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If you’re searching for happiness in your life, and haven’t found it yet, you might want to read this.
From time immemorial, Baha’is believe, God has always desired happiness for humanity, and has provided the wisdom and guidance of the prophets from age to age to make sure we find it.
…man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty. Having attained the stage of fulfilment and reached his maturity, man standeth in need of wealth, and such wealth as he acquireth through crafts or professions is commendable and praiseworthy in the estimation of men of wisdom, and especially in the eyes of servants who dedicate themselves to the education of the world and to the edification of its peoples. They are, in truth, cup-bearers of the life-giving water of knowledge and guides unto the ideal way. They direct the peoples of the world to the straight path and acquaint them with that which is conducive to human upliftment and exaltation. The straight path is the one which guideth man to the dayspring of perception and to the dawning-place of true understanding and leadeth him to that which will redound to glory, honour and greatness. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 35.
Basically, you can summarize what Baha’u’llah recommends with these three steps:
- Know yourself, and recognize what will truly benefit you.
- As you mature, develop a profession, a craft or a trade, and focus on what will edify the world’s peoples.
- Direct your path toward the “dawning-place of true understanding.”
Knowing oneself doesn’t come easy, but it does come with persistent effort – the effort to understand our inner self, to improve, to be better, to do our best. That’s why we experience “tests” of all kinds, from a bout with disease, to finding ourselves in a bad relationship, to losing our job through no fault of our own. All require that we “rise to the occasion,” pick ourselves up, and move on.
Baha’u’llah recommends having a profession that produces prosperity, as a major contributor to a sense of self-worth and purpose in our lives. In fact, in this day, work is not only commendable and enjoined, but when performed in a spirit of service to our fellow humans, the Baha'i teachings elevate it to an act of worship. Besides the spiritual and self-esteem benefits of working, work provides the wealth we need to survive in a world where each of us is called upon to contribute to society. Part of our work income, simply put, not only helps ourselves, but also helps those less fortunate or in need of social services.
The tremendous sense of self-worth brought on by being self-sufficient and capable in whatever arena we choose—that’s a good starting-point for a definition of happiness.
But any job, important as it may be, is still only part of the happiness equation. Some look for happiness from others, and some think they’ve found it. Others do not, and become disillusioned and depressed. But as Baha’u’llah’s quotation above makes clear, happiness does not come from others, no matter how saintly, loving or kind. Instead, it comes from our own inner and outer self, the self only we can develop and nurture. It comes from turning to the straight path of spiritual search and discovering our own souls:
Baha'u'llah taught that hearts must receive the Bounty of the Holy Spirit, so that Spiritual civilization may be established. For material civilization is not adequate for the needs of mankind and cannot be the cause of its happiness. Material civilization is like the body and spiritual civilization is like the soul. Body without soul cannot live. - Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 30.
In the final analysis, it’s up to humans to solve problems caused by humans. Meaningful employment, fair wages and an ever-increasing understanding of the spiritual “day-spring of perception” can accomplish that lifelong goal, and lead us toward lasting happiness.