The first step on the path toward spirituality involves turning in the direction of that which we seek. This is only logical—knowing which way to turn, however, is not always easy.
The world is filled with material pursuits, and clear evidences of spirituality within it are often hard to find. In spite of this, each of us in our own way eventually encounters traces of our Creator. If we look carefully enough we discover that the traces are hidden in plain sight and manifest in everything around us.
Even before we begin to recognize them consciously, our soul may begin to respond to these traces. As a creation of God, every soul has the innate desire and ability to seek and to know its Creator. However, to turn toward God and journey along the path that draws us closer to Him is a conscious choice and a continuing act of volition.
O thou who art turning thy face towards God! Close thine eyes to all things else, and open them to the realm of the All-Glorious. Ask whatsoever thou wishest of Him alone; seek whatsoever thou seekest from Him alone. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 51.
Once we begin to turn toward God and embark upon our journey, the world becomes a different place. Everything is made new before our eyes. We begin to understand that we have been born into this world for a reason, that our life has meaning and purpose.
This starting point on a spiritual journey will lead us through many spiritually beneficial conditions and experiences. The world is vast enough and large enough for each of us to take a different path, yet by various routes we can all draw closer to God.
Eventually the path will go beyond the physical boundaries of this life, yet the spiritual journey will continue.
In the meantime, there is much to learn. Here, in the material world, we must learn to tread the spiritual path with practical feet. Like those who carry water from a stream in jars on their heads, we must learn to conduct our lives while balancing that which is most precious to us. Learning to balance the spiritual and material aspects of life is an ongoing process. We must turn to God in our daily lives, not only when all else has failed us, but also when things are running smoothly.
We should strive not to be distracted by either the difficulty or the ease we encounter in life, for one follows on the heels of the other, and both have profound lessons to offer:
Grieve thou not over the troubles and hardships of this nether world, nor be thou glad in times of ease and comfort, for both shall pass away. This present life is even as a swelling wave, or a mirage, or drifting shadows. Could ever a distorted image on the desert serve as refreshing waters? No, by the Lord of Lords! Never can reality and the mere semblance of reality be one, and wide is the difference between fancy and fact, between truth and the phantom thereof.
Know thou that the Kingdom is the real world, and this nether place is only its shadow stretching out. A shadow hath no life of its own; its existence is only a fantasy, and nothing more; it is but images reflected in water, and seeming as pictures to the eye.
Rely upon God. Trust in Him. Praise Him, and call Him continually to mind. He verily turneth trouble into ease, and sorrow into solace, and toil into utter peace. He verily hath dominion over all things. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 177-178.
Everything in this world is brief, and the Earth is our home only for a short time. We move on, and the world stays behind. But in the brief span of time we are here, there is much to be learned.
In the following essays, we’ll consider the importance of bringing God into our lives through the use of prayer and action; and how we can grow spiritually while successfully coping with life’s challenges.