Proofs of the Spirituality of the Human Species
Based on the Bahá’í Texts. It must be understood absolutely, however, that not one word can be treated as authoritative, and should be seen as the thoughts of one individual on the subject, and thus subject to future revision as knowledge and understanding are increased. No quotes are given from the Bahá’í Texts; each person will need to research these Texts themselves to verify or discredit these thoughts.
If the matter is carefully examined, it will be seen that there are multiple “worlds”, which may likewise be referred to as degrees of life and life-forms, which all exist in the identical framework of space/time. There are four of these immediate worlds. We have the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom, and the human kingdom.
First, we have the lowest degree, the mineral. As explained by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in various of His recorded Words and in various spaces in His Writings, this has the condition of only existence. It knows only this one-dimensional state. It forms, in general terms (looking ahead a little) the very foundation of the “higher” forms of life, all of which partake of this degree of the mineral, all composed, at their elementary basis, of these minerals.
It cannot be said that the mineral condition is lifeless. That which is lifeless cannot, under any circumstances, support life. A dead tree does not form seeds. A dead animal does become able to reproduce. A dead earth, the essential building block of life as we know it, cannot support life. Only life can support life.
It is thus established and proven that, regardless its “low” degree of existence, the earth (i.e. mineral) is living. The perception of a condition of death/of being dead is merely the perception of the degree of life which separates the human life from the mineral life.
At the next degree lies the vegetable. This, as ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains, has two capacities – that of the condition of the mineral, which it encapsulates, and also the condition of growth. This equates to a two-dimensional existence. Yet, the mineral condition has no, and cannot in an manner, comprehend and/or understand the condition of growth.
As the mineral condition has no experience of growth, it is impossible for it to comprehend growth. Yet, as the vegetable condition encapsulates the mineral, it can thus understand, comprehend the mineral existence.
One could, perhaps, say that the vegetable condition, though including the mineral kingdom, is the condition of life augmented. Having two dimensions, it is life expressed at a higher degree or level.
Yet, inasmuch as the mineral kingdom cannot comprehend anything greater than a condition of existence, so the vegetable kingdom cannot comprehend the condition of the animal, for the animal encapsulates both the conditions of the mineral and of the vegetable, and is the expression of life at a higher degree. Where the mineral encapsulates only the mineral kingdom, the vegetable encapsulates both the mineral condition and the condition of growth, so too the animal encapsulates both the mineral and the vegetable condition, but has added the condition of movement. As the earlier kingdoms have no experience in the power of movement, so it is impossible for them to comprehend this condition of movement.
In point of fact, by whatever standard one looks at the human body, it is nothing more or less than that of an animal body. It possesses the same three capacities of the animal – existence, growth and movement, and no more, no less.
All these three world are, themselves, encapsulated by nature, and cannot of themselves break the laws of nature. That which is encapsulated cannot, in any way, form, means or manner, comprehend that which encapsulates them, nor is it possible for the encapsulated to encapsulate that which encapsulates them. The surrounded, by the very limitation of being surrounded, cannot go beyond that limitation, and never shall.
But it is noticed that the human condition has a capacity which lies beyond that of the fellow-animals with which it shares the material (animal) existence. This capacity, which is termed in a number of instances within the Baha’i Texts, as the rational soul, is what separates us from the lower forms of life, the mineral, vegetable and the animal. Indeed, examined carefully, it will be seen that, whereas even the highest form of life in this material plane is encapsulated by nature and thus unable to break the bounds she has set, yet the human condition stands beyond the realm of nature, indeed, encapsulates it, for the human condition takes nature and turns it to his own ends. By the condition of being encapsulated, the “lesser” form of life, simply through the condition of encapsulation and the limitations thus irrevocably imposed, have no means, capacity or ability to break or to understand these laws of nature. Yet, the human condition not only understands these laws, continually, with science, discovering further laws, can take these laws and bend them to his own will.
Thus, it is proven that the human condition is both separate from his material body, and also stands in a place that encapsulates nature, thus is superior to the three material condition below him. It is also clearly demonstrated that, living in exactly the same space/time are four separate worlds, which, by implication, shows that there is a strong potential that there are yet other worlds – but as these worlds encapsulate this world, and we have no experience of these further worlds, we cannot thus comprehend nor understand them. This, however, is zero proof that they do not exist – it is proof only that we cannot see, experience,comprehend nor understand these further worlds
In an identical manner to which each world, due to nil experience in the “next world” world, would easily and simply deny the existence of that world above it, so to can the human condition deny that there is anything beyond it. Indeed, through the perception that everything is restricted to this material world, some even relegate the human condition to a lower condition, without clearly, reasonably and logically examining the relationships of the human condition versus the animal condition of which our bodies are a part.
Having thus established that the human condition lies above and beyond our human animal-body condition, that indeed, a human person lives simultaneously in two worlds – the animal, as represented by his body which is bound in nature, and the condition which lies beyond the animal condition, and thus nature; the human condition.
But, if our body is a part of the nature condition, and the human capacity and ability is outside of the nature condition, it follows logically that this human condition lies also outside of this material body - i.e. is not a part of it, but rather functions by being attached to it.
To answer to this consideration, we must divert in our discussion to defining the material state and the spiritual state, the material state being that of our material body, and the spiritual state to that which the Baha’i Texts refer to as the rational soul.
The material state is quite readily termed also the sensible state, inasmuch as it is available to our senses – sight, scent, hearing, taste, feeling. These are directly perceptible. The nose smells, the eyes see, the ears hear, the skin feels, the tongue tastes. This is the world of the animal, and it knows nothing beyond these. The human body is, in this respect, identical.
The spiritual state can readily be termed the non-sensible, in the sense that it is not directly perceptible to the senses – rather, it is determined by observation of it effects; the cause remains hidden and unknown to the material state.
An example, an analogy. Air, which is needed to support life, in its own self is not perceptible to the senses (not quite true in this day and age, thanks to technology, but still suitable for the purposes of analogy). Yet, we know of, and can prove that it exists by its effects. One of these effects is by the breeze generated when we breathe, which can be felt in its rhythm by the sense of feeling, whether one’s own breath or another’s; inside the nose, on the skin in a breeze or strong wind, and other means; a careful look at these manifestation will bring to each one’s attention these different effects, each of which proves the existence of air, without the individual being able to directly see air.
In such manner are these spiritual qualities; none can, of themselves, be perceived directly, but only indirectly by their effect(s).
Yet another proof can be by their opposite. How do we know of light? By its opposite, darkness. How do we know of darkness? By its opposite, light. If one did not exist, we could not and would not know that the other existed.
All things are known by their effects, are defined by their opposite, and recognised by experience. As good exists, we know that bad exists, and that bad exists is proof that good exists – if we had no experience of one, we would have no possibility of knowing the existence of the other, not have any means of recognising one or the other.
To return to the subject.
The human capacity, being outside of nature, is thus not what was termed before as sensible, but rather is non-sensible - not directly perceptible to the senses. No person, however gifted, can ever actually see, for example, intelligence. Intelligence, a human quality, cannot be directly perceived, yet is proven indirectly by its effects. By its effects it can be measured, it can be appreciated, and it produces results of benefit in the world, through science, through education, through social order and etc.
The human individual, regardless the varying capacity between one individual and all others, is thus proven a spiritual being, not, despite his relationship with a material body, a material being. A material being cannot exceed the bounds of nature, as the material existence is encapsulated completely by nature. Yet, the human capacity, able to turn nature to its own ends, is thus encapsulating nature, and nature, being encapsulated, cannot encapsulate that which encapsulates it.
And similar can be said for other of that which have been termed “human qualities”; rationality, logic, reasoning, love, mercy, kindness, tolerance, compassion and so on. Every one of these, and much more, cannot be directly perceived, but only perceived by their effects. Further proof that the human capacity is a spiritual one, not a material one, for individuals are judged or assessed not on their physical condition but on their spiritual condition – and indeed, an individuals’ spiritual condition will mostly contribute to their material condition, and the material condition can be changed via the spiritual qualities and attributes.
The human condition, then, is a four-dimensional condition, being the culmination of the material existence, the vegetable qualities of growth, and the animal qualities of growth, plus the first stage in the evolutionary process into the spiritual world(s), the first, in this realm , to step beyond the mere material conditions. It is, likewise, the only form of condition which is able to translate the spiritual condition into the material existence, due purely to the ongoing personal intimate experience of being a human.
And should one plunge into a material way of life, abandoning the true spiritual state and condition of a human, will in the end sink to the next-lower condition of an animal. And they will be adjudged and assessed, still, by their spiritual qualities, or rather, lack of.