Baha’is believe that our activities, our exertions to draw on that power, our conscious efforts to channel it and translate it into actions, all combine to crystallize those forces released by Baha’u’llah into patterns and social structures that embody God’s will for humanity. For Baha’is, the grace of God expresses itself in human affairs through the efforts of individual souls to know Him, love Him and serve Him.
The path of action through which we fulfill God’s intention for humanity is also the path that allows us to attain our own highest stage of the excellence latent in each one of us. Abdu’l-Baha explains that, while we can potentially express and reflect the light of all the names and attributes of God, a dominant name of God acts in every individual:
Without doubt each being is the center of the shining forth of the glory of God — that is to say, the perfections of God appear from it and are resplendent in it. It is like the sun, which is resplendent in the desert, upon the sea, in the trees, in the fruits and blossoms, and in all earthly things. The world, indeed each existing being, proclaims to us one of the names of God, but the reality of man is the collective reality, the general reality, and is the center where the glory of all the perfections of God shine forth — that is to say, for each name, each attribute, each perfection which we affirm of God there exists a sign in man. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 195.
This is why each of us views the Baha’i teachings — and views life — from a somewhat different perspective. Perhaps the name of God the Merciful dominates in one person, and in another the name of God the Knower. One person has a tremendous thirst for knowledge while another person shows a thirst for ministering to people’s needs. The unique endowment of divine spirit, which is the character of each human being, will come to light and be fully expressed through our individual efforts to serve the divine plan. Each of us has a distinct role to play, each has a unique contribution to make to the construction of a new, unified and peaceful world. In the final analysis, no one can play the role of anyone else or deprive another of their service.
For our own well-being, and for the sake of humanity, Baha’is try to dedicate ourselves to channelling the creative energies released by Baha’u’llah.
Divine power is on tap and available to us all. We are surrounded and permeated by celestial energies, immersed in God’s ocean of light. The Baha’i writings affirm that there is no limit to God’s might and glory, saying that we should ‘lift up the veil’ and strive for ‘constant awareness of His Presence’. Baha’u’llah makes it clear that God’s love is the cause of our creation and that the very definition of paradise for human beings is His love.
For our own sake, Baha’u’llah wants us to draw nearer to God, to the center of holiness and light and love. We can reach the greatest possible joy and contentment through moving ever closer to the source of all bounty, beauty, peace and illumination. The only obstacle, Baha’u’llah tells us, is this world:
Know ye that by “the world” is meant your unawareness of Him Who is your Maker, and your absorption in aught else but Him. The “life to come,” on the other hand, signifieth the things that give you a safe approach to God, the All-Glorious, the Incomparable. Whatsoever deterreth you, in this Day, from loving God is nothing but the world. Flee it, that ye may be numbered with the blest. Should a man wish to adorn himself with the ornaments of the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the benefits it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he alloweth nothing whatever to intervene between him and God, for God hath ordained every good thing, whether created in the heavens or in the earth, for such of His servants as truly believe in Him. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 275.
When dealing with the world we need to stay alert and keep our vision clear. Far from an excuse to remove ourselves of responsibility for the world around us, the current sad condition of our world is a lamentable fact that we must arise to remedy.
The Baha’i teachings set a high standard for us. They emphasize purity of heart, love for all humanity, honest, trustworthy moral conduct and spiritual radiance. Clearly, all of us are bound to fall short of the teachings repeatedly, however hard we try, but we should aim at the high mark to which Baha’u’llah calls us – to please God with our actions, to become truly worthy of the name human, to serve mankind the very best we can.
Read the next article in the series: The Recognition of Baha’u’llah
Read the previous article in the series: Every Dimension of Reality Expresses Spirit
This essay, an edited excerpt from Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness, by Hooper C. Dunbar, George Ronald, Publisher, is used with the permission of both the author and the publisher.