Do you believe, as the majority of religionists do–for example 2.1 billion Christians, 1.5 billion Muslims, 900 million Hindus, 394 million Buddhists and millions of other faith adherents—that God created us in his image?
You might find it easier to believe if you think of “image” not as physical but as spiritual, revolving around our souls and spirits, and of course our hearts–the throne of love.
Whom and what do we love? With a fortunate environment we love our parents, siblings and families, which expands, if we let it, to the entire human race. We love those who educate us about ourselves and the world, helping us embark on a lifelong condition of learning. Formal schooling into our teenage years, and hopefully college or trade school beyond, can help us in this modern age to establish our identity and meet its challenges. All of that, of course, depends on the openness of our hearts propelling us forward in our search for self and reality:
Only when the lamp of search, of earnest striving, of longing desire, of passionate devotion, of fervid love, of rapture, and ecstasy, is kindled within the seeker’s heart, and the breeze of His loving-kindness is wafted upon his soul, will the darkness of error be dispelled, the mists of doubts and misgivings be dissipated, and the lights of knowledge and certitude envelop his being. At that hour will the Mystic Herald, bearing the joyful tidings of the Spirit, shine forth from the City of God resplendent as the morn, and, through the trumpet-blast of knowledge, will awaken the heart, the soul, and the spirit from the slumber of heedlessness. Then will the manifold favors and outpouring grace of the holy and everlasting Spirit confer such new life upon the seeker that he will find himself endowed with a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind. He will contemplate the manifest signs of the universe, and will penetrate the hidden mysteries of the soul. Gazing with the eye of God, he will perceive within every atom a door that leadeth him to the stations of absolute certitude. He will discover in all things the mysteries of Divine Revelation, and the evidences of an everlasting Manifestation. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings From the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 267.
The Baha’i teachings say that “a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind…” are the prerequisites in our search for our inner reality. With a new heart and mind we can discover and mold our own view of ourselves and the world. We can enable the progress of our souls, and unravel the mysteries of the Tree of Knowledge. For our individual and collective search to be fulfilled, the discovery of truth is itself the highest goal. We seek reality. As we’ve discussed, both religion and science are also discoverers of reality:
The foundation of progress and real prosperity in the human world is reality, for reality is the divine standard and the bestowal of God. Reality is reasonableness, and reasonableness is ever conducive to the honorable station of man. Reality is the guidance of God. Reality is the cause of illumination of mankind. Reality is love, ever working for the welfare of humanity. Reality is the bond which conjoins hearts. This ever uplifts man toward higher stages of progress and attainment. Reality is the unity of mankind, conferring everlasting life. Reality is perfect equality, the foundation of agreement between the nations, the first step toward international peace. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 376
Recognizing and accepting truth isn’t easy, or we wouldn’t have such dissension and difference of opinion in the world, too often crippling our ability to improve our individual and collective condition—and recognize reality, both inner and outer. But the signs of positive change and raised consciousness gather more momentum every day. Faith in ourselves and our fellow men and women of the world to do the right thing will attain it.