Consider this concept for a moment: our deepest and most profound desires, as human beings, all involve unity.
Everyone longs to unite with their families, their children, those they love intensely. The simple physical expression of that unity begins with the physical closeness everybody from babies to adults wants and needs—affection, human touch, a hug, an embrace, a sweet kiss, loving and tender intimacy. Later our longing for unity blossoms into a desire for community—for a group of people who accept us, understand us and love us.
Maybe we long for unity because we all spend our first nine months of life in the womb, literally sharing our mothers’ lifeblood. That universal experience, the psychologists tell us, conditions every person to desire at least some semblance of the bond of unity they once felt in the womb world.
But beyond the physical, all of us have a strong desire to be known and loved. Human nature instinctively drives us to try to understand the inner, mental and spiritual reality of those we love; and reciprocally, to want to be known and loved by them.
In other words, our hearts, minds and spirits seek unity.
The great poet of love William Shakespeare knew this truth: “Who could refrain that had a heart to love and in that heart courage to make love known?”
At the higher levels of psychological and moral development, as the great philosopher and psychologist Abraham Maslow pointed out, we tend to seek a sense of unity with our higher purpose in life. We want to find and maintain a unified connection with the mystical, the numinous, the everlasting. The Baha’i writings explain that basic human instinct toward unity:
Baha’is believe that Divine love—the love between the Creator and the creation—defines the highest and purest form of love:
Real love is the love which exists between God and His servants, the love which binds together holy souls. This is the love of the spiritual world, not the love of physical bodies and organisms…. If we are of those who perceive, we realize that the bounties of God manifest themselves continuously, even as the rays of the sun unceasingly emanate from the solar center. The phenomenal world through the resplendent effulgence of the sun is radiant and bright. In the same way the realm of hearts and spirits is illumined and resuscitated through the shining rays of the Sun of Reality and the bounties of the love of God. Thereby the world of existence, the kingdom of hearts and spirits is ever quickened into life. – Ibid., p. 255.
So how do we access that love? The Baha’i teachings encourage everyone to develop a consistent practice of daily prayer and meditation as a way to connect with and feel the outpouring of God’s real, life-giving love. When we make that regular spiritual connection with the source of life and light, our hearts and spirits truly can feel “illumined and resuscitated.” Like a solar battery that receives its charge from the sun, each of us can get our own spiritual energy from the consistent connection we make to the Creator in prayer and meditation.
Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha both gave the world an enormous, inspiring and powerful repository of prayers. Those beautiful, poetic and deeply mystical prayers, when said in a meditative frame of mind, when sung or chanted or even expressed quietly to yourself, can give joy and affirmation to every soul.
Combined with meditation—simply sitting in solitude and conversing silently with your inner self—a daily spiritual practice of prayer can have an enormous impact on our well-being. It allows us to reflect on our own actions; it gives us a sense of peace; it opens up the channels of communication with the most essential core of our individual reality. Also, medical science has proven that those who have a consistent practice of meditative and prayerful reflection actually lead healthier lives, both physically and psychologically.
So if you want to walk a spiritual path, if you yearn to find a higher and more meaningful unity in life, if you long to feel the Creator’s love, try setting aside a few minutes each day for prayer and meditation. No need to make it lengthy or burdensome—The Bab said:
The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance; its prolongation hath not been and is not beloved by God. The more detached and the purer the prayer, the more acceptable is it in the presence of God. – Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 78.
This prayer, from Baha’u’llah, exemplifies that soulful advice:
O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord. – Baha’i Prayers, p. 203.