Inspired
by the
Baha’i Faith
The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith. The official website of the Baha'i Faith is: Bahai.org. The official website of the Baha'is of the United States can be found here: Bahai.us.
GOT IT
The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
How do I become Baha’i?
Spirituality

Reclaiming Your Pure Childhood Heart

David Langness | Aug 5, 2016

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

Interested in Other Topics?

We’ve got something for everyone.
David Langness | Aug 5, 2016

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

And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. – Mark 10:13-15

…the true Baha’i loves the children, because Jesus says they are of the Kingdom of heaven. A simple pure heart is near to God; a child has no worldly ambitions. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 59.

We all start out as babies. That seems as obvious as the sun at noon—but somehow, as adults, we tend to forget it, along with the early innocence and purity, the enthusiasm and simplicity, the sweetness and delight of childhood. Try this: take a penetrating look at an old picture of yourself as a child, and see if you can cast your thoughts back to that time. Meditate on your inner self as it originally emerged. Remember the child you once were. Think hard about what you thought and how you felt. Then try to return, just for a moment, to experience the purity of your childhood heart and soul.

Remembering our pure and innocent childhood selves, the Baha’i teachings say, can give us a glimpse into the qualities of the fully-developed adult soul:

…men must become pure in heart to know God. The teachings have had great effect. Spiritual souls! Tender souls! The hearts of all children are of the utmost purity. They are mirrors upon which no dust has fallen. But this purity is on account of weakness and innocence, not on account of any strength and testing, for as this is the early period of their childhood, their hearts and minds are unsullied by the world. They cannot display any great intelligence. They have neither hypocrisy nor deceit. This is on account of the child’s weakness, whereas the man becomes pure through his strength. Through the power of intelligence he becomes simple; through the great power of reason and understanding and not through the power of weakness he becomes sincere. When he attains to the state of perfection, he will receive these qualities; his heart becomes purified, his spirit enlightened, his soul is sensitized and tender — all through his great strength. This is the difference between the perfect man and the child. Both have the underlying qualities of simplicity and sincerity — the child through the power of weakness and the man through the power of strength. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 52.

Of course, all of us gradually grow out of childhood and into adolescence and adulthood, and in the process our simple pure hearts suffer. We get hurt, injured and battered by the darkness in the material world. No one escapes that reality. As we become adults, we take on the pain and the tests and the difficulties of the adult condition. In the process, our tender souls harden.

So our task now, if we want to become spiritual beings, involves transcending the effects of that suffering and finding our way back to an enthusiastic, sincere and happy state of existence as fully mature adults. That endeavor—the re-capturing of our pure inner essence, the spiritualization of the adult soul—faces every one of us. It takes enormous strength and understanding, as Abdu’l-Baha says, to regain that simplicity, purity and tender-heartedness in adulthood.

Do you know any adults like the ones Abdu’l-Baha describes: tender, pure of heart, clear, simple, sincere and strong? If you do, you’ve likely found a person who has discovered their purpose and connected themselves with the mystical source of all purity and strength.

Perhaps that’s what the Baha’i teachings mean when they say “Our responsibility to God increases with our years.” – Abdu’l-Baha, Ten Days in the Light of Acca, p. 18. As we grow and mature, we gain insight and intelligence, along with the life experience that allows us to walk a spiritual path:

Spirituality is the possession of a good, a pure heart. When the heart is pure the Spirit enters and our growth is natural and assured. Every one is better informed of the condition of his own soul than of the soul of others. – Ibid.

Because we know our own souls better than anyone else’s, our responsibility for our continuing spiritual development becomes greater and greater as we age, as we accumulate wisdom, as we mature and grow. Our tests and trials become transformative, if we allow them to give us their hidden gifts of detachment and joy:

The mind and spirit of man advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete detachment. His attitude in this world will be that of divine happiness. Man is, so to speak, unripe: the heat of the fire of suffering will mature him. Look back to the times past and you will find that the greatest men have suffered most. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 178.

You May Also Like

Spirituality

How to Read the Baha'i Writings—Symbolically

Spirituality

Fear, Human Nature and the Elephant of Death

Spirituality

You Only Live Once--and Die Once


Comments

characters remaining
  • Steve Eaton
    Aug 11, 2016
    -
    Hello, Jay! I can't talk for Mr. Langness, who wrote the original
    article. Aside from the technical
    causes of mental or any other afflict-
    ions, what we're really discussing is
    called "theodicy": that's the search
    for reasons and underlying justice
    in a life that seems full of injustice.
    If you go to Wikipedia, or many
    religious sites, you can find lots on
    theodicy. The John Hatcher book
    I told you about is a great place to
    go, because of the history of that
    search for meaning it gives, and also
    because of the ...very rounded-out
    Baha'i view of divine justice it suggests to us. I have to tell you, though, that none of the few theodicic formulas I have seen claim
    that final justice or "closure" comes
    in this earthly lifetime; that seems
    to happen in the afterlife, as often
    as not. I know that's really hard to
    cope with, or trust. Why the heck
    would God run things that way?
    There are statements in the Baha'i
    scriptures that imply if we knew the
    future joy awaiting the "victims" of
    this world, we wouldn't feel so bad.
    I think the Bible and Quran imply
    this, too, but it sounds really definite
    and emphatic in the Baha'i Writings!
    sbe1945@yahoo.com
    Read more...
  • Jay C. O'Brien
    Aug 10, 2016
    -
    Steve, " I know that's still not explaining "why" God allows any of this to happen. That's an age-old question, but I guess religious scriptures give us the best clues on that, too." I agree with your article that we should strive to "reclaim your childhood heart," but a minority of people are damaged from birth. Both my father and brother fall into this category. Reincarnation and Karma would explain birth defects, but Baha'i teaches there is no reincarnation. Therefore there is no explanation and no justice. What is your explanation?
  • Steve Eaton
    Aug 10, 2016
    -
    Hello, Jay, I wasn't trying to avoid the
    issue, but I guess the "why" of it isn't
    any different from the other "why
    bad things happen to good people"
    examples. If it's true that genetics
    are often involved, we could technically put that in the same category as other physical factors
    like gender, race, physique, or
    appearance that could put somebody
    at a disadvantage in society. Experiential factors like trauma, abuse, or substance misuse could also explain the "nuts & bolts" "why?". I think there are some quotations from Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha, and Shoghi ...Effendi that touch on it, especially on the less physical
    aspects like the relation between spiritual and mental health, and on the harmful effects of evil on our emotional health. I'm guessing
    that "Some Answered Questions"
    has a good amount on that; there are interesting chapters on healing. I
    know that's still not explaining "why" God allows any of this to happen. That's an age-old question, but I guess religious scriptures give us the best clues on that, too. I really like John Hatcher's book "The Purpose of Physical Reality"; it gives some classic examples of past religious and philosophical attempts to relate a just God to seeming injustices. It ends with a possible
    Baha'i explanation, in detail. If I
    had to summarize better than I have,
    maybe I would say "genetic chance,
    social circumstance, and beyond that, only God really knows." That
    doesn't mean we shouldn't try to make things better any way possible,
    of course?
    Read more...
  • Jay C. O'Brien
    Aug 9, 2016
    -
    Thanks Steve, I am familiar with what you wrote. You said, "Regarding inborn brain problems, people in that plight naturally aren't accountable for their condition; I think the the Baha'i scriptures say those folks will get their just recompense in the after- life, just like any other victims of circumstance."
    See earlier post: My question is, Why? How did they get that way?
    Add: What does Baha'u'llah say is the CAUSE of mental illness?
    Now do you understand the question?
  • Steve Eaton
    Aug 9, 2016
    -
    Mr. O' Brien,
    This is not a simple subject, as
    I'm sure you know. There are different kinds of true mental illness, like schizophrenia. There is retardation, if it's still called that. There are also personality disorders, like narcissism and oppositional/defiant, etc. Then
    there are problems that come from
    traumatic brain injury, fetal alcohol
    syndrome, etc. Plus, you've got the
    neurological and perceptual disorders that come from emotional
    trauma, like PTSD and some of the
    anxiety syndromes. If the truth be
    known, I think there's a lot more
    overlap and interplay between these
    types, ...in some cases, than we know.
    At present, there are strict definitions
    and diagnostic criteria for the different categories of brain-related
    maladies. I don't know enough to tell
    somebody what they are without
    looking them up. For example, I can't
    remember if bipolar disorder (manic- depression) is considered
    a true mental illness like schizophrenia, or is seen differently.
    At any rate, I think the old broad
    generalization is true: these problems come from predisposing factors (like inborn genetic susceptibilities, or, obviously, limited brain development), precipitating factors (like stress or trauma of any kind), or both. Regarding precipitating factors, I think that term
    is often used, quite rightly, with the
    assumption that a predisposing
    genetic vulnerability also contributed
    to a particular person's state. However, severe emotional trauma
    can by itself turn a healthy person
    into a casualty.....I have heard it said
    it would be unreasonable to expect
    a "sane" response to an insane situation! Regarding inborn brain
    problems, people in that plight naturally aren't accountable for their
    condition; I think the the Baha'i
    scriptures say those folks will get
    their just recompense in the after-
    life, just like any other victims of
    circumstance. I have to believe that
    casualties of "precipitating factors"
    in this lifetime will also eventually
    get justice!
    Read more...
  • Jay C. O'Brien
    Aug 6, 2016
    -
    Thank you Steve, I appreciate the response. I have lived and worked around the mentally ill all my life. Statistics say perhaps 20% of adults have some form of mental illness. As a retired Peace Officer I came in contact with many severely mentally ill people. We know the mentally ill exist from birth. My question is, Why? How did they get that way?
  • Steve Eaton
    Aug 6, 2016
    -
    Mr. O'Brien,
    If I remember right, the Baha'i
    scriptures say something to the
    effect that physical infirmities, in-
    cluding mental illness, don't themselves affect the soul, because
    it is independent of the physical
    realm. Obviously, it wouldn't be just
    for God to penalize or compromise
    somebody's chance for spiritual
    well-being through any physical
    limitation beyond the person's
    control! It doesn't sound to me like
    physical and brain maladies equal
    impurity at all.
  • Jay C. O'Brien
    Aug 5, 2016
    -
    From article, "…men must become pure in heart to know God. The teachings have had great effect. Spiritual souls! Tender souls! The hearts of all children are of the utmost purity. They are mirrors upon which no dust has fallen."
    Why then are some people born mentally ill, underdeveloped, blind or physically ill? How can a mentally ill person not be mentally ill? Is this God's doing?
x
x
Connect with Baha’is in your area
Welcome!
What's your name?
Thanks my friend ! We want to connect you with a Baha’i in your area, where would that be?
Thank you so much! How can they best reach you?
To put you in touch with a Baha’i in your area who can answer your questions, we would like to kindly ask for a few details about yourself.
Connect with Baha’is in your area
Connect with Baha’is in your area
Get in touch with the Baha’is in your community.