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I remember the first time I told a friend about my Faith, and he became a Baha’i. I watched in awe as he grew spiritually illumined and filled with happiness and decided that he wanted to follow Baha’u’llah.
All of this happened to him over the span of just a few weeks and after attending only a couple of Baha’i meetings. His purity and responsiveness, as opposed to my scholastic cautiousness, taught me something new – that I had vastly underestimated the immediacy and power of my new Faith, which has the capability, according to the Baha’i teachings, to spiritually transform a soul in an instant:
Man possesses two kinds of susceptibilities: the natural emotions, which are like dust upon the mirror, and spiritual susceptibilities, which are merciful and heavenly characteristics.
There is a power which purifies the mirror from dust and transforms its reflection into intense brilliancy and radiance so that spiritual susceptibilities may chasten the hearts and heavenly bestowals sanctify them. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace
One Sunday afternoon shortly after my friend had become a Baha’i, we were driving down Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta, and both of us felt so filled with joy, so spiritually high, that we broke out in uncontrollable laughter. I laughed so hard that I couldn’t see, and had to pull off to the side of the road to keep from hitting anything. We probably laughed for five minutes before I could resume driving.
Around this time, my general excitement and happiness grew so greatly that for three days I couldn’t sleep. During this time, I felt as if I could work any miracle that might be required, and I taught many people the faith during those days. But after three days, I began to get concerned about the energy and activation I was experiencing and I began to doubt my ability and worthiness to live in this heightened state. Though I felt I had failed a test, I prayed to God to let me sleep. I slept and still woke up happy.
These kinds of experiences have shown me clearly the sort of power that exists in religion, just waiting to be tapped. They’ve also helped me understand that many of the seemingly fantastic stories related in religions – all religions – probably started from similar experiences.
As an example, I’ll relate another story of the power of God from a trip I once took to Guyana. A good friend of mine had decided to take a small boat up the Amazon to a remote village to invite people to a Baha’i gathering. Now this friend was and is a very lovely pure spirit, and as her boat approached the village on the river, she saw what appeared to be a large crowd waiting at the pier. As the boat approached, the villagers became excited and the Headman rose to speak. It turned out that the night before the Headman of the village had had a dream that some foreigners would come and deliver a great message, so he had gathered the villagers together on the pier in anticipation.
As my friend spoke to the crowd, the response to the Baha’i message was overwhelming and many people spontaneously joined the Faith. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to experience or hear of such divine activity so close at hand. I felt that the stories from the Christian book of Acts were being recreated in front of me through a new Faith.
I saw similar amazing happenings on this and other trips. I’ve come to believe that occurrences like these are not rare events; in fact they often happen to people of faith. They only surprised and amazed me because I had not previously experienced such extraordinary events.
This type of activity is not restricted to people of one religion; they are common events directing people toward the spiritual path of faith. Religion is a very mysterious and powerful force. It allows people to move mountains, if needed. But you must, it seems, put yourself in a place of service to God to experience these forces:
… God has opened the doors of ideal virtues and attainments before the face of man. He has created in his being the mysteries of the divine Kingdom. He has bestowed upon him the power of intellect so that through the attribute of reason, when fortified by the Holy Spirit, he may penetrate and discover ideal realities and become informed of the mysteries of the world of significances. As this power to penetrate the ideal knowledges is superhuman, supernatural, man becomes the collective center of spiritual as well as material forces so that the divine spirit may manifest itself in his being, the effulgences of the Kingdom shine within the sanctuary of his heart, the signs of the attributes and perfections of God reveal themselves in a newness of life, the everlasting glory and eternal existence be attained, the knowledge of God illumine, and the mysteries of the realm of might be unsealed. – Ibid.