Reality, Soul and
the Worlds of God
III. The Reality of the Soul – Understanding Your True Self
I. The Soul as Man Reacts and Lives
3. Knowledge, Volition, and Action
[from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:]
1026.O Son of the Throne
Thy hearing is My hearing, hear thou therewith. Thy sight is My sight, do thou see therewith, that in thine inmost soul thou mayest testify unto My exalted sanctity, and I within Myself may bear witness unto an exalted station for thee.
(Bahá’u’lláh: The Hidden Words, Arabic #44)
1027.O Man of Two Visions
Close one eye and open the other. Close one to the world and all that is therein, and open the other to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved.
(Bahá’u’lláh: The Hidden Words, Persian #12)
1028.O My Servants
Ye are the trees of My garden; ye must give forth goodly and wondrous fruits, that ye yourselves and others may profit therefrom. Thus it is incumbent on every one to engage in crafts and professions, for therein lies the secret of wealth, O men of understanding! For results depend upon means, and the grace of God shall be all-sufficient unto you. Trees that yield no fruit have been and will ever be for the fire.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Hidden Words, Persian #80)
….the fingers of divine power have unlocked the portals of the knowledge of God, and the light of divine knowledge and heavenly grace hath illumined and inspired the essence of all created things, in such wise that in each and every thing a door of knowledge hath been opened, and within every atom traces of the sun hath been made manifest.
(Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitáb-i-Íqán, paragraph 28, pp. 27-28)
Thus have We illuminated the heavens of utterance with the splendours of the Sun of divine wisdom and understanding, that thy heart may find peace, that thou mayest be of those who, on the wings of certitude, have soared unto the heaven of the love of their Lord, the All-Merciful.
(Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitáb-i-Íqán, paragraph 65, p. 57)
All that which ye potentially possess can, however, be manifested only as a result of your own volition. Your own acts testify to this truth.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection LXXVII, p. 149)
Thus, for that they move on these three differing planes, the understanding and the words of the wayfarers have differed; and hence the sign of conflict doth continually appear on earth.
(Bahá’u’lláh: The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys, “Valley of Unity”, p. 21)
[from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:]
The foot and the step, for example, are connected to the ear and the eye; the eye must look ahead before the step is taken. The ear must hear before the eye will carefully observe. And whatever member of the human body is deficient, produceth a deficiency in the other members. The brain is connected with the heart and stomach, the lungs are connected with all the members. So is it with the other members of the body.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selection #21, p. 48)
[from the Writings or talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:]
Pleasing and acceptable as is a righteous person before God’s Holy Threshold, yet good works should proceed from knowledge. However matchless and exquisite may be a blind man’s handiwork, yet he himself is deprived of seeing it. How sorely do certain animals labour on man’s behalf, what loads they bear for him, how greatly they contribute to his ease and comfort; and yet, because they are unwitting, they earn no recompense for all their pains. The clouds rain down their bounty, nurturing the plants and flowers, and imparting verdure and enchantment to the plain and prairie, the forest and the garden; but yet, unconscious as they are of the results and fruit of their outpourings, they win no praise or honour, nor earn the gratitude and approbation of any man. The lamp imparteth light, but as it hath no consciousness of doing so, no one is indebted to it. This apart, a man of righteous deeds and goodly conduct will assuredly turn towards the Light, in whichever quarter he behold it. The point is this, that faith compriseth both knowledge and the performance of good works.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá quoted in a Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice to the Universal House of Justice, 28 March 1996, “Authenticity of Bahá’í World Faith and Foundations of World Unity.” The quote is a revised translation of a selection of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which appeared in Bahá’í World Faith, pp. 382-383.)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:]
.—It is said in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas “…whoso is deprived thereof, hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed.” What is the meaning of this verse?
Answer.—This blessed verse means that the foundation of success and salvation is the knowledge of God, and that the results of the knowledge of God are the good actions which are the fruits of faith.
If man has not this knowledge, he will be separated from God, and when this separation exists, good actions have not complete effect. This verse does not mean that the souls separated from God are equal, whether they perform good or bad actions. It signifies only that the foundation is to know God, and the good actions result from this knowledge. Nevertheless, it is certain that between the good, the sinners and the wicked who are veiled from God there is a difference. For the veiled one who has good principles and character deserves the pardon of God, while he who is a sinner, and has bad qualities and character, is deprived of the bounties and blessings of God. Herein lies the difference.
Therefore, the blessed verse means that good actions alone, without the knowledge of God, cannot be the cause of eternal salvation, everlasting success, and prosperity, and entrance into the Kingdom of God.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 65: “Explanation of a Verse in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p. 238)
[from the talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (no authority):]
All over the world one hears beautiful sayings extolled and noble precepts admired….
But all these sayings are but words and we see very few of them carried into the world of action.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “Good Ideas must be Carried into Action, November 8th”, pp. 79-80)
If a man were to declare, “There is a lamp in the next room which gives no light”, one hearer might be satisfied with his report, but a wiser man goes into the room to judge for himself, and behold, when he finds the light shining brilliantly in the lamp, he knows the truth!
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, “On Calumny, Monday, November 20th”, p. 103)
Ascend to the zenith of an existence which is never beclouded by the fears and forebodings of nonexistence. When man is not endowed with inner perception, he is not informed of these important mysteries. 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.
(‘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)
Whatever comes within the sphere of human comprehension must be limited and finite.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “12 May 1912, Talk at Unity Church, Montclair, New Jersey, Notes by Esther Foster”, p. 114)
His teachings are universal and the standard for human action. They are not merely theoretical and intended to remain in books. They are the principles of action. Results follow action. Mere theory is fruitless. Of what use is a book upon medicine if it is never taken from the library shelf? When practical activity has been manifested, the teachings of God have borne fruit.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “29 May 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney, 780 West End Avenue, New York, Notes by Howard MacNutt”, p. 155)
The attainment of any object is conditioned upon knowledge, volition and action. Unless these three conditions are forthcoming, there is no execution or accomplishment. In the erection of a house it is first necessary to know the ground, and design the house suitable for it; second, to obtain the means or funds necessary for the construction; third, actually to build it.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “30 May 1912, Talk at Theosophical Lodge, Broadway and Seventy-ninth Street, New York, Notes by Howard MacNutt”, p. 157)
….the journey of the soul is necessary. The pathway of life is the road which leads to divine knowledge and attainment. Without training and guidance the soul could never progress beyond the conditions of its lower nature, which is ignorant and defective.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “29 August 1912, Talk at Home of Madame Morey, 34 Hillside Avenue, Malden, Massachusetts, Notes by Edna McKinney”, p. 296)
….just as the outer sense of sight is necessary to him1
, 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)
How shall we know God? We know Him by His attributes. We know Him by His signs. We know Him by His names.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “10 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. 422)
….we can observe the traces and attributes of God, which are resplendent in all phenomena and shining as the sun at midday, and know surely that these emanate from an infinite source. We know that they come from a source which is infinite indeed.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “10 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. 423)
We are living in this most radiant century wherein human perceptions have developed and investigations of real foundations characterize mankind. Individually and collectively man is proving and penetrating into the reality of outer and inner conditions.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “18 November 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank K. Moxey, 575 Riverside Drive, New York, Notes by Esther Foster”, pp. 443-444)
It is not the reading of the words that profits you; it is the understanding of their meanings. Therefore, pray God that you may be enabled to comprehend the mysteries of the divine Testaments.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, “3 December 1912, Talk to Mr. Kinney's Bible Class, 780 West End Avenue, New York, Notes by Edna McKinney”, p. 459)