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If we choose to live only for this temporal life, Baha’u’llah gently tells us, we will know the despair and futility of earthly ambitions and desires:
O Fleeting Shadow!
Pass beyond the baser stages of doubt and rise to the exalted heights of certainty. Open the eye of truth, that thou mayest behold the veilless Beauty and exclaim: Hallowed be the Lord, the most excellent of all creators! – The Hidden Words, p. 25.
To live for the sake of your soul requires a daily exercise of will. Just like every time we use our physical muscles we strengthen ourselves; every time we make a choice based on our spiritual reality we become stronger. When we take the first step toward spirituality, Baha’u’llah promises us we will receive divine encouragement:
Thou disappointest no one who hath sought Thee, nor dost Thou keep back from Thee any one who hath desired Thee. Ordain Thou for me what becometh the heaven of Thy generosity, and the ocean of Thy bounty. – Baha’i Prayers, p. 119.
To live for the sake of our soul requires purity. We become pure by acknowledging our imperfections to our Creator, then by striving to do better, to clean and polish the mirrors of our hearts and souls. Spiritual awakening then comes as a result of our efforts, and as a gift of God. In a prayer, Baha’u’llah addresses God, saying:
My God, my Adored One, my King, my Desire!
What tongue can voice my thanks to Thee? I was heedless, Thou didst awaken me. I had turned back from Thee, Thou didst graciously aid me to turn towards Thee. I was as one dead, Thou didst quicken me with the water of life. I was withered, Thou didst revive me with the heavenly stream of Thine utterance which hath flowed forth from the Pen of the All-Merciful.
O Divine Providence! All existence is begotten by Thy bounty; deprive it not of the waters of Thy generosity, neither do Thou withhold it from the ocean of Thy mercy. I beseech Thee to aid and assist me at all times and under all conditions, and seek from the heaven of Thy grace Thine ancient favor. Thou art, in truth, the Lord of bounty, and the Sovereign of the kingdom of eternity. – Prayers and Meditations, pp. 264-265.
The purpose of spirituality is not just to kindle of our own souls, but to give us the strength and courage to arise and transform the world around us. Like so many of the Baha’i prayers and meditations, this prayer from Abdu’l-Baha is for spiritual awakening and growth:
O compassionate God!
Thanks be to Thee for Thou hast awakened and made me conscious. Thou hast given me a seeing eye and favored me with a hearing ear, hast led me to Thy kingdom and guided me to Thy path. Thou hast shown me the right way and caused me to enter the ark of deliverance. O God! Keep me steadfast and make me firm and staunch. Protect me from violent tests, and preserve and shelter me in the strongly fortified fortress of Thy Covenant and Testament. Thou art the Powerful. Thou art the Seeing. Thou art the Hearing.
O Thou the Compassionate God. Bestow upon me a heart which, like unto a glass, may be illumined with the light of Thy love, and confer upon me thoughts which may change this world into a rose garden through the outpourings of heavenly grace. Thou art the Compassionate, the Merciful. Thou art the Great Beneficent God. – Baha’i Prayers, p. 71.
With this prayer for spiritual growth and development, we end our One With All the Earth series. Thank you for your kind attention and your interest. To find a Baha’i community near you, call 1-800-22-unite. We welcome your friendship whether or not you decide to become a Baha’i.
Adapted from One With All The Earth, © Kalimat Press 2003, All Rights Reserved.