The world is in dire suffering, experiencing the pain of many unmet needs. The Baha’i teachings offer humanity a remedy.

In previous posts in this series, we explored how a physician senses, perceives, diagnoses and acts to cure suffering. Baha’u’llah, the Divine Physician for this day, has sensed the pain of the world and prescribed a remedy—the consciousness of the oneness of humanity. Only the understanding heart comprehends oneness, beyond the extreme polarity of seemingly contrary attributes (ie. inner/outer, perception/sensation, and spiritual/material). Knowledge, cast into the heart is a light, and the light shines forth from the ether.

The ether is a fascinating unseen aspect of reality. You may be interested in a more comprehensive exploration of ether in science and religion, but we will visit briefly two examples from religious writings, one from Abdul-Baha and the other in ancient text called the Upanishads (ca. 800–200 BC). Notice the patterns of concepts we’ve already discussed: the heart, the senses, and the uniting of opposites. Let’s first look at this passage from the Upanishads:

Ether in the HEART (as Brahma) is omnipresent and unchanging. In the ether everything is born… As large as this ether is, also large is that ether within the HEART… what is called ether (Akasa) is the revealer of all forms and names.  These forms and names are contained in Brahma, the Im-mortal, and the Self. He who understands all and who knows all, He to whom all this glory in the world belongs, the Self, is placed in the ether in the heavenly city of Brahma (the HEART). He assumes the nature of mind and becomes the guide of the body of the senses. He is the beginning, producing the causes which unite (the soul and the body) and being above the three kinds of time (past, present, future).  He is seen as without parts after we have first worshipped that adorable God who has many forms and who is the true source (of all things) as dwelling in our own mind. – Upanishads, vol. 1, Khondogya, Up, 3, 12, 7-9,  Khondogya, Up, 4, 12,14, 3, vol. 2, Mundaka Upanishad, 7.

Then, let’s compare it to a passage describing the ether from Abdu’l-Baha:

There is no doubt that it is from its effects that you infer in the animal the existence of a power which is lacking in the plant, and that is the power of the senses—sight, hearing and the other powers. It is from these that you infer that there is an animal spirit. Infer, likewise, from the aforementioned signs and arguments the existence of a human spirit. Thus, since there are signs in the animal that cannot be found in the plant, you say this sensory power is one of the hallmarks of the animal spirit…

If we were to deny all that is not accessible to the senses, then we would be forced to deny realities which undoubtedly exist. For example, the ether is not sensible, although its reality can be proven. The power of gravity is not sensible, although its existence is likewise undeniable. Whence do we affirm their existence? From their signs. For instance, this light consists in the vibration of the ether, and from these vibrations we affirm its existence. – Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, pp. 218-219.

Just as we know the sun is shining by its signs, such as heat and light, the glory of God shines from the ether. Baha’i scholars and early believers have told us that the “Word of God has the power of the Great Ether” and that Baha’u’llah and Abdul-Baha also have this power of the ether. If Revelation is light, how might we perceive this light, this energy, with our inner perception?

Research conducted at the Institute of HeartMath is beginning to demonstrate that our hearts are electromagnetically charged, and an individual heart emanates waves of energy. The patterns of these waves correspond with our emotional state. A field is created from the interacting waves of many people, like an ocean. Energy dynamics are at work in us as individuals and collectively at the level of culture. Perhaps this energy field has some relation to the “ether,” electromagnetism may help us understand the light of the heart, and our perception of this field may have to do with our attunement with our own emotions and those of others.

Do you also see reflections of these ideas in Abdul-Baha’s call to spiritual perception? He observes:

If you could see with the eye of truth, great waves of spirituality would be visible to you in this place. The power of the Holy Spirit is here for all. Praise be to God that your hearts are inspired with Divine fervour! Your souls are as waves on the sea of the spirit; although each individual is a distinct wave, the ocean is one, all are united in God.  Every heart should radiate unity, so that the Light of the one Divine Source of all may shine forth bright and luminous. We must not consider the separate waves alone, but the entire sea. We should rise from the individual to the whole. The spirit is as one great ocean and the waves thereof are the souls of men. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 83-84.

In the next post we’ll explore the waves of energy that people send and receive, waves that attune us with one another and the world around us.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

7 Comments

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  • Barbara Lachmar
    Dec 28, 2016
    Really enjoying this series -thanks Tim!
  • Arie Niernberger
    Dec 27, 2016
    Thank you, well written. What is the current status of scientific research and knowledge about ether? I am curious, and appreciate any links to information, preferable still within the realm of the non-scientist.
    • Dec 27, 2016
      Thanks Arie, I tried to consult with physicists to clarify this, one Baha'i physicist was very kind to review the draft. My layman's understanding is that "ether" = space-time, but the term "ether" is out of fashion. The website won't allow me to post multiple links, but I'd encourage you to read about aether on Wikipedia, the paper by Robin Mihrshahi on ether, and this is direct from Einstein: www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/Einstein_ether.html Einstein in this 1920 talk used the term ether discussing both gravity and electromagnetism, but as I understand it scientific consensus now connects space-time with gravity but not with ...electromagnetism.
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    • Dec 27, 2016
      Thanks Arie, I tried to consult with physicists to clarify this, one Baha'i physicist was very kind to review the draft. My layman's understanding is that "ether" = space time, but the term is out of fashion. Here are some links that may be helpful bahai-library.com/mihrshahi_ether_quantum_physics en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aether_theories www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/Einstein_ether.html This last one is on ether and relativity from Einstein, he uses the term both discussing gravity and electromagnetism, but as I understand it scientific consensus has not associated the term ether with electromagnetism.
    • Dec 27, 2016
      Thanks Arie, I tried to consult with physicists to clarify this, one Baha'i physicist was very kind to review the draft. My layman's understanding is that "ether" = space time, but the term is out of fashion. Here are some links that may be helpful http://bahai-library.com/mihrshahi_ether_quantum_physics https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aether_theories http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/Einstein_ether.html This last one is on ether and relativity from Einstein, he uses the term both discussing gravity and electromagnetism, but as I understand it scientific consensus has not associated the term ether with electromagnetism.
  • Kewan Falahi Firouzi
    Dec 27, 2016
    Awesome this. Love how the quotes are connected