wants. As the baby grows to adulthood, it hopefully becomes aware of others, and learns to be empathetic and caring. Baha’is believe that this animal nature is not evil in itself, it is just ignorant and in need of development. By cultivating the spiritual side of man, we gather our strength and will power that is needed to master our animal nature. Therefore when educating children, Baha’is strive to help children cultivate their own spiritual qualities such as kindness, wisdom, and justice. Without such qualities, Baha’is believe a person is doomed to ignorance and a wasted life.
The animal nature must therefore be trained and controlled by the spiritual nature. The analogy of a horse and a rider is useful here. A horse must be trained, and controlled for it to get the rider safely to his journey’s end. Therefore, our souls must learn to master our animal condition so that we might pass through this material world in spiritual safety. As Bahau’llah wrote, “Then we must labor to destroy the animal condition, till the meaning of humanity shall come to light.” (SV, p. 34). Our Writings also tell us that, “The ego is the animal in us, the heritage of the flesh which is full of selfish desires. By obeying the laws of God, seeking to live the life laid down in our teachings, and prayer and struggle, we can subdue our egos. We call people “saints” who have achieved the highest degree of mastery over their ego.” (UHJ, 1985 Dec 02).