We are God’s lamp and our light is from God. Our love is from God. Our justice, mercy, generosity, and wisdom are from God. He is the source of these qualities. No matter which parts of creation we look at, we see signs of the power of God, of His knowledge and His bounty. We learn about the invisible spiritual world through analogy of the visible world. What we see, hear and feel of the visible world helps us to understand the perceptions of the invisible world. For example, the sun give us bright and warm feelings, similarly when we receive the truth of God’s love it gives light and warm feelings to our spirit. A rock gives us the sense of firmness, so we say we should be as firm as rocks in our love for God, and God’s love gives us strength and helps us to be firm. When we see mountains, they remind us of the power and majesty of God. When we see the rain pouring down from the clouds, it can remind us of God’s generosity and grace. When we see sunlight shining on everything, it can remind us that the light of God also shines on every created thing and is reflected in it, although only mankind has the potential to reflect all the names of God. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also says that we are “the noblest of all beings, the sum of all perfections.” So we should never forget that we have all the signs of God in us.
Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created. (Bahá’u’lláh)
If good things come from God, then where do bad things come from? If we were created noble, then why do we abase ourselves? Let’s think about the two natures of the human being: the spiritual, or higher nature and the material, or lower nature. Qualities such as love, mercy, kindness, truthfulness, and justice belong to our higher nature. It is in this sense that we have been created noble. Our material nature is the part that we have in common with animals. Imperfections like selfishness, cruelty, and jealousy come from it. There is no such thing as good or bad in the world of animals. Animals act according to their instincts. They eat. They drink. They wander about and they sleep. They are captives of these desires. The poisonous snake stings when it feels danger. The hungry wolf hunts other animals in order to survive. It is not wrong for an animal to do any of these things. But we abase ourselves when we live just like animals. We don’t abase ourselves because there is a devil that makes us do so, but because we become captives of the desires of our lower nature.
All men have been created to carry forward an every-advancing civilization. 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. (Bahá’u’lláh)
Acting according to our higher nature takes discipline. Discipline requires patience and perseverance. The Buddha teaches us to get control our own mind. Our lower nature is like gravity pulling us down. To go against the gravity we need another force to lift us up, so we can rise up towards our higher nature. What is this force that can lift us? It comes from turning toward heaven, toward God. We can pray for divine assistance. We need the power of divine assistance to help us lift up to reach the higher nature. Self-discipline can be reflected in our attitudes and actions. When we encounter difficulty, with self-discipline we can try to see where the problem is and patiently solve the problem or make an improvement; when we face disputes, through self-discipline we can control our emotions and really listen to each other and think only what is good for the situation … Self-discipline is not easy to do in the beginning, but we can turn toward God and ask His assistance to give us strength. Relying on the power of faith will help us be patient and be able to lift us higher up and be transformed.
Our lower nature is not evil. For example, our desire for food is necessary for survival in this life, for children to grow and adults to lead productive lives. So, the desire for food is not bad but our higher nature should control it, so that we don’t become greedy and want more than our share, or more than is healthy. Anger has its usefulness too. When we express anger over injustice we show we care for others instead of being indifferent. But, our higher nature should control it, so that we don’t lose our temper, or do some crazy thing, which in the end will bring more problems. Fear helps us to avoid dangers that surround us in order to survive. Fear protects us from danger. But through our higher nature, we learn to overcome our fears and develop courage. We can overcome our fear of failure by understanding there is no such thing called failure, but only mistakes. Mistakes are only part of our learning process. Mistakes help us develop the courage to learn. They also help us to be better each time when we learn from them. Desires can be good or bad, but through our higher nature we can channel our desire towards learning and improving ourselves, desire for justice, desire to show kindness kindness to others, desire to serve mankind and to make the world a better place. This kind of desire should be praised and encouraged.
It follows therefore that in existence and creation there is no evil at all, but that when man’s innate qualities are used in an unlawful way, they become blameworthy. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions 57.9)
There is a very important idea that we need to understand, God has not created evil. He has only created good. Evil is the absence of good. Think of light and darkness. There are particles of light called photons. The rays of light are made of these photons. But there are no particles of darkness. Where there is no light there is darkness. Ignorance is lack of knowledge. Hate appears when there is no love. Pride is the absence of humility. When we lack something, we sense a void and we try to fill the void. If we feel a lack of love, we can learn to love. We can learn to be humble, to be merciful, and to be compassionate.
Praise be to God! Man ever aspires to greater heights and loftier goals. He ever seeks to attain a world surpassing that which he inhabits, and to ascend to a degree above that which he occupies. This love of transcendence is one of the hallmarks of man. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions 48.8)
I have perfected in every one of you My creation, so that the excellence of My handiwork may be fully revealed unto men.
Love is light in whatsoever house it may shine and enmity is darkness in whatsoever abode it dwell.
Therefore, you must thank God that He has bestowed upon you the blessing of life and existence in the human kingdom. Strive diligently to acquire virtues befitting your degree and station. Be as lights of the world which cannot be hid and which have no setting in horizons of darkness.
The will and plan of God is that each individual member of humankind shall become illumined like unto a lamp, radiant with all the destined virtues of humanity, leading his fellow creatures out of natural darkness into the heavenly light.
O Lord! Make me as a lamp shining throughout Thy lands that those in whose hearts the light of Thy knowledge gloweth and the yearning for Thy love lingereth may be guided by its radiance.
Make firm our steps, O Lord, in Thy path and strengthen Thou our hearts in Thine obedience. Turn our faces toward the beauty of Thy oneness, and gladden our bosoms with the signs of Thy divine unity. Adorn our bodies with the robe of Thy bounty, and remove from our eyes the veil of sinfulness, and give us the chalice of Thy grace; that the essence of all beings may sing Thy praise before the vision of Thy grandeur. Reveal then Thyself, O Lord, by Thy merciful utterance and the mystery of Thy divine being, that the holy ecstasy of prayer may fill our souls—a prayer that shall rise above words and letters and transcend the murmur of syllables and sounds—that all things may be merged into nothingness before the revelation of Thy splendor. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)