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Do you think it’s possible to combine and intertwine our innermost religious and spiritual beliefs with our work and our everyday life—or do you think they always have to remain separate?
There is a great difference between an authentic man and an imitator of one. The former is David himself, the latter is merely the tone of his voice. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 4, pp. 181-182.
Generally, our culture tends to think of Hollywood actors as people who take on roles and make their living by pretending to be someone they aren’t. Actors, we typically think, are imitators, good at faking it, professionals at convincing us that they feel emotions they really don’t feel.
But I have a friend, the Baha’i actor Justin Baldoni, who does just the opposite—he makes his living as an actor and an artist and a director and a producer just by trying his hardest to be his authentic self. That’s really what the best actors have to do—reach down into themselves for their truest and most real thoughts and emotions, and then, through the artistic process, put the audience in touch with the power of that authenticity.
I love this video of Justin’s day, because while it’s clearly a commercial for Wells Fargo Bank, it’s done in a way that remains congruent with Justin’s beliefs. The script is straight out of the writings of the Baha’i Faith, and the deeds promoted are actions that put those exact words into practice. That’s authentic!
With Justin, I always know that his actions come from an authentic faith, grounded in the Baha’i teachings and expressed as love for others. He’s not perfect—no one is—but he consistently tries his best to combine and completely intertwine his faith with his life and his work, in the soul-centered way the Baha’i teachings encourage all of us to act:
How noble and excellent is man, if he only attain to that state for which he was designed. And how mean and contemptible, if he close his eyes to the public weal, and spend his precious capacities on personal and selfish ends. The greatest happiness lies in the happiness of others… By the details which we have already explained we have endeavoured to show that the glory, happiness, honour and peace of man do not consist in personal wealth but on the contrary in sublimity of soul, nobility of resolution, extension of education and in the solution of the problem of life. … Verily in the souls of man lieth their only glory. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 4, pp. 181-182.
We should all try to follow this powerful advice—that’s the path to living an impactful life.
Nobody has this completely figured out—we all grapple with it every day. But it helps if we can find friends and co-workers who really try to lead good and morally-centered lives. Their examples can inspire us, motivate us, and give us a sense of what’s possible in this world.