One day I read this online,
“There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us. This universal force is Love. When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force. Love is Light, that enlightens those who give and receive it. Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others. Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals. For love we live and die. Love is God and God is Love.” –Anonymous
On the spiritual journey to God, I found this is so true– the love of God is the fountain of joy and it is the only power that can unite the human heart. The thing is, do we know to discover this divine force can only through divine teaching, spiritual education? Do we know it is the subject of divine science and it only can seek through the human heart, not mind?
Why does a man need spiritual education?
In the world of existence there is nothing so important as spirit, nothing so essential as the spirit of man. The spirit of man is the most noble of phenomena. The spirit of man is the meeting between man and God. The spirit of man is the animus of human life and the collective center of all human virtues. The spirit of man is the cause of the illumination of this world. The world may be likened to the body; man is the spirit of the body, because the light of the world is the human spirit. Man is the life of the world, and the life of man is the spirit. The happiness of the world depends upon man, and the happiness of man is dependent upon the spirit. — Abdu’l-Bahá, The promulgation of world peace, 4/14/1912
In God’s creation, it is the human spirit that distinguishes humans from others. With only our physical virtues, it doesn’t make us different from nature. If we don’t use our intellectual and spiritual faculties (the supernatural power we are endowed with) for our spiritual virtues to develop, and if we don’t make these spiritual virtues manifest in creation, then we are not fulfilling the purpose for which we have been created, to make manifest the human spirit in this world.
The world may be likened to the lamp chimney, whereas man is the light. Man himself may be likened to the lamp; his spirit is the light within the lamp. — Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 4/14/1912
It is spiritual virtues that make the body come alive. The spirit is the reality of life. The body is the instrument for manifesting and expressing that life. Therefore, spiritual education is for man to develop spiritual virtues, to make the spirit of man manifest in the world.
What is spiritual education?
Spiritual education is like school, where we learn knowledge (tools), and then we exercise these tools (knowledge and our intellectual power, such as observation, analysis, thinking, understanding…), and then we create something new to benefit all– either inventions, ideas, or improved policy, to benefit society.
Divine knowledge is one of the tools of spiritual education. We learn the divine knowledge, and then we exercise our intellectual and spiritual facilities (such as self-awareness, insight, reflection, contemplation… ) and learn to apply the knowledge in our daily life. From our spiritual practice, we discover the power of the Word of God and the love of God. Through seeking God, the source of everything, and loving Him, we understand how that power can help us to make the transformation of our lives and make an improvement in the world.
O SON OF MAN! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life. (Baháu’lláh, The Hidden Words, part 1, 70)
Spiritual education is for us to discover something from God and learn how to use that which God has bestowed on us as tools to discover the reality of creation. The reality of creation includes our spirit of life, how it is sustained by God; the power within us, how it connects with God’s power… In the end, we can understand how everything connects and reaches the station of divine unity. World peace is the result of unity in this contingent world. We may achieve that through the understanding of divine knowledge. And to understand that knowledge we need to love God and have fear of Him.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. –Proverbs 1:7 (KJV)
The condition of the world is a reflection of the condition of human nature. Spiritual education helps us understand the connection between spiritual and physical reality, and how to use divine power to help us control our lower nature (animal nature) and raise it to a higher nature (divine nature). It also helps us know how to use the resources of the spiritual realm, which is divine assistance and divine power to help us in the process. God has made everything available for us to achieve our life purpose. Spiritual education helps us in learning and practicing to attain our higher nature.
Spiritual education is like another wing of the educational system. Abdu’l-Bahá said it is like two wings of man.
For man two wings are necessary. One wing is physical power and material civilization; the other is spiritual power and divine civilization. With one wing only, flight is impossible. Two wings are essential. Therefore, no matter how much material civilization advances, it cannot attain to perfection except through the uplift of spiritual civilization. — Abdu’l-Bahá, The promulgation of world peace, 4/14/1912
Today we let the material world dominate our minds and maintain traditional ideas about how to seek solutions from material power, unless we accept the spiritual education from God and seek divine guidance to understand the more powerful spiritual solutions He made available for us. Over thousands of years, humanity has not found the solution for world peace. It is time for human awakening and to realize that we are more capable to love one another. Abdu’l-Bahá also said,
He (man) puts forth arduous labors to fathom terrestrial mysteries but is not at all concerned about knowing the mysteries of the Kingdom, traversing the illimitable fields of the eternal world, becoming informed of the divine realities, discovering the secrets of God, attaining the knowledge of God, witnessing the splendors of the Sun of Truth and realizing the glories of everlasting life. He is unmindful and thoughtless of these. …How conducive to his degradation! It is as if a kind and loving father had provided a library of wonderful books for his son in order that he might be informed of the mysteries of creation, at the same time surrounding him with every means of comfort and enjoyment, but the son amuses himself with pebbles and playthings, neglectful of all his father’s gifts and provision. How ignorant and heedless is man! The Father has willed for him eternal glory, and he is content with blindness and deprivation. The Father has built for him a royal palace, but he is playing with the dust; prepared for him garments of silk, but he prefers to remain unclothed; provided for him delicious foods and fruits, while he seeks sustenance in the grasses of the field. — Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 7/6/1912
When a scientist delves into the knowledge of his predecessors in science, his intellect is strengthened and he enters a creative mode. In the same way, when a divine scientist allows himself to be submerged in the knowledge of God, his intellectual and spiritual facilities can be strengthened under the power of God. In this way, he is ready to discover more of the mystery of divine power and testify how that power can bring a person and society to create a peaceful mind.
The barriers of separation among mankind are due to lack of spiritual education and to knowledge of the Universal laws. The teaching of God is not religious doctrine. Moral teaching and precepts are the love of God protecting us, like the rules in a school or in a lab to provide a safe learning environment. Prayer and meditation is the pathway, from outward to inward, to the laboratory of divine science (heart) and it is such an honor to be allowed to close to the Divine Teacher and His guidance. We must throw away the traditional ideas of religion. Religion is God’s bounty for us to have spiritual education, for us to learn and to exercise the tools (divine knowledge and instruments) which already have been given, for us to discover the oneness of reality and our own potentiality, and for us to see how rich we have been created. Religion is for the purpose to know God and to worship Him when we know how Bountiful He is.
O SON OF HIM THAT STOOD BY HIS OWN ENTITY IN THE KINGDOM OF HIS SELF!
Know thou, that I have wafted unto thee all the fragrances of holiness, have fully revealed to thee My word, have perfected through thee My bounty and have desired for thee that which I have desired for My Self. Be then content with My pleasure and thankful unto Me. (Baháu’lláh, The Hidden Words, part 1, 70)
Baha’i Institute Process for spiritual education
In this dispensation, God reveals the divine knowledge even more than in the past. He is guiding us to the Tabernacle of Divine Unity. The institute process in the Baha’i community, guide by the Universal House of justice, is an institutionalized spiritual education collective learning process. Its purpose is to work toward world peace and unity through building spiritually vibrant community. The work is carried out through four core activities, group studies, children’s classes, a junior youth empowerment program, and devotion gatherings. These activities are community based. The purpose is to apply the spiritual principles in an individual’s daily life and community life, through the interaction among the members to create a stronger community connection. In this way, individual transformation can happen through community service, and at the same time, each individual’s effort becomes the active force for community transformation. Baha’i communities are a global community. Their community building process operates around the world. Many communities around the world are working together toward world peace. This is a global movement in a collective spiritual practice. The education experience is shared worldwide. This institute process implements the spiritual principles prescribed by Baha’u’llah. Spiritual education is truly the bounty of God.