The Eternal Quest for God: Chapter 5
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Man: The Fruit of Physical Evolution

In the Bahá'í texts, we find very interesting statements on human nature: men `... are intelligent beings created in the realm of evolutionary growth',[1] suggesting that man is a part of that majestic evolutionary process, which is the growth of the universe and that intelligence is his distinguishing feature. Elsewhere it is said: `God created all earthly things under a law of progression in material degree, but He has created man and endowed him with powers of advancement toward spiritual and transcendental kingdoms',[2] suggesting that man is subject to material evolution and that in him a new stage of the evolutionary process begins: that is, spiritual evolution. It is also said: `Existence is like a tree, and man is the fruit',[3] suggesting that man is the highest point in the world of creation and the supreme purpose of it. It is said moreover: `Man is the noblest of the creatures',[4] suggesting that the noblest qualities of the world of being can be expressed in and through him. Man is `the collective centre of spiritual as well as material forces',[5] suggesting that he is endowed with the perfections of both the material and the spiritual world.[6] `... [M]an is endowed with the potentialities of divinity in his nature',6 suggesting that he is possessed of potential spiritual qualities belonging to the divine world. Man is the `temple of God, the image and likeness of the Lord',[7] suggesting that his spiritual and divine qualities are the image of God in him and that he is therefore the true `temple of God'. And `... man is a creation intended for the reflection of divine virtues',[8] suggesting that the purpose of his creation is that his potential divine qualities may be expressed in act.

These concepts -- the intelligence of man, his progress in the spiritual plane, the divine potentialities of his nature, the image of God in him, the spiritual purpose of his life -- are undoubtedly a cause of great perplexity and an object of vehement argument in modern society. In this regard, the Bahá'í texts offer many explanations, which will certainly prove enlightening.

When we study the evolutionary process from the elemental atom to man, we will see that man is the most perfect creature originating from that process of material evolution: man is the apex of the world of creation. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `Man is the microcosm; and the infinite universe, the macrocosm. The mysteries of the greater world, or macrocosm, are expressed or revealed in the lesser world, the microcosm. The tree, so to speak, is the greater world and the seed, in its relation to the tree, is the lesser world. But the whole of the great tree is potentially latent and hidden in the little seed.'[9] Man is therefore possessed of the `virtues'[10] of all the kingdoms of existence; he `... is the highest species because he is the possessor of the perfections of all the classes -- that is, he has a body which grows and which feels'.[11]

When we study the phenomena of the world of creation, we will see how `... all phenomena of being attain to a summit and degree of consummation, after which a new order and condition is established'.[12] This concept applies also to the world of creation as a whole: man is the apex of the evolutionary process of the world of creation, its `fruit', its `degree of consummation'. But since the evolutionary process must necessarily go forward, in man `a new order and condition' must appear, and such is that condition which Bahá'ís call spiritual, others metaphysical.[13]

`Abdu'l-Bahá mentions -- using a Plotinian expression -- the `circle of existence'.[14] From the elemental atom of the `original matter' to man, the first half of the circle (`bringing forth'[15]) is completed, characterized by the different stages of the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms. In man, the second half of the `circle of existence', begins: the essence of man -- which may also be called the soul or spirit of man -- is, so to speak, the new elemental atom. In fact, the soul will in its turn undergo a further evolutionary process: its growth towards and in, the metaphysical world of the Kingdom (`progress'15). Such a process cannot have an end, therefore the soul -- whose growth has no end -- is immortal.

Therefore, on the one hand, man is a part of the material or physical plane of existence, and thus summarizes in himself `the mysteries of the greater world';[16] on the other, he is by virtue of his soul a part of the spiritual or metaphysical plane of existence.

`Abdu'l-Bahá explains that `... in the microcosm, or the little man, there are deposited three realities... an outward or physical reality... a second or higher reality which is the intellectual reality... a third reality... that is the spiritual reality'.[17]

So in man there is a threefold reality: a first reality, an expression of the world of creation, related to the senses, common both to men and animals, subjected to nature; a second reality, an expression of the world of the Kingdom, which is conscious and spiritual; and lastly an intermediate reality, typical of man, halfway between the other two. This threefold human reality or nature may be viewed also as a threefold (animal, human and spiritual) potentiality bestowed upon man.

* * *

Before describing these potentialities of human nature, it may be useful to mention the process through which they express themselves, a process that `Abdu'l-Bahá calls `demand and supply'.[18] Demand is the need for something which is necessary in view of a goal to be achieved, and a potentiality to be expressed. That demand is perceived as an unpleasant feeling of want and -- inasmuch as it is unpleasant -- represents a stimulus urging man to search out what will satisfy his want, so that he may escape from his uneasiness. This is how man can profit from all those things God puts at his disposal and of which he is in need. On the physical plane of existence, his hunger is satisfied by food yielded from the earth. On the spiritual plane, his need for loftiness is satisfied through the divine bounties of the spirit. In other words, in man there are needs, or else the `demand'; in the world of being there are the gifts of God fit to satisfy his needs, or else the `supply'. The unpleasant feeling of want is what urges man to struggle so that he may reap those bounties God has put at his disposal. If a man's wants are to be satisfied, he must be able to recognize them, and to reap the appropriate gifts copiously poured out by God for his sake throughout the universe. Whether the need is material, intellectual or spiritual, the process is the same.

Bahá'u'lláh poetically explains the same concept thus: `Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My command I made thee to appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom in existence and the essence of all created things. Thus, ere thou didst issue from thy mother's womb, I destined for thee two fountains of gleaming milk, eyes to watch over thee, and hearts to love thee. Out of My loving-kindness, `neath the shade of My mercy I nurtured thee, and guarded thee by the essence of My grace and favour. And My purpose in all this was that thou mightest attain My everlasting dominion and become worthy of My invisible bestowals...'.[19]

His animal nature

The animal nature of man -- `that base and appetitive nature'20 writes Bahá'u'lláh, `physical or animal degree of man',[21] says `Abdu'l-Bahá -- is on the one hand his body, on the other the abstract reality of his so called `natal self' with its `natural emotions'.[22] It is that which Bahá'u'lláh describes as `life of the flesh...common both to men and animals',[23] and which `Abdu'l-Bahá identifies with the `evil promptings of the human heart'.[24]

That the body of man is similar to that of the animal, is a manifest and well-known fact. Among the animals, apes are so similar to man, that many consider him to be their close kin. `Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `The physical body of man is like that of the animal',[25] and elsewhere He explains: man `... cannot continue his existence without sleep, an exigency of nature; he must partake of food and drink, which nature demands and requires.'[26] In another context, He remarks that `... some animals with regard to the sense are more powerful than man',[27] as though He intended to emphasize the fact that human greatness is not due to a physical supremacy.

The `natal self' too, with its `natural emotions', is common both to man and animals. In fact, there are in man, as in animals, instinctive behaviours, whose origin can be traced back to the world of nature. They can be viewed as `programmes of action indicated by the genetical asset or... a precise sequence of chemical instructions contained in the genoma'[28] which, through biochemical and neuro-hormonal processes, originate physiological activities and particular behaviours required, in a world dominated by the law of the struggle for existence, for certain physical goals to be achieved -- preservation, reproduction and regulation. Such are those `natural emotions' Bahá'u'lláh describes as `vain and inordinate affections', `covetous desires',[29] and that are thus listed: `self... desires... passions', `jealousy, greed, the struggle for survival, deception, hypocrisy, tyranny, oppression, disputes, strife, bloodshed, looting and pillaging,'[30] and also `attachment to the world, avarice, envy, love of luxury and comfort, haughtiness and self-desire,' as well as `antagonism, hatred and selfish struggle for existence... jealousy, revenge, ferocity, cunning, hypocrisy, greed, injustice and tyranny.'[31]

`Abdu'l-Bahá considers `natural emotions' as `imperfections', refers to them as `the imperfect attributes of the natal self', and likens them to a `rust which deprives the heart of the bounties of God' and elsewhere to a `dust upon the mirror'.[32]

Whenever natural emotions are not appropriately guided, they lead man to be materialistic, selfish, an opposer of his fellow-men, a coward, a tyrant, in other words, a prisoner of the world of nature and therefore very similar to an animal, obscuring (even as a `rust' or a veil of `dust') the splendour of his spiritual reality. They lead him to comply with the demands of his own animal nature and to satisfy its needs, even though such an attitude may be detrimental to his superior, human and divine reality.

`Abdu'l-Bahá points out that in traditional Holy Writings `this lower nature in man is symbolized as Satan', and explains that Satan is but `the evil ego within us, not an evil personality outside':[33] elsewhere He says: `Satan, or whatever is interpreted as evil, refers to the lower nature in man. This baser nature is symbolized in various ways.'[34]

In the Bahá'í view, therefore the animal nature of man is his body with its natal self. Such a nature expresses itself in genetically programmed behaviours intended, in man as in the animal, to satisfy physical needs, so that he may provide for his own preservation, reproduction and regulation as an individual and as a species in a world ruled by natural laws. Therefore, the animal nature in itself is not `evil'. Undoubtedly it is not evil in the animal. But inasmuch as man has also the capacity to express a superior nature -- which his animal nature is inclined to ignore and to stifle -- such a nature, relatively speaking, may be `evil'.[35]

His human nature

Unique among all the creatures of the world, man has the capacity to throw off the yoke of nature. In the words of `Abdu'l-Bahá: `All created things are captives of nature and subject to its laws. They cannot transgress the control of these laws in one detail or particular. The infinite starry worlds and heavenly bodies are nature's obedient subjects. The earth and its myriad organisms, all minerals, plants and animals are thralls of its dominion. But man through the exercise of his scientific, intellectual power can rise out of his condition, can modify, change and control nature according to his own wishes and uses.'[36]

Man and the animal are, therefore, different, because in man there is a `power different from any of those of the animals',[37] a power which is `supernatural', `... a spirit with which God hath endowed him at creation', a power the Bahá'í texts refer to as human spirit, soul or -- according to the terminology of those who are called by `Abdu'l-Bahá Eastern philosophers -- rational soul. This power expresses itself as intellect, reason, intelligence and -- through the agency of the brain -- as mind. This divine gift -- which distinguishes man from the animals -- is viewed as `the most precious gift bestowed upon man by the Divine Bounty':[38] it is his human nature.

As human spirit manifests itself as the mind, it enables man `to investigate reality', to `perceive what is true'[39] and to understand `the realities, the properties and the effects of the contingent beings':[40] `the outcome of this intellectual endowment is science, which is especially characteristic of man.'[41]

Human spirit bestows upon man the knowledge of the material world; moreover `... it discovers the innermost essence of all things and comprehends realities which cannot be seen', and `... discovers the realities of the things and understands universal principles'.[42] `Through its use man is able to arrive at ideal conclusions instead of being restricted to the mere plane of sense impressions... He acquires divine wisdom; he searches out the mysteries of creation; he witnesses the radiance of omnipotence...' Thus, human spirit enables man `to investigate the ideals of the Kingdom and attain a knowledge which is denied the animal in its limitation'[43] and therefore somehow enables him `to get in touch with those kingdoms'.[44] It is by virtue of his human spirit that `... man is always turned toward the heights, and his aspiration is lofty'; that `he always desires to reach a greater world than the world in which he is, and to mount to a higher sphere than that in which he is. The love of exaltation is one of the characteristics of man... What a difference between the human world and the world of the animal, between the elevation of man and the abasement of the animal, between the perfections of man and the ignorance of the animal...'.[45] In other words -- according to the Bahá'í teachings -- it is the human spirit that confers on man the knowledge of reality, both in the physical or natural world -- and this is how science and technology develop -- and in the metaphysical or spiritual world, enabling him to catch a glimpse of a superior plane of existence and thus kindling in him an eagerness to rise up to it -- and this is how his religious susceptibility develops. However, it is both by his latent spiritual potentialities, representing the third aspect of his nature, or divine nature, and by the assistance of superior spiritual forces, that is the spirit of faith and the Holy Spirit, that man is effectively enabled to raise up to the spiritual plane of existence.

His divine nature

In the Holy Scriptures it is written that man is created in the image and likeness of God. `Abdu'l-Bahá explains that `... the image of the Merciful consists of the attributes of the heavenly Kingdom',[46] and `betokeneth all the qualities of perfection whose lights, emanating from the Sun of Truth, illumine the realities of men, and are among the perfect attributes that lie within wisdom and knowledge.'[47] This is the divine nature of man, that is the power of expressing in the material plane of existence the divine attributes of the world of the Kingdom.

The human spirit enables man both to know spiritual reality, and to express that reality during his earthly life. Such power of understanding, on the one hand, confers upon man his `unique capacity of knowing [God] and of reflecting the greatness of His glory',[48] his `powers of advancement toward spiritual and transcendent kingdoms', his `capacity to attain human virtues', his capacity `to witness the effulgence of the Sun of Reality, reflect the spirit of the Kingdom'[49]; and, on the other, it imbues him with a `love of exaltation'.[50] Therefore `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `This endowment [the power of understanding] is the most praiseworthy power of man, for through its employment and exercise the betterment of the human race is accomplished, the development of the virtues of mankind is made possible and the spirit and mysteries of God become manifest.'[51] In this sense, `Abdu'l-Bahá says also that the intelligence of man is `the intermediary between his body and his spirit',[52] because through his intelligence man is enabled to manifest in himself -- born of matter and therefore alive in the material plane -- a different reality, born of the spirit (whose qualities it manifests as spiritual perceptions and divine virtues) and alive in the spiritual plane. That is `the potentiality of divinity' with which he `is endowed' `in his nature':[53] i.e. his divine nature.

Man is therefore bound to feel a strong tension within himself between his animal and divine nature. On the one hand, he feels in thrall to a heavy and overbearing physical reality, which conveys to him in the form of very unpleasant feelings any individual diminution (that is `passion'), and which demands to be satisfied (that is, `desire') -- very often with awkward urgency and, if unchecked, at any cost.[54] This is the animal within each man; it is (as has already been said) not only his body, but also that nucleus of `natural emotions' arising from his `natal self', abstract when compared to the body, but certainly dependent on and conditioned by the body, because its foundations are undoubtedly to be found in the brain. This is man's animal nature. On the other hand, he also feels something within himself which urges him to make efforts (which are mostly small and weak at the beginning, but which, if he perseveres and complies with them -- become stronger, more effective and somehow gratifying) aimed at bending his own body and natal self towards diverse -- and only initially wearying -- directions of love, peace and selflessness. This is man's divine nature. Therefore, there exist in him both a strong disposition to subordinate to his natal self the entire universe and an opposite need to love his fellow-men, a tension between the urgency of taking and the need of giving, between self-protection and self-sacrifice, between the attraction toward sensible reality (which is felt with great immediacy) and toward an ideal reality (which is felt, if not with the same immediacy, certainly with great pregnancy), between love and hate, war and peace. `Not in any other of the species in the world of existence is there such a difference, contrast, contradiction and opposition as in the species of man.'[55]

The power of understanding, which is typical of human nature, is the instrument capable of acting as an intermediary between these two poles. Whenever man avails himself of it in order to comply with the extremely lively needs of his body and natal self, his life is ruled by the `satanic self',[56] `the evil ego', the `lower nature', `Satan', as Judaic, Christian and Muslim Holy Texts, in a quasi-mythical allusion, call it. In that case, he remains a captive of the `world of nature' to which he is bound by his body; and he is like an animal, because his `natural emotions'[57] -- `the evil promptings of the human heart'58 -- prevail and he therefore manifests mainly animal qualities. The Scriptures say that such a man is dead; and indeed he is alive in the physical level, but in the spiritual plane still his life has really had no beginning, because he has not yet begun to express the potential virtues of the world of the Kingdom which have been infused in him.[59]

On the contrary, whenever, through his power of understanding enlightened by the divine guidance of Revelation, he takes hold of the natural emotions of his natal self, with the intention of using them so that the virtues of his divine nature may emerge, he begins to live in the spiritual plane; that is, he acquires a new personal dimension, which is divine, because it belongs to a world which transcends and enlightens physical reality. This is the beginning of a real transformation, to which the Bahá'í texts refer as `spiritual progress'[60] and the Gospels as `second birth':[61] the first time man is born into the world of nature once he has been conceived; the second time, he is born into the world of the spirit, as he becomes conscious of the qualities or virtues of the world of the Kingdom and manifests them in his life.[62] In this sense `Abdu'l-Bahá says that `man is dual in his aspect' or that h has been given a `dual endowment'.[63]

Human greatness and limitations

The prevailing opinion today is that the power of understanding, the greatest endowment of man, is a sufficient guarantee and instrument for human life, and that man does not need anything else for his progress. Nevertheless a closer examination of human life clearly reveals that the human power of understanding is quite limited and, unaided, cannot guarantee anything, not even an absolutely objective knowledge.

The narrowness of human understanding is manifest even in its most distinguished fruit, `material science'.[64] In fact, this power of understanding leads man, through the experience of his sensory and rational perception, to a quite accurate knowledge of phenomenal reality. Nevertheless, whenever the meaning and the value of certain truths are to be understood and more comprehensive perspectives are to be achieved, or unifying theories formulated, the power of understanding very often misses the mark, as will become manifest when the history of science is studied. How many theories were first considered indisputable, and then, after further and deeper studies, proved to be false, and were discarded!

The limitations of human understanding become evident, even in the eyes of its most passionate advocates, whenever the applications and uses of science are considered. In this respect the power of understanding appears inadequate, because science requires, in its applications and uses, standards of value, or criteria, establishing what is good and what is bad, what is better and what is worse. In this respect, the power of understanding cannot assist us. Hans Schaefer says: `... Science is basically restricted to a cognitive sphere, which means that science can oblige people to focus their intellectual faculties on truth, but is unable in itself to provide a basis for action which is generally acceptable and therefore obligatory.'[65] Man is prevented by the limitations of his power of understanding and by his, often blinding, selfishness from achieving by himself a comprehensive and adequate perspective of reality, fit to guide him toward a good use of those same means science puts at his disposal. If this were not the case, we would not stand today -- in this century which is undoubtedly illumined by the light of intellect -- on the verge of an ecological catastrophe. In this respect man is in need of support: the support of a Unifying Intellect which may both show to him a standard of universal values to be followed for the good of individuals and society, and explain to him the meaning of that standard, thus motivating him in his adherence to it.

These meanings and motivations -- history shows this fact and man can understand it -- are always to be found in a transcendental reality. But, in the face of such transcendental reality, man is very limited in his powers. Guided and restricted in his understanding by his own sensory perception, which can bias him grievously, he is handicapped in grasping the spiritual or metaphysical realities of the transcendental world. And if he can hardly achieve a comprehensive understanding of sensible reality, it is almost impossible for him to achieve a comprehensive understanding of spiritual or metaphysical reality. In this respect, man is in dire need of a `Universal Mind'66 which may explain to him, in conformity with his powers of understanding, the nature of spirit and of his transcendental, spiritual reality, which may enable him to understand his position in the great `creative plan of God',[67] the purpose of his existence, the direction of his development, the process of his growth, the laws governing his existence. Deprived of such transcendental guidance, man -- through his powers of understanding, progresses at most on a merely intellectual and material plane. This is the case with the contemporary Western world, where the human power of understanding, free of the fetters of past superstitions and at long last used in freedom, has made so many useful discoveries. A civilization was born, to which `Abdu'l-Bahá refers as `material',[68] and which, on the one hand, is conducive to wellbeing and progress, but, on the other, is laden with potential and actual dangers for all mankind, inasmuch as it is wholly neglectful of the spiritual truths of transcendental reality and of such values as find their foundation in that world.

Last but not least, man is able through his power of understanding to recognize `the imperfect attributes of the natal self' as well as `the supreme virtue of humanity',[69] but he is not possessed of such forces as are required so that the former may be mastered and the latter achieved. Such forces do not belong to him, but they are at his disposal, if he is able to seize and use them, through his observance of such prescriptions as Revelation alone bestows upon him. Such are those `confirmations of the Kingdom' as have been mentioned by `Abdu'l-Bahá, such is that `dynamic power' which is indispensable for `every great cause' to find `visible expression' in this world, i.e. the `power of the Word of God'.[70] Without these confirmations, there is no possible transformation for man. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `These energies... lie... latent within him [man], even as the flame is hidden within the candle and the rays of light are potentially present in the lamp. The radiance of these energies may be obscured by worldly desires even as the light of the sun can be concealed beneath the dust and dross which cover the mirror. Neither the candle nor the lamp can be lighted through their own unaided efforts, nor can it ever be possible for the mirror to free itself from its dross.'[71]

We have thus said that man is in need of a superior guidance, which may assist him in his scientific efforts, in advancing comprehensive views of reality, in elaborating standards of values, in discovering and understanding metaphysical reality and motivations for his struggle against the natural emotions of his natal self -- a guidance which may bestow upon him the required forces and energies, so that he may conquer in himself the binding power of nature and manifest that wonderful reality which is potentially hidden within him, i.e. his `divine' nature: in other words, so that he may achieve that `spiritual progress' `Abdu'l-Bahá describes in the following words: `spiritual progress is through the breaths of the Holy Spirit and is the awakening of the conscious soul of man to perceive the reality of Divinity.'[72]

His evolution and his divine nature

The appearance of his divine nature is a real and substantial transformation. Such a transformation, like any other, requires a motive and executive power. Whenever a mineral substance undergoes a transformation in its state, a contribution of energy is required. For example, whenever a liquid must be transformed into a gas, i.e. when it must be brought to its boiling point, a contribution of heat is required. That a seed may germinate, a contribution of energy is required, in the form of heat, water and nourishing substances; otherwise that seed will not germinate. In fact any physical work requires a contribution of energy. `Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `Every plan is in need of a power for its execution'.[73] If man wants to rise above his animal nature and manifest his latent divine or spiritual nature, he is in need of a power.

For a more complete understanding of such a process and of the character of the forces assisting man in his spiritual growth, it will be useful to recall the general principles of evolution in the world of creation.[74] The process of evolution develops in the universe because the elemental atoms, moved and guided by the impulse of the omnipresent command of the Word of God, become combined and separated according to such laws as have been introduced therein by that same Word. As atoms become associated, they acquire the capacity of manifesting, in the plane of sensible reality, such spiritual attributes of the world of the Kingdom as cohesion, growth, sense perception, intellectual perception. In man an analogous process takes place: as man, moved by forces of the spirit emanating from the Word of God, follows a course indicated by the command of that same Word, he acquires ever-increasing capacities and mirrors forth more and more perfectly, in the physical world, such spiritual qualities as are typical of his degree. `Abdu'l-Bahá explains this event thus: `Verily, I say unto you that the gifts of thy Lord are encircling thee in a similar way as the spirit encircles the body at the beginning of the amalgamation of the elements and natures in the womb; the power of the spirit begins to appear in the body gradually and successively according to the preparation and capacity to receive that everlasting abundance'.[75] This `power of the spirit' first appears in man as power of cohesion, then as power of growth, then as sense perception, then as intellectual perception and finally as spiritual perception and collective expression of the ideal virtues of the world of the Kingdom.

The sensible and the human world, however, differ from each other in degree: in the sensible world there is no consciousness, nor volition, nor ideation, nor reflection nor conscious intelligence,[76] all of which do exist in man. Therefore, whereas in the sensible reality the evolution and the consequent appearance of the qualities of the spirit are a necessary and inescapable consequence of natural laws and forces infused in the reality of things by the Divine Command, such is not the case with man. Through his power of understanding, man can understand both the process and the laws of his own spiritual growth. Moreover, by virtue of his power of will, he can also make voluntary and conscious efforts to comply with this process and in his observance of its laws. It is thus that he can `overcome the laws and phenomena of nature'.[77] In other words, the evolutionary process of human growth is characterized by the fact that man has the power of understanding the process of his own growth and of promoting it through a willing and conscious effort. Therefore, whereas the realities of the sensible world profit by the bounties of the spirit through a process which does not imply knowledge, attraction or volition, and is therefore necessary, human beings profit by those bounties through a process characterized by three stages: `knowledge, volition and action'.[78] The spiritual transformation of man requires therefore an intermediary of the spirit, manifesting itself on the plane of human life, so that man may recognize it, love it and freely follow its directives. The Bahá'í texts call such an intermediary `Manifestation of God.'[79]

The Manifestation of God is a `... subtle... mysterious and ethereal Being',[80] a Perfect Man, manifesting and revealing to the eyes of mankind as much of the world of the Kingdom as mankind is able to understand and as it is in need of for its own spiritual progress. At the same time, He bestows upon mankind such forces as are required for that progress to take place. Therefore, the Manifestation of God puts at the disposal of mankind the creative forces of the world of the Kingdom, so that men may recognize them and, willingly and freely exposing themselves to their influence, benefit from them. This concept is fundamental in all revealed religions, and a central theme in the Bahá'í Faith: it will be briefly discussed in the following pages.

End notes:

[1] Promulgation, p.129.

[2] ibid. p.302.

[3] Divine Philosophy, p.105.

[4] Promulgation, p.350.

[5] ibid. p.303.

[6] ibid. p.317.

[7] ibid. p.373.

[8] ibid. p.303.

[9] ibid. p.69.

[10] Paris Talks, p.177.

[11] Some Answered Questions, p.235.

[12] Promulgation, p.124. See above, p.59.

[13] One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is founded upon this concept. See above pp.64, 67 and below pp.140-45.

[14] Promulgation, p.220.

[15] Some Answered Questions, pp.183, 286.

[16] Promulgation, p.69. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Some have described him as the "lesser world", when, in reality, he should be regarded as the "greater world".' (Gleanings, p.340.)

[17] `The Three Realities', in Star of the West, VII, pp.117-18.

[18] Promulgation, p.83.

[19] Hidden Words, Persian no. 29.

20 Gleanings, p.161.

[21] Paris Talks, p.96.

[22] Promulgation, pp.310, 244.

[23] Kitáb-i-Íqán, p.120.

[24] Selections, p.256.

[25] Quoted in `Studies in Immortality', in Star of the West, XIV, p.37.

[26] Promulgation, p.81.

[27] Some Answered Questions, p.217.

[28] M. Piattelli Palmarini, `Sui limiti della razionalità', in Scienza e Tecnica 75, p.180. `Genome' is the collective term for all genes.

[29] Gleanings, pp.323, 316-17.

[30] Selections, p.206.

[31] Promulgation, pp.244, 465.

[32] ibid. pp.244, 465, 310. 244. Bahá'u'lláh describes them also as `the dross and dust of earthly cares and limitations.' Gleanings, p.67.) As for the meaning of self, see below, p.126, and no. 45.

[33] Promulgation, pp.287. Bahá'u'lláh, in one of His Writings, refers to the natal self as `satanic self'. (Seven Valleys, p.11.)

[34] ibid. pp.294-5.

[35] This concept falls under the Bahá'í concept of good and evil already referred to on p.46 and no. 84.

[36] Promulgation, p.30. `When `Abdu'l-Bahá says man breaks the laws of nature, He means we shape nature to meet our own needs, as no animal does. Animals adapt themselves to better fit in with and benefit from their environment. But men both surmount and change environment.' (on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui, p.85.)

[37] Some Answered Questions, p.187.

[38] Promulgation, pp.49, 259, 41.

[39] ibid. p.291, 63.

[40] Some Answered Questions, p.218.

[41] Promulgation, p.29.

[42] Selections, pp.46, 61-2.

[43] Promulgation, pp.262-3.

[44] Paris Talks, p.41.

[45] Some Answered Questions, p.188.

[46] Promulgation, p.335. `And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' (Genesis 1:26.)

[47] Selections, p.140.

[48] Gleanings, p.77.

[49] Promulgation, pp.302, 378, 328.

[50] Some Answered Questions, p.188.

[51] Promulgation, p.31.

[52] Paris Talks, p.96.

[53] Promulgation, p.317.

[54] ibid. p.184.

[55] Some Answered Questions, p.236.

[56] Seven Valleys, p.11.

[57] Promulgation, pp.287, 357, 244.

58 Selections, p.256.

[59] In this regard `Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `... as is clearly indicated in the Gospel where it says: "Let the dead bury their dead"... inasmuch as he who would bury these dead was alive with the vegetative, animal and rational human soul, yet did Christ - to whom be glory! - declare such dead and devoid of life, in that this person was devoid of the Spirit of Faith which is of the Kingdom of God.' (Tablets, p.116.)

[60] Promulgation, p.142.

[61] See John 3:1-8.

[62] These concepts explain the great difference between animals and men. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `The physical body of man is like that of the animal, the only difference being on the level of consciousness.' (quoted in `Studies in Immortality', in Star of the West, XIV, p.37.) In fact if the highest perfection for animals is happiness and well-being through the physical perception of the material world, for man the highest perfection is in the knowledge of reality, on the one hand, and in `the attainment of the supreme virtues of humanity through descent of the heavenly bestowals' (Promulgation, p.4), `the honor allotted to man', (ibid. p.166) on the other. In this sense `Abdu'l-Bahá confirms the concepts of `the philosophers of the East - such as Plato, Aristotle and the Persians', who `divide the world of existence or phenomena of life into two general categories or kingdoms: one the animal kingdom, or world of nature, the other the human kingdom, or world of reason.' (ibid. pp.356-7.)

[63] ibid. p.324.

[64] ibid. p.138.

[65] Quoted in U. Schaefer, The Imperishable Dominion, pp.81-2.

66 Selections, p.256.

[67] Promulgation, p.293.

[68] ibid. p.11.

[69] ibid. pp.310, 4.

[70] Quoted in Peace (comp.), p.13.

[71] Gleanings, p.66.

[72] Promulgation, pp.465, 142. When in the fifties, in the definitely materialistic aim of boosting the sales of consumer goods in the United States, the motivations of human behaviour were first studied, so that they might be exploited in the production of advertising material, researchers discovered that only in a few cases were the motives of human behaviour rational; on the contrary, it was mostly determined by what psychologists call the unconscious or subconscious and which, in the Bah '[exclamdown] view and in this context, may be defined as the natural emotions of the natal self. It is clear that these emotions are not the expression of the best or noblest side of man. No wonder that a man who follows them almost blindly finds himself today in such an intricate personal and social situation. It would appear, then, that in this modern world man is in need of a new scale of values appropriate to his new situation, inasmuch as the old values have been mostly criticized and rejected. This new scale should be one that anyone may understand and feel the urgency and the need of concentrating his energies upon it, thus finding a motivation in his struggle to give his spiritual qualities priority over his natural emotions. Human behaviour will then become more adequate to both individual and social progress. This is one of the most important goals of the Bahá'í Faith, as it has been of every other religion, at least in their early stages.

[73] Quoted in `The Need of a Universal Program', in Star of the West, XIII, p.132.

[74] In this regard `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `The world of humanity cannot advance through mere physical powers and intellectual attainments; nay, rather, the Holy Spirit is essential. The divine Father must assist the human world to attain maturity. The body of man is in need of physical and mental energy, but his spirit requires the life and fortification of the Holy Spirit. Without its protection and quickening, the human world would be extinguished.' (Promulgation, p.182.) He says moreover: `Bahá'u'lláh has announced that no matter how far the world of humanity may advance in material civilization, it is nevertheless in need of spiritual virtues and the bounties of God. 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. In the process of this attainment he is ever in need of the bestowals of the Holy Spirit.'(ibid. p.288.)

[75] In Bahá'í World Faith, p.367.

[76] See Promulgation, pp.17, 30, 54, 58, 61, 80, 90-1, 172, 178, 241, 332, 357, 417.

[77] Ibid. p.353.

[78] In this context it is easier to understand the concepts of fate , predestination and will expounded by `Abdu'l-Bahá: `Fate and predestination consist in the necessary and indispensable relationships which exist in the realities of things. These relationships have been placed in the realities of existent beings through the power of creation and every incident is a consequence of the necessary relationship. For example, God hath created a relation between the sun and the terrestrial globe, that the rays of the sun should shine and the soil should yield. This relationship constitutes predestination, and the manifestation thereof in the plane of existence is fate. Will is the active force which controlleth these relationships and these incidents.' (Selections, p.198.)

[79] Bahá'u'lláh writes: `... is not the object of every Revelation to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly and inwardly, that shall, affect both its inner life and external conditions? For if the character of mankind be not changed, the futility of God's universal Manifestations would be apparent.' (Kitáb-i-Íqán, p.241.) And `Abdu'l-Bahá explains: `There is a point in which the philosophers and the prophets differ. The philosophers make education the test of knowledge, holding that any man who receives sufficient education can attain a state of perfection. That is to say, man possesses the potentiality for every kind of progress and education enables him to bring this into the court of objectivity.

`The prophets say that something else is necessary. It is true that education transforms the desert into a rose gar-den, the virgin forest into an orchard, saplings into trees, and single flowers into double and treble flowers, but there is a fundamental difference in man. You can know ten children of one country, in the same school, under the same master, treated and fed in the same way. One of these children may make great progress, others may remain stationary. In the innate nature there are differences of memory, perception and intelligence. There is a superior, a middle and an inferior degree which correspond to the difference in the fundamental states of creation. While recognizing the influence of education we must also become acquainted with the innate disposition.

`The prophets are sent to educate this innate quality in humanity.' (Divine Philosophy, pp.103-40.)

In this regard, Shoghi Effendi wrote through his secretary: `With the appearance of every Revelation a new in-sight is created in man and this in turn expresses itself in the growth of science.' (quoted in The Light of Divine Guidance, II, p.21.) In other words, it is necessary that the substance of man (character, inborn disposition, in-sight) is perfected, so that he may progress.

[80] Gleanings, p.66.

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