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Our educational system trains us to study and analyze things – but if we attempt to use the same mindset in acquiring the knowledge of God, that approach doesn’t work as well.
Learning about the reality of the Creator means changing the orientation of our mind and heart. While we progress from self to selflessness, we start to see two different realities – the physical, material world; and the spiritual reality, sometimes known as the kingdom of God.
What does it mean to believe or not believe in God? It means that our heart is oriented to either the physical world or the spiritual kingdom. Can we learn spirituality without knowing God? In a speech he gave in London, Abdu’l-Baha said:
Know, O thou possessors of insight, that true spirituality is like unto a lake of clear water which reflects the divine. Of such was the spirituality of Jesus Christ. There is another kind which is like a mirage, seeming to be spiritual when it is not. That which is truly spiritual must light the path to God, and must result in deeds. We cannot believe the call to be spiritual when there is no result. Spirit is reality, and when the spirit in each of us seeks to join itself with the Great Reality, it must in turn give life.
Then how can we enter the truth and see that spiritual reality? Later, at a talk he gave in the United States, Abdu’l-Baha said that we can best develop our inner spiritual perfections in these seven ways:
First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love of God. Third, through faith. Fourth through philanthropic deeds. Fifth, through self-sacrifice. Sixth, through severance from this world. Seventh, through sanctity and holiness. Unless he acquires these forces and attains to these requirements, he will surely be deprived of the life that is eternal. But if he possesses the knowledge of God, becomes ignited through the fire of the love of God, witnesses the great and mighty signs of the kingdom, becomes the cause of love among mankind and lives in the utmost state of sanctity and holiness, he shall surely attain to second birth, be baptized by the Holy Spirit and enjoy everlasting existence.
This tells us that if we read the holy writings; we will learn to love God – but first we must learn to let go of the mindset of controlling others, work to eradicate all of our prejudices, and have faith in God and trust in Him.
When we build that kind of loving, trusting relationship with our Creator, we learn to sacrifice our ego’s desires and turn our will to God’s Will. The Baha’i teachings give us a method, a way, to guide us to enter the reality of spiritual truth.
Seeing the kingdom of God cannot be accomplished with physical sight – we can only see it with insight or inner vision. With insight, we can envision the phenomena of the spiritual world, and with inner hearing we recognize the melody of the word of God spoken from the heavens.
The more firmly we walk on this spiritual path, the more we turn to the light of wisdom, the more we gain understanding of the word of God and allow it to become the source that sustains our spirit. This is the Dharma Wheel, taught in Buddha’s teaching. This is what Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Today, Baha’u’llah’s teachings express that eternal truth this way:
Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause — a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed, and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him. This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Let him that seeketh, attain it; and as to him that hath refused to seek it — verily, God is Self-Sufficient, above any need of His creatures.
This path – the highway to the kingdom of God – will illuminate our souls and hearts with the Sun of Truth. With that light of the divine intellect, we will be able to embrace the knowledge of God, the bounty which truly sustains our spirit of life.