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The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.
How do I become Baha’i?

Nine Baha’i Quotes I Turn to for Guidance and Inspiration

Ken McNamara | Apr 22, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Ken McNamara | Apr 22, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

In my years as a Baha’i, nine quotations from the Baha’i writings have become especially important to me. I go to them time and time again, because they offer inspiration, guidance, and powerful insight.

Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, assures us that all the words he revealed are vitally important to bring about spiritual regeneration on both individual and societal levels. He encouraged all of us to “Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.”   

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Baha’is believe that meditating on the writings of the Faith and doing our best to conform our lives to their guidance will help bring about spiritual growth which, in turn, can engender a sense of confidence, happiness, and a more purposeful life. As the teachings of the three central figures of the Baha’i Faith – the Bab, Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha – permeate the hearts and minds of more and more people, the entire planet can transform into a world of peace, justice, unity, and love.

So out of this vast ocean, nine pearls of wisdom have special meaning for me.

The Purpose of Life

The first two quotes focus on human purpose: the purpose of life, and the purpose of creation. Philosophers and, indeed, any thinking person now and throughout history have pondered these subjects. Baha’u’llah makes it absolutely clear what our purpose is, as part of a short prayer that millions of Baha’is say every day: “I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee.

This is a profound truth from the revelation of Baha’u’llah.

The Baha’i writings assure us that the reason for all the scriptures of the previous messengers of God, and all the suffering they endured, can be captured in this spiritual truth – that the purpose of our mortal lives in this physical world is to know and love our Creator.

Associated with this clear statement of purpose, Baha’u’llah wrote that everything around us, from the vast universe down to every resource of our planet, even each atom in existence, was created to support this ultimate purpose:

Every created thing in the whole universe is but a door leading into His knowledge, a sign of His sovereignty, a revelation of His names, a symbol of His majesty, a token of His power, a means of admittance into His straight Path .…

This knowledge helps me have a deeper sense of wonderment and understanding of all things found in nature. Whether looking out over an ocean, taking in the amazing sight of a prairie full of wildflowers, or watching squirrels playing in the back yard, all the wonders of every natural phenomenon help me better appreciate our Creator.

This realization leads to the next question: how to live the most purposeful life in order to take full advantage of this knowledge of our purpose? Because knowledge alone is not enough – our actions must conform to that knowledge. 

How often do we know the purpose of something, but either intentionally or mistakenly misuse it? For example, a person needs a hammer to pound a nail. Rather than walk all the way across the yard to the tool shed to get the hammer, that person grabs a nearby wrench and uses it instead, likely resulting in a broken wrench and an un-pounded nail! In that case, the purpose was well known, but the person’s actions did not align with that purpose, resulting in a negative outcome.

Finding Life’s Direction

The Baha’i teachings have an abundance of writings that provide direction in life, helping us on our path to better know and love our Creator. This well-known quote, found in Baha’u’llah’s mystical book The Hidden Words, gives us the essential knowledge and guidance for how to live our lives: “My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.

That quote indicates not only the importance of acquiring the three virtues of purity, kindness and radiant happiness, but also reveals the reward for us when we develop those virtues. 

This beautiful quotation from Baha’u’llah, addressed to true spiritual seekers, elaborates on the previous passage with more detail as to how we can best live our lives to fulfill our purpose:

That seeker should, also, regard backbiting as grievous error, and keep himself aloof from its dominion, inasmuch as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul. He should be content with little and be freed from all inordinate desire. He should treasure the companionship of them that have renounced the world, and regard avoidance of boastful and worldly people a precious benefit. At the dawn of every day he should commune with God, and, with all his soul, persevere in the quest of his Beloved. He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention, and, with the swiftness of lightning, pass by all else save Him. He should succor the dispossessed, and never withhold his favor from the destitute. He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellowman, to him who is endowed with the power of utterance. He should not hesitate to offer up his life for his Beloved, nor allow the censure of the people to turn him away from the Truth. He should not wish for others that which he doth not wish for himself, nor promise that which he doth not fulfill. 

These spiritual attributes, when developed and practiced, can make anyone’s life happier, more fulfilling, and more loving.

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The Practical Aspects of Life

Along with such heavenly and spiritual attributes, the Baha’i writings also include a wealth of guidance on the practical aspects of life. The Baha’i revelation addresses universal human questions regarding marriage, raising children, health, personal hygiene, and diet, as well as work, social justice, and the optimal organization of human society. 

I very often found this quotation from Baha’u’llah inspiring and useful during my working days and even now in retirement: “To engage in some profession is highly commendable, for when occupied with work one is less likely to dwell on the unpleasant aspects of life.

Despite all of this guidance, no one is perfect, and each one of us will sometimes fail to live up to the standards Baha’u’llah established. Although it is not easy, we need to acknowledge this fact, recognize our weaknesses, and strive to overcome them. Thankfully, the Baha’i teachings assure us that if we do try to amend any undesirable actions, we are forgiven. This quote from a prayer written by Abdu’l Baha captures that principle:

We are all sinners, and Thou art the Forgiver of sins, the Merciful, the Compassionate. O Lord! Look not at our shortcomings. Deal with us according to Thy grace and bounty. Our shortcomings are many, but the ocean of Thy forgiveness is boundless.

Sometimes when we look at ourselves too critically or think back on our lives and our shortcomings, missteps, and failed opportunities, we can become filled with regret and guilt. But God is forgiving, merciful and compassionate to us, the Baha’i teachings promise. 

Another quote from a Baha’i prayer assures us that in every aspect of our lives God is there to help us as we face both good times and bad:

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.

In the same vein, I love these words, found in one of Baha’u’llah’s best-known prayers: “O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord.

These passages from the Baha’i teachings offer us infallible guidance and the happiness in knowing we are loved – what more could anyone ask for? Out of the ocean of writings that comprise the Baha’i revelation, these few short quotes have special meaning for me. They come to mind often, leading me through life with love, compassion, and understanding. When you read the Baha’i writings, which passages mean the most to you?

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  • Rosslyn and Steven Osborne
    Apr 23, 2024
    Thank you for this essay and putting these beautiful heartfelt quotes into your life and now sharing them with us.
    I will be sharing this with my friends as well. God bless
  • Zachary L. Zavid
    Apr 22, 2024
    Really powerful to read as I tend to read Bahá’í quotations daily but also powerful to put them in context.
    Thank you 🙏
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