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You may have seen a fascinating visual experiment on YouTube, where sand gets sprinkled on top of a vibrating plate. As the frequency of the vibration changes, different patterns emerge from the sand—in fact, it looks as if the vibration actually calls forth a structure or pattern. Feel free to watch the video here:
In this series of essays, we’ve considered the nature of spiritual reality. Rather than being divorced from material reality, we’ve learned that matter influences the human spirit, and that the spiritual can influence the material—for example, through the vibration of sound and its influence on the heart. Let’s look at a few insights from the Baha’i writings that tell us about this aspect of reality:
Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God is endowed with such potency as can instill new life into every human frame, if ye be of them that comprehend this truth. All the wondrous works ye behold in this world have been manifested through the operation of His supreme and most exalted Will, His wondrous and inflexible Purpose. Through the mere revelation of the word “Fashioner,” issuing forth from His lips and proclaiming His attribute to mankind, such power is released as can generate, through successive ages, all the manifold arts which the hands of man can produce. This, verily, is a certain truth. No sooner is this resplendent word uttered, than its animating energies, stirring within all created things, give birth to the means and instruments whereby such arts can be produced and perfected. All the wondrous achievements ye now witness are the direct consequences of the Revelation of this Name. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 141-142.
For those who deny the spiritual influence of material things, we mention this brief example: Beautiful sounds, wondrous tones and harmonious melodies are accidents which affect the air; for sound consists in vibrations of the air, and through these vibrations the nerves of the tympanum are excited and hearing results. Now consider how the vibrations of the air, which are an accident among accidents and which are accounted as naught, attract and exhilarate the spirit of man and move him to the utmost: They cause him to laugh and to weep, and can even induce him to throw himself in harm’s way. Observe, then, what a connection exists between the spirit of man and the vibrations of the air, that the latter can transport him to another state and so overwhelm him as to entirely deprive him of patience and composure. Consider how strange this is, for nothing comes forth from the singer and enters into the listener, and yet great spiritual effects are produced. This intimate relationship between all created things is therefore bound to give rise to spiritual influences and effects. – Abdul-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, pp. 285-286.
Let’s consider again the experiment mentioned at the beginning of this essay. Picture the vibration of the plate that causes patterns to emerge in the sand. Is it possible that the Word of God generates the invisible First Cause, the energy, the vibration, which calls everything else into being?
The Baha’i teachings say that this motivating, animating force causes all growth and development, in our individual and collective lives.