Baha’u’llah continually urges man to free himself from the superstitions and traditions of the past and become an investigator of reality, for it will then be seen that God has revealed his light many times in order to illumine mankind in the path of evolution, in various countries and through many different prophets, masters and sages. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 8.
I understood this principle to mean that regardless of my family beliefs, it was my responsibility to investigate the truth for myself.
My truth-seeking journey, which is still continuing, has mainly focused on two questions–the reason for my existence and how to create a better world. We all ask these basic questions: who am I and why am I here? The Baha’i teachings answer that God has created us noble—which has not only given me peace of mind, but also gladdens my heart:
This not only has major implications for me—how I see myself and how I choose to live my life—but it also means that every other human being is created noble, too.
I have spent more than 15 years working with marginalized individuals and communities including people with disabilities, people living with HIV, women, sex workers, indigenous people, migrants and refugees, and people from low-socio economic backgrounds. I’ve learned, whether working at the community or government level through education, policy or advocacy, having the belief that the true nature of all people is one of nobility gives me an incredibly empowering and dignified way to see them, treat them and work with them.
This also connects to the other major question I originally had about the Baha’i Faith: how do I create a better world? My answers came in the form of Baha’u’llah’s social principles, a few of which include:
- the equality of women and men,
- the elimination of prejudice of all kinds and
- the oneness of humanity.
All of these principles are linked to our nobility, which we can use to contribute to the betterment of the world:
I have worked in villages, islands, towns and cities in developed and developing countries, some afflicted by war and civil conflict. When I reflect on the current issues I have seen, experienced and actively strived to address around the world, I find that the solutions lie in the truths of Baha’u’llah’s social principles. If those principles were universally recognized as truths, they would give us a great foundation to develop strategies and solutions for achieving equality, eliminating prejudice, creating peace and uniting the world.
Thinking about those principles, I reflect on Baha’u’llah—on who he was, how he lived his life, and on his teachings. Born 200 years ago into an illustrious family, he chose not to follow in those footsteps but to devote his life to serving the poor, sick and needy. His life was humble. He lived a very materially simple life, sharing any possessions he had with others who needed them more than he did. He was known as the “The Father of the Poor:”
Baha’u’llah was tormented, banished and imprisoned for over 40 years of his life, all of which he could have avoided in a moment, replacing it with a lavish lifestyle and freedom. However, he devoted his life to serving humanity, proclaiming his station as the prophet of God for this age, and speaking of the dawn of a new day when the Baha’i principles would become a reality and a lasting peace could be established:
This is the Day in which God’s most excellent favors have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things. It is incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to reconcile their differences, and, with perfect unity and peace, abide beneath the shadow of the Tree of His care and loving-kindness. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 6.
That exact combination—Baha’u’llah’s dedication to and sacrifice for bettering this world—makes me a Baha’i. Studying his writings and reading stories about his life keeps strengthening the connection I have with him. I strive to share and put his writings and teachings into practice in my daily life, so that lasting peace can be established—inside my heart and outside in the wider world.
Just imagine: what would our day look like, how would we act, think, speak, and treat others, knowing that we were all created noble?