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Does everything contain a sign of its Creator? Like an artist who signs his work, can we each find something in us that reflects the beauty of our Maker?
The Baha’i teachings say yes:
From the exalted source, and out of the essence of His favor and bounty He hath entrusted every created thing with a sign of His knowledge, so that none of His creatures may be deprived of its share in expressing, each according to its capacity and rank, this knowledge. This sign is the mirror of His beauty in the world of creation. The greater the effort exerted for the refinement of this sublime and noble mirror, the more faithfully will it be made to reflect the glory of the names and attributes of God, and reveal the wonders of His signs and knowledge. Every created thing will be enabled (so great is this reflecting power) to reveal the potentialities of its pre-ordained station, will recognize its capacity and limitations, and will testify to the truth that “He verily, is God; there is none other God besides Him.” – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 262, p. 96.
This and other quotes from Baha’u’llah explain that each created thing—animate and inanimate, visible and invisible—contains a sign from God which reflects His beauty. The Baha’i teachings say that within every human being all of the signs and attributes of God are potentially present. There seems to be a subtlety here in that these ‘signs’ mirror His beauty—but they are not His beauty. They may show us His attributes and the glory of His names (such as “the Most Bountiful”) and as such seem to bear witness to and offer proof of His existence.
We might further our understanding of this reality by considering a number of implications from the Baha’i teachings, such as:
- It is possible to gain knowledge of the signs which reflect God’s beauty;
- There is a beauty in every created thing;
- We can refine this beauty and everything is capable of refinement (which in itself implies an in-built resilience);
- We can understand this refinement and can gain a (limited) knowledge of God through it;
- And finally, that refinement requires only effort–everything else is supplied.
But should we not be gaining more? Are we not missing something here?
Look at the world and ponder a while upon it. It unveileth the book of its own self before thine eyes and revealeth that which the Pen of thy Lord, the Fashioner, the All-Informed, hath inscribed therein. It will acquaint thee with that which is within it and upon it and will give thee such clear explanations as to make thee independent of every eloquent expounder. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 141-142.
An understanding of the natural world enhanced by its beauty can lead to greater perception. But are we missing its most important gift–the Book of Creation’s lessons for the soul?
He will contemplate the manifest signs of the universe, and will penetrate the hidden mysteries of the soul. Gazing with the eye of God, he will perceive within every atom a door that leadeth him to the stations of absolute certitude. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 196.
O My servants! … I have, moreover, with the hand of divine power, unsealed the choice wine of My Revelation, and have wafted its holy, its hidden, and musk-laden fragrance upon all created things. Who else but yourselves is to be blamed if ye choose to remain unendowed with so great an outpouring of God’s transcendent and all-encompassing grace, with so bright a revelation of His resplendent mercy? – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 326.
Delve More Deeply
The Baha’i Faith is young, so we still have a long way to go in understanding the Baha’i writings, which contain many more clues to this issue. Humanity as a whole has yet to develop sufficient spiritual capacity to make the most use of these writings–to fully understand a concept such as the use of beauty for inner development. Despite this, through one of the mysteries of God, those with a pure heart–be they ‘learned’ or not–have always been able to possess this capacity.
Ruhiyyih Khanum wrote:
In a world growing more materialistic every hour, which dotes on utility on the one hand and worships forms divorced from the balance and symmetry found in nature on the other, we need to take hold of this concept of beauty, in all its manifestations, which is set like a precious gem in our teachings, and let it inspire and guide us as we seek to create the World Order of Baha’u’llah. – Ruhiyyih Rabbani, The Completion of the International Archives, The Baha’i World, Volume XIII, p. 423.
So, it seems beauty can be a means to a higher end–if we try to use it and work to refine it. Every lover of gardens knows that their beauty can be refined … with a bit of effort.
So, through beauty’s attracting/distracting power, can one be drawn into a loving relationship with one’s Creator? Can one gain a heightened awareness of the spiritual qualities attributed to Divinity, and hence a deeper knowledge of one’s inmost self–engaging thereby in a process which facilitates spiritual growth? Our own efforts will provide the answer.