If you find me not within you, you will never find me. For I have been with you, from the beginning of me. – Rumi
We each may perceive reality differently, yet true reality brooks no duplicity. Reality, by its very nature, is one.
We each have our own life experiences, good, bad or indifferent, forgettable or unforgettable. We each have grown up in certain environments of nature and nurture. We each may have good or poor health, wealth or poverty, a life full of achievements or hopes for achievements. No matter what our circumstances, our primary task in life involves determining what is real and what isn’t—and making that determination independently.
Yet reality brooks no duplicity. The Baha’i teachings say reality is one:
Reality is one; and when found, it will unify all mankind. Reality is the love of God. Reality is the knowledge of God. Reality is justice. Reality is the oneness or solidarity of mankind. Reality is international peace. Reality is the knowledge of verities. Reality unifies humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 372.
“Reality is the love of God,” Abdu’l-Baha said, and as in life, love is between the lover and his or her beloved.
Love begins for us in the cradle with the love of our parents, and grows and grows until that happy day when we find a soulmate who loves us for who we are, without regard to limitations. That day is happy indeed when we open up our own hearts and let their love pour in, which in turn sustains our love for them.
“Reality is the love of God,” also works both ways, for we realize that He also loves us with unconditional love. Thousands of love songs from time immemorial have expressed this undying, unconditional love.
All love, again like life, begins when you truly and independently investigate reality, the first principle of the Baha’i teachings:
Nearly 60 years ago when the horizon of the Orient was in a state of the utmost gloom, warfare existed and there was enmity between the various creeds; darkness brooded over the children of men and foul clouds of ignorance hid the sky—at such a time His Highness Baha’u’llah arose from the horizon of Persia like unto a shining sun. He boldly proclaimed peace, writing to the kings of the earth and calling upon them to arise and assist in the hoisting of this banner. In order to bring peace out of the chaos, He established certain precepts or principles.
The first principle Baha’u’llah urged was the independent investigation of truth. “Each individual,” He said, “is following the faith of his ancestors who themselves are lost in the maze of tradition. Reality is steeped in dogmas and doctrines. If each investigate for himself, he will find that Reality is one; does not admit of multiplicity; is not divisible. All will find the same foundation and all will be at peace. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 3, p. 5.
Is reality the food we eat or the love we make? Is reality the vicissitudes we bear or their overcoming? Is reality a comfortable chair, or a place in the grass? Is reality what our imagination holds, or what it releases?
We each have talents and faculties, abilities and capabilities—all in order to investigate reality. We test it, try it on, discard it, wear another, and continue the process until we find the perfect garment for each of us:
What does it mean to investigate reality? It means that man must forget all hearsay and examine truth himself, for he does not know whether statements he hears are in accordance with reality or not. Wherever he finds truth or reality, he must hold to it, forsaking, discarding all else; for outside of reality there is naught but superstition and imagination. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 62.
Turn thou unto the Kingdom of Oneness and chant thou the verses of Singleness. Be thou invested with a robe, the embroidery of which is purity and sanctity and the woof and warp of which is the spirituality of the Mighty Lord, so that thou mayest inhale the fragrance of the divine rose-garden from the garment of the real Joseph and so divest thyself of the mantle of bodily things that angelhood and ideal spirituality become realized (in thee). – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdul-Baha, Volume I, p. 124.
The robe picked out for us by the Beloved shall never grow old, shall never wear thin, shall never fade, shall never tarnish. That robe of reality is worth striving for, if we choose to do so, and the good Lord in His mercy and grace has given each of us free will to try it on for ourselves.