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Among all of humanity’s virtues, Baha’u’llah reserved the highest station for service.
In fact, the Baha’i writings clearly say that service to others constitutes the “paramount motive of all existence,” and that service to all humanity ultimately becomes service to God. For Baha’is, loving God means loving His creation – and the expression of that love leads to service. To help others — to give selflessly, freely and generously of your time, your resources, your energy and your heart – this, the Baha’i teachings say, means we have become truly spiritual beings:
Praise be to God! the mediaeval ages of darkness have passed away and this century of radiance has dawned — this century wherein the reality of things is becoming evident — wherein science is penetrating the mysteries of the universe, the oneness of the world of humanity is being established and service to mankind is the paramount motive of all existence. Shall we remain steeped in our fanaticisms and cling to our prejudices? Is it fitting that we should still be bound and restricted by ancient fables and superstitions of the past; be handicapped by superannuated beliefs and the ignorances of dark ages, waging religious wars, fighting and shedding blood, shunning and anathematizing each other? Is this becoming? Is it not better for us to be loving and considerate toward each other? Is it not preferable to enjoy fellowship and unity; join in anthems of praise to the most high God and extol all His prophets in the spirit of acceptance and true vision? Then indeed this world will become a paradise and the promised Day of God will dawn. Then according to the prophecy of Isaiah the wolf and the lamb will drink from the same stream, the owl and the vulture will nest together in the same branches and the lion and the calf pasture in the same meadow. What does this mean? It means that fierce and contending religions, hostile creeds and divergent beliefs will reconcile and associate, notwithstanding their former hatreds and antagonism. Through the liberalism of human attitude demanded in this radiant century they will blend together in perfect fellowship and love. This is the spirit and meaning of Isaiah’s words. There will never be a day when this prophecy will come to pass literally, for these animals by their natures cannot mingle and associate in kindness and love. Therefore this prophecy symbolizes the unity and agreement of races, nations and peoples who will come together in attitudes of intelligence, illumination and spirituality. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 279.
Baha’u’llah says that our inner human reality, our spiritual essence, even our fundamental happiness, all hinges on our dedication to the service of others:
It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action…. That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth. In another passage He hath proclaimed: It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 249.
This wonderful focus on service to others in the Baha’i Faith builds closeness and interdependence, friendship and joy, kindness and concern, love and unity. In the Baha’i teachings, no other action receives so much emphasis and importance. Abdu’l-Baha even elevates service to others to the station of worship:
. . . all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise. – Paris Talks, p. 176.
Adapted from One With All The Earth, © Kalimat Press 2003, All Rights Reserved.