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Albert Einstein said “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” What does that mean when we want to solve our own real problems?
Apparently, it means that we need to elevate our minds and souls above their present circumstances in order to understand and solve the problems our current level of consciousness has created or failed to resolve. Easier said than done, right?
Elevating your consciousness means transcending your normal, day-to-day level of awareness and insight. It means seeing things from a different vantage point, like climbing a tree in order to view the whole forest. Ultimately, it means going beyond immediate self-concerns, beginning to selflessly care and do something about the concerns of others, and awakening to your essential oneness with all of humanity. That universal unity acknowledges the eternal, unlimited nature of being, freeing us from individual limitations. The Baha'i teachings say increased love and unity among humanity can elevate us all:
I pray in your behalf that your hearts may be enlightened with the light of the love of God; that your minds may develop daily; that your spirits may become aglow with the fire and illumination of His glad tidings, until these divine foundations may become established throughout the human world. The first of these institutions and foundations is the oneness of humanity and love among mankind. - Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 66-67.
These lofty, inspiring words might intimidate some people, especially those who don’t feel their minds developing daily or their consciousness growing in capacity. So how do we make those things happen? How do we prevent ourselves from getting stuck in our current state of consciousness, unable to transcend and develop? How do we consciously elevate our consciousness?
Taking the first step in that process of ascending the ladder of consciousness, the Baha'i teachings say, means traversing the valley of search:
Search for truth. Seek the realities in all religions. Put aside all superstitions. Many of us do not realize the Reality of all Religions. …
The Reality of all is One. Truth is one. Religions are like the branches of one Tree. One branch is high, one is low and one in the centre, yet all draw their life from the one stem. One branch bears fruit and others are not laden so abundantly. All the Prophets are lights, they only differ in degree; they shine like brilliant heavenly bodies, each have their appointed place and time of ascension. Some are like lamps, some like the moon, some like distant stars, and a few are like the sun, shining from one end of the earth to the other. - Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, pp. 62-63.
When a person conducts a true spiritual search, it can challenge their consciousness, awaken their awareness, and call into question many of the pre-conceptions and prejudices they naturally acquired as they grew up. A real spiritual search can shake up your consciousness, because it allows you to ask yourself about your underlying assumptions, re-focusing your vision on a higher, more spiritual plane:
If the hope of man be limited to the material world, what ultimate result is he working for? A man with even a little understanding must realize that he should not emulate the worm that holds to the earth in which it is finally buried. How can man be satisfied with this low degree? How can he find happiness there? My hope is that you may become free from the material world and strive to understand the meaning of the heavenly world, the world of lasting qualities, the world of truth, the world of eternal kingliness, so that your life may not be barren of results, for the life of the material man has no fruit of reality. Lasting results are produced by reflecting the heavenly existence.
If a man become touched with the divine spark, even though he be an outcast and oppressed, he will be happy and his happiness cannot die.
Whatever man undertakes he achieves some result, whether through statesmanship, commerce, agriculture, science, etc., he receives a compensation for his efforts. Consider what will be the result of those who work in the universal cause!
He who has the consciousness of reality has eternal life—that lamp which can never be extinguished. - Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 56.
This consciousness of reality, Abdu’l-Baha said, means becoming aware of the unseen realities beyond this physical world. It means recognizing that the material things we see all around us—tables and chairs, houses, cars, cities—all represent temporal and temporary realities. Those things have no actual permanence, even though they may seem solid, real and lasting.
Today your possessions belong to you, but tomorrow they will belong to someone else. Today you might drive a shiny new car, but tomorrow it will rust into iron oxide in some future junkyard, or be recycled back into its raw materials. Today you might live in a fine building, but tomorrow that building will be demolished for something newer and better. In that sense, we own nothing—we’re all just transients here, momentary caretakers of our stuff, renters in this physical existence:
Of what avail are the things which are yours today and which tomorrow others shall possess? - Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 102.
It’s an inescapable fact: all material things will inevitably perish, disappear or transform into something else. That includes our physical selves, the bodies we sometimes confuse with our actual inner reality. What prevails, lasts and has an eternal existence, the Baha'i teachings say, are the deepest and most profound spiritual realities of the soul—love, compassion, kindness, and “the hidden mysteries of the Almighty God:”
There are certain pillars which have been established as the unshakeable supports of the Faith of God. The mightiest of these is learning and the use of the mind, the expansion of consciousness, and insight into the realities of the universe and the hidden mysteries of Almighty God. - Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 126.
That expansion of consciousness, which includes learning, using the mind and gaining insight into what truly lasts, starts with spiritual search. To sustain that search, and to search not only the wisdom and knowledge of the great spiritual traditions but inside yourself, too, those who want to elevate their consciousness establish a regular practice of meditation, reflection and prayer—they develop a deep thirst for spirituality. Abdu’l-Baha gave this advice:
The first thing to do is to acquire a thirst for Spirituality … The way to acquire this thirst is to meditate upon the future life. Study the Holy Words, read your Bible, read the Holy Books, especially study the Holy Utterances of Baha'u'llah; Prayer and Meditation, take much time for these two. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 9, p. 69.
May you become thirsty for the water of reality. May you become hungry for the bread of the kingdom; for as His Holiness the Christ said, "He that drinketh the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." This means the apprehension of the ideals of the human world and of the heavenly realm. Day by day may you receive these concepts; day by day may you inherit this new state of consciousness till you become immersed in the sea of divine light.
This station is the ultimate result of human life; this station is the true fruit of existence; this station is the pearl of human consummation, the shining star toward which human destiny points. Practice the teachings of Baha'u'llah, and day unto day you will draw nearer the supreme horizon. - Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, pp. 99-100.
This process of spiritual awakening does not require becoming someone different. Instead, it simply awakens you to your true nature, expanding your consciousness beyond its basic desires toward the underlying reality of existence.