I am an absurd idealist. But I believe that all that must come true. For, unless it comes true, the world will be laid desolate. And I believe that it can come true. I believe that, by the grace of God, men will awake presently and be men again, and colour and laughter and splendid living will return to a grey civilisation. But that will only come true because a few men will believe in it, and fight for it, and fight in its name against everything that sneers and snarls at that ideal. – Leslie Charteris, The Last Hero
A divine Mine only can yield the gems of divine knowledge, and the fragrance of the mystic Flower can be inhaled only in the ideal Garden, and the lilies of ancient wisdom can blossom nowhere except in the city of a stainless heart. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 191.
The divine ideals are humility, submissiveness, annihilation of self, perfect evanescence, charity and loving-kindness. You must die to self and live in God. You must be exceedingly compassionate to one another and to all the people of the world. Love and serve mankind just for the sake of God and not for anything else. The foundation of your love toward humanity must be spiritual faith and Divine assurance. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 4, p. 184.
The world has no shortage of divine ideals, inspiring words and beautiful sentiments. Sadly, though, those ideals and sentiments don’t always reflect themselves in our actual behavior.
Of course, ideals usually precede actions. We contemplate, meditate on and think about how to act, and then we actually act. Lofty ideals and noble goals, though, sometimes don’t translate themselves into actions:
What profit is there in agreeing that universal friendship is good, and talking of the solidarity of the human race as a grand ideal? Unless these thoughts are translated into the world of action, they are useless.
The wrong in the world continues to exist just because people talk only of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. If actions took the place of words, the world’s misery would very soon be changed into comfort. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 24.
That’s why, according to the Baha’i teachings, the Creator sends humanity messengers, prophets and spiritual teachers, so we can experience what it truly means, in the real world, to exemplify exalted thoughts and high ideals:
Some men and women glory in their exalted thoughts, but if these thoughts never reach the plane of action they remain useless: the power of thought is dependent on its manifestation in deeds. A philosopher’s thought may, however, in the world of progress and evolution, translate itself into the actions of other people, even when they themselves are unable or unwilling to show forth their grand ideals in their own lives. To this class the majority of philosophers belong, their teachings being high above their actions. This is the difference between philosophers who are Spiritual Teachers, and those who are mere philosophers: the Spiritual Teacher is the first to follow His own teaching; He brings down into the world of action His spiritual conceptions and ideals. His Divine thoughts are made manifest to the world. His thought is Himself, from which He is inseparable. When we find a philosopher emphasizing the importance and grandeur of justice, and then encouraging a rapacious monarch in his oppression and tyranny, we quickly realize that he belongs to the first class: for he thinks heavenly thoughts and does not practise the corresponding heavenly virtues. – Ibid., pp. 18-19.
If you’d like to establish a daily practice of living into your ideals, and building a better and more idealistic world in the process, you can do that by following the teachings of Baha’u’llah, the most recent of those great spiritual teachers. When you begin to internalize Baha’u’llah’s message, and act on the unifying, peaceful message of the Baha’i teachings, you’ll bring a powerful sense of idealism back into your life, and become part of a global community striving to bring about a new set of spiritual ideals:
When love is realized and the ideal spiritual bonds unite the hearts of men, the whole human race will be uplifted, the world will continually grow more spiritual and radiant and the happiness and tranquillity of mankind be immeasurably increased. Warfare and strife will be uprooted, disagreement and dissension pass away and Universal Peace unite the nations and peoples of the world. All mankind will dwell together as one family, blend as the waves of one sea, shine as stars of one firmament and appear as fruits of the same tree. This is the happiness and felicity of humankind. This is the illumination of man, the glory eternal and life everlasting; this is the divine bestowal. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 145.