While we’re on the subject of angels, here’s an age old question: How can we humans become angelic?
In other words, how do we use our limited energy, resources, or even just the inner resolution to make the best of our own lives, to bring about the changes we want to see in ourselves and in the world? How, in other words, do we go about becoming angelic beings?
In the previous essay in this series, we learned that the Baha’i teachings define angels as:
… blessed beings who have severed all ties with this nether world, have been released from the chains of self and the desires of the flesh, and anchored their hearts to the heavenly realms of the Lord. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 81.
Let’s start with a principle as old as life itself: to first fill a cup, the old dregs have to be discarded—then we can pour the new life in gradually and completely, renewing the essence of love and happiness. No one can fill a cup that’s already full. We need clean pure water to live, and we need clean, pure motivations to release ourselves “from the chains of self” and become angelic souls:
Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you wisdom unless you first empty your cup? – Nyogen Senzaki
The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him. Let none, therefore, consider the largeness or smallness of the receptacle. The portion of some might lie in the palm of a man’s hand, the portion of others might fill a cup, and of others even a gallon-measure. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 8.
If we hold onto our old ways without emptying our cup, we will never receive that flood of grace Baha’u’llah describes. So first, if you want to become angelic, you must believe in yourself and in others to do the right thing and do the thing right. You must empty your cup. We’re all angels here, remember?
Pray to God that He may strengthen you in divine virtue, so that you may be as angels in the world, and beacons of light to disclose the mysteries of the Kingdom to those with understanding hearts. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 55.
Second, you can’t change the world if you are not willing to change yourself. To do that you must know that you are a powerful creation of God. You must recognize and nurture your inner angel:
O son of spirit! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, pp. 6-7.
Third, make a start, small or big, but it’s easier to start small and build upon that. This means starting on your own behaviors and thoughts too. Pray. Often. Sincerely. Take the time needed to write down a plan of action, then follow it through. Make a strong inner commitment to develop your highest and best self, and to adopt and strengthen the angelic spiritual qualities of kindness, peace and unity:
… the sublime achievements of man reside in those qualities and attributes that exclusively pertain to the angels … Therefore, when praiseworthy qualities and high morals emanate from man, he becometh a heavenly being, an angel of the Kingdom, a divine reality and a celestial effulgence. On the other hand, when he engageth in warfare, quarrelling and bloodshed, he becometh viler than the most fierce of savage creatures … – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 287.
Fourth, don’t try to force your point of view on others. Listen and research first, deeply, intently, caringly, as if you were paying attention to your best friend. Mull over what they tell you or show you. Don’t discount their experiences just because they may be different than your own. Integrate them with your own thoughts and feelings. Empathize. Be angelic.
Fifth, and here’s where we mostly fail—we don’t give the process of change enough time to change! We are impatient and pushy. We want instant and immediate change, without having prepared a carefully thought-out replacement. This is where a plan of action is critically important. Learn to cooperate and work with others, not against them. Bend as the branch, and be firm as the trunk when it comes to universal principles and truths. Recognize that we all have a lower and a higher nature, and invite all people, yourself included, to incline toward the divine and the spiritual:
Man has two aspects: the physical, which is subject to nature, and the merciful or divine, which is connected with God. If the physical or natural disposition in him should overcome the heavenly and merciful, he is, then, the most degraded of animal beings; and if the divine and spiritual should triumph over the human and natural, he is, verily, an angel. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 41.
We actually—physically, mentally, spiritually and in all ways known to man—cannot succeed alone. We are an army of angels, cohort upon cohort in fact and in reality. We rely on the other angels in our lives to help us become as angelic as we can possibly be.
Let’s join our arms and hands in solidarity and change the loathsome parts of existence into the heavenly realms of Paradise.
Here on earth.
Millions of angels out there can use our help.