Reality, Soul and
the Worlds of God
III. The Reality of the Soul – Understanding Your True Self
E. The Life Path of the Soul
8. The Soul’s Pursuit of its Objectives and Highest Potentials
e. The Fruit Tree Metaphor
[Compiler’s Note: The reader may want to study the compilation Fire and Gold
, for quotes about how tests influence the soul’s growth and development. The treatment of this topic is too large to encapsulate herein. The reader may also want to look back at Section I. E. “How to Perceive Reality.
[from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:]
Man is like unto a tree. If he be adorned with fruit, he hath been and will ever be worthy of praise and commendation. Otherwise a fruitless tree is but fit for fire. The fruits of the human tree are exquisite, highly desired and dearly cherished. Among them are upright character, virtuous deeds and a goodly utterance. The springtime for earthly trees occurreth once every year, while the one for human trees appeareth in the Days of God—exalted be His glory. Were the trees of men’s lives to be adorned in this divine Springtime with the fruits that have been mentioned, the effulgence of the light of Justice would, of a certainty, illumine all the dwellers of the earth and everyone would abide in tranquillity and contentment beneath the sheltering shadow of Him Who is the Object of all mankind. The Water for these trees is the living water of the sacred Words uttered by the Beloved of the world. In one instant are such trees planted and in the next their branches shall, through the outpourings of the showers of divine mercy, have reached the skies. A dried-up tree, however, hath never been nor will be worthy of any mention.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, “Excerpts from Other Tablets” (excerpt #18), p. 257)
….the fruit of man’s earthly existence… is the recognition of the one true God,….
(Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection CLXV, pp. 345-346)
Strain every nerve to acquire both inner and outer perfections, for the fruit of the human tree hath ever been and will ever be perfections both within and without. It is not desirable that a man be left without knowledge or skills, for he is then but a barren tree. Then, so much as capacity and capability allow, ye needs must deck the tree of being with fruits such as knowledge, wisdom, spiritual perception and eloquent speech.
(Bahá’u’lláh: from a Tablet translated from Persian, quoted in the compilation Excellence in All Things, Selection #9)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:]
….if this tree were entirely fruit, the vegetable perfections could not be attained; for leaves, blossoms and fruits are all necessary so that the tree may be adorned with utmost beauty and perfection.
In the same way consider the body of man. It must be composed of different organs, parts and members.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 32: “Explanation of the Verse ‘For Many are Called but Few are Chosen’”, p. 129)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (no authority):]
All creatures that exist are dependent upon the Divine Bounty. Divine Mercy gives life itself. As the light of the sun shines on the whole world, so the Mercy of the infinite God is shed on all creatures. As the sun ripens the fruits of the earth, and gives life and warmth to all living beings, so shines the Sun of Truth on all souls, filling them with the fire of Divine love and understanding.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “God Comprehends All: He cannot be Comprehended, Friday evening, October 20th”, p. 25)
Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardeners is that one which, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and the most abundant fruit.
The labourer cuts up the earth with his plough, and from that earth comes the rich and plentiful harvest. The more a man is chastened, the greater is the harvest of spiritual virtues shown forth by him.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “The Benefits of God to Man, 4 Avenue de Camoens, October 27th”, p. 51)
You perceive how the soul is the intermediary between the body and the spirit. In like manner is this tree the intermediary between the seed and the fruit. When the fruit of the tree appears and becomes ripe, then we know that the tree is perfect; if the tree bore no fruit it would be merely a useless growth, serving no purpose!
When a soul has in it the life of the spirit, then does it bring forth good fruit and become a Divine tree.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “Concerning Body, Soul, and Spirit, 4 Avenue de Camoens, Paris, Friday morning, November 17th”, p. 98)
If a tree bear no fruit, it had better be cut down, for it only cumbereth the ground.
Verily, it is better a thousand times for a man to die than to continue living without virtue.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “The Perfect Human Sentiments and Virtues, November 23rd”, p. 113)
The mind and spirit of man advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete detachment. His attitude in this world will be that of divine happiness. Man is, so to speak, unripe: the heat of the fire of suffering will mature him. Look back to the times past and you will find that the greatest men have suffered most.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “Address by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the Friends’ Meeting House, St. Martin’s Lane, London, W.C., Sunday, January 12th, 1913”, p. 178)
….the human reality may be compared to a seed. If we sow the seed, a mighty tree appears from it. The virtues of the seed are revealed in the tree; it puts forth branches, leaves, blossoms, and produces fruits. All these virtues were hidden and potential in the seed. Through the blessing and bounty of cultivation these virtues became apparent. Similarly, the merciful God, our Creator, has deposited within human realities certain latent and potential virtues. Through education and culture these virtues deposited by the loving God will become apparent in the human reality, even as the unfoldment of the tree from within the germinating seed.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “4 May 1912, Talk to Theosophical Society, Northwestern University Hall, Evanston, Illinois, Notes by Marzieh Moss”, p. 91)
When love is realized and the ideal spiritual bonds unite the hearts of men, the whole human race will be uplifted, the world will continually grow more spiritual and radiant and the happiness and tranquillity of mankind be immeasurably increased. Warfare and strife will be uprooted, disagreement and dissension pass away and universal peace unite the nations and peoples of the world. All mankind will dwell together as one family, blend as the waves of one sea, shine as stars of one firmament and appear as fruits of the same tree. This is the happiness and felicity of humankind. This is the illumination of man, the eternal glory and everlasting life; this is the divine bestowal.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “25 May 1912, Huntington Chambers, Boston, Massachusetts, From Stenographic Notes”, p. 145)
Even though we find a defective branch or leaf upon this tree of humanity or an imperfect blossom, it, nevertheless, belongs to this tree and not to another. Therefore, it is our duty to protect and cultivate this tree until it reaches perfection. If we examine its fruit and find it imperfect, we must strive to make it perfect. There are souls in the human world who are ignorant; we must make them knowing. Some growing upon the tree are weak and ailing; we must assist them toward health and recovery. If they are as infants in development, we must minister to them until they attain maturity. We should never detest and shun them as objectionable and unworthy. We must treat them with honor, respect and kindness; for God has created them and not Satan. They are not manifestations of the wrath of God but evidences of His divine favor. God, the Creator, has endowed them with physical, mental and spiritual qualities that they may seek to know and do His will; therefore, they are not objects of His wrath and condemnation. In brief, all humanity must be looked upon with love, kindness and respect; for what we behold in them are none other than the signs and traces of God Himself. All are evidences of God; therefore, how shall we be justified in debasing and belittling them, uttering anathema and preventing them from drawing near unto His mercy? This is ignorance and injustice, displeasing to God; for in His sight all are His servants.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “14 July 1912, Talk at All Souls Unitarian Church, Fourth Avenue and Twentieth Street, New York, Notes by John G. Grundy and Howard MacNutt”, pp. 230-231)
The renewal of the leaf is fruitless. From the reformation of bark or branch no fruit will come forth. The renewal of verdure produces nothing. If there be no renewal of fruit from the tree, of what avail is the reformation of bark, blossom, branch and trunk? For a fruitless tree is of no special value. Similarly, of what avail is the reformation of physical conditions unless they are concomitant with spiritual reformations? For the essential reality is the spirit, the foundation is the spirit, the life of man is due to the spirit; the happiness, the animus, the radiance, the glory of man—all are due to the spirit; and if in the spirit no reformation takes place, there will be no result to human existence.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “25 August 1912, Talk at the New Thought Forum, Metaphysical Club, Boston, Massachusetts, Notes by Edna McKinney”, p. 279)
What are the fruits of the human world? They are the spiritual attributes which appear in man. If man is bereft of those attributes, he is like a fruitless tree.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “24 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mrs. Roberts, Denver, Colorado, From Stenographic Notes”, p. 336)
If you plant a seed in the ground, a tree will become manifest from that seed. The seed sacrifices itself to the tree that will come from it. The seed is outwardly lost, destroyed; but the same seed which is sacrificed will be absorbed and embodied in the tree, its blossoms, fruit and branches. If the identity of that seed had not been sacrificed to the tree which became manifest from it, no branches, blossoms or fruits would have been forthcoming.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “29 November 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney, 780 West End Avenue, New York, Notes by Esther Foster”, p. 451)