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Culture

Education and Collective Human Maturity

Russell Ballew | Sep 10, 2014

PART 2 IN SERIES The Wonder of Maturity

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Russell Ballew | Sep 10, 2014

PART 2 IN SERIES The Wonder of Maturity

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

For each person, maturing means progressing from one state of consciousness to the next. For humanity as a whole, reaching our collective maturity requires a global transformation of consciousness—and not just in our behavior and our thinking, but in our spiritual lives, as well.

Baha’u’llah’s revelation underpins that process by transforming human souls:

The vitality of men’s belief in God is dying out in every land; nothing short of His wholesome medicine can ever restore it.… what else but the Elixir of His potent Revelation can cleanse and revive it? Is it within human power… to effect in the constituent elements of any of the minute and indivisible particles of matter so complete a transformation as to transmute it into purest gold? Perplexing and difficult as this may appear, the still greater task of converting satanic strength into heavenly power is one that We have been empowered to accomplish. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 200.

Transforming hearts and “converting satanic strength into heavenly power” begins by putting Baha’u’llah’s new divine principles into practice. Baha’is have worked with people of conscience from all Faiths for over 170 years to explore and promote these principles of maturity.

During this period of time, humanity has struggled against incredible obstacles and gone through periods of extremely painful transition—but we have also made extraordinary progress. Steven Pinker explores the measurable decline of violence over the last millennia in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker explains that people are learning to prefer others to themselves for the good of the whole:

…intensifying application of knowledge and rationality to human affairs… can force people to recognize the futility of cycles of violence, to ramp down the privileging of their own interests over others’, and to reframe violence as a problem to be solved rather than a contest to be won.” – p. xxvi.

regard-man-as-a-mine-igThis ability to prefer others to ourselves demonstrates one of the practical expressions of collective human maturity.

The Baha’i teachings point out that one of the most effective ways to leverage preferring others to ourselves, and to advance the civilization-building process, involves the Baha’i principle of compulsory universal education. Baha’is believe deeply in the power of education to change the world, and many non-profit, Baha’i-inspired schools, foundations and educational models have developed as a result.

This September one of those public benefit organizations, the Mona Foundation, celebrates its 15th anniversary. The Mona Foundation exists to promote and help fund universal education and gender equality all over the world. Their work is a practical expression of the benefits of Baha’u’llah’s insight:

Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 259.

Mona Mahmudnizhad

Mona Mahmudnizhad

You can learn more about the Mona Foundation’s powerful work here.

The government of Iran executed the foundation’s inspiration, a 16-year-old girl named Mona Mahmudnizhad, hanged on March 12, 1983 for the crime of training children to cultivate their virtues in service to humanity. Mona’s courage and devotion to the Baha’i principle of universal education showed the world an extraordinary example of individual maturity. Learn more about her life here

The Mona Foundation is one example among many that exemplify Baha’u’llah’s progressive social principles and spiritual guidance, as they begin to blossom into robust civilizing institutions whose participants uncover and develop ever more excellent expressions of the oneness of humanity.

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Comments

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  • Sep 11, 2014
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    It is so awesome to me that we are to prefer our neighbors above ourselves! It's just an amazing leap from the Biblical teaching of wanting for your neighbor what you have for yourself! It's a hard one to attain but I think it will be worth it should I be allowed to attain thereunto! Thank you for a great article!
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