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In the first two parts of this three-part series, we examined the processes of scientific and spiritual search, and explored the steps necessary to accomplish both.
But even when the process of search seems legitimate (valid), and it appears the findings should be accepted (credible), our rational soul tends to want more proof—despite the fact that absolute proof is out of the question. Let’s look at the steps necessary to acquire sufficient proof and complete the process:
Step 8 – Verification / Corroboration
Scientific search accomplishes its “verification,” its truth-proving, with replication of results by other scientists and explorers. If the formula or process works, then others should obtain the same results—and it should happen more or less immediately after the first findings.
Spiritual search is verified by quite a different process. We have already eliminated the possibility of passing one’s spiritual findings to another; or simply replicating the path and process of another seeker. Each search is unique. Each seeker knows only their own findings, and their findings are only valid for themselves.
Then how can we verify or prove the truth of our spiritual findings? The Baha’i teachings say we can corroborate our findings with “confirmations.” Confirmations are additional evidence that reinforce the seeker’s confidence in their inner spiritual knowledge. As the seeker’s life becomes spiritually magnetized, they become more like the object of their loving search.
When confirmations occur, it seems that the entire creation begins to align toward that soul, favoring its chosen direction, appearing as favorable coincidences, resources, supports, guidance, and certitude that continue to appear as life goes on. Despite concurrent trials and tribulations that may also occur to intensify the seeker’s development, confirmations appear in the form of synchronicity, bringing benefits and affirming the seeker’s spiritual direction. To reap these benefits, the Baha’i teachings say, requires a humble, radiant acceptance of the life you’ve been given:
The afflictions which come to humanity sometimes tend to centre the consciousness upon the limitations, and this is a veritable prison. Release comes by making of the will a Door through which the confirmations of the Spirit come.
The confirmations of the Spirit are all those powers and gifts which some are born with (and which men sometimes call genius), but for which others have to strive with infinite pains. They come to that man or woman who accepts his life with radiant acquiescence. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, pp. 120-121.
As the seeker gets in tune with the possibilities of their given life, what sports psychology calls being “in the zone,” or the Baha’i teachings call “radiant acquiescence,” they begin to experience the fortifying effects of the “power and confirmation of the Spirit.”
Step 9 – Interpretation
After verifying specific findings, we still have to ask what these findings mean; and furthermore, who is to say what they mean?
Scientific method has options for interpreting its findings. It may ask other scientists to interpret findings in the context of wider theory; or other subjects to interpret findings in the context of their experience; or the original subjects to interpret findings in the context of their own later experience. Policy makers or the general public will interpret scientific discoveries the way they see fit. So it is clear that despite arguments to the contrary, findings or “data” never speak for themselves. Many sources may interpret the meaning of scientific knowledge.
Spiritual search, on the other hand, presents evidence to the seeker that can only be interpreted by one Source. Only the transcendent Mystery can explain or interpret its own meaning; and this happens in at least two ways. First, it can happen when you see Reality through the eyes of its messenger:
If it be your wish, O people, to know God and to discover the greatness of His might, look, then, upon Me with Mine own eyes, and not with the eyes of any one besides Me. Ye will, otherwise, be never capable of recognizing Me… – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 272.
Or second, it may happen that the transcendent Mystery reveals itself in direct mystical encounter with the seeker:
…when the heart is turned unto the Sun, then the eye will be opened and will recognize the Sun through the Sun itself. Then man will be in no need of arguments (or proofs), for the Sun is altogether independent, and absolute independence is in need of nothing, and proofs are one of the things of which absolute independence has no need. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, pp. 383-384.
Step 10 – Application
In the end, we have to ask, what is this new spiritual knowledge good for?
Scientific search applies its findings to improve techniques in every sphere such as food production, protection of the environment, medicine and education; and to improve technologies for city and rural living, transportation and communication, among others.
Spiritual search applies its findings to unfolding the potential for better people, better social processes, better civilizations, and planetary harmonization. It elevates the capacity of people and societies to manifest their potential nobility.
So what did we learn about the rational soul by comparing scientific and spiritual paths to knowledge?
We learned that as the rational soul undertakes scientific search, it comes to know how the material world operates.
We learned that as the rational soul dares to undertake spiritual search, it comes to know how hidden realities continuously lead us to our higher nobility.
In this present age, we can become whole again as conscious beings. We can become investigators of one reality, both seen and unseen; and we can love that reality with one mind that is scientifically spiritual.
Individually and collectively we are rational beings, and as we activate both inner and outer knowing concurrently, we will assuredly discover how to transform our world toward greater harmony.