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
7. Mankind: Combining the Spiritual and Material Conditions
[from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:]
Wishing to reveal Thyself, Thou didst call into being the Greater and the Lesser Worlds, and didst choose Man above all Thy creatures, and didst make Him a sign of both of these worlds, O Thou Who art our Lord, the Most Compassionate!
(Bahá’u’lláh: Prayers and Meditations, Selection XXXVIII, p. 49)
[from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:]
….among the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is that although material civilization is one of the means for the progress of the world of mankind, yet until it becomes combined with Divine civilization, the desired result, which is the felicity of mankind, will not be attained. Consider! These battleships that reduce a city to ruins within the space of an hour are the result of material civilization; likewise the Krupp guns, the Mauser rifles, dynamite, submarines, torpedo boats, armed aircraft and bombers—all these weapons of war are the malignant fruits of material civilization. Had material civilization been combined with Divine civilization, these fiery weapons would never have been invented. Nay, rather, human energy would have been wholly devoted to useful inventions and would have been concentrated on praiseworthy discoveries. Material civilization is like a lamp-glass. Divine civilization is the lamp itself and the glass without the light is dark. Material civilization is like the body. No matter how infinitely graceful, elegant and beautiful it may be, it is dead. Divine civilization is like the spirit, and the body gets its life from the spirit, otherwise it becomes a corpse. It has thus been made evident that the world of mankind is in need of the breaths of the Holy Spirit. Without the spirit the world of mankind is lifeless, and without this light the world of mankind is in utter darkness. For the world of nature is an animal world. Until man is born again from the world of nature, that is to say, becomes detached from the world of nature, he is essentially an animal, and it is the teachings of God which convert this animal into a human soul.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selection #227, pp. 303-304)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:]
….if the perfections of the spirit did not appear in this world, this world would be unenlightened and absolutely brutal. By the appearance of the spirit in the physical form, this world is enlightened. As the spirit of man is the cause of the life of the body, so the world is in the condition of the body, and man is in the condition of the spirit. If there were no man, the perfections of the spirit would not appear, and the light of the mind would not be resplendent in this world. This world would be like a body without a soul.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 52: “The Appearing of the Spirit in the Body”, p. 201)
Man is in the highest degree of materiality, and at the beginning of spirituality—that is to say, he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. He is at the last degree of darkness, and at the beginning of light; that is why it has been said that the condition of man is the end of the night and the beginning of day, meaning that he is the sum of all the degrees of imperfection, and that he possesses the degrees of perfection. He has the animal side as well as the angelic side, and the aim of an educator is to so train human souls that their angelic aspect may overcome their animal side. Then if the divine power in man, which is his essential perfection, overcomes the satanic power, which is absolute imperfection, he becomes the most excellent among the creatures; but if the satanic power overcomes the divine power, he becomes the lowest of the creatures. That is why he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. Not in any other of the species in the world of existence is there such a difference, contrast, contradiction and opposition as in the species of man.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 64: “The State of Man and His Progress after Death”, pp. 235-236)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (no authority):]
In the human kingdom we find all the attributes of the lower
worlds, with much more added thereto. Man is the sum of every previous
creation, for he contains them all.
To man is given the special gift of the intellect by which he is able to receive a larger share of the light Divine. The Perfect Man is as a polished mirror reflecting the Sun of Truth, manifesting the attributes of God.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “God Comprehends All: He cannot be Comprehended, Friday evening, October 20th”, p. 25)
The mineral evolves till it is absorbed in the life of the plant, the plant progresses till finally it loses its life in that of the animal; the animal, in its turn, forming part of the food of man, is absorbed into human life.
Thus, man is shown to be the sum of all creation, the superior of all created beings, the goal to which countless ages of existence have progressed.
At the best, man spends four-score years and ten in this world—a short time indeed!
Does a man cease to exist when he leaves the body? If his life comes to an end, then all the previous evolution is useless, all has been for nothing! Can one imagine that Creation has no greater aim than this?
The soul is eternal, immortal.
Materialists say, “Where is the soul? What is it? We cannot see it, neither can we touch it”.
This is how we must answer them: However much the mineral may progress, it cannot comprehend the vegetable world. Now, that lack of comprehension does not prove the non-existence of the plant!
To however great a degree the plant may have evolved, it is unable to understand the animal world; this ignorance is no proof that the animal does not exist!
The animal, be he never so highly developed, cannot imagine the intelligence of man, neither can he realize the nature of his soul. But, again, this does not prove that man is without intellect, or without soul. It only demonstrates this, that one form of existence is incapable of comprehending a form superior to itself.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “The Evolution of the Spirit, 15 Rue Greuze, Paris, November 10th”, pp. 92-93)
….the things humanity shares in common are numerous and manifest. This equal participation in the physical, intellectual and spiritual problems of human existence is a valid basis for the unification of mankind.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The 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”, p. 229)