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Religion

Spiritual Training Wheels

Judy Cobb | Apr 27, 2013

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

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Judy Cobb | Apr 27, 2013

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

When we remember our childhood, we think of the milestones we reached as we grew up. At some point, the training wheels came off our bicycle, we got our first allowance, and we could spend the night at a friend’s house.

These milestones propelled us down the path of growth. As we demonstrated our ability to assume more and more responsibility our parents gave it to us. Think of how it might have been if our mother and father had denied us the opportunity to take those critical steps to adulthood. What had been helpful in our childhood would now limit our growth, our capacity unfulfilled and our potential unmet.

Just as this is a reality in the physical world, it is also a reality in the spiritual world.

The Baha’i teachings tell us that humanity has collectively come of age:

That which was applicable to human needs during the early history of the race could neither meet nor satisfy the demands of this day and period of newness and consummation. Humanity has emerged from its former degrees of limitation and preliminary training. Man must now become imbued with new virtues and powers, new moralities, new capacities. New bounties, bestowals and perfections are awaiting and already descending upon him. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, P. 9.

Just as a child grows and matures into an adult, the entire human race also evolves and matures.

At this time, because of our increased maturity, we’ve outgrown our spiritual training wheels. With this new level of maturity God has bestowed a great bounty on the human race. To take advantage of these “new virtues and powers” and attain those “new bounties, bestowals and perfections”, each of us must conduct our own independent investigation of the truth, especially as it relates to our understanding of the reality of God. In past ages humanity did not have the widespread literacy or capacity to independently investigate spiritual truth, but the Baha’i teachings tell us that this age differs radically from the past:

The minds have developed; the thoughts have taken a wider range of vision; the intellects have become keener; the emotions have become more sensitized; the inventions have transformed the face of the earth, and this age has acquired a glorious capacity for the majestic revelation of the oneness of the world of humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 162-3.

Baha’is advocate an unfettered search for truth for everyone. The Baha’i Faith has no clergy, so each person’s responsibility for their relationship with and understanding of God belongs to them alone.

The independent investigation of truth means a new period in our connection with faith has begun. Because our human ability to understand the world has expanded and our reasoning power has increased over time, we no longer require the interpretation or intervention of others in determining what we each believe. Now largely literate, people can decide those important matters of belief themselves. You are reading this right now, and you will certainly examine, evaluate and ponder your understanding of this subject and determine the truth in it for yourself:

…no man should blindly follow his ancestors and forefathers. Nay, each must see with his own eyes, hear with his own ears and investigate the truth himself in order that he may follow the truth instead of blind acquiescence and imitation of ancestral beliefs. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 246.

Because we can investigate the truth, we have a moral obligation to do it. Everyone needs to know why they believe what they believe. To blindly follow old traditions, to think and do what other people tell us, without thought or examination, leads to the disastrous consequence of ignorance, which in turn brings wars, oppression and intolerance.

The first time we rode our bikes without training wheels was a bit scary, but we knew our parents were there for guidance and direction. We were also excited because we knew we could make that bike fly. In this day, humanity can fly to spiritual heights never before dreamed of because Baha’u’llah’s teachings provide the guidance and direction. In this modern era we have the God-given opportunity for growth, to fill our capacity and meet our potential with our own beliefs rather than someone else’s – so please continue your independent investigation of the truth wherever it takes you.

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