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“Ye are all fruits of one tree, the leaves of one branch, the flowers of one garden”—you can hear this refrain in many Baha’i teachings and songs.
The phrase comes from Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha'i Faith, who said:
The utterance of God is a lamp, whose light is these words: Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He Who is the Daystar of Truth beareth Me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. – Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 14.
In the previous essay we explored the idea that for a long time in the growth of a plant you won’t know it’s fragrance or color, but as the plant matures, these qualities are eventually expressed. If humanity, were a plant reaching maturity, how are we fruits, leaves, and flowers—and what do those things have in common?
Each leaf draws energy from the same sun, each fruit provides nourishment and new life, each flower sheds sweet perfume—these are the perfect expressions of the process of growth and its fruition. In the same way spiritual qualities are latent in man, like fruit or flowers latent in a plant, all expressed when maturity is reached. Human beings are the most beautiful and complex expression of the tree of life. This maturation defines the identity of the human being as spiritual and not material—the inner capacity to express all of the spiritual virtues and qualities of our Creator:
Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 65.
To look at the reality of man then is to see spiritual qualities, even in their potential expression. People have acted in vicious, animalistic ways, but that is not the limit of our development. Human potential contains much more. The Baha'i teachings tell us that we can look to the future with confidence and clear vision that those hidden spiritual qualities and capacities are about to be expressed:
Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come. In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree. Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms, and its leaves and its fruits. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 82.
To see human beings in only our material aspect misses the most beautiful expression of our reality. Human beings can potentially be the fullest fruit of the process of growth and development. Seeing the spiritual reality of others means seeing the reflection of divine beauty—the source of attraction, connection, and unity. Looking at one another with some sense of wonder, seeing the fruitings and flowerings of spirit—this is our true identity, our reality, this is the foundation of unity among us:
Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love. This love will make all men the waves of one sea, this love will make them all the stars of one heaven and the fruits of one tree. This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 180-181.