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A friend once told me that although God created us in His image, we had one potential quality that God didn’t – humility.
I first thought anyone saying humans have something that God doesn’t have sounds ludicrous. But then he explained. We human beings, God’s creations, have something above us to humble ourselves to, to look up to, to learn from. God, being All-Encompassing, has nothing beyond Him; He has nothing to humble Himself to, at least not in a human way. This, my friends, completely blew my mind. Thinking about this new reality made me look at my life on this earth in a completely different light. It turned everything I thought I knew on its head.
Could this be the key to unlocking our full potential? Could keeping ourselves humble, regarding the planet as a temple, and holding service toward others as the highest station be the secret to a thriving and everlasting civilization? The opposite hasn’t really done us much good. Glancing over the historical rise and fall of human empires, we can clearly see that a lack of humility never lasts very long.
This daily Baha’i prayer says it in a unique way:
I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-subsisting. – Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 4.
Every single day, Baha’u’llah asks us to remind ourselves of our humility. This short prayer is about 3 or 4 lines long, and it fascinates me that this is the message Baha’u’llah chose to remind us of on a daily basis.
Another thing I found very interesting about the prayer is the relationship between polar opposites — humanity’s powerlessness versus God’s Might: Our poverty versus His wealth.
What if some of God’s Attributes are meant to be reflected in us as polar opposites, attracted to each other as magnets are? Maybe the Magnitude of God and the humility of humanity serve as the axis around which all else revolves. That’s what the Earth’s North and South Poles do… and if this world is a mirror of the Spiritual realm…
Another incredible example of this axis of magnitude and humility is the relationship between the Founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah, and His son and appointed successor, Abdu’l-Baha.
One wouldn’t have to dig for very long to find examples of the influence Abdu’l-Baha had (and still has) on the world: In Abdu’l-Baha was seen as a perfect example of the Baha’i way of life. Baha’is all over the world lovingly call Him the Master; some even wanted to honor him by likening him to the Return of Christ – which he completely rejected, saying that Baha’u’llah represented the return of the Prophets. In 1920, the British Mandate of Palestine awarded Abdu’l-Baha a Knighthood for His humanitarian efforts during the war. There are numerous accounts of him being the most honored guest at events and receiving immense praise from countless people who encountered his presence. Stories of intense love and admiration followed him throughout His life. And yet his only wish was to be Baha’u’llah’s lowliest of servants.
Never have I encountered a memoir where anything but his love, humility, and servitude were recollected. No matter the status people invested in him, none mattered to him but the status of servant of Baha’u’llah.
When I first read the quote from Abdu’l-Baha that I used for my song Innocent in Heart, the line “Be souls humble and lowly in the presence of the friends, be innocent in heart” kept ringing over and over in my mind. I knew that the tone of the song needed to mirror the effaced and humble spirit of the quote, yet bring out the joy and playfulness of Abdu’l-Baha’s wonderful heart.
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But as I wrote it, the forces that drove this song for me — humility and servitude; and innocence and purity of heart — were pulling me in opposite directions. One was inspiring calm and the other was zapping me with this bubbling surge of energy, urging me to dance. I knew I needed to make these two forces the axis of the song.
So I focused on my voice being one, and the instruments being the other. I hoped for my voice to be a softening force, a calming balm in this song, being complimented by the instrumentation representing the energy generated by love, laughter and inspiration. Abdu’l-Baha always has inspired those two simultaneous effects in me and, with this song; I wanted to honor his joy, his humility, and his heart.
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