A constant theme found throughout Baha’u’llah’s writings is the importance of good conduct and purity of heart:

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 285.

As you can see from this quote, Baha’u’llah connects purity of heart with kindness and justice. In another place in his writings, Baha’u’llah upholds justice as “the best beloved of all things.” For Baha’is, the principle of justice operates on many levels. In one sense, it indicates the capacity to investigate truth free of the hindrance of tradition and dogma. In the Most Holy Book Baha’u’llah warns the ecclesiastics to investigate his Faith with justice:

O leaders of religion! Weigh not the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current amongst you, for the Book itself is the unerring Balance established amongst men. In this most perfect Balance whatsoever the peoples and kindreds of the earth possess must be weighed, while the measure of its weight should be tested according to its own standard, did ye but know it. – The Most Holy Book, p. 56.

Baha’u’llah also calls upon the kings and rulers of the world to embrace his Cause:

O kings of the earth! He Who is the sovereign Lord of all is come. The Kingdom is God’s, the omnipotent Protector, the Self-Subsisting. Worship none but God, and, with radiant hearts, lift up your faces unto your Lord, the Lord of all names. This is a Revelation to which whatever ye possess can never be compared, could ye but know it.

We see you rejoicing in that which ye have amassed for others and shutting out yourselves from the worlds which naught except My guarded Tablet can reckon. The treasures ye have laid up have drawn you far away from your ultimate objective. This ill beseemeth you, could ye but understand it. Wash from your hearts all earthly defilements, and hasten to enter the Kingdom of your Lord, the Creator of earth and heaven, Who caused the world to tremble and all its peoples to wail, except them that have renounced all things and clung to that which the Hidden Tablet hath ordained….

Ye are but vassals, O kings of the earth! He Who is the King of Kings hath appeared, arrayed in His most wondrous glory, and is summoning you unto Himself, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Take heed lest pride deter you from recognizing the Source of Revelation, lest the things of this world shut you out as by a veil from Him Who is the Creator of heaven. Arise, and serve Him Who is the Desire of all nations, Who hath created you through a word from Him, and ordained you to be, for all time, the emblems of His sovereignty.

By the righteousness of God! It is not Our wish to lay hands on your kingdoms. Our mission is to seize and possess the hearts of men. Upon them the eyes of Baha are fastened. To this testifieth the Kingdom of Names, could ye but comprehend it. – Ibid., pp. 48-50.

Justice also has a social dimension. Indeed, one of the aims of the Baha’i Faith is to establish divine justice in the world. Time and again Baha’u’llah addresses this theme. In some instances he grieves at the pervasive tyranny in the world:

Justice is, in this day, bewailing its plight, and Equity groaneth beneath the yoke of oppression. The thick clouds of tyranny have darkened the face of the earth, and enveloped its peoples. – Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 84.

In other instances Baha’u’llah lauds the essential principle of justice:

The light of men is Justice. Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men. No radiance can compare with that of justice. The organization of the world and the tranquillity of mankind depend upon it. O people of God! That which traineth the world is Justice, for it is upheld by two pillars, reward and punishment. These two pillars are the sources of life to the world. Justice and equity are two guardians for the protection of man. They have appeared arrayed in their mighty and sacred names to maintain the world in uprightness and protect the nations. – quoted by Shoghi Effendi in The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 27-28.

 

Next: God’s Everlasting Guidance

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.

2 Comments

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  • Dec 24, 2015
    Ken,
    Your first quote does not mention purity of heart. Perhaps you intended to insert a different quotation.
    Regarding purity of heart, "heart" in the Writings usually means the center, or focus, of one's life. Thus Baha'u'llah writes "Blind thine eyes, that is, to all save My beauty; stop thine ears to all save My word; empty thyself of all learning save the knowledge of Me; that with a clear vision, a pure heart and an attentive ear thou mayest enter the court of My holiness." (Baha'u'llah, The Persian Hidden Words)
    "When asked for a definition of a pure heart, ...'Abdu'l-Bahá said, "The pure heart is one that is entirely cut away from self. To be selfless is to be pure."" (Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 106)
    The heart is also well-defined by Jesus "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (KJV, Matt. 6:21) Thus, if our heart is fixed only upon God, our spiritual perception will be perfect - "With inward and outward eyes he witnesseth the mysteries of resurrection in the realms of creation and the souls of men, and with a pure heart apprehendeth the divine wisdom in the endless Manifestations of God." (Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 12) and "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (KJV, Matt. 5:8)
    So, a pure heart is a necessity for the Baha'i. "When man in all conditions is pure and immaculate, he will become the center of the reflection of the manifest Light. In all his actions and conduct there must first be purity, then beauty and independence. The channel must be cleansed before it is filled with sweet water. The pure eye comprehendeth the sight and the meeting of God; the pure nostril inhaleth the perfumes of the rose-garden of bounty; the pure heart becometh the mirror of the beauty of truth. This is why, in the heavenly Books, the divine counsels and commands have been compared to water. So, in the Koran it is said, "and we have caused a pure water to descend from heaven;" and in the Gospel, "Except a man hath received the baptism of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." Then it is evident that the divine teachings are the heavenly grace and the showers of the mercy of God, which purify the hearts of men." (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3, p. 581)
    If our heart is pure, we will receive the wisdom to understand justice. Purity of heart, centered upon the Kingdom of God, will also mean integrity -- a wholeness. The pure of heart can live a life that is spontaneous in words and actions. For, to quote the Bard of Avon, "This above all: to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man."
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