The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
When we think of superpowers, we often picture what we’ve seen in comic books: Superman’s ability to fly, Jean Grey’s ability to read minds, or Storm’s power to control the weather, to name just a few. Children pretend to be these characters when they’re playing with friends or when they’re dressing up for Halloween, and cosplaying adults do the same — because who wouldn’t want to have a superpower?
Merriam-Webster defines “power” as a “physical might” or a “mental or moral efficacy.” Pretending to have superpowers is fun, but we tend to limit our understanding of what a “power” is to the abilities of fictional characters.
But all humans have powers. Our powers may not be flight or mind control, but the Baha’i writings list at least ten powers that most humans have.
5 Physical Powers That People Have
Just like Jean Grey reads minds to gather information about the people in her surroundings, all humans were designed to have five powerful ways of perceiving and understanding the world around us.
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Abdu’l-Baha, one of the central figures of the Baha’i Faith, said that humans have five outer, physical powers, “which are the agents of perception—that is to say, through these five powers man perceives material beings. These are sight, which perceives visible forms; hearing, which perceives audible sounds; smell, which perceives odors; taste, which perceives foods; and feeling, which is in all parts of the body and perceives tangible things. These five powers perceive outward existences.”
Can you imagine what life would be like without the five senses? Often, we take these physical powers for granted until we get a cold that hinders our sense of smell and taste, or our blood sugar gets too low and our vision becomes dizzy and spotty. Each of our senses provides us with a unique way to enjoy and experience every moment in our lives.
5 Spiritual Powers That Humans Have
I always found it fascinating that Jean Grey is the most powerful mutant in the X-Men because all of her powers and strength come from her mind. She had to focus her attention inward to harness her power and unleash her full potential. And while we don’t have a mutant gene to tap into, we do have an even greater power — the power of God — inside us.
Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote, “Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.” This spirit of God strengthens and sustains us and gives us spiritual powers.
Abdu’l-Baha also said that we have five inner spiritual powers, which are essential to the existence of our inner reality.
Four of these are “imagination, which conceives things; thought, which reflects upon realities; comprehension, which comprehends realities; [and] memory, which retains whatever man imagines, thinks and comprehends.” These powers create and help us navigate through the inner workings of our minds.
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Comprehension and thought help us ponder deep, philosophical questions and understand life’s complex phenomena. Our memory lets us remember discoveries, lessons learned, and the many moments of our lives that have made us who we are today. And imagination gives our mind and spirit flight, as we bring new ideas, inventions, and creations to the world that never existed before. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
Now, these powers do not operate in isolation from our physical powers. Our fifth spiritual power, called “the common faculty” acts as the intermediary between the inner spiritual powers and the outer physical powers. Abdu’l-Baha explained that it “conveys to the inward powers whatever the outer powers discern. It is termed the common faculty, because it communicates between the outward and inward powers and thus is common to the outward and inward powers.”
He then gave an example of how this process works:
For instance, sight is one of the outer powers; it sees and perceives this flower, and conveys this perception to the inner power—the common faculty—which transmits this perception to the power of imagination, which in its turn conceives and forms this image and transmits it to the power of thought; the power of thought reflects and, having grasped the reality, conveys it to the power of comprehension; the comprehension, when it has comprehended it, delivers the image of the object perceived to the memory, and the memory keeps it in its repository.
Isn’t this such an elaborate and sophisticated process? As you can see, humans do have powers — both physical and spiritual. So, the next time you’re watching mutants from the X-Men or heroes from the Justice League, remember that all people are truly super because the power of God is inside us all — and the more we strengthen our inner and outer abilities, the more spiritually powerful we will become.
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