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The Holy Spirit it is which, through the mediation of the Prophets of God, teaches spiritual virtues to man and enables him to attain Eternal Life.
All these blessings are brought to man by the Holy Spirit; therefore we can understand that the Holy Spirit is the Intermediary between the Creator and the created. The light and heat of the sun cause the earth to be fruitful, and create life in all things that grow; and the Holy Spirit quickens the souls of men.
The two great apostles, St Peter and St John the Evangelist, were once simple, humble workmen, toiling for their daily bread. By the Power of the Holy Spirit their souls were illumined, and they received the eternal blessings of the Lord Christ. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 58.
Baha’is often refer to a concise set of principles of the Faith that were carefully delineated by Abdu’l-Baha. The world has, for the most part, acknowledged that progressive set of principles as desirable social goals—but they are actually, at their core, spiritual principles.
Most references to these Baha’i principles, whether in print or online, usually list many or all of the following:
- equality of women and men
- the elimination of prejudice
- the adoption of an equal standard of human rights for all people
- universal education for all
- the establishment of a world commonwealth of nations
- the harmony of science and religion as two complementary systems of knowledge that must work together to advance humanity
- spiritual solutions to economic problems and the removal of economic barriers and restrictions
- the abolition of extremes of poverty and wealth
- the adoption of a world auxiliary language, a world script, and a universal system of currency and weights and measures
This list, as remarkable as it is, omits one key principle—the principle of the power, or confirmation, of the Holy Spirit.
By contrast, when he listed the principles of the Baha’i Faith, Abdu’l-Baha always emphasized the power of the Holy Spirit. Without this, none of the other principles have any spiritual or lasting effect. For example:
Ninthly: Baha’u’llah taught that hearts must receive the Bounty of the Holy Spirit, so that Spiritual civilization may be established. For material civilization is not adequate for the needs of mankind and cannot be the cause of its happiness. Material civilization is like the body and spiritual civilization is like the soul. Body without soul cannot live. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 29.
Sixth, the world of humanity is in need of the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. True distinction among mankind is through divine bestowals and receiving the intuitions of the Holy Spirit. If man does not become the recipient of the heavenly bestowals and spiritual bounties, he remains in the plane and kingdom of the animal. For the distinction between the animal and man is that man is endowed with the potentiality of divinity in his nature, whereas the animal is entirely bereft of that gift and attainment. Therefore, if a man is bereft of the intuitive breathings of the Holy Spirit, deprived of divine bestowals, out of touch with the heavenly world and negligent of the eternal truths, though in image and likeness he is human, in reality he is an animal; even as Christ declared, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” This means that if man be a captive of physical susceptibilities and be lacking the quickening of spiritual emotions, he is merely an animal. But every soul who possesses spiritual susceptibilities and has attained a goodly portion of the bestowals of the Holy Spirit is alive with the divine life of the higher Kingdom. The soul that is portionless and bereft is as dead.
Therefore, He said, “Let the dead bury their dead.” Just as the physical body of man is in need of its force of life, even so the human soul is in need of the divine animus and vivification emanating from the Holy Spirit. Without this vivification and sustenance, man would be an animal, nay, rather, dead.” – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 316.
THE ELEVENTH PRINCIPLE — THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT In the teaching of Baha’u’llah, it is written: ‘By the Power of the Holy Spirit alone is man able to progress, for the power of man is limited and the Divine Power is boundless.’ The reading of history brings us to the conclusion that all truly great men, the benefactors of the human race, those who have moved men to love the right and hate the wrong and who have caused real progress, all these have been inspired by the force of the Holy Spirit. The Prophets of God have not all graduated in the schools of learned philosophy; indeed they were often men of humble birth, to all appearance ignorant, unknown men of no importance in the eyes of the world; sometimes even lacking the knowledge of reading and writing. That which raised these great ones above men, and by which they were able to become Teachers of the truth, was the power of the Holy Spirit. …Think not of your own limitations, dwell only on the welfare of the Kingdom of Glory. Consider the influence of Jesus Christ on His apostles, then think of their effect upon the world. These simple men were enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit to spread the glad tidings!
So may you all receive Divine assistance! No capacity is limited when led by the Spirit of God!” – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 164-165.
Omitting the power of the Holy Spirit from the Baha’i principles does their overall purpose and intent a great injustice. This element, above all others, we each require. If we acquire a knowledge of God, through His Spirit, it activates our capacity to fulfill the other principles. However, attempting to apply the other principles without the foundation built by the Spirit of God acting upon our own individual human spirits, merely whitewashes a worn wall, providing a temporary improvement, but no lasting transformation.