Why do we need to seek the truth? It seems like we all pursue it, not only because we’re curious creatures, but because our inner nature insists on separating true from false.
No one wants to base their life on anything fake or false, so we each search for the truth in every area of human endeavor. Some philosophers have even described human beings primarily as truth-seeking creatures, saying that only investigating and finding the truth can help us make meaning in life.
The Baha’i teachings encourage everyone to independently investigate the truth for themselves, instead of relying on anyone else to define it for us. In fact, Baha’is see the investigation of the truth as every person’s most important life task:
Reality or truth is one, yet there are many religious beliefs, denominations, creeds and differing opinions in the world today. Why should these differences exist? Because they do not investigate and examine the fundamental unity, which is one and unchangeable. If they seek reality itself, they will agree and be united; for reality is indivisible and not multiple. It is evident, therefore, that there is nothing of greater importance to mankind than the investigation of truth. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 62-63.
Searching for and finding the truth, the Baha’i teachings say, helps us see beyond the merely material, and develop both a physical and a spiritual life:
… life is of two kinds: that of the body and that of the spirit. The life of the body consists in material life, but the life of the spirit is a heavenly existence which consists in receiving the grace of the Divine Spirit and being quickened through the breath of the Holy Spirit. Although material life has existence, yet in the eyes of holy and spiritually minded souls it is utter non-existence and death. Thus man exists and so does this stone, but what a difference between the existence of man and that of the stone! Although the stone exists, in relation to the existence of man it is non-existent. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, p. 280.
Because of these dual aspects in our lives, we live in two different worlds at the same time—material and spiritual. Our body belongs to the world of nature, so it follows nature’s laws. Our spirit belongs to the everlasting spiritual world, so it follows the light of the spirit.
We know the world of nature as contingent, perishable, imperfect and impermanent; and the world of the spirit as supernatural, limitless and eternal.
Our physical body relies on spiritual power for its motive force, so with a healthy spirit a person will have a healthier body, too. The Baha’i teachings say, however, that our physical existence is only temporary, while our spiritual reality is everlasting:
How puny and insignificant is the evanescent drop when compared with the waves and billows of God’s limitless and everlasting Ocean, and how utterly contemptible must every contingent and perishable thing appear when brought face to face with the uncreated, the unspeakable glory of the Eternal! – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 93.
The sun nourishes our bodies, and provides for the needs of everything on Earth—of all life in the material world. In the same way, the Baha’i teachings say, the Sun of Truth nourishes the life of the spirit, which also provides for our deepest inner needs. For Baha’is, the Sun of Truth refers to the radiant light of the divine prophets and messengers, the founders of the world’s great Faiths:
Although the divine teachings are truth and reality, yet with the passage of time thick clouds envelop and obscure them. These clouds are imitations and superstitions; they are not the fundamentals. Then the Sun of Truth, the Word of God, arises again, shines forth once more in the glory of its power and disperses the enveloping darkness. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 62.
How do we access that sunlight? The Baha’i teachings say our spirits acquire those bounties “from the Kingdom of God:”
The spirit of man must acquire its bounties from the Kingdom of God in order that it may become the mirror and manifestation of lights and the dawning point of divine traces, because the human reality is like the soil. If no bounty of rain descends from heaven upon the soil, if no heat of the sun penetrates, it will remain black, forbidding, unproductive; but when the moistening shower and the effulgent glow of the sun’s rays fall upon it, beautiful and redolent flowers grow from its bosom. Similarly, the human spirit or reality of man, unless it becomes the recipient of the lights of the Kingdom, develops divine susceptibilities and consciously reflects the effulgence of God, will not be the manifestation of ideal bounties, for only the reality of man can become the mirror wherein the lights of God are revealed. The reality of man will then be as the spirit of this world, for just as the animus of life quickens the physical human body, so the body of the world will receive its vivification through the animating virtue of the sanctified spirit of man. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 330-331.
The word of God bestows life—when we immerse ourselves in those holy teachings, it sustains our spiritual life, and contributes to the vitality of our physical life, too. The oneness of body, mind and soul comes when all of those human elements receive nourishment from the Sun of Truth.