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Baha’is believe that spiritual truth expresses itself at every level of creation.
Truth is one. It crosses over between one level of being and the next. Understanding a relationship or pattern of physical reality means the same relationship exists not only in varying instances within the physical world itself but also, in a higher set of circumstances, in the spiritual realm. If you love nature, you have experienced this already. Knowledge of nature and spiritual knowledge are essentially the same thing. The physical world that scientists study can be seen as an expression of spirit – as a tangible reflection of spiritual truth.
The Baha’i teachings describe the universality of spirit in all the levels of existence, explaining that each new degree adds to the capacities of the level below it:
According to science, all forms of creation are endowed with life; this element of life and energy depending on environment and adaptations. Life as an attribute of growth is manifest to a minute degree in the mineral kingdom. It is more powerfully manifested in the vegetable kingdom and when we study the animal world we observe that the power of life is expressing itself through more capable mediums, showing manifold attributes. Ascending to the human kingdom we find that life, or what is figuratively called spirit, is declaring itself with knowledge in the utmost power and transcendency. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 165.
Within each level of these progressive expressions of spirit there are also infinite stages of development; carbon atoms, for example, can be found in each of the kingdoms described above and, within the mineral, express ‘the power of cohesion’ either as a piece of coal or as a diamond. The physical world is an expression, a demonstration, of spiritual reality. Though material, it also is a world of God.
The laws and principles of God govern reality on all levels and we can generalize our knowledge in either direction, higher or lower. Gravity or magnetism, for example, can also be thought of as divine love. Another example is the relationship of the soul to the body. The soul enlivens and sustains the body. On a higher level, the same relationship exists between the Holy Spirit and the human race as a whole. The soul vitalizes the human body; the Holy Spirit, that is the spirit coming from the Manifestation, vitalizes the body of human society. This insight can then be taken to another level where the all-encompassing reality of the universal Manifestation of God is itself animated by the Essence of Divinity.
Patterns have varied meanings at different stages of existence. By learning and investigating the truths at one level, we can ascend the ladder of reality and discover things about the relationships existing in higher realms. As we investigate the operation of spiritual forces in the world, we will encounter truths that have validity at many different levels of reality.
Each divine Revelation comprises more than teachings, words and a holy book. The words of a Manifestation of God release a spiritual energy, which suffuses the world and remains latent in human creation, ready for activation. The process of revealing the Word of God has a powerful influence on the Manifestation of God Himself as the impact of revelation strikes His soul and He becomes the instrument through which this energy is released into the world.
Through His Revelation, Baha’u’llah has impregnated the world with the creative forces and energies destined to produce a divine civilization. These are not just the ‘push’ kind of forces that we think of in the world, like rpm or horsepower; they are society-building forces. Spiritual forces are patterned energy, a configuration; they have a form. When we follow that divinely ordained form latent within our being, it begins to crystallize into new patterns of thought and behavior and, on a collective level, into the institutions and structures of a new society.
As that process occurs, the power of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah becomes apparent in the world gradually, when human capacities to receive it develop. The release of spiritual forces continues after the passing away of the outer form of the Manifestation of God:
Verily, the Word of God is the Cause which hath preceded the contingent world – a world which is adorned with the splendours of the Ancient of Days, yet is being renewed and regenerated at all times. – Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 141.
God Himself is the ultimate source of all forces and, with the dawn of this dispensation, Baha’u’llah is His agent, the mediator of those forces at work in this world. The Manifestation of God, as in past religious dispensations, becomes the fountainhead from which the vitalizing energies of revelation continually flow to humanity.
Read the next article in the series: Individual Spiritual Transformation
Read the previous article in the series: The Nature of Spiritual Forces
This essay, an edited excerpt from Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness, by Hooper C. Dunbar, George Ronald, Publisher, is used with the permission of both the author and the publisher.