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O Son of Love! Thou art but one step away from the glorious heights above and from the celestial tree of love. Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity. Give ear then to that which hath been revealed by the pen of glory. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 24.
Can we really transform ourselves spiritually in one step, one stride, one pace? That mysterious subject has fascinated me ever since I read this quote from Baha’u’llah. This ethereal, magical concept actually occurs in many of the Holy Scriptures. It is possible, they say, for in God, all things are possible.
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” – Matthew 19:26.
He whom the grace of Thy mercy aideth, though he be but a drop, shall become the boundless ocean, and the merest atom which the outpouring of Thy loving-kindness assisteth, shall shine even as the radiant star. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i Prayers, p. 31.
Have you ever struggled with an issue, and then, all of a sudden, had an epiphany? When we can listen to the promptings of the spirit, meditation and prayer give us clarity and facilitate transformation; and often result in a leap of faith that carries us across a spiritual threshold. Assistance can also be found in the guidance and prayers of a loved one from the next world or a caring soul intervening on your behalf:
If thou be a man of communion and prayer, soar up on the wings of assistance from Holy Souls, that thou mayest behold the mysteries of the Friend and attain to the lights of the Beloved. – Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 17.
Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries. In that state man abstracts himself; in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 175.
The Baha’i teachings refer to a mystic transformation that can turn agitation into peace; doubt into certitude and timidity into courage. In the Book of Certitude, Baha’u’llah writes about such swiftly-transformed souls. He says:
And yet, how could they, but for the transformation wrought in their lives, be capable of manifesting such deeds which are contrary to the ways of men and incompatible with their worldly desires? It is evident that nothing short of this mystic transformation could cause such spirit and behavior, so utterly unlike their previous habits and manners, to be made manifest in the world of being. For their agitation was turned into peace, their doubt into certitude, their timidity into courage. Such is the potency of the Divine Elixir, which, swift as the twinkling of an eye, transmuteth the souls of men! – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 156.
This transformative process can occur slowly or suddenly. Dr. Wayne Dyer talks about changing our awareness of ourselves and encouraging the seeds of our inspiration as a means of transformation. Following the promptings of the heart and translating that inspiration into action can facilitate miraculous results. In his book, “The Essential Wayne Dyer Collection,” Dyer uses a quote from the Baha’i teachings:
My servants! My holy, My divinely ordained Revelation may be likened unto an ocean in whose depths are concealed innumerable pearls of great price, of surpassing luster. It is the duty of every seeker to bestir himself and strive to attain the shores of this ocean, so that he may, in proportion to the eagerness of his search and the efforts he hath exerted, partake of such benefits as have been pre-ordained in God’s irrevocable and hidden Tablets. The one true God is My witness! This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 326.
When it comes to transformation, time and place is not an issue, nor is any earthly consideration. The only constant is the grace of God. In the conclusion of his mystical book The Seven Valleys, Baha’u’llah writes:
These journeys have no visible ending in the world of time, but the severed wayfarer—if invisible confirmation descend upon him and the Guardian of the Cause assist him—may cross these seven stages in seven steps, nay rather in seven breaths, nay rather in a single breath, if God will and desire it. – pp. 40-41.
Spiritual growth does not follow set rules or timelines, but depends on our knowledge, volition and action. Again, Baha’u’llah dispels the notions of time as it relates to our spiritual growth:
O Son of Glory! Be swift the path of holiness, and enter the heaven of communion with Me. Cleanse thy heart with the burnish of the spirit, and hasten to the court of the Most High. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 24.
O my brother! Take thou the step of the spirit, so that, swift as the twinkling of an eye, thou mayest flash through the wilds of remoteness and bereavement, attain the Ridvan [paradise] of everlasting reunion, and in one breath commune with the heavenly Spirits. For with human feet thou canst never hope to traverse these immeasurable distances, nor attain thy goal. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 43.
In these passages, Baha’u’llah refers to the “burnish of the spirit” and the “step of the spirit”. These quotes counsel us to polish or purify our spirits, and promise us that in the process, great strides can occur outside the constraints of time. Baha’u’llah cautions us, however, that we must always keep our egos in check:
Know, moreover, that should one who hath attained unto these stations and embarked upon these journeys fall prey to pride and vainglory, he would at the very moment come to naught and return to the first step without realizing it. – Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 74.
Human spiritual transformation—that marvelous and mystical journey filled with mystery and promise—takes diligent work, practice and devotion. With our egos left behind, the possibilities open wide to all of us. With pure hearts, intentions and actions we step on the spiritual path, and strive to attain the shore of that great ocean.