At some point in our soul’s search for its source, we arrive at the stage of serendipity, in which we start to see traces of God in all things.
We understand that, from the smallest to the largest, everything in the universe is held together by the love of God.
Our initial search has yielded not just the discovery of one thing but of all things: the divine unity. Where there was understanding, now there is certitude. We become aware of the nuances and subtleties around us. We realize that there are no coincidences—only the will of God. We see the circle of cause and effect, consequence and ramification; we begin to realize how all things in God’s creation are interconnected.
At this point, we can look back on the path of our own spiritual growth and realize that in ignorance we used to try to bend God’s will to ours. In the past, when we said all things are possible with God, we meant that the things we wished and desired were possible because God loved us so much that He should grant our wishes. We can now see how we have progressed in our understanding. Now we believe that all things are possible within God’s will, and we find ourselves receiving gifts beyond our wants and desires, blessings beyond measure.
Sooner or later, as our spiritual growth continues, we come to the stage in which we find true contentment with the will of God. We see that God’s will is sufficient, and we begin to attune our will to His. We want to do what is pleasing to God, and our concept of happiness is gradually transformed; instead of feeling that our pleasure depends on having things conform to our own will and understanding, we see that there is only one true will in the universe and that it has made ample, loving provision for us all:
The virtues and attributes pertaining unto God are all evident and manifest, and have been mentioned and described in all the heavenly Books. Among them are trustworthiness, truthfulness, purity of heart while communing with God, forbearance, resignation to whatever the Almighty hath decreed, contentment with the things His Will hath provided, patience, nay, thankfulness in the midst of tribulation, and complete reliance, in all circumstances, upon Him. These rank, according to the estimate of God, among the highest and most laudable of all acts. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 290.
Contentment allows us to truly behold God’s creation, including our own selves. We discover that the soul is more wondrous than we ever thought it could be, more wondrous than we can ever know. It is endowed with the capacity to fathom ever deeper the relevance of the seen and the unseen, to continue forever to discern more clearly the complexity of God’s creation and how it is interwoven with God’s will. We stand in awe and wonder as we recognize the evidences of God in the physical cosmos and in the infinity of the spiritual universe—the endless worlds of God. With each stage of our spiritual growth and development we uncover more and more of that which was latent within us.
Along the path of our spiritual journey we remove, one by one, the veils that keep us from seeing our true selves; for buried within the soul is the capacity to search, to love, to know, to align our will with God’s, to be content, to feel wonder, and more. Gradually, we acquire and refine more and more of these virtues until the self is merged in the ocean of God’s light, the virtues of the soul become aligned with the attributes of God, and our will becomes indistinguishable from God’s will:
Baha’u’llah has announced that no matter how far the world of humanity may advance in material civilization, it is nevertheless in need of spiritual virtues and the bounties of God. The spirit of man is not illumined and quickened through material sources. It is not resuscitated by investigating phenomena of the world of matter. The spirit of man is in need of the protection of the Holy Spirit. Just as he advances by progressive stages from the mere physical world of being into the intellectual realm, so must he develop upward in moral attributes and spiritual graces. In the process of this attainment he is ever in need of the bestowals of the Holy Spirit. Material development may be likened to the glass of a lamp, whereas divine virtues and spiritual susceptibilities are the light within the glass. The lamp chimney is worthless without the light; likewise, man in his material condition requires the radiance and vivification of the divine graces and merciful attributes. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit he is lifeless. Although physically and mentally alive, he is spiritually dead. Christ announced, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” meaning that man must be born again. As the babe is born into the light of this physical world, so must the physical and intellectual man be born into the light of the world of Divinity. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 288.
Some of these stages of spiritual growth may seem more familiar than others, just as the experiences of the present and past are more familiar to us than experiences yet to come. All of them are, however, interwoven into the fabric of our spiritual lives. For each of us, the advancement of the soul along the pathway of eternity has already begun. We may go through these stages in any order, sometimes even all at once. We will go through them again and again, because we are never “done.” That is OK. The important thing is that we are growing spiritually, continually perfecting ourselves, drawing ever closer to God.