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Our deepest and most profound desires, as human beings, all involve unity.
We long to unite with our families, our children, those we love intensely. The simple physical expression of that unity begins with the closeness everybody wants and needs – affection, human touch, a hug, an embrace, a sweet kiss, loving and tender intimacy. We long for unity perhaps because we all spend our first nine months of life in the womb, literally sharing our mothers’ lifeblood. That universal experience, the psychologists tell us, conditions every person to desire at least some semblance of the bond of unity they once felt.
Beyond the physical, all of us want to be known and loved. Human nature instinctively drives us to try to understand the inner, mental and spiritual reality of those we love; and reciprocally, to want to be known and loved by them.
In other words, our hearts, minds and spirits seek unity.
The great poet of love William Shakespeare knew this truth: “Who could refrain that had a heart to love and in that heart courage to make love known?”
At the higher levels of psychological and moral development, as the great philosopher and psychologist Abraham Maslow pointed out, we tend to seek a sense of unity with our higher purpose in life. We want to find and maintain a unified connection with the mystical, the numinous, the everlasting. The Baha’i writings explain that basic human instinct toward unity:
And that Divine love – the love between the Creator and the creation – defines the highest and purest form of love:
Real love is the love which exists between God and His servants, the love which binds together holy souls. This is the love of the spiritual world, not the love of physical bodies and organisms…. If we are of those who perceive, we realize that the bounties of God manifest themselves continuously, even as the rays of the sun unceasingly emanate from the solar center. The phenomenal world through the resplendent effulgence of the sun is radiant and bright. In the same way the realm of hearts and spirits is illumined and resuscitated through the shining rays of the Sun of Reality and the bounties of the love of God. Thereby the world of existence, the kingdom of hearts and spirits is ever quickened into life. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 89.
The Baha’i teachings encourage everyone to develop a consistent practice of daily prayer and meditation as a way to connect with and feel the outpouring of God’s real, life-giving love. When we make that regular spiritual connection with the source of life and light, our hearts and spirits truly can feel “illumined and resuscitated.” Like a solar battery that receives its charge from the sun, each of us can get our own spiritual energy from the consistent connection we make to the Creator in prayer and meditation.
Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha both gave the world an enormous, inspiring and powerful repository of prayers. Those beautiful, poetic and deeply mystical prayers, when said in a meditative frame of mind, when sung or chanted or even expressed quietly to yourself, give our souls joy and affirmation.
Combined with meditation – simply sitting in solitude and conversing silently with your inner self – a daily spiritual practice of prayer can have an enormous impact on our well-being. It allows us to reflect on our own actions; it gives us a sense of peace; it opens up the channels of communication with the most essential core of our individual reality. Also, medical science has proven that those who have a consistent practice of meditative reflection actually lead healthier lives, both physically and psychologically.
If you want to walk a spiritual path, if you yearn to find a higher and more meaningful unity in life, try setting aside a few minutes each day for prayer and meditation. No need to make it lengthy or burdensome – Abdu’l-Baha said that “The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance…”
This prayer, from Abdu’l-Baha, exemplifies that advice:
O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.
O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord. – Baha’i Prayers, p. 150.