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When Abdu’l-Baha met someone for the first time, he would often ask: “Are you happy?”

When he spoke at a Unitarian Church in Philadelphia in 1912, Abdu’l-Baha greeted the congregation by saying:

Are you happy? I have come here to make you happy. I have come here to give you the Message of Baha’u’llah; that this Message may become the cause of your happiness.

Like unto a dove I carry a Message with me wherever I go. Baha’u’llah has written a letter, a Message; He has put it on my wings; through His power He has made me to soar and I have brought that Message here.

That letter contains the glad tidings of God; that letter is the call of the Kingdom; that letter is the heavenly signs; that letter brings you the glad-tidings that He, Baha’u’llah has accepted you, elected you from among all His creatures and prepared you for the sake of His Love for the whole human world; so that all may be enlightened with the Light of the Kingdom, sing the verses of Oneness, become the cause of the illumination of the realm of humanity, the source of everlasting happiness, the spreader of the cause of international peace;-so that all may find the Oneness of the world of humanity, promulgate oneness of thought, lay the foundations of unity of religions, establish universal education, announce the idea of racial oneness, proclaim one race from every standpoint, and illuminate the world of man with the Lights of God. This is the Message. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 3, pp. 84-85.

Our truest sense of happiness, the Baha’i teachings say, comes from our inner spiritual condition. According to the teachings of the various prophets, messengers and universal educators of humanity, the reality of the human being is not limited to a physical body. In fact, all spiritual teachings depict the body as a temporal vehicle of the human spirit, the true reality of the human being. The Baha’i writings say:

Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is a direct evidence of the revelation within it of the attributes and names of God, inasmuch as within every atom are enshrined the signs that bear eloquent testimony to the revelation of that Most Great Light. Methinks, but for the potency of that revelation, no being could ever exist … To a supreme degree is this true of man, who, among all created things, hath been invested with the robe of such gifts, and hath been singled out for the glory of such distinction. For in him are potentially revealed all the attributes and names of God to a degree that no other created being hath excelled or surpassed. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 177.

Baha’is understand that all things, then, are divine in nature, considering that every form of existence—including every atom—is characterized by the “attributes and names of God.’’ This principle, to a supreme degree, applies to the human reality:

Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 162.

The Purpose of the one true God, exalted be His glory, in revealing Himself unto men is to lay bare those gems that lie hidden within the mine of their true and inmost selves. – Baha’u’llahGleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 287.

The potentialities inherent in the station of man, the full measure of his destiny on earth, the innate excellence of his reality, must all be manifested in this promised Day of God. – Ibid., p. 340.

In essence, the Baha’i teachings indicate that although we human beings inhabit the physical dimension for a relatively short span of time, humans are divine realities with immortal souls, destined to ascend from this physical plane to a spiritual one.

So given that happiness implies harmony with one’s own reality, it seems impossible to facilitate or make way for true and lasting happiness without appreciating that human reality.

Baha’is understand that the human spirit’s mysterious nature inclines it towards God. This means that true religion is not merely a rigid philosophy or dogmatic system, but is a constantly unfolding phenomenon on the stage of the world in which every human being is involved directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly:

Man’s perception and practice of it [religion] are largely the stuff of history. An eminent historian described religion as a “faculty of human nature.” That the perversion of this faculty has contributed to much of the confusion in society and the conflicts in and between individuals can hardly be denied. But neither can any fair-minded observer discount the preponderating influence exerted by religion on the vital expressions of civilization. Furthermore, its indispensability to social order has repeatedly been demonstrated by its direct effect on laws and morality. – The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, p. 2.

The Baha’i teachings say that humanity, as a collective, as a family, is treading the regenerative path set for it by its Maker, seeking its lasting happiness:

Through the movement of Our Pen of glory We have, at the bidding of the omnipotent Ordainer, breathed a new life into every human frame, and instilled into every word a fresh potency. All created things proclaim the evidences of this worldwide regeneration. This is the most great, the most joyful tidings imparted by the Pen of this Wronged One to mankind. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 84.

Are you happy? You can be if you recognize that new life that has been breathed into every human frame, if you hear the joyous news of this new message, and if you—just as Abdu’l-Baha did—share this message of happiness through both words and deeds for the happiness of others.

5 Comments

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  • Robert Green
    6 days ago
    Man is, in reality, a spiritual being, and only when he lives in the spirit is he truly happy. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 72.
  • Andrew Scott
    Nov 05, 2018
    Thank you for this beautiful post. Happiness is an expression of that Love which the Divine Educators seek to awaken in each of us. Sharing that message of love through happiness is incumbent on us all. Ari Mahler, the "Jewish Nurse", wrote "Love. That’s why I did it. Love as an action is more powerful than words ... It demonstrates humanity. It reaffirms why we’re all here. The meaning of life is to give meaning to life, and love is the ultimate force that connects all living beings. ... [L]ove is the only message I wish instill in you. If ...my actions mean anything, love means everything." . Smile at random people. Show the warmth of love through a radiant face. Make someone's day a little happier. Spread the love! :)
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    • Nov 06, 2018
      Yes, let's ''[s]pread the love''; let's ''[m]ake someone's day a little happier!'' As we do so we harmonize with the ''innate excellence (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 340)'' that characterizes our true reality and contribute to the joy of the world and the progress of humanity. Carrying out such a practice in every aspect and field of life seems reflective of the significance of human beings being created ''to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization (ibid., p. 215)''.
  • Michael L. Ward
    Nov 05, 2018
    These two articles on 'Happiness' point out in an elegant way the need for education(spiritual attributes of behaviors) and having 'Happiness' is an inside job to be practiced and expressed to others. Thank you!
    • Nov 06, 2018
      Yes, '''Happiness' is an inside job to be practiced and expressed to others''. Apparently a key aspect thereof---as you rightly implied---is knowledge of our true reality, our inmost reality, our divine aspect. The Baha'i writings state: ''Were man to appreciate the greatness of his station and the loftiness of his destiny he would manifest naught save goodly character, pure deeds, and a seemly and praiseworthy conduct (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 172)''. Increasing knowledge of the true self facilitates and encourages expressing the spiritual attributes that characterizes it. The more we express our true self, our divine self, the happier ...we become, and the more we contribute to the true happiness of others.
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