Human beings have two realities. We belong, simultaneously, to two worlds: material and spiritual.
Capacities arising from the material world we share in common with animals, such as the five senses and basic instincts. Our powers arising from the spiritual world include imagination, thought, comprehension, memory, and the common faculty, which connects man’s outer and inner realities.
Every messenger from God possesses intuitive knowledge of every aspect of reality in the same way one’s consciousness permeates every member of one’s body:
It is my hope that the breaths of the Holy Spirit will so be breathed into your hearts that your tongues will disclose the mysteries, and set forth and expound the inner meanings of the Holy Books; that the friends will become physicians, and will, through the potent medicine of the heavenly Teachings, heal the long-standing diseases that afflict the body of this world; that they will make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dead to come alive; that they will awaken those who are sound asleep. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 275.
The teachings of each messenger of God—who the Baha’i teachings call Divine Physicians—may differ as the maladies that afflict the body of humanity differ from age to age. The remedy for each age satiates its need, and remedy for this age is not merely a belief that humanity is one—but requires conscious awareness of our oneness:
In every Dispensation, the light of Divine Guidance has been focused upon one central theme… In this wondrous Revelation, this glorious century, the foundation of the Faith of God, and the distinguishing feature of His Law, is the consciousness of the oneness of mankind. – Abdu’l-Baha quoted by Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 36.
The remedy prescribed by the Divine Physician for this day is consciousness of the oneness of humanity. This consciousness requires advancement of the spiritual life of man, distinguished by inner perception—but the material life of man, distinguished by outward sensation, currently preoccupies our awareness. Abdu’l-Baha tells us that:
…material advancement is fruitless without spiritual progress and not productive of everlasting results. For example, no matter how much the physical body of man is trained and developed, there will be no real progression in the human station unless the mind correspondingly advances… All created things except man are captives of nature and the sense world, but in man there has been created an ideal power by which he may perceive intellectual or spiritual realities. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 302.
Abdu’l-Baha observed that humanity has focused its energies and attention excessively on the outer world, and that a healthy balance requires further development of our inner world. Health is achieved through equilibrium, both individually and collectively—regarding the inner development of the individual, he says:
…just as the outer sense of sight is necessary to him, he should also possess insight and conscious perception. – Ibid., p. 328.
Regarding the inner development of humanity collectively, he says:
Throughout the world, material civilization has attained truly wonderful heights and degrees of efficiency—that is to say, the outward powers and virtues of man have greatly developed, but the inner and ideal virtues have been correspondingly delayed and neglected. It is now the time in the history of the world for us to strive and give an impetus to the advancement and development of inner forces—that is to say, we must arise to service in the world of morality, for human morals are in need of readjustment. We must also render service to the world of intellectuality in order that the minds of men may increase in power and become keener in perception… we must demonstrate that the spirit of man is immortal, that it is not subject to disintegration and that it comprises the virtues of humanity. – Ibid., p. 326.
Consciousness of oneness helps us become physicians who minister to the needs of our age. Finding the living energy in polarities we may discover that the Divine Physician’s love of humanity, a life-giving power, can be felt like the heat and light of the Sun. But the ability to perceive this truth is sealed by a gate—the gate of the heart. In the next essay in this series we’ll consider the idea that the heart can unlock insight into the energy or light of our spirit.