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Religion

Evil Spirits, Angels, Psychic Powers, and Aliens

Ray Zimmerman | Updated Sep 13, 2021

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Ray Zimmerman | Jul 4, 2014

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

As a young teenager, I had a huge collection of comic books about superheroes with extraordinary powers (particularly Superman and Spiderman), and I naturally fantasized about somehow developing a superpower of my own. I mostly wanted super strength, super speed, and the ability to fly, but I wouldn’t have turned down the ability to read minds or predict the future.

RELATED: Do Humans Have Powers?

So when my wife and I served as instructors for a group of Baha’i teenagers, in trying to appeal to the minds of 13 to 15-year-olds, I thought about my own teenaged obsessions. I decided to present them with the Baha’i perspective on evil spirits, angels, paranormal powers, and extra-terrestrial beings, intrigued to find out what the Baha’i teachings have to say about these topics.

Baha’is believe in the agreement of science and religion. Abdu’l-Baha said:

If religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science they are mere superstitions and imaginations; for the antithesis of knowledge is ignorance, and the child of ignorance is superstition.

While some aspects of the paranormal will be confirmed by science in the future, others–according to the Baha’i Writings–are mere superstitions.

Do Angels or Evil Spirits Exist?

The Baha’i writings speak passionately of an afterlife in which souls continue to progress and develop spiritually, but what do they say about evil spirits? It turns out that the Writings have a clear perspective on this topic. They state, for example, that God has not created any intrinsically evil spirits. In fact, for Baha’is the concepts of evil and Satan actually refer to humanity’s “lower nature” or “the insistent self.” Those who have given in to total selfishness can certainly harm us in this life, but the Baha’i teachings say they have no power over anyone once they have passed into the spiritual world. In other words, the idea of intrinsically evil spirits harming us from beyond is a superstition.

On the other hand, Baha’is do believe in angels, although not in the usual sense. For Baha’is, angels symbolize selfless people who have devoted themselves to service in this life, and who continue to exert a positive influence from the next world. The angels among us are those beautiful people who, through their spirituality, selflessness, and acts of kindness, make life better for others. Abdu’l-Baha wrote:

Angels are blessed beings who have severed all ties with this nether world, have been released from the chains of self and the desires of the flesh, and anchored their hearts to the heavenly realms of the Lord.

Ultimately, the Writings of Baha’u’llah attach no importance to occult experiences. Instead of focusing on auras, mystic voices, or evil spirits, the Baha’i writings encourage us to use scripture as our guide in spiritual and practical matters. Similarly, Baha’is attach little importance to astrology or horoscopes, which may have an appearance of accuracy but generally cannot predict the future.

Crystal Ball

Can People Have Psychic or Paranormal Powers?

What about psychic powers and experiences such as premonitions and communication with the dead? Interestingly, the Baha’i Writings do acknowledge the existence of psychic powers and experiences, but state that these should not be used or cultivated, even if the intention is to help others. The language about this is quite strong, even suggesting that attempting to develop these faculties can weaken a person’s spiritual capacities. Cultivating or using these powers is also problematic because they are not understood, they are potentially dangerous, and we have no way of knowing whether or not they provide true information. While some people do occasionally experience premonitions (such as dreams) that come true, the writings state that these premonitions are a gift from God.

RELATED: Prophetic Dreams: Understanding Their Meaning and Insights

On the subject of telepathy, however, the writings state decisively that it’s impossible to read the thoughts of those we love, let alone other people. In short, this power doesn’t exist.

Do Aliens Exist?

Finally, the Baha’i writings do affirm the existence of life on other planets. Specifically, Abdu’l-Baha refers to beings on other worlds that are capable of knowing God, and Baha’u’llah states that the number of beings in the universe can’t be calculated. These creatures may or may not be similar to us, although the Baha’i writings do refer to beings that have different “states of consciousness” than ours. There’s no information, though, about whether or not any of these beings have visited Earth or even have that ability. (If they did, the Baha’i response would no doubt be to try to establish commonality and unity with them.)

I suspect the teenaged members of our youth group may have felt a bit disappointed about the Baha’i perspective on paranormal topics, since they probably hoped to hear about heroic super powers they might develop. I was glad, though, that the Baha’i writings don’t give these topics much importance. As a Baha’i, I’d rather take part in a movement focused on inter-religious understanding and unity, the elimination of poverty and all forms of prejudice, the establishment of world peace and the equality of women and men.

For me, those truly super-heroic goals give us all something real to work toward.

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Comments

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  • Armine Petrosyan
    Nov 17, 2023
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    Excellent!
  • Terry Tibando
    Oct 28, 2022
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    I found these topics fascinating!I understand that telepathy is a psychic ability like many other such abilities which are probably those abilities we all will have in the Abha Kingdom. I have however, had a telepathic message from an individual who confirmed the thought (mind) message to me verbally. This has only happen once (God-given gift? Perhaps!)
    There are Baha'is, including myself, who have successfully engaged in establishing peaceful contact and communications with Extraterrestrial intelligence at this time! This is becoming a growing reality!
  • Pero F
    Jul 18, 2022
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    Great summary I guess, it would be good to see the actual writings too and sources that it's referring to I was dissapointed to just have one in the beginning.
    • Sunny E.D.
      Sep 19, 2022
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      One more quote plus a link to more: "There is no ambiguity about the Master's attitude towards psychic forces. He very strongly warned the believers against using them."
      Shoghi Effendi, Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 2
    • Sunny E.D.
      Sep 19, 2022
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      Yet another relevant quote: "The Guardian thinks that it is best to assume that generally speaking when people claim they are receiving messages or communications from the Master or Bahá’u’lláh, etc., it is a psychic experience or their imagination, and that they are not in real contact with them. These Holy Beings have the channels of the Cause through which to guide us. They do not need to go outside these and send individual revelations."
      Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 515
    • Sunny E.D.
      Sep 19, 2022
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      Another quote, part 2: "....Truly mystical experiences based on reality are very rare, and we can readily see how dangerous it is for people to go groping about in the darkness of their imagination after the true thing. That is why, as you point out, we are warned against all psychical practices by the Master. If we are going to have some deeply spiritual experience we can rest assured God will vouchsafe it to us without having to look for it."
      Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 514
  • Lodro Pharchin Siering
    Dec 12, 2021
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    Physic abilities come with spiritual realization. It’s a side effect, however, not the goal of such realization. The danger comes along with the fact that a specific desire to cultivate them is necessarily egotistical; the ego being the central obstacle to spiritual realization. It would be dangerous from a mental health perspective to be heavily ego identified and have psychic abilities. Also, if we healing, as an example, this power has to work in collaboration with the holy spirit. People who try to cultivate these abilities independent of such a submission are again being driven by an egotistical impulse—this is ...really a form of spiritual violence, as it attempts to work against God and the autonomy of other persons.
    Read more...
    • Lodro Pharchin Siering
      Dec 12, 2021
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      This is one of the reason so many enlightenment practices are guru based, as they lead to psychic abilities and the guru is there act as a gatekeeper, exactly to keep it from turning into witchcraft. The problem is the world now needs—and is growing increasingly ready for—widespread realization. The Baha’i Revelation will not save the world if the writings don’t lead to the actual realization of individuals in the community.
  • Larry Brickey
    Sep 14, 2021
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    There is life elsewhere but science keeps finding worlds where life as we know it could not survive. The question becomes what is life? We have discovered so little of the possibilities, even on Earth.
    • Lodro Pharchin Siering
      Dec 12, 2021
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      Life is in all four kingdoms of the physical world. The mineral, the vegetal, the animal and the human. Extraterrestrials capable of worshiping God would still be human beings, which hopefully people will understand doesn't necessarily mean that the look like Earthlings.
  • Farid Damasio
    Nov 16, 2020
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    I wonder what actually counts as "psychic" powers though - it seems like much of what we might consider obsessive thinking/memorization could fall under that, given that "automatic writing" was considered a psychic practice (Lights of Guidance) which I assume comes from someone obsessing and absorbing themselves into a thought until it just comes out of them. Are Ouija boards considered psychic, or just superstition without any reality to them? Granted, these are somewhat idle questions, it is good to know so as to avoid practices that are dangerous.
  • Яша Фируз
    Jun 7, 2019
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    Evil Spirits, Angels, Psychic Powers, and Aliens: Demons, are beings where they flourish in the dark side. Angels, are beings in incredible size, that resides close to god. Psychic powers are real, people have the choice to cultivate them or not. No right or wrong here. Alien's obviously real. To think humanity that lives on a small planet are the only beings in existence. A bit egotistical.
  • Aubrey J. Bacon
    Apr 7, 2019
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    Very little quotation for all "your" input.
    • Pero F
      Jul 18, 2022
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      Yes, I felt the same
  • Tig Tricia Williams
    Aug 10, 2018
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    I was surprised about your statement re telepathy, do you have another source for this? According to Lights of Guidance "1758. Telepathy
    "The Teachings bear no reference to the question of telepathy. It is a matter that concerns psychology."
    (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, February 28, 1938, to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects)"
    • Sunny E.D.
      Sep 19, 2022
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      We can certainly feel the presence of someone who has entered a room--even a very big room--as well as sense a negative or positive state of mind or feeling from that person. We don't know what that person is thinking but we can certainly sense an attitude, even if the person has their back to us.
    • Ray Bourgeois Zimmerman
      Nov 23, 2020
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      You make a good point, Tig. I based this claim on the following quotation, which I interpreted to be about telepathy: “You should not be afraid anyone can affect your mind. Even when we want to catch the thoughts of those we love most we cannot do so, how much less other people succeed in penetrating our minds.”
      (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated January 18, 1951, to an individual believer)
      (Lights of Guidance, page 519)
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