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Editor: Dianne Bradford, 5384 Tansas Ln., Hilliard, OH 43026

Vol. 1, No. 8

     Topic: Spiritual Qualities to Perfect             Page 1
      This newsletter is dedicated to all seekers after the Eternal Truth.

      Why is it important for us as individuals to work so hard (and hard work it is indeed) to better ourselves, to increase our spirituality: to perfect to the best of our ability those spiritual qualities called virtues that have been stressed by every Messenger of God through the ages? The next few quotes from the Bahá'í Writings should provide some answers to that question and explain the importance of strengthening the spiritual, the divine part of ourselves:

     O SON OF MAN!
      Rejoice in the gladness of thine heart, that thou mayest be worthy to
      meet Me and to mirror forth My beauty.1

      Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true education; for in this estate man becomes the focus of divine blessings, the manifestation of the words, "Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness." [cf. Gen 1:26] This is the goal of the world of humanity.2     

      . . .when the spirit is fed with holy virtues, then is the body joyous; if the soul falls into sin, the body is in torment!
           When we find truth, constancy, fidelity, and love, we are happy; but if we meet with lying, faithlessness, and deceit, we are miserable.3

      Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My
      place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation.4

      . . .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, then is he fallen from his high place and he becomes inferior to the inhabitants of the lower animal kingdom. In this case the 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 than the lower animals themselves. All his aspirations and
desires being strengthened by the lower side of the soul's nature, he becomes more and more brutal, until his whole being is in no way superior to the beasts that perish. Men such as this, plan to work evil, to hurt and to destroy; they are entirely without the spirit of Divine compassion, for the celestial quality of the soul has been dominated by that of the material. 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
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him; he radiates the Mercy of God, stimulates the spiritual progress of mankind, for he becomes a lamp to show light on their path.5

           The previous passages clearly state the importance of strengthening our spiritual nature. Just what are these spiritual qualities that we are expected to strive to perfect? The following quotes should point out several of them, including some of the most important ones:

      My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.6     

      Indeed thy Lord loveth fidelity as found in the realm of creation and He hath given it precedence over most of the praiseworthy qualities. Verily, He is Potent and Powerful.7

We should at all times manifest our truthfulness and sincerity, nay rather, we must be constant in our faithfulness and trustworthiness, and occupy ourselves in offering prayers for the good of all. 8

      Know thou of a truth: He that biddeth men be just and himself mmitteth iniquity is not of Me, even though he bear My name.9
      Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not. This is my command unto thee, do thou observe it.10
      A good character is, verily, the best mantle for men from God. With it He adorneth the temples of His loved ones. By My life! The light of a good character surpasseth the light of the sun and the radiance thereof. Whoso attaineth unto it is accounted as a jewel among men. The glory and the upliftment of the world must needs depend upon it. A goodly character is a means whereby men are guided to the Straight Path and are led unto the Great Announcement. Well is it with him who is adorned with the saintly attributes and character of the Concourse on High.

           It beseemeth you to fix your gaze under all conditions upon justice and fairness. In the Hidden Words this exalted utterance hath been revealed from Our Most August Pen: 'O Son of Spirit! The best-beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes, and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.'
           They that are just and fair-minded in their judgement occupy a sublime station and hold an exalted rank. The light of piety and uprightness shineth resplendent from these souls. We earnestly hope that the peoples and countries of the worlds may not be deprived of the splendours of these two luminaries.11

      The fourth Taráz concerneth trustworthiness. Verily it is the door of security for all that dwell on earth and a token of glory on the part of the All-Merciful. He who partaketh thereof hath indeed partaken of the treasures of wealth and prosperity. Trustworthiness is the greatest portal leading unto the tranquility and security of the people. In truth the stability of every affair hath depended and doth depend upon it. All the domains of power, of grandeur and of wealth are illumined by its light. . . .
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      . . . O people of Bahá! Trustworthiness is in truth the best of vestures for your temples and the most glorious crown for your heads. Take ye fast hold of it at the behest of Him Who is the Ordainer, the

      And likewise He saith: The heaven of true understanding shineth resplendent with the light of two luminaries: tolerance and righteousness. O my friend! Vast oceans lie enshrined within this brief saying. Blessed are they who appreciate its value, drink deep therefrom and grasp its meaning, and woe betide the heedless. This lowly one entreateth the people of the world to observe fairness, that their tender, their delicate and precious hearing which hath been created to hearken unto the words of wisdom may be freed from impediments and from such illusions, idle fancies or vain imaginings as 'cannot fatten nor appease the hunger', so that the true Counselor may be graciously inclined to set forth that which is the source of blessing for mankind and of the highest good for all nations.13

      O my friend! In all circumstances one should seize upon every means which will promote security and tranquility among the peoples of the world. The Great Being saith: In this glorious Day whatever will purge you from corruption and will lead you towards peace and composure, is indeed the Straight Path.14

      Adorn your heads with the garlands of trustworthiness and fidelity, your hearts with the attire of the Fear of God, your tongues with absolute truthfulness, your bodies with the vesture of courtesy. These are in truth seemly adornings unto the temple of man, if ye be of them that reflect. 15
           Say: O people of God! Adorn your temples with the adornment of trustworthiness and piety. Help, then, your Lord with the hosts of goodly deeds and a praiseworthy character. We have forbidden you dissention and conflict. . .16          

Men should hold in their souls the vision of celestial perfection, and there prepare a dwelling-place for the inexhaustible bounty of the Divine Spirit.17

      .One should not ignore the truth of any matter, rather should one give expression to that which is right and true. The people of Bahá should not deny any soul the reward due to him . . .18

           Before closing this issue, some passages would be appropriate on striving to purify and sanctify ourselves in order to "attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding"19 and to draw closer to God. He, after all, is our true and ultimate Goal. Two such passages are presented for your consideration.

           No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth. Sanctify your souls, O ye peoples of the world; that haply ye may attain
that station which God hath destined for you and enter thus the tabernacle which, according to the dispensations of Providence, hath been raised in the firmament of the Bayán.
               The essence of these words is this: they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst for the wine of certitude, must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly---their ears from idle talk, their minds from
vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth. They should
put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way. Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories of the sun of divine knowledge and understanding, and become the recipients of a grace that is infinite and unseen, imasmuch as man can never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious, can never quaff from the stream of divine knowledge and wisdom, can never enter the abode
of immortality, nor partake of the cup of divine nearness and favour, unless and until he ceases to regard
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the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets19

      Know thou that in the Bayán purification is regarded as the most acceptable means for attaining nearness unto God and as the most meritorious of all deeds. Thus purge thou thine ear that thou mayest hear no mention besides God, and purge thine eye that it behold naught except God, and thy conscience that it perceive naught other than God, and thy tongue that it proclaim nothing but God, and thy hand to write naught but the words of God, and thy knowledge that it comprehend naught except God, and thy heart that it entertain no wish save God, and in like manner purge all thine acts and thy pursuits that thou mayest be nurtured in the paradise of pure love, and perchance mayest attain the presence of Him Whom
God shall make manifest, adorned with a purity which He highly cherisheth, and be sanctified from whosoever hath turned away from Him and doth not support Him. Thus shalt thou manifest a purity that shall profit thee.
                Know thou that every ear which hearkeneth unto His Words with true faith shall be immune from the fire. Thus the believer, through his recognition of Him will appreciate the transcendent character of His heavenly Words, will whole-heartedly choose Him over others, and will refuse to incline his affections towards those who disbelieve in Him. Whatever one gaineth in the life to come is but the fruit of this faith. Indeed any man whose eye gazeth upon His Words with true faith well deserveth Paradise; and one whose conscience beareth witness unto His Words with true faith shall abide in Paradise and attain the presence of God; and one whose tongue giveth utterance to His Words with true faith shall have his abode in Paradise, wherein he will be seized with ecstasy in praise and glorification of God, the Ever-Abiding, Whose revelations of glory never end and the reviving breaths of Whose holiness never fail. Every hand which setteth down His Words with true faith shall be filled by God, both in this world and in the next, with things that are highly prized; and every breast which committeth His Words to memory, God shall cause, if it were that of a believer, to be filled with His love; and every heart which cherisheth the love of His Words and manifesteth in itself the signs of true faith when His Name is mentioned, and exemplifieth the words, 'their hearts are thrilled with awe at the mention of God' (Quran 8:2), that heart will become the object of the glances of divine favour and on the Day of Resurrection will be highly praised by God.20

      To conclude, follows two quotations from Bahá'u'lláh Himself which summarize and outline the most important qualities.

      ...The virtues and attributes pertaining unto God are all evident and manifest, and have been mentioned and described in all the heavenly Books. Among them are trustworthiness, truthfulness, purity of heart while communing with God, forbearance, resignation to whatever the Almighty hath decreed, contentment with the things His Will hath provided, patience, nay, thankfulness in the midst of tribulation, and complete reliance, in all circumstances, upon Him. These rank, according to the estimate of God, among the highest and most laudable of all acts. All other acts are, and will ever remain, secondary and subordinate unto them.21 ss

. . . The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth.22     

1 Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, p 12
2 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8
3 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 65
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4 Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, p 17
5 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 97-98
6 Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 3
7 Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp 200-201
8 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 294
9 Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 10.
10 Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 10.
11 Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp 36-37
12 Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp 37-38
13 Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Baha'ullah, pp 169-170.
14 Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Baha'ullah, p 171.
15 Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas p. 62.
16 Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p 120
17 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 99.
18 Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p 38.
19 Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Iqán, pp. 3-4
20 The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, pp. 98-99.
21 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p 290.
22 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p 215.
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