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Causes of Bitterness

 What are some of the causes of bitterness?

 Misunderstanding:  Often we jump to conclusions without having all the facts.

This hatred and enmity, this bigotry and intolerance are outcomes of misunderstandings, the reality of religious unity will appear when these misunderstandings are dispelled.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 96)

Difference of Opinion:  Instead of thinking of truth as a diamond, with many facets, we feel that our way is the only right way.

Do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought to separate you from your fellow-men, or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in your hearts.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 53)

Taking Offence:  Our ego takes a bruising and we get our feelings hurt.  We take offence even when no offence was meant.

The temptation to react sharply and defensively is very great, yet we know that . . . we should not do so. Not only is it contrary to the spirit of the instructions of the Master and the Guardian, with which you are thoroughly familiar, but giving vent to such reaction tends to evoke resentment rather than bringing about the desired result.  (Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated January 25, 1972, to a National Spiritual Assembly)

Temporary Bonds of Brotherhood:  We form alliances which we think are forever and when they aren’t, it can lead to bitterness.  This can happen when family members betray you; or when gangs feel they have to defend their turf.

Brotherhood or fraternity is of different kinds. It may be family association, the intimate relationship of the household. This is limited and subject to change and disruption. How often it happens that in a family, love and agreement are changed into enmity and antagonism.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 79)

These forms of fraternity [family, race, nation, ethical motives], these bonds of brotherhood are merely temporal and transient in association. They do not insure harmony and are usually productive of disagreement. They do not prevent warfare and strife; on the contrary they are selfish, restricted and fruitful causes of enmity and hatred among mankind. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 227)

Holding onto Imitation and Ancestral Beliefs:  You see this in parts of the world that have been feuding for generations.  The original problems are long forgotten, but the bitterness continues down through the generations, and you follow suit without thinking, because your family has always held that particular prejudice.

Alas! we have turned away from that foundation [of divine religions], holding tenaciously to various dogmatic forms and blind imitation of ancestral beliefs. This is the real cause of enmity, hatred and bloodshed in the world; the reason of alienation and estrangement among mankind.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 96)

Imitations . . . have ever been the cause of strife, enmity, jealousy and war.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 158)

Human Inventions and Dogmas:   An example of this can be seen in Rwanda.  When the European colonists conducted censuses, they wanted to identify the peoples throughout Rwanda-Burundi according to a simple classification scheme. They defined “Tutsi” as anyone owning more than ten cows (a sign of wealth) or with the physical feature of a longer nose, commonly associated with the Tutsi. The Europeans noticed that some Rwandans had noses they thought characteristic of their people, so they created historical and racial theories to explain why some Africans inherited such features.  This ultimately became a factor in the genocide.

Just as the thoughts and hypotheses of past ages are fruitless today, likewise dogmas and codes of human invention are obsolete and barren of product in religion. Nay, it is true that they are the cause of enmity and conducive to strife in the world of humanity; war and bloodshed proceed from them and the oneness of mankind finds no recognition in their observance . . .  we remain fettered and restricted by human inventions and dogmas, day by day the world of mankind will be degraded, day by day warfare and strife will increase and satanic forces converge toward the destruction of the human race.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 228)

Lack of Religious Unity and Association:  It’s hard for us to feel bitterness towards those we are associating with, if we can see that they are focused on God.

The world of humanity is one, and God is equally kind to all. What, then, is the source of unkindness and hatred in the human world? This real Shepherd loves all His sheep. He leads them in green pastures. He rears and protects them. What, then, is the source of enmity and alienation among humankind? Whence this conflict and strife? The real underlying cause is lack of religious unity and association, for in each of the great religions we find superstition, blind imitation of creeds, and theological formulas adhered to instead of the divine fundamentals, causing difference and divergence among mankind instead of agreement and fellowship. Consequently, strife, hatred and warfare have arisen, based upon this divergence and separation.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 393)


For more in this series:

Introduction to Bitterness:

Examples of Bitterness:

Bahá’í Quotes on Bitterness:

The 7 Underlings of Bitterness:

How Bitterness Works:

Effects of Bitterness:

Estrangement as an Outcome of Bitterness:

Warning Signs for Bitterness:

Solutions to Bitterness:


Baha’i Quotes on Bitterness


What do the Baha’i Writings say about the different forms of Bitterness?


. . .  if he does not use these qualities [anger and wrath] in a right way, they are blameworthy (‘Abdul-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 250- 251).


Inasmuch as God loves all, why should we entertain animosity? . . . Why then should man be unkind to man?  (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 315)


You are urged to avoid confrontation and dissension; these would tend to increase the antagonism.  (Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 185)

Dissension and Strife:

Nothing whatsoever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than dissension and strife . . . among the loved ones of God. Flee them.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 8)


Wherefore, O My servants, defile not your wings with the clay of waywardness and vain desires, and suffer them not to be stained with the dust of envy and hate, that ye may not be hindered from soaring in the heavens of My divine knowledge.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 327)

Therefore, we must exercise extreme patience, sympathy and love toward all mankind, considering no soul as rejected.  If we look upon a soul as rejected, we have disobeyed the teachings of God. God is loving to all. Shall we be unjust or unkind to anyone? Is this allowable in the sight of God? God provides for all. Is it befitting for us to prevent the flow of His merciful provisions for mankind? God has created all in His image and likeness. Shall we manifest hatred for His creatures and servants? This would be contrary to the will of God and according to the will of Satan, by which we mean the natural inclinations of the lower nature.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 286)

We believe that on deeper reflection it will be recognized that love and hate are emotional attachments or repulsions that can irrationally influence the seeker; they are not aspects of the truth itself.  (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 389-390)


Purge thy heart from malice and . . . enter the divine court of holiness.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 42)

Beware lest ye give ear to the words of those from whom the foul smell of malice and envy can be discerned; pay no heed to them, and stand ye for righteousness.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 199)


As long as the friends quarrel amongst themselves their efforts will not be blessed for they are disobeying God. (Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 21)


For example, if someone oppresses, injures, and wrongs another, and the wronged man retaliates, this is vengeance, and is censurable.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 37)


Beware, beware, lest any of you seek vengeance, even against one who is thirsting for your blood.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 73)


Nothing whatsoever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than . . . strife . . . among the loved ones of God. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 8)

Verily I say, strife and dissension, and whatsoever the mind of man abhorreth are entirely unworthy of his station.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 196)

God is at peace with all his children; why should they engage in strife and warfare among themselves?  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 122)

. . . strife, antagonism . . . a spirit of hostility and hatred, . . . is contrary to the good pleasure of God. (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 397)


He founded the oneness of the world of humanity. He declared that all humanity is the servant of God, and that God is kind to all, that He created all and provides for all; that He nurtures all; therefore why should we be unkind? Inasmuch as God is kind and merciful to all His creatures and manifests His care and goodwill to them in every way, why should we show forth that which is contrary? Inasmuch as God loves all, why should we entertain animosity or envy? For if God did not love all, He would not have provided for all; He would not have created man; He would not have trained him. Now that He has created, provided for all and preserved man, it is therefore evident that God is kind to all. Why then should man be unkind to man?  (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 315)


For more in this series:

Introduction to Bitterness:

Examples of Bitterness:

The 7 Underlings of Bitterness:

How Bitterness Works:

Causes of Bitterness:

Effects of Bitterness:

Estrangement as an Outcome of Bitterness:

Warning Signs for Bitterness:

Solutions to Bitterness:




The Seven “Underlings” of Bitterness

In his book, A More Excellent Way, Henry Wright says that Bitterness has 7 “underlings”:

1.  Unforgiveness:  once it’s part of your life, you won’t forgive.  It keeps a record of all the wrongs that have ever happened to you by yourself and others, even towards people who are dead.  It causes you to replay events over and over in your minds, often below your level of awareness.  It starts in the mind as a thought, and then you feel it in your gut.  It’s all coming from your lower natures.

2. Resentment:  “Re” means repeated over and over again; “sent” means to send a message; so “resentment” sends a negative message over and over again, reinforcing thoughts like:

  • I’m never going to forgive you.
  • I’m weird, clumsy, ugly (or other words of self hatred)

It can project outward, so we blame others, and then we both agree; saying unkind words towards each other, causing wrangling and dispute to increase.  We often see this in families and in spouses, but of course, it can happen anywhere. We hear someone saying something negative about a third person (as in listening to gossip and backbiting); their resentment attracts you and you take it in and believe it and their judgement attaches itself to you and you begin to believe it.

When you notice that a stage has been reached when enmity and threats are about to occur, you should immediately postpone discussion of the subject, until wranglings, disputations, and loud talk vanish, and a propitious time is at hand. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 178)

When the resentment in me, meets the resentment in you, we both become victims without knowing it.  It’s like Velcro attaching to each other.  We can use God as the “Unfastener” (one of the names of God found in the Long Healing Prayer).

3.  Retaliation:  is about getting even.  It’s internalized long before it takes place (like adultery, you look at someone and think about it long before you act on it).  Unforgiveness fuels resentment; resentment fuels retaliation, feeding the fire with a message “they’re going to pay for what they did”.

4.  Anger and Wrath:  tempt us to go deeper.  The first three can be hidden by someone who is very deceptive.  They can cover up their anger with a smile (for example, Southern Belles, perfect hostesses).  Because they’ve been brought up to be “nice”, they won’t yell when they get angry, but turn it on themselves instead in the form of depression, often leading to substance abuse.  They’re so busy pleasing other people, they have no thought about pleasing God.

It’s harder to hide anger and wrath, because these show themselves physically.  We can see it in people’s eyes and body posture (clenched fists, clenched jaw etc).  People lose control of their emotions with the thought:  “I’m going to tell them what I think”, and their rage can manifest in a lot of uncontrolled yelling and screaming.

Another way anger and wrath manifests is through gossip and backbiting.  For those who are still trying to “be nice”, they won’t speak directly to the person who they think wronged them, but instead speak to someone else instead.  This is the root cause of all family split-ups, and breakdowns of all relationships.  It turns into bitterness.

The Baha’i Writings tell us to:

“. . . avoid these two [anger and jealousy] as you would a lion”.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 460)

So when you catch yourself moving into anger, look that lion in the face and slowly back away.

5.  Hatred:  Hatred sets the stage for estrangement – cutting someone out of your life.  Maybe you recognize one of these thoughts:

One of us has to go, and it’s not going to be me.

  • I hate you so I’m going to hurt you.
  • I hate me so I’m going to hurt me.

Outward expressions of hatred are easy to identify, but inner manifestations such as addictions, eating disorders, self-mutilation, suicidal thoughts and driving a car above the speed limit etc. are not.   Someone exhibiting any of these thoughts or actions might think that their feelings of hatred are hidden, but if you hear someone telling you:  “You’ve got to love yourself”, and you deny it, it’s a warning sign and needs to be paid attention to.

6.  Violence:  is anger plus hatred, in motion.  Action is the result.  It’s no longer an emotional or spiritual problem, but a physical one, such as physical, sexual or verbal abuse; shooting; cutting, binging and purging; excessive tattooing and body piercing; spending money you can’t afford; maxing out the credit cards etc.

How did ‘Abdu’l-Bahá respond to the violence of others?  Here’s a story which illustrates his actions:

A Bahá’í came to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to speak on behalf of a young Persian, who was trying to attach himself to the Faith. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained that should anyone commit a hundred wrongs against His own person He would overlook them all and treat the offender with kindness; should anyone act treasonably towards His own person, He would act towards the offender as if he were someone most trusted, but He (‘Abdu’l-Bahá) could never countenance nor aid any deed which would injure the Faith. To murder Him, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, would be preferable to defrauding others; murdering Him would not harm the Faith, defrauding people would.  (H.M. Balyuzi, Abdu’l-Bahá – The Centre of the Covenant, p. 393)

He also asked God for forgiveness:

O God, my God! Lowly, suppliant and fallen upon my face, I beseech Thee with all the ardor of my invocation to pardon whosoever hath hurt me, forgive him that hath conspired against me and offended me, and wash away the misdeeds of them that have wrought injustice upon me. Vouchsafe unto them Thy goodly gifts, give them joy, relieve them from sorrow, grant them peace and prosperity, give them Thy bliss and pour upon them Thy bounty.  Thou art the Powerful, the Gracious, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Will and Testament, p. 19)

7.  Murder: can be both a physical murder; or murder of the tongue.  We can destroy people’s lives with our words through slander, calumny, vilifying, defamation of character or gossip and backbiting.

For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 264)

Baha’u’llah says that a murderer must atone for his sins, but if he’s punished in this world, he won’t be punished in the next:

As to the question regarding the soul of a murderer, and what his punishment would be, the answer given was that the murderer must expiate his crime: that is, if they put the murderer to death, his death is his atonement for his crime, and following the death, God in His justice will impose no second penalty upon him, for divine justice would not allow this. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 179)

All of these stages start from within; from a thought arising from our lower natures.

Bitterness keeps us from inner peace and tranquility, and can’t be dealt with until all of these seven steps are stripped away.  It’s easy to think that we aren’t victims of bitterness, but we probably all have suffered manifestations of all of these steps at one point or another in our lives.  Even if we’re perfectly loving, our culture is so immersed in gossip and backbiting, it’s almost impossible to break free.  And ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us that once we are free of one vice, another one pops up in it’s place.

Just as the earth attracts everything to the centre of gravity, and every object thrown upward into space will come down, so also material ideas and worldly thoughts attract man to the centre of self. Anger, passion, ignorance, prejudice, greed, envy, covetousness, jeal­ousy and suspicion prevent man from ascending to the realms of holi­ness, imprisoning him in the claws of self and the cage of egotism.  The physical man, unassisted by the divine power, trying to escape from one of these invisible enemies, will unconsciously fall into hands of another. No sooner does he attempt to soar upward than the density of the love of self, like the power of gravity, draws him to the centre of the earth. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 241)


For more in this series:

Introduction to Bitterness:

Examples of Bitterness:

Bahá’í Quotes on Bitterness:

How Bitterness Works:

Causes of Bitterness:

Effects of Bitterness:

Estrangement as an Outcome of Bitterness:

Warning Signs for Bitterness:

Solutions to Bitterness:



How Bitterness Works

Bitterness is caused by thoughts arising from our lower nature.  If there is a root of bitterness in you, and you respond to others with bitterness, which locks into the bitterness in them, then you have a bitterness “ping-pong” game going back and forth and everyone is defiled.

As a child, you could have been exposed to someone else’s bitterness, often from a parent or teacher.  The bitterness in them wanted to connect with you and they did or said something to make you a victim.

If you’ve ever been abused, you’ll know that thinking about your experiences can draw you into your lower nature, judging yourself and your abusers.

Rejection can lead to bitterness.  Ask yourself:

  • Who has rejected you?
  • Who have you turned your bitterness towards?

We can see bitterness played out in this familiar cycle.  The husband is criticized for something he did at work; so he comes home and yells at his wife; who yells at the children; who yell at the dog.  Soon everyone is yelling; no one is listening; everyone’s feelings are being hurt; rejection starts to build and turn to bitterness, leading to estrangement.

Without Divine Education, gleaned from daily reading the Writings, we may not know how to act any differently.  We’re just following the example we’ve been taught, perhaps blaming it on our culture (I’m Italian.  It’s just the way we are), without realizing it’s a spiritual issue and can be changed.

A better scenario would have been for the husband to turn to God with his hurt at work, so that he could come home and be fully present to his wife and kids.  If he missed that opportunity, and still came home and yelled at his wife, he could have taken responsibility for his anger and apologized, asking God’s forgiveness first, then hers, and then the children’s (for setting a bad example).  When we confess our sins, and trust in God’s forgiveness, we are able to walk in the light, and have better relationships with those around us.

How bitterness unravels:

Bitterness doesn’t start all by itself.  It starts when someone does something you consider unforgiveable, and things start to unravel from there.

Unforgiveness ensures you are never going to forgive.  It keeps reminding you of the supposed wrong done to you, rehashing what was done, projecting it on the screen of your mind and tormenting you with it’s film stuck on “replay”.  This doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?  But it gets worse!

After Unforgiveness ferments your mind, and torments your life, resentment rushes in.  The record of wrongs keeps fermenting.   Resentment fuels the fermentation of Unforgiveness. It accentuates and accelerates. This is the beginning of a permanent breach between the two of you.  Many times Unforgiveness is an intellectual thought because it is just in the memory but then resentment comes in to fuel to the fire.  You feel resentment in your innermost being.   But it doesn’t stop there!

After unforgiveness and resentment have gained their foothold, the next thing to follow is retaliation. This is much more dangerous than the former vices.  It is a progressive hierarchy.  This reality probably accounts for 99% of mankind’s problems.

What reinforces retaliation?  Resentment.

What fuels resentment? Unforgiveness.

What is the root of it all?  Bitterness.

Your lower nature is having a field day, driving progressively thicker veils between you and God, and driving you further and further into the prison of self!  But it doesn’t stop there!

When retaliation has established itself within you, anger and wrath come next. Unforgiveness, resentment and retaliation can be hidden, but anger starts to show physically.  Anger and wrath never occur unless unforgiveness, resentment and retaliation have been festering for some time.  You get angry because of the breach, the hurt and the victimization that allowed unforgiveness, resentment and retaliation to get their foothold.  Retaliation is internalized long before the act of getting even.  Retaliation sets the stage to produce the elimination of a person in relationship.  It is the root behind all family splits, all divorces, all division, and all breakups of human relationships.

Nothing whatsoever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than dissension and strife, contention, estrangement and apathy, among the loved ones of God. Flee them, through the power of God and His sovereign aid, and strive ye to knit together the hearts of men, in His Name, the Unifier, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 8)

After anger and wrath have gained a foothold, hatred comes.  Hatred not only has the root of Bitterness, but it is being fueled by Unforgiveness, Resentment, Retaliation, and Anger and Wrath.  Now begins the stage of elimination of the person that you hold in Unforgiveness.

When you see Hatred in someone, you know they have clothed themselves in the garments of anger retaliation, resentment, unforgiveness and bitterness and you know that the person is trusting in this armor instead of God’s protection.

Bitterness is counting on the fact that when you are ready to forgive, Unforgiveness will pull up thoughts, sights, sounds and smells to remind you of the wrong done to you.

The next level of Bitterness is Violence.  Violence is Anger in motion because it is not just emotional anymore; it is not just spiritual; it has now become physical. You can see Violence every day if you just look at families.  You can watch the progression of the breakup of human relationship caused by Bitterness.

The final level that completes Bitterness is Murder, not just physical murder (as in homicide or suicide) but emotional (as in gossip and backbiting) and spiritual murder (as in resignation from the Faith) as well.


For more in this series:

Introduction to Bitterness:

Examples of Bitterness:

Bahá’í Quotes on Bitterness:

The 7 Underlings of Bitterness:

Causes of Bitterness:

Effects of Bitterness:

Estrangement as an Outcome of Bitterness:

Warning Signs for Bitterness:

Solutions to Bitterness:

Spiritual Causes of Disease

This is part four of an eleven part series on the Baha’i Perspective on Disease.   In Part 1,  we looked at how I got interested in this topic and looked at some quotes on prevention of disease.  In Part 2, we looked at the reasons for disease.  In Part 3, we looked at the physical cause of diseas, and in this part we look at the spiritual causes of disease.

God’s will:

For these thy prevailing diseases are not on account of sins, but they are to make thee detest this world and know that there is no rest and composure in this temporal life.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v1, p. 185)

Whatever hath befallen you, hath been for the sake of God. This is the truth, and in this there is no doubt. You should, therefore, leave all your affairs in His Hands, place your trust in Him, and rely upon Him. He will assuredly not forsake you. In this, likewise, there is no doubt.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Fire and Light, p. 10)

There have been many men who have died at last of the very disease of which they have made a special study. Aristotle, for instance, who made a special study of the digestion, died of a gastronomic malady. Aviseu was a specialist of the heart, but he died of heart disease.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 19)

Human Condition:

Suffering, of one kind or another, seems to be the portion of man in this world . . . poverty, disease, bereavement – they seem to be part of the polish God employs to make us finer, and enable us to reflect more of His attributes!  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 603)

See how dark and narrow is the physical world of man’s body, and what a prey it is to diseases and ills.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 192)

Think how narrow and dark is the material world of man, how afflicted with disease and maladies; but how bright and spacious is his Spiritual World!  (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 459)

Disobedience to God:

According to the teaching of the Prophets, disease and all other forms of calamity are due to disobedience to the Divine Commands.      (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 95)

We live in a world, however, where from time immemorial obedience to the commands of the Prophets has been the exception rather than the rule; where love of self has been a more prevalent motive than love of God; where limited and party interests have taken precedence of the interests of humanity as a whole; where material possessions and sensual pleasures have been preferred to the social and spiritual welfare of mankind. Hence have arisen fierce competition and conflict, oppression and tyranny, extremes of wealth and poverty — all those conditions which breed disease, mental and physical. (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 105)

Turning away from God:

Know thou verily the Divine Food is descending from heaven, but only those taste thereof who are directed to the light of guidance, and only those can enjoy it who are endowed with a sound taste. Otherwise every diseased soul disliketh the delicious and merciful food and this is because of the sickness which hath seized him, whereby the El-Zekkum is sweet (to his taste) while he fleeth from the ripe fruit of the Tree of the Living and Pre-existent God — and there is no wonder in that.  (El-Zekkum — a thorny tree so called, which bears fruit like an almond, but extremely bitter. Therefore the tree symbolizes a very severe punishment and bitter remorse for the unbelievers).  (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v1, p. 130)

Generational “Sins of the Father”:

If a man does a great injustice to another in his life, then, after his death, his son will be despised for having had such a father and in some cases the injury might be so serious that the effect would reach to the grandson, etc., or a man may, by wrong living, fall into consumption and give that disease to his children unto the third or fourth generation.  “Both physically and mentally the sins of the fathers may be visited upon the children.”  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at ‘Akká 1979 ed., pp. 45-46)


It is certainly the case that sins are a potent cause of physical ailments. If humankind were free from the defilements of sin and waywardness, and lived according to a natural, inborn equilibrium, without following wherever their passions led, it is undeniable that diseases would no longer take the ascendant, nor diversify with such intensity.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 152)


Betting on horse racing is a pernicious disease. It hath been seen in Europe what distress this hath caused. Thousands have become afflicted and distraught  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 357)

Fear, Anger, Worry and Sorrow:

Sometimes if the nervous system is paralyzed through fear, a spiritual remedy is necessary . . . It often happens that sorrow makes one ill, this can be cured by spiritual means.      (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 65)

Fear, anger, worry, et cetera, are very prejudicial to health  (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 107)

Before she became a Bahá’í she had been a Christian Scientist, and now she brought up the question of mental suggestion as a cure for physical disease. The Master replied that some illnesses, such as consumption and insanity, developed from spiritual causes — grief, for example — and that these could be healed by the spirit.     (Misc Baha’i, The Diary of Juliet Thompson)


Jealousy is a gnawing disease, as testified by Bahá’u’lláh. It destroys the one who harbours it.  (H.M. Balyuzi, Abdu’l-Baha – The Centre of the Covenant, p. 55)

Lack of Love and Hatred:

The disease which afflicts the body politic is lack of love and absence of altruism. In the hearts of men no real love is found, and the condition is such that, unless their susceptibilities are quickened by some power so that unity, love and accord may develop within them, there can be no healing   (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 171)

The disease of sectarian hatreds, if not decisively checked, threatens harrowing consequences that will leave few areas of the world unaffected.  (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, One Common Faith)


No aspect of contemporary civilization is more directly challenged by Bahá’u’lláh’s conception of the future than is the prevailing cult of individualism, which has spread to most parts of the world. Nurtured by such cultural forces as political ideology, academic elitism, and a consumer economy, the “pursuit of happiness” has given rise to an aggressive and almost boundless sense of personal entitlement. The moral consequences have been corrosive for the individual and society alike – and devastating in terms of disease, drug addiction and other all-too- familiar blights of century’s end.  (Baha’i International Community, 1999 Feb, Who is Writing the Future)


As long as the various members and parts of that organism are coordinated and cooperating in harmony, we have as a result the expression of life in its fullest degree. When these members lack coordination and harmony, we have the reverse, which in the human organism is disease, dissolution, death.     (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 98)

The primary disease that afflicts society and generates the ills that cripple it, he says, is the disunity of a human race . . . (Baha’i International Community, 1999 Feb, Who is Writing the Future)

Few will disagree that the universal disease sapping the health of the body of humankind is that of disunity.  (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, One Common Faith)

Disparity between rich and poor:

In much of the world, the gap between the “haves”and “have-nots”has widened and is accelerating with the persistent disparity in income levels. Social problems have not subsided. In fact, crime and disease are not just on the rise; they are also becoming endemic and more difficult to combat.      (Baha’i International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations)


War is disease and dissolution.  (Compilations, Baha’i World Faith, p. 232)

For more in this series:

Part 1: Intro to Disease

Part 2:  Reasons for Disease

Part 3:  Physical Causes of Disease

Part 4:  Spiritual Causes of Disease

Part 5:  Effects of Disease

Part 6:  Attitudes towards Disease

Part 7:  Spiritual Treatment for Disease

Part 8:  Physical Treatment for Disease

Part 9:  Why People Aren’t Getting Better

Part 10:  Advice to Doctors

Part 11:  Prayers for Health