Reality, Soul and
the Worlds of God
III. The Reality of the Soul – Understanding Your True Self
E. The Life Path of the Soul
7. The Soul’s Purposes and Objectives
[from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:]
All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection CIX, p. 215)
Ye were created to show love one to another and not perversity and rancour.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, “Lawḥ-i-Hikmat” or “Tablet of Wisdom”, p. 138)
The essence of all that We have revealed for thee is Justice, is for man to free himself from idle fancy and imitation, discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, “Asl-i-Kullu’l-Khayr” or “Words of Wisdom”, p. 157)
….Thou hast created me to remember Thee, to glorify Thee, and to aid Thy Cause.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 3)
The fruits of the tree of man have ever been and are goodly deeds and a praiseworthy character. Withhold not these fruits from the heedless. If they be accepted, your end is attained, and the purpose of life achieved.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 26)
….Thou hast created Thy servants to aid Thy Cause and exalt Thy Word,….
(Bahá’u’lláh: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 37)
The first, the fundamental purpose underlying creation hath ever been, and will continue to be, none other than the appearance of trustworthiness and godliness, of sincerity and goodwill amongst mankind, for these qualities are the cause of peace, security and tranquillity.
(Bahá’u’lláh: from a Tablet translated from Persian, quoted in the compilation Trustworthiness: A Cardinal Bahá’í Virtue, Selection #7)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (no authority):]
Love is the fundamental principle of God’s purpose for man, and He has commanded us to love each other even as He loves us.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “Words Spoken by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Pastor Wagner’s Church (Foyer de L’ame) in Paris, November 26th”, p. 122)
The purpose of the creation of man is the attainment of the supreme virtues of humanity through descent of the heavenly bestowals.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “12 April 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard MacNutt, 935 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York, Notes by Howard MacNutt”, p. 4)
….no matter how much the physical body of man is trained and developed, there will be no real progression in the human station unless the mind correspondingly advances. No matter how much man may acquire material virtues, he will not be able to realize and express the highest possibilities of life without spiritual graces. God has created all earthly things under a law of progression in material degrees, but He has created man and endowed him with powers of advancement toward spiritual and transcendental kingdoms. He has not created material phenomena after His own image and likeness, but He has created man after that image and with potential power to attain that likeness. He has distinguished man above all other created things. All created things except man are captives of nature and the sense world, but in man there has been created an ideal power by which he may perceive intellectual or spiritual realities. He has brought forth everything necessary for the life of this world, but man is a creation intended for the reflection of divine virtues. Consider that the highest type of creation below man is the animal, which is superior to all degrees of life except man. Manifestly, the animal has been created for the life of this world. Its highest virtue is to express excellence in the material plane of existence. The animal is perfect when its body is healthy and its physical senses are whole. When it is characterized by the attributes of physical health, when its physical forces are in working order, when food and surrounding conditions minister to its needs, it has attained the ultimate perfection of its kingdom. But man does not depend upon these things for his virtues. No matter how perfect his health and physical powers, if that is all, he has not yet risen above the degree of a perfect animal. Beyond and above this, God has opened the doors of ideal virtues and attainments before the face of man. He has created in his being the mysteries of the divine Kingdom. He has bestowed upon him the power of intellect so that through the attribute of reason, when fortified by the Holy Spirit, he may penetrate and discover ideal realities and become informed of the mysteries of the world of significances. As this power to penetrate the ideal knowledges is superhuman, supernatural, man becomes the collective center of spiritual as well as material forces so that the divine spirit may manifest itself in his being, the effulgences of the Kingdom shine within the sanctuary of his heart, the signs of the attributes and perfections of God reveal themselves in a newness of life, the everlasting glory and eternal existence be attained, the knowledge of God illumine, and the mysteries of the realm of might be unsealed.
Man is like unto this lamp, but the effulgences of the Kingdom are like the rays of the lamp. Man is like unto the glass, but spiritual splendors are like unto the light within the glass. No matter how translucent the glass may be, as long as there is no light within, it remains dark. Likewise, man, no matter how much he advances in material accomplishments, will remain like the glass without light if he is deprived of the spiritual virtues. Material virtues are like unto a perfect body, but this body is in need of the spirit. No matter how handsome and perfect the body may be, if it is deprived of the spirit and its animus, it is dead. But when that same body is affiliated with the spirit and expressing life, perfection and virtue become realized in it. Deprived of the Holy Spirit and its bounties, man is spiritually dead.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “1 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. William Sutherland Maxwell, 716 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Canada, From Stenographic Notes”, pp. 302-303)
[from the Writings of Shoghi Effendi:]
To strive to obtain a more adequate understanding of the significance of Bahá’u’lláh’s stupendous Revelation must, it is my unalterable conviction, remain the first obligation and the object of the constant endeavor of each one of its loyal adherents. An exact and thorough comprehension of so vast a system, so sublime a revelation, so sacred a trust, is for obvious reasons beyond the reach and ken of our finite minds. We can, however, and it is our bounden duty to seek to derive fresh inspiration and added sustenance as we labor for the propagation of His Faith through a clearer apprehension of the truths it enshrines and the principles on which it is based.
Shoghi Effendi: World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, “The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh”, p. 100)
[from the Writings of the Universal House of Justice:]
The Nature of Deepening
The beloved Guardian wrote, “To strive to obtain a more adequate understanding of the significance of Bahá’u’lláh’s stupendous Revelation must, it is my unalterable conviction, remain the first obligation and the object of the constant endeavour of each one of its loyal adherents,” a statement which places the obligation of deepening in the Cause firmly on every believer. It is therefore upon the nature of deepening, rather than upon the desirability of pursuing it, that we wish to comment.
A detailed and exact knowledge of the present structure of Bahá’í Administration, or of the By-laws of National and Local Spiritual Assemblies, or of the many and varied applications of Bahá’í law under the diverse conditions prevailing around the world, while valuable in itself, cannot be regarded as the sort of knowledge primarily intended by deepening. Rather is suggested a clearer apprehension of the purpose of God for man, and particularly of His immediate purpose as revealed and directed by Bahá’u’lláh, a purpose as far removed from current concepts of human well-being and happiness as is possible. We should constantly be on our guard lest the glitter and tinsel of an affluent society should lead us to think that such superficial adjustments to the modern world as are envisioned by humanitarian movements or are publicly proclaimed as the policy of enlightened statesmanship—such as an extension to all members of the human race of the benefits of a high standard of living, of education, medical care, technical knowledge—will of themselves fulfil the glorious mission of Bahá’u’lláh. Far otherwise. These are the things which shall be added unto us once we seek the Kingdom of God, and are not themselves the objectives for which the Báb gave His life, Bahá’u’lláh endured such sufferings as none before Him had ever endured, the Master and after Him the Guardian bore their trials and afflictions with such superhuman fortitude. Far deeper and more fundamental was their vision, penetrating to the very purpose of human life. We cannot do better, in this respect, than call to the attention of the friends certain themes pursued by Shoghi Effendi in his trenchant statement “The Goal of a New World Order.” “The principle of the Oneness of Mankind” he writes, “implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced.” Referring to the “epoch-making changes that constitute the greatest landmarks in the history of human civilization,” he states that “… they cannot but appear, when viewed in their proper perspective, except as subsidiary adjustments precluding that transformation of unparalleled majesty and scope which humanity is in this age bound to undergo.” In a later document he refers to the civilization to be established by Bahá’u’lláh as one “with a fullness of life such as the world has never seen nor can as yet conceive.”
Dearly loved friends, this is the theme we must pursue in our efforts to deepen in the Cause. What is Bahá’u’lláh’s purpose for the human race? For what ends did He submit to the appalling cruelties and indignities heaped upon Him? What does He mean by “a new race of men”? What are the profound changes which He will bring about? The answers are to be found in the Sacred Writings of our Faith and in their interpretation by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and our beloved Guardian. Let the friends immerse themselves in this ocean, let them organize regular study classes for its constant consideration, and as reinforcement to their effort, let them remember conscientiously the requirements of daily prayer and reading of the Word of God enjoined upon all Bahá’ís by Bahá’u’lláh.
(The Universal House of Justice: Messages 1963 to 1986, pp. 106-108, “Riḍván Message 1967”, paragraphs 22-24)
….we must not allow ourselves to forget the continuing, appalling burden of suffering under which millions of human beings are always groaning—a burden which they have borne for century upon century and which it is the mission of Bahá’u’lláh to lift at last. The principal cause of this suffering, which one can witness wherever one turns, is the corruption of human morals and the prevalence of prejudice, suspicion, hatred, untrustworthiness, selfishness and tyranny among men. It is not merely material well-being that people need. What they desperately need is to know how to live their lives—they need to know who they are, to what purpose they exist, and how they should act towards one another; and, once they know the answers to these questions they need to be helped to gradually apply these answers to everyday behavior. It is to the solution of this basic problem of mankind that the greater part of all our energy and resources should be directed.
(The Universal House of Justice: Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 283, “Comments on the Bahá’í Attitude toward Material Suffering”, 19 November 1974, to The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Italy)