Reality, Soul and
the Worlds of God
III.   The Reality of the Soul – Understanding Your True Self
F.   The Natures Attributed to Man and the Soul
2.   The Intermediate or Human Nature
[Compiler: This is a more in-depth treatment of Sections III. D. 5. and III. D. 9.]
a.   Human Reality: an Earthly Development Between the Divine and the Animal
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:]
669.The human spirit which distinguishes man from the animal is the rational soul, and these two names—the human spirit and the rational soul—designate one thing. This spirit, which in the terminology of the philosophers is the rational soul, embraces all beings, and as far as human ability permits discovers the realities of things and becomes cognizant of their peculiarities and effects, and of the qualities and properties of beings. But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. It is like a mirror which, although clear, polished and brilliant, is still in need of light. Until a ray of the sun reflects upon it, it cannot discover the heavenly secrets.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 55: “Soul, Spirit and Mind”, pp. 208-209)
670.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;….
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 64: “The State of Man and His Progress after Death”, p. 235)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (no authority):]
671.The reality of man is his thought, not his material body. The thought force and the animal force are partners. Although man is part of the animal creation, he possesses a power of thought superior to all other created beings.
 If a man’s thought is constantly aspiring towards heavenly subjects then does he become saintly; if on the other hand his thought does not soar, but is directed downwards to centre itself upon the things of this world, he grows more and more material until he arrives at a state little better than that of a mere animal.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “The Power and Value of True Thought Depend upon Its Manifestation in Action, October 18th”, pp. 17-18)
672.He1 has consciousness, volition, memory, intelligent power, divine attributes and virtues of which nature is completely deprived and bereft;….
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “9 June 1912, Talk at Baptist Temple, Broad and Berks Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Notes by Edna McKinney”, p. 178)
673.The spirit of man is not illumined and quickened through material sources. It is not resuscitated by investigating phenomena of the world of matter. The spirit of man is in need of the protection of the Holy Spirit. Just as he advances by progressive stages from the mere physical world of being into the intellectual realm, so must he develop upward in moral attributes and spiritual graces….Without the presence of the Holy Spirit he is lifeless. Although physically and mentally alive, he is spiritually dead.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “27 August 1912, Talk at Metaphysical Club, Boston, Massachusetts, Notes by Edna McKinney”, p. 288)
674.….human personality appears in two aspects: the image or likeness of God, and the aspect of Satan. The human reality stands between these two: the divine and the satanic.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “4 December 1912, Talk to Theosophical Society, 2228 Broadway, New York, Notes by Esther Foster”, p. 464)
675.….man is a reality which stands between light and darkness. From this standpoint his nature is threefold: animal, human and divine. The animal nature is darkness; the heavenly is light in light.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “4 December 1912, Talk to Theosophical Society, 2228 Broadway, New York, Notes by Esther Foster”, p. 465)
676.….human reality stands between the higher and the lower in man, between the world of the animal and the world of Divinity. When the animal proclivity in man becomes predominant, he sinks even lower than the brute. When the heavenly powers are triumphant in his nature, he becomes the noblest and most superior being in the world of creation.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “4 December 1912, Talk to Theosophical Society, 2228 Broadway, New York, Notes by Esther Foster”, p. 465)
677.We make a differentiation in these subjects. When we speak of the soul we mean the motive power of this physical body which lives under its entire control in accordance with its dictates. If the soul identifies itself with the material world it remains dark, for in the natural world there is corruption, aggression, struggles for existence, greed, darkness, transgression and vice. If the soul remains in this station and moves along these paths it will be the recipient of this darkness; but if it becomes the recipient of the graces of the world of mind, its darkness will be transformed into light, its tyranny into justice, its ignorance into wisdom, its aggression into loving kindness; until it reach the apex. Then there will not remain any struggle for existence. Man will become free from egotism; he will be released from the material world; he will become the personification of justice and virtue, for a sanctified soul illumines humanity and is an honor to mankind, conferring life upon the children of men and suffering all nations to attain to the station of perfect unity.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on Divine Philosophy, Chapter 3: “Soul, Mind and Spirit: A Meditation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, pp. 120-121)