We all want happiness, for ourselves and for all our loved ones—but where does it really come from?
When we interact with the ones we love we intuitively do our best to speak and act only in ways that would give rise to their well-being, peace, and feeling of security. Why? We know that doing otherwise would result in their discomfort—their unhappiness.
On the basis of their love, parents make years of effort and sacrifice for the happiness of their children. Genuine public administrators and leaders, on the basis of the love they have for others and society, make efforts for the happiness of all those within their jurisdictions.
Nonetheless, happiness seems to evade us, even in circumstances when we strive to do our best to always be in that state, and aid our loved ones to be happy, too. These questions, therefore, naturally arise: What is happiness? Where can we find it? Can we always remain in a state of happiness? What does it take to achieve happiness—and keep it?
The Baha’i teachings provide answers to these important questions, and aim to allow all people to walk the path of true happiness:
We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations …. That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened … These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family …. Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind …. – Baha’u’llah, The Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, p. viii.
The primary principle of the Baha’i Faith—the oneness of all religions—means that Baha’is believe all the great Faiths have the same underlying spiritual principles. The lives and the revelations of each of the universal educators of humanity—such as the Buddha, Christ, Muhammad and Baha’u’llah—prove that they love us all, and that their efforts all intend to produce human happiness.
Each of the revelations of these prophets and founders of the world’s major Faiths essentially brings an entire system of knowledge and wisdom. Every expressed thought by those prophets, the revealers of the Word of God, is connected, directly or indirectly, to all other thoughts they express, just as each revelation is essentially geared towards humanity completing its life-cycle in a manner harmonious with its own true nature.
So from a Baha’i perspective, happiness in this age of human maturity is directly connected to the promotion of the consciousness of the oneness of humanity and the building of a global order reflective of that oneness.
This concept of religious revelation aids us to perceive happiness as a reality intimately tied to the nature of the human journey from the physical to the spiritual realm. In relation to that spiritual journey, the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing council of the Baha’i world community, stated in its 1985 letter to the peoples of the world entitled “The Promise of World Peace’’ that the human spirit’s:
… mysterious nature inclines it towards transcendence, a reaching towards an invisible realm, towards the ultimate reality, that unknowable essence of essences called God. The religions brought to mankind by a succession of spiritual luminaries have been the primary link between humanity and that ultimate reality, and have galvanized and refined mankind’s capacity to achieve spiritual success together with social progress. – The Promise of World Peace, October 1985, p. 1.
The Baha’i writings say that: “… human happiness is founded upon spiritual behaviour.” – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 127.
We human beings can experience happiness, then, by acting in a divine manner. In the next two essays in this short series, let’s unpack that spiritual law as expressed in the Baha’i teachings, to better appreciate the message about happiness they intend to convey—and to find ways to increase our own happiness, as well.