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Religion Library: Baha'i

Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence

Written by: Moojan Momen

From the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah

O MY FRIEND IN WORD!

Ponder awhile. Hast thou ever heard that friend and foe should abide in one heart? Cast out then the stranger, that the Friend may enter His home.

O SON OF DUST!

All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory; yet thou didst give My home and dwelling to another than Me; and whenever the manifestation of My holiness sought His own abode, a stranger found He there, and, homeless, hastened unto the sanctuary of the Beloved. Notwithstanding I have concealed thy secret and desired not thy shame.

O ESSENCE OF DESIRE!

At many a dawn have I turned from the realms of the Placeless unto thine abode, and found thee on the bed of ease busied with others than Myself. Thereupon, even as the flash of the spirit, I returned to the realms of celestial glory and breathed it not in My retreats above unto the hosts of holiness.

The aim of the path is to create within the human heart the necessary conditions for the emergence of the spiritual nature of the human being. This requires detachment from the things of the physical world and an attraction to the spiritual. It also requires a detachment from the idle fancies and vain imaginings to which human beings are prone. These attachments cause human beings to deny the Manifestation of God and thus they act as a barrier to progress along the path.

According to Baha'i scriptures, the soul comes into being at the moment of conception and is then launched upon a path of individual spiritual development. Each human child has the potential to become the light of the world and also its darkness. Education is of primary importance in leading humans toward light rather than darkness. Education must, however, start with inculcating the divine virtues.

Baha'u'llah was also much concerned with creating the social conditions necessary for the path of spiritual advancement. Beyond fulfilling basic human physical needs, society must aim to put all human beings in the best possible position for their spiritual advancement. This means that the primary interactions in society must be cooperative and consultative, creating conditions of unity and harmony in which human beings can explore spiritual reality. It is these conditions that the Baha'i community is trying to create.

As a result of the above beliefs regarding human nature, a central Baha'i teaching is that humanity is one. There is no division of humanity into grades or stations. While it may be the case that some human beings are superior to others, this is only on the basis of their spiritual qualities, not based on their race, gender, ethnicity, class, or caste. There are no grades in the Baha'i community such as priesthood or guruship that bestow spiritual rank. Furthermore, the concept of impurity, whereby certain peoples, usually unbelievers or people in certain conditions (such as menstruating women) are thought to be impure and polluting, was abolished by Baha'u'llah.


Study Questions:
     1.    What is the Baha'i understanding of human nature?
     2.    What is the Baha'i understanding of the purpose of a human being’s life?
     3.    What do the Baha'i teachings say are the conditions for spiritual progress and development?
     4.    What, according to the Baha'i teachings, are the social conditions that best help human beings to achieve what should be the goal of their lives?
     5.    What divisive factors have to be transcended in order to achieve the Baha'i goal of the oneness of humanity?

 

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