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Strive ye with all your hearts, raise up your voices and shout, until this dark world be filled with light, and this narrow place of shadows be widened out, and this dust heap of a fleeting moment be changed into a mirror for the eternal gardens of heaven, and this globe of earth receive its portion of celestial grace. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 36.
Baha’is love gardens.
If you go to a Baha’i House of Worship—you’ll find one on each of the world’s continents—you’ll see what I mean. They’re each surrounded by gorgeous, flower-filled gardens with trees, blooming plants, walkways and fountains.
Those Baha’i gardens have many purposes, some material and some spiritual. Of course they perfume the air with lovely scents, they delight the eye with their varieties of shapes and colors, and they welcome everyone to stroll through their pathways. Their beauty is legendary—the gardens at the Baha’i World Centre on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, have been called one of the wonders of the modern world.
In a spiritual sense, gardens symbolize unity, renewal, consciousness and the soul itself. Gardens stand for growth, the springtime and the mystical journey of the soul. We all descend from that symbolic Garden of Eden. Each of us has a garden within us, the place of peace and beauty where we tend and nourish our ideals, hopes and virtues, where we encourage our spiritual essence to flourish and grow. In that garden of the human heart we cultivate the inner spiritual qualities of love, kindness, service and caring, the qualities we will all need on our immortal journey.
In a way, then, all of us are gardeners, whether we work the soil or not. We lovingly tend our inner gardens, and in the same way we have a responsibility to tend the outer garden of the world, which sustains and supports us all.
The Lord of all mankind hath fashioned this human realm to be a Garden of Eden, an earthly paradise. If, as it must, it findeth the way to harmony and peace, to love and mutual trust, it will become a true abode of bliss, a place of manifold blessings and unending delights. Therein shall be revealed the excellence of humankind, therein shall the rays of the Sun of Truth shine forth on every hand. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 275.
Today—Earth Day—reminds everyone that our human realm on this planet has a long way to go before we can call it a Garden of Eden or an earthly paradise.
Just as every person’s home reflects their inner state; our collective home on this planet reflects our inner life. Humanity, organic with the world, must undergo a reformation, not only in the way we use energy and resources, but in our inner life, within our own gardens of the heart. We cannot reform the environment without reforming the human heart.
Baha’is believe that human unity is a prerequisite to the healing of the Earth. In fact, the Baha’i writings say that the world can become a garden, a paradise and a new world, if we can unify:
This is a new cycle of human power. All the horizons of the world are luminous, and the world will become indeed as a garden and a paradise. It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes. You are loosed from ancient superstitions which have kept men ignorant, destroying the foundation of true humanity.
The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between nations, and by the will of God the Most Great Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, pp. 19-20.