Bahá’u’lláh defines his mission and teaches about the soul

Baha'u'llah's sealsWhen Bahá’u’lláh had arrived in Gallipoli, on his way to exile in Akka, we have already seen that he predicted the consequences that would arise from the exile. In, the same letter (the Suriy-i-Rais – the Tablet to the Chief Vizier of the Ottoman Sultan), Bahá’u’lláh also takes time to make clear what the purpose of his mission was.

This Youth hath come to quicken the world and unite all its peoples. The day is approaching when that which God hath purposed will have prevailed and thou shalt behold the earth transformed into the all-glorious paradise.[1]

Bahá’u’lláh not only states that his purpose is the quicken and unify mankind – he states that it will come to be.

The theme of oneness of humanity is the pivot of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings. and we find it from the earliest mystical period of his teachings to his very last writings. In the Hidden Words:

Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light![2]

And again the same theme is affirmed in Bahá’u’lláh’s own summation of the purpose of his teachings, in one of his final works: the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. Bahá’u’lláh came to establish the oneness of humanity.

Even in this time of crisis, he reminds us of his mission.

In the same letter (as often is the case in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings), he addresses other audiences (explicitly or implicitly). In this case, some of his followers are addressed, one of whom has asked about the nature of the soul. Here is part of Bahá’u’lláh’s discourse:

Spirit, mind, soul, and the powers of sight and hearing are but one single reality which hath manifold expressions owing to the diversity of its instruments. As thou dost observe, man’s power to comprehend, move, speak, hear, and see all derive from this sign of his Lord within him. It is single in its essence, yet manifold through the diversity of its instruments. This, verily, is a certain truth. For example, if it directeth its attention to the means of hearing, then hearing and its attributes become manifest. Likewise, if it directeth itself to the means of vision, a different effect and attribute appear. Reflect upon this subject that thou mayest comprehend the true meaning of what hath been intended, find thyself independent of the sayings of the people, and be of them that are well assured. In like manner, when this sign of God turneth towards the brain, the head, and such means, the powers of the mind and the soul are manifested. Thy Lord, verily, is potent to do whatsoever He pleaseth.[3]

The power to direct our soul’s “attention” is significant. The importance of it is highlighted elsewhere. As in this Hidden Word:

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.[4]

A passage from a talk by Abdu’l Baha also bears on the same theme:

… when man does not open his mind and heart to the blessing of the spirit, but turns his soul towards the material side, towards the bodily part of his nature, … man is in a sorry plight! For if the spiritual qualities of the soul, open to the breath of the Divine Spirit, are never used, they become atrophied, enfeebled, and at last incapable; whilst the soul’s material qualities alone being exercised, they become terribly powerful—and the unhappy, misguided man, becomes more savage, more unjust, more vile, more cruel, more malevolent … he becomes more and more brutal, … Men such as this plan to work evil, to hurt and to destroy;

If, on the contrary, the spiritual nature of the soul has been so strengthened that it holds the material side in subjection, then does the man approach the Divine; his humanity becomes so glorified that the virtues of the Celestial Assembly are manifested in him; he radiates the Mercy of God, he stimulates the spiritual progress of mankind, for he becomes a lamp to show light on their path.[5]

Image Credits: Bahá’u’lláh’s carved seals – used to verify the authorship of documents. Copyright Baha’i International Community

(This article is the 137th in a series of what I hope will be 200 articles in 200 days for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh. The anniversary is being celebrated around the world on 21 and 22 October 2017, The articles are simply my personal reflections on Bahá’u’lláh’s life and work. Any errors or inadequacies in these articles are solely my responsibility.)


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