When you think of the Divine, the Creator, the Source of all life—what mental image first comes to mind? Do you visualize a kind, compassionate being, or a frightening, wrathful one?
Many people view the Creator as a harsh judge, a disciplinarian or even an angry, revengeful figure. Perhaps that comes from the frightening images artists once painted of God, or the literal interpretations of ancient scriptures some clergy have used to scare their congregations.
Baha’is don’t see God that way—instead, the Baha’i teachings recognize and celebrate the gladness, serenity and joy that turning to God can produce:
… thy task concerneth the life of the soul, for this verily leadeth to man’s joy in the world of God. … Tell thou of abiding joy and spiritual delights, and godlike qualities, and of how the Sun of Truth hath risen above the earth’s horizons: tell of the blowing of the spirit of life into the body of the world. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 92-93.
If the heart turns away from the blessings God offers how can it hope for happiness? If it does not put its hope and trust in God’s Mercy, where can it find rest? Oh, trust in God! For His Bounty is everlasting, and in His Blessings, for they are superb. Oh! Put your faith in the Almighty, for He faileth not and His goodness endureth for ever! His Sun giveth Light continually, and the Clouds of His Mercy are full of the Waters of Compassion with which He waters the hearts of all who trust in Him. His refreshing Breeze ever carries healing in its wings to the parched souls of men! Is it wise to turn away from such a loving Father, Who showers His blessings upon us, and to choose rather to be slaves of matter? – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 108-109.
That joyfulness and love and happiness comes to us from the Creator. According to the Baha’i teachings, we can liken the effulgence of love and joy from God to the rays of the sun, which give everything life:
If we are of those who perceive, we realize that the bounties of God manifest themselves continuously, even as the rays of the sun unceasingly emanate from the solar center. The phenomenal world through the resplendent effulgence of the sun is radiant and bright. In the same way the realm of hearts and spirits is illumined and resuscitated through the shining rays of the Sun of Reality and the bounties of the love of God. Thereby the world of existence, the kingdom of hearts and spirits, is ever quickened into life. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 256.
This realization of a joyful Creator leads us directly to the mission of the Baha’i Intercalary Days—the holy days set aside in the Baha’i calendar for hospitality, rejoicing and charity. If we can begin to understand the Supreme Being as exemplifying joy and happiness, we can begin to reflect those attributes, too:
Believers … must show their belief in their daily lives, so that the world might see the light shining in their faces. A bright and happy face cheers people on their way. If you are sad, and pass a child who is laughing, the child, seeing your sad face, will cease to laugh, not knowing why. If the day be dark, how much a gleam of sunshine is prized; so let believers wear smiling happy faces, gleaming like sunshine in the darkness. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 124.
The divine messengers come to bring joy to this earth, for this is the planet of tribulation and torment and the mission of the great masters is to turn men away from these anxieties and to infuse life with infinite joy.
When the divine message is understood, all troubles will vanish. Shadows disappear when the universal lamp is lighted, for whosoever becomes illumined thereby no longer knows grief; he realizes that his stay on this planet is temporary and that life is eternal. When once he has found reality he will no longer retreat into darkness. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, pp. 69-70.
… the spiritual perfections … are man’s birthright and belong to him alone of all creation. Man is, in reality, a spiritual being, and only when he lives in the spirit is he truly happy. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 72.
The Baha’i teachings encourage this joyful approach to life, this spiritual happiness, especially during the celebratory days of Ayyam-i-Ha.