Reality, Soul and
the Worlds of God
III. The Reality of the Soul – Understanding Your True Self
D. How Spirit Manifests
4. The Faculty of Inner Vision
[from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:]
Observe, how thou art asleep in a dwelling, and its doors are barred; on a sudden thou findest thyself in a far-off city, which thou enterest without moving thy feet or wearying thy body; without using thine eyes, thou seest; without taxing thine ears, thou hearest; without a tongue, thou speakest. And perchance when ten years are gone, thou wilt witness in the outer world the very things thou hast dreamed tonight….
Now there are many wisdoms to ponder in the dream, which none but the people of this Valley can comprehend in their true elements. First, what is this world, where without eye and ear and hand and tongue a man puts all of these to use? Second, how is it that in the outer world thou seest today the effect of a dream, when thou didst vision it in the world of sleep some ten years past? Consider the difference between these two worlds and the mysteries which they conceal, that thou mayest attain to divine confirmations and heavenly discoveries and enter the regions of holiness.
(Bahá’u’lláh: The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys, “Valley of Wonderment”, pp. 32-33)
Consider thy state when asleep. Verily, I say, this phenomenon is the most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men, were they to ponder it in their hearts. Behold how the thing which thou hast seen in thy dream is, after a considerable lapse of time, fully realized. Had the world in which thou didst find thyself in thy dream been identical with the world in which thou livest, it would have been necessary for the event occurring in that dream to have transpired in this world at the very moment of its occurrence. Were it so, you yourself would have borne witness unto it. This being not the case, however, it must necessarily follow that the world in which thou livest is different and apart from that which thou hast experienced in thy dream. This latter world hath neither beginning nor end. It would be true if thou wert to contend that this same world is, as decreed by the All-Glorious and Almighty God, within thy proper self and is wrapped up within thee. It would equally be true to maintain that thy spirit, having transcended the limitations of sleep and having stripped itself of all earthly attachment, hath, by the act of God, been made to traverse a realm which lieth hidden in the innermost reality of this world.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, “Suríy-i-Vafá” or “Tablet to Vafá”, pp. 187-188)
I beseech Thee, by the potency of Thy will and the compelling power of Thy purpose, to make of what Thou didst reveal unto me in my sleep the surest foundation for the mansions of Thy love that are within the hearts of Thy loved ones, and the best instrument for the revelation of the tokens of Thy grace and Thy loving-kindness.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Prayers and Meditations, Selection CLVI, p. 249)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:]
In wakefulness the eye of man sees at the utmost as far as one hour of distance because through the instrumentality of the body the power of the spirit is thus determined; but with the inner sight and the mental eye it sees America, and it can perceive that which is there, and discover the conditions of things and organize affairs. If, then, the spirit were the same as the body, it would be necessary that the power of the inner sight should also be in the same proportion. Therefore, it is evident that this spirit is different from the body, and that the bird is different from the cage, and that the power and penetration of the spirit is stronger without the intermediary of the body.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 61: “The Immortality of the Spirit—Session 2”, p. 228)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (no authority):]
It is the light of the intellect which gives us knowledge and understanding, and without this light the physical eyes would be useless.
This light of the intellect is the highest light that exists, for it is born of the Light Divine.
The light of the intellect enables us to understand and realize all that exists, but it is only the Divine Light that can give us sight for the invisible things, and which enables us to see truths that will only be visible to the world thousands of years hence.
It was the Divine Light which enabled the prophets to see two thousand years in advance what was going to take place and today we see the realization of their vision. Thus it is this Light which we must strive to seek, for it is greater than any other.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “The Two Kinds of Light, November 5th”, p. 69)
The soul has two main faculties. (a)
As outer circumstances are communicated to the soul by the eyes, ears, and brain of a man, so does the soul communicate its desires and purposes through the brain to the hands and tongue of the physical body, thereby expressing itself. The spirit in the soul is the very essence of life. (b)
The second faculty of the soul expresses itself in the world of vision, where the soul inhabited by the spirit has its being, and functions without the help of the material bodily senses. There, in the realm of vision, the soul sees without the help of the physical eye, hears without the aid of the physical ear, and travels without dependence upon physical motion. It is, therefore, clear that the spirit in the soul of man can function through the physical body by using the organs of the ordinary senses, and that it is able also to live and act without their aid in the world of vision. This proves without a doubt the superiority of the soul of man over his body, the superiority of spirit over matter.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “Discourse at ‘L’Alliance Spiritualiste, Salle de l’Athenee, St. Germain, Paris, November 9th”, p. 86)
It is an axiomatic fact that while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.
You cannot apply the name “man” to any being void of this faculty of meditation; without it he would be a mere animal, lower than the beasts.
(‘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”, pp. 174-175)
Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries. In that state man abstracts himself: in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves. To illustrate this, think of man as endowed with two kinds of sight; when the power of insight is being used the outward power of vision does not see.
This faculty of meditation frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God.
(‘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. 175)
The retina of outer vision, though sensitive and delicate, may, nevertheless, be a hindrance to the inner eye which alone can perceive. The bestowals of God which are manifest in all phenomenal life are sometimes hidden by intervening veils of mental and mortal vision which render man spiritually blind and incapable, but when those scales are removed and the veils rent asunder, then the great signs of God will become visible, and he will witness the eternal light filling the world. The bestowals of God are all and always manifest. The promises of heaven are ever present. The favors of God are all-surrounding, but should the conscious eye of the soul of man remain veiled and darkened, he will be led to deny these universal signs and remain deprived of these manifestations of divine bounty. Therefore, we must endeavor with heart and soul in order that the veil covering the eye of inner vision may be removed, that we may behold the manifestations of the signs of God, discern His mysterious graces and realize that material blessings as compared with spiritual bounties are as nothing.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “4 May 1912, Talk to Theosophical Society, Northwestern University Hall, Evanston, Illinois, Notes by Marzieh Moss, p. 90)
….just as the outer sense of sight is necessary to him, he should also possess insight and conscious perception;….
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “20 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. Albert L. Hall, 2030 Queen Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Notes by Ellen T. Pursell”, p. 328)
….in the world of dreams the soul sees when the eyes are closed. The man is seemingly dead, lies there as dead; the ears do not hear, yet he hears. The body lies there, but he—that is, the soul—travels, sees, observes. All the instruments of the body are inactive, all the functions seemingly useless. Notwithstanding this, there is an immediate and vivid perception by the soul. Exhilaration is experienced. The soul journeys, perceives, senses. It often happens that a man in a state of wakefulness has not been able to accomplish the solution of a problem, and when he goes to sleep, he will reach that solution in a dream. How often it has happened that he has dreamed, even as the prophets have dreamed, of the future; and events which have thus been foreshadowed have come to pass literally.
Therefore, we learn that the immortality of the soul, or spirit, is not contingent or dependent upon the so-called immortality of the body,….
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “9 November 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons, 1700 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, D. C., Notes by Joseph H. Hannen”, p. 416)
[Writings of Shoghi Effendi:]
There is a fundamental difference between Divine Revelation as vouchsafed by God to His Prophets, and the spiritual experiences and visions which individuals may have. The latter should, under no circumstances, be construed as constituting an infallible source of guidance, even for the person experiencing them.
(Shoghi Effendi: Directives of the Guardian, Selection #213, “Visions”, p. 80)