Reality, Soul and
the Worlds of God
II. Three Conditions of Existence in Reality
E. The Lesser World, Servitude, Creation: The Kingdom of the Emanation of God
6. Man: Spiritual, Compared to the Animal
[from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:]
Know thou that, according to what thy Lord, the Lord of all men, hath decreed in His Book, the favors vouchsafed by Him unto mankind have been, and will ever remain, limitless in their range. First and foremost among these favors, which the Almighty hath conferred upon man, is the gift of understanding. His purpose in conferring such a gift is none other except to enable His creature to know and recognize the one true God ….
(Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection XCV, p. 194)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:]
….if there were not in man a power different from any of those of the animals, the latter would be superior to man in inventions and the comprehension of realities. Therefore, it is evident that man has a gift which the animal does not possess.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 48: “The Difference Existing between Man and Animal”, p. 187)
Know that perception varies. The lowest degree of perception is that of the animals—that is to say, the natural feeling which appears through the powers of the senses, and which is called sensation. In this, men and animals are sharers;….
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 58: “The Degree of Knowledge Possessed by Man and the Divine Manifestations”, p. 217)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (no authority):]
What difference is there between the animal and man? The difference is this: that the animal is not capable of apprehending the divine teachings, whereas man is worthy of them and possesses the capacity to understand.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, “25 April 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons, 1700 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, D.C., Notes by Joseph H. Hannen”, p. 61)
Man is like the animal in physical structure but otherwise immeasurably separated and superior.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, “30 April 1912, Talk at Hull House, Chicago, Illinois, Notes by Joseph H. Hannen”, p. 67)
The animal may develop a wonderful degree of intelligence, but it can never attain the powers of ideation and conscious reflection which belong to man.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, “9 June 1912, Talk at Unitarian Church, Fifteenth Street and Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Notes by Edna McKinney”, pp. 172-173)
Just as the animal is more noble than the vegetable and mineral, so man is superior to the animal.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, “24 July 1912, Talk to Theosophical Society, The Kensington, Exeter and Boylston Streets, Boston, Massachusetts, Notes by Edna McKinney”, p. 240)
The animal can only know through sense impressions and cannot grasp intellectual realities. The animal cannot conceive of the power of thought. This is an abstract intellectual matter and not limited to the senses. The animal is incapable of knowing that the earth is round. In brief, abstract intellectual phenomena are human powers. All creation below the kingdom of man is the captive of nature; it cannot deviate in the slightest degree from nature’s laws. But man wrests the sword of dominion from nature’s hand and uses it upon nature’s head. For example, it is a natural exigency that man should be a dweller upon the earth, but the power of the human spirit transcends this limitation, and he soars aloft in airplanes.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, “24 July 1912, Talk to Theosophical Society, The Kensington, Exeter and Boylston Streets, Boston, Massachusetts, Notes by Edna McKinney”, p. 241)