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When we assess how the prophets and messengers function as the bridges between the twin expressions of physical and spiritual reality, we discover that we experience the guiding influence of their love in three stages.
Stage One: Love Before Birth
The messengers and prophets of God assist us prior to their appearance in human form by providing sufficient influence to forge our planet and the system that contains it into a progressive and creative organism.
Their profound spiritual and physical influence thereby reverses what would subsequently occur without such external input of energy—the planet, abiding by the second law of thermodynamics, would succumb to entropy and degenerate into a chaotic, molten glob of stuff which, in time, would cool into a not-so-hot glob of stuff.
Put simply, while the Earth, like a seed in the matrix or body of the universe, has the inherent capacity to evolve through stages of successive change, given its propitious position in regard to the sun, the divine messengers as preexistent beings oversee this dynamic process.
Does this observation imply that those messengers, the prophets and founders of the world’s religions, guide the evolution of the planet? Or, as we begin to evolve, do they appear in the form of advanced tadpoles, in case we are having too much fun in the water and refuse to crawl onto the shore to continue our evolution so that we can later play in the trees with our similarly evolving simian friends?
While there is much that we do not know about this first stage, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, said in a message written by his secretary to an individual Baha’i that the prophets preexist in the world of the spirit prior to their appearance here on Earth:
The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate to picture His state of being.
Christ, of course, seems to refer to this pre-incarnate state when he says, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Likewise, Baha’u’llah refers to this same condition when he alludes to the “School of inner meaning.” Later in that same discourse in his Most Holy Book Baha’u’llah writes:
By the one true God! We read the Tablet ere it was revealed, while ye were unaware, and We had perfect knowledge of the Book when ye were yet unborn.
Perhaps the most amazing available insight into the preexistent condition and the willful and creative power of these divine beings is revealed in two passages from the Baha’i teachings which indicate that the prophets play a part in determining the location where they will become manifest, a verity addressed by Shoghi Effendi’s statement in The Advent of Divine Justice:
… the primary reason why the Bab and Baha’u’llah chose to appear in Persia, and to make it the first repository of their Revelation, was because, of all the peoples and nations of the civilized world, that race and nation had, as so often depicted by Abdu’l-Baha, sunk to such ignominious depths, and manifested so great a perversity, as to find no parallel among its contemporaries.
… the dissolution of the tabernacle wherein the soul of the Manifestation of God had chosen temporarily to abide signalized its release from the restrictions which an earthly life had, of necessity, imposed upon it.
Perhaps, then, one meaning of Baha’u’llah’s Tablet of the Temple (Surih-i-Haykal) is that the manifestation of God reveals to us the part he plays in fashioning that human edifice through which he will convey to us the new revelation.
This series of essays is adapted from John Hatcher’s address to the 2005 Association for Baha’i Studies Conference titled The Huri of Love, which comprised the 23rd Hasan M. Balyuzi Memorial Lecture.