心靈瑜珈 Yoga in spirit

在瑜珈教室,我們在動作裡,觀照我們的心,藉由提高動作的挑戰性,來訓練肌肉與我們不放棄的心,藉以提升到更深一層的身、心平衡。這種練習,可以幫助我們在身體限制上的超越。
The physical challenges we face when we are doing yoga exercise relate to our muscles and mind. By learning to have awareness of our body and mind in yoga class, with each challenge we practice deeper levels of balance of our body and mind. This kind of practice can also help us overcome limitations of our physical abilities.

在社會教室,我們在與人互動中觀照我們的心,在人際關係的挑戰中,來鍛練我們靈魂的「肌肉」(靈性生命的韌性)與不放棄改善人際關係的心,如此可達到更上一層的心、靈平衡。不同身體部位的肌肉,我們給那肌肉一個名稱;不同靈魂的肌肉,我們給它一個靈性品質的名稱(譬如善良、誠實、慈悲等等⋯)。這種對靈魂「肌肉」的鍛鍊,可以使靈魂(靈性生命)更強韌與茁壯。

When we face challenges in our relationships it can help us exercise the balance of spirit and mind. By awareness of the feelings of our heart and mind while we interact with people, we can overcome bad feelings, change our heart and improve the relationships we have with others and achieve a balance of the mind and spirit. The muscles in different parts of body have names. Our spiritual muscles related to different characteristic are called virtues. As we seek to improve challenging relationships we practice deeper levels of balance of spirit (heart) and mind. This kind of practice can also help us free our mind and spirit.

身體的健康在身體的感覺裡,心靈的健康在「心」的感受裡。身體的感受只能用幾個形容詞及程度來描述,「心」有很多種感受,但不一定每種感受都可以被恰當地表達。

The wellness of the body can be sensed when our body feels good. The wellness of our soul is sensed in the feelings of the heart. We can express the sensations of body in a few words with different degrees. The feelings of our heart often can’t be verbalized.

肌肉疼痛是身體狀況的警訊,負面情緒是「靈魂(靈性生命)」狀況的徵兆。藉著瑜珈,可練習調整身、心的平衡;藉著祈禱與默思(meditation),可以練習調整心、靈的平衡。養成運動的習慣可以維持及改善身體的狀況,養成轉念活在正念的習慣可以改善靈魂(靈性生命)的狀態。

Pain in our muscles is a warning sign for our body’s wellness. Negative emotion is a warning sign for the wellness of the mind, and the condition of the human soul. Through yoga movements we practice the balance of body and mind. Through prayer and meditation we practice the balance of mind and spirit. With development of an exercise habit we can maintain and improve the condition of the body. With exercise of mindfulness we can maintain and improve the condition of the soul.

身、心平衡的練習,在瑜珈或動中禪中去練習,藉著同時觀照身、心,依身體狀況去調整心的狀態或藉由調心來調身,以達到身、心的平衡。心、靈平衡的練習,在祈禱默思或遇緣對境中,藉著同時觀照心的感受與心念,然後由調整心念去改變心的感受,以找到心、靈的平衡。靈魂狀態表現在心念與「心」對事情的感受裡,就像身體狀態表現在身體的感覺與心對身體的感受中。
The balance of body and mind is maintained with yoga practice and moving meditation. With awareness of both body and mind, we can adjust the condition of each to lead to a balance. The same is true with the balance of mind and spirit. Awareness of the feelings of the heart and the mind can help us adjust the way we look at things or perceive things and lead to a balance. The essence of the human soul is invisible, but can be observed through the feelings of our heart and the condition of our mind.

心靈瑜伽可以在靜坐默思(meditation )中練習,與人互動的人際關係中,更是心靈瑜珈練習的場所,心靈瑜珈要在我們每天的生活中、那挑戰的人際關係中去練習,關係的改善與情緒的減少是心靈健康改善的指標,也是內在生命成長的象徵。
We can practice yoga in spirit with meditation. But the real practice of yoga in spirit is in our daily life when we interact with people in challenging relationships. The improvement of a relationship and the reduction of emotion is the indicator of the improvement of wellness of mind and soul. It’s also the sign of the growth of inner life.

服務人群、服侍於上帝聖道,是最好的身、心、靈平衡練習。因為那需要超越身體的安逸,這是身、心平衡的練習;在服務中追求神的愛與榮耀神,就能愈來愈有喜樂泉湧,這是心、靈的平衡。心是關鍵、是主宰,若我們能駕馭心,成為「心」的主宰,那麼身心靈就能合而為一。這種內外一致的真「真誠」,那是真正的做自己。
To serve people and serve the Cause of God is the best way to practice the balance of body, mind, and spirit. In order to not overemphasize bodily comfort and be able to serve, we practice the balance of body and mind. In order to glorify God in love and joy, we practice the balance of mind and spirit. Our mind controls what we do, so if we can practice to be the master of our own mind, then the balance of body, mind, and soul can be achieved. Our inner and outer being will become one. Then, the true self can be found and we can truly live as we were created.

靈裡的禱告 Pray in spirit

prayer

榮光之子啊! 除了我,忘記一切並與我靈交。這乃是我誡命的精華,轉向它吧。(巴哈歐拉,隱言經16)

O Son of Light! Forget all save Me and commune with My spirit. This is of the essence of My command, therefore turn unto it. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words 16)

靈裡的禱告是忘掉一切想法和外面的環境,而顧到的是裏面的感受。譬如碰到困難時,帶著事情來到神面前祈求神幫助,我們顧慮的就是(外面的)事情,而不是(裏面的)感受,這是心思的禱告。若我們帶著的是感受來祈禱,我們在神面前面對的是自己的軟弱(害怕或擔心的感受),我們祈求的自然是克服軟弱的力量,我們專注的是在靈裡倚靠神,不斷在軟弱中交託,藉著倚靠神的力量來度過心思帶來的暴風雨。進入靈裡,看見的與面對的是感受,不再是事情。

Praying in spirit requires us to forget the world outside and the ideas in our mind. The important thing is the feeling of our heart. For example, when we have difficulty, when we bring our concerns to God and ask for help with them. What we care about are those concerns, not our inner feelings. This is praying with the mind. If we bring our feelings to God, what we are facing is the weakness of our soul, what we pray for is the strength to overcome our own fear and worry. Our attention will be more focused on submission and rely on God in spirit. When we pray in spirit, we only face our feelings, not the situation around us.

用心思的禱告是有期望的,靈並不能得釋放。在心的感受裡的禱告,是交託與倚靠的,如此才能得著靈的釋放。心的綑綁要在禱告時交託,靈得著釋放就能更倚靠神,也就是更親近神。與神有交流的祈禱,是需要先釋放靈,才能在禱告中有聖靈來的感動,心也才能在靈裡得安息。

Praying with the mind usually comes with expectations. This can’t release our spirit and set our soul free. Prayer in our heart, through submission and rely on God sets our soul free. Removing the bondage from our mind opens our heart to connect to God. When the channel opens we can feel the flow of love and power from the Holy Spirit. This is the way to get close to God. When we release our spirit and let the Holy Spirit flow through our soul, then we can feel that our heart has been touched by God. Then our heart can rest in the spirit. This is the prayer to eternity.

人子啊! 你是我的國土,而我的國土永不滅亡,你為什麼還怕滅亡呢? 你是我的(榮)光,而我的(榮)光永不熄滅,你為什麼還怕熄滅呢? 你是我的榮耀,而我的榮耀永不凋謝;你是我的袍服,而我的袍服永不破蔽。安住在你對我的愛裡,你便能在(榮)光之境中見到我。(巴哈歐拉,隱言經14)

O Son of Man! Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words 14)

Spiritual mind set


靈性觀照Spiritual mind set

量子物理的研究我們知道,光既是粒子,也是波動。科學家發現,當觀察者的實驗的設置針對觀察粒子而設置時,所觀察到的就只是粒子特質;當實驗設置是針對觀察波動的時,所觀察的就是波動的特質。科學家發現,這是創造界的complimentary 互補特質,但因為人選擇觀察的角度,而有了觀察的效應(observer effect )。我發現,這特質也同樣反映在我們看事情上。

As we know, quantum science discovered that light is a particle and also a wave. Science discovered that when an experiment set up for particle observing, what they observe is only particle behavior. When the experiment set up for wave observing, what they observe is waves. What they observe is due to the observer effect, or what they choose to observe. This complementarity is one of the characteristics of quantum physics. What I discovered is this “complementarity” also reflects on how we see things in our daily life. 

譬如說,我們會看見人種種的行為特質,這就好像觀察粒子的特質。環境的影響,如果大家都只看問題,我們也就不知不覺專挑人的問題。事情的實相有另一面,那是我們的靈性,靈性特質在能量場就好像光的波動特質,它相互影響,它也有情緒的波動。我們可以怎麼樣觀察靈性的波動呢?如果我們去思考行為背後的原因,那行為在表達什麼?他的需求是什麼?他的擔心害怕是什麼?行為與心靈狀態就像粒子與波動的互補性,它們是一體的兩面,追求身心靈和諧,這兩面必須兼顧。看見心靈的狀態就好像看見波動的狀態,粒子運動的特質(行為)與波動是有關聯的,所以改變行為要去調整心波動的狀態,這是人人要去調整的,如此才能有平衡。

For example, when we look at the behavior of individual people, it is like the particle characteristic, and we tend to see the imperfections of others. Like the complementary reality of light, we also have the other aspect of the “waves” of light, which is our spiritual reality. Our spiritual reality has a similar characteristic to a wave, since we affect each other in the energy field and our emotions fluctuate like the different frequency and amplitude of waves. How can we observe our spiritual reality as a “wave” in our daily life? We can try to think about the meaning and try to understand what people try to express beneath their surface behavior. Or we can try to understand what the person needs. What is the fear caused by uncertainty he expresses? When we see the condition of the mind it will help us understand the “wave” characteristic of ourselves and others. Individual behavior (particle) and emotion energy (wave) are complementary aspects of the human reality, one is the body and the other is spirit. By observe both, we can learn more bout how they relate to each other. And learn to change behavior by changing the characteristics of the wave. This is the way to achieve balance. 

我們是肉體的(粒子組成的,個體的)也是靈性的(波動的、會相互影響的),若我們只活在物質的滿足,這是活在物質的三度空間世界裡,我們觀察的就是粒子的行為。若訓練心智活在靈性裡,就要訓練四度空間能量波動的思維,去思考並看見情緒波動與現象,也去探討行為與靈性的關聯性,學習「調整靈性的能量波動去改變個體行為」的方法,這是更完整的認識身心靈實相。粒子的行為無法單獨去改變運動狀態,認識波動的現象才能達到真正的改變,才能恢復整體的和諧。這是量子物理中的一個特質,也是神在告訴我們的智慧,這是上帝的教導。人們說:「我們已聽夠了問題,我們需要的是解決之道。」解決之道在於認識自己的靈性那波動特質,調整波動去做和諧的共振,而非負面的波動振盪。

若我們追求認識神及神聖啟迪,那我們就會進入第五維度,我們所能認識的是天國的知識,這是更高層次的創造界實相認識。維度是超乎空間的,若我們把它視為是一種心智的擴張,讓更高靈性層次的資訊被我們的心量所包含,視為是對創造實相更多的認識,那麼我們心量的擴大,就是進入那更高層次維度的方式。上帝知識是無限的,真理是廣大浩瀚的。提升知識認知的維度就是更多對上帝的認識,這是另一種可以想像的維度概念。

We have two types of life. If we only live in the material world, we only gain three dimensional information. We need to train our mind to see the meaning of the spirit. This expansion of the mind is like gaining the information of another dimension. By practice of awareness of the spiritual energy flow and understanding the meaning of it, we expand our living into a fourth dimension. Furthermore, if we learn about God and seek divine assistance from the spiritual realm above through prayer and meditation, we expand our mind even more. We start learn to live the fifth dimension. The forth and fifth dimensions are beyond our five senses, but they are in our heart. We can train our mind to orient our heart to the Divine, the mystery is in the human heart. This is God’s teaching. 

人們的心,是滿懷慈悲者上帝啟示環繞的中心,⋯⋯“天和地均不足以包含我,惟有相信我、堅守我的聖道者的心才能包含我。”人心是上帝靈光的接受者,是滿懷慈悲者啟示的寶座,然而,人心卻往往迷途而遠離了祂,那靈光之源,那啟示之泉。 (巴哈歐拉聖文選粹93)

The heart is the throne, in which the Revelation of God the All-Merciful is centered, is attested by the holy utterances which We have formerly revealed. ⋯⋯“Earth and heaven cannot contain Me; what can alone contain Me is the heart of him that believeth in Me, and is faithful to My Cause.” How often hath the human heart, which is the recipient of the light of God and the seat of the revelation of the All-Merciful, erred from Him Who is the Source of that light and the Well Spring of that revelation. (Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, 93)


Why does man need to seek the truth

dawning1

Life has two types: the life of the body and the spirit of life. The body belongs to nature. It follows the natural laws. It is contingent. The spirit of life belongs to the super natural. It follows the Word of God. It is eternal. The body is sustained by the sun and other objects are produced from the effect of the sun. In the same way, the spirit of life is sustained by the Sun of Truth, that is, the Word of God, Who is the Manifestation of God. The Manifestation of God is the Sun in the spiritual realm. They are the center and the light of the spiritual realm. There is only one sun in our visible world. Also, there is only one Sun of Truth in the spiritual world. The many Manifestations of God are the Suns that have risen during different times and in different locations.

生命有兩種:肉體與靈性生命。肉體屬於自然,它遵循自然定律、因果定律。靈性生命屬超自然,它依循真理(上帝之道),屬於永恆、非因果。肉體的生命以太陽為中心,它為太陽的種種產物所滋養;靈性生命以聖陽為中心,它為聖陽的種種效應所培育。上帝顯聖者是靈性天空的聖陽。祂們是靈性天空的中心與光源。太陽只有一個,聖陽也只有一個,諸先知與顯聖者是在不同時間與地點升起的聖陽。祂們名稱雖不同,卻代表著同一個聖陽。

Without the sun, man can’t live. Without the Sun of Truth the spirit of life lives in darkness. These are the two realities of life in a man. A man needs both the sun in the material world and the Sun of Truth in the spiritual world to live.

沒有太陽,人不能活;沒有聖陽,靈性生命就活在黑暗,這是人類的兩種生命實相。肉體要有太陽光的作用才有生命;靈性生命也要有聖陽的作用才能富有生命。

From yoga perspective to look at the spiritual practice

Spiritual practice with Yoga

My sister is a yoga teacher. Since she became a teacher, I have been exposed to the concepts of energy and yoga movements. According to yogic philosophy, chakras are centers in the body that regulate the flow of energy through us. If we understand how our emotions are related to the energy released from the chakras, we can see the potential to take responsibility for how the energy is released and we can be a positive influence on the world around us. In many ways, the practice of yoga has the same concept and approach as spiritual practice, although one is for the wellbeing of the body and the other for spiritual wellbeing.

The spiritual world is like unto the phenomenal world. They are the exact counterpart of each other. Whatever objects appear in this world of existence are the outer pictures of the world of heaven.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 10)

For example: Our breath comes into the body and it must go out. The energy from the Universe is just like the air we breathe to sustain our spirit, the energy comes into our body and it has to go out too. We “breath energy” from the crown chakra, and it through the other six chakras (third eye chakra, throat chakra, heart chakra, solar plexus chakra, sacral chakra and root chakra) and then it reverses direction to flow out of our body like breathing. When air goes into the body, the cells use the oxygen and it is exhaled out as carbon dioxide. With the energy that enters our body, our mental activity transforms it into love energy or fear energy. The “exhalation” of that energy may appear as “good breath” or “bad breath”. The love energy is just like good breath and the fear energy is like a bad breath of energy. With each breath we feel our physical condition, ease or difficulty, delight or pain. With every “breath” of energy we experience spiritual feelings, sadness or joy, anxiety or relaxing, and all kinds of emotion. When our body is sick, we feel the pain in different parts of our body while we breathe; when our soul is sick, we feel the emotional fluctuation and an uncomfortable burdensome feeling. Awareness of the body’s condition helps us find the locations of pain, and through adjusting our posture we can release the muscle pain. Awareness of our feelings and emotions helps us locate the causes of spiritual pain, such as unsatisfied desire or fears. By adjusting our mindset and attitude we can release these emotions and find the peace within. These two aspects of development, physical and spiritual, can be thought of as two wings of a bird, which must be equally developed for the bird to fly:

Man has two powers; and his development, two aspects. One power is connected with the material world, and by it he is capable of material advancement. The other power is spiritual, and through its development his inner, potential nature is awakened. These powers are like two wings. Both must be developed, for flight is impossible with one wing. (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p.60)

In yoga, we work out our muscles. In spiritual practice, we “work out” our virtues. Virtues are our spiritual muscles. By adjusting our breathing, we find the balance of air flow within the movements of the body. By receiving the breath of the Holy Spirit, we find the balance of energy flows and mindfulness. For the wellbeing of the body we need to pay attention to every muscle. For the wellbeing of the soul we need to pay attention to every emotion and connect to the virtues which we need to develop. Bodily sensation comes through our nervous system, spiritual sensation is in the perception of emotion and susceptibility. Awareness of both bodily sensation and spiritual sensation is needed for the true yoga practitioner. It requires focus of the mind, awareness of the body and spiritual condition in daily life.

With yoga, according our needs, we can choose the movements and posture which help the muscles we try to strengthen. In spiritual practice, we can contemplate difficult situations in life and cultivate the virtues we try to develop. A physical workout needs effort and commitment, spiritual practice needs effort and commitment too. With one posture in yoga we might exercise several muscles at the same time. With one life experience we might expose several virtues we need to develop. Sometimes we choose yoga postures to focus work on particular muscles. Also in our spiritual practice, we can focus on developing one particular virtue at a time. When we suffer from body pain, acceptance can lead to a better healing process. When we suffer from pain caused by our emotions, acceptance can lead to mindfulness and brings spiritual inspiration for us to solve our problems.  The body needs time to heal and the spirit needs time to strengthen. When we rely on God and trust God, over time we will see both the mind and body be healed by God’s power.  Patience and endurance while facing a challenge is needed, just like when we hold a position for a long time while we practice yoga. One is for strengthening virtues and one is for strengthening muscles.

In yoga, we can inhale slowly, hold our breath, exhale slowly or have different patterns of breathing for us to observe the sensations of our muscles. In spiritual practice, we can exercise the ability to change our mindset step by step in order to observe how the energy changes and how the emotions dissolve. Through breathing techniques, we experiment with how it affects our movement. We become skillful at strengthening muscles by using breathing techniques. Through adjusting our mindset and attitude we can experiment with how it affects the type of energy released and connection to the emotions and susceptibilities we have. Emotion or susceptibility of our heart is the spiritual sensation. Observing muscles or observing emotions (connected to the virtues) are similar techniques, one is felt by the body senses and the other is feel by spiritual perception. Perception is our spiritual sense.

In yoga, we can open our chest with a certain posture. It helps us open our heart chakra. Similarly, we can open our heart by remembering God, loving God and trusting God, which is faith in God. By adjusting our posture, we move between the spots of muscles we want to work out. By adjusting our attitude toward God in different situations, we move between the types of virtue we need to work on. Our attitude toward God is our spiritual posture. We open our heart by knowing more about God, trusting God and relying on God. Relying on God helps us lay our burden on Him and trusting God help us put down our fear and submerge into His love. We can only follow and be a good servant of God by trusting Him. Physically, we follow our mind to develop muscles. Spiritually, we follow our heart which leads to the Will of God to develop virtues.

By doing yoga, we develop stronger but more flexible muscles to sustain our physical needs in our daily life. By spiritual practice, we develop stronger virtues but a more softened heart to sustain our spiritual need in every challenge we encounter and be more caring of others. Physical strength shows in muscle strength, spirit strength shows in the perfection of virtues we develop. With a strong body, we enjoy the delights of movement and physical freedom. With a strong human soul, we are freed from the constraints of our physical nature rejoice in spiritual freedom. With both physical and spiritual freedom, we reach harmony of body, mind and soul. The movements of yoga might bring us into the harmony of body and mind. But in order to reach the harmony of mind and soul, we need to have spiritual practice. By practicing both, it leads us to become a true practitioner of yoga, a yogi.

The most vital duty, in this day, is to purify your characters, to correct your manners, and improve your conduct. The beloved of the Merciful must show forth such character and conduct among His creatures, that the fragrance of their holiness may be shed upon the whole world, and may quicken the dead, inasmuch as the purpose of the Manifestation of God and the dawning of the limitless lights of the Invisible is to educate the souls of men, and refine the character of every living man—so that blessed individuals, who have freed themselves from the murk of the animal world, shall rise up with those qualities which are the adornings of the reality of man. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha 2.16 )

About this life and next life

(This is the speech of  Abdu’l-Bahá on o6 July 1912, Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York)

In the world of existence man has traversed successive degrees until he has attained the human kingdom. In each degree of his progression he has developed capacity for advancement to the next station and condition. While in the kingdom of the mineral he was attaining the capacity for promotion into the degree of the vegetable. In the kingdom of the vegetable he underwent preparation for the world of the animal, and from thence he has come onward to the human degree, or kingdom. Throughout this journey of progression he has ever and always been potentially man.

In the beginning of his human life man was embryonic in the world of the matrix. There he received capacity and endowment for the reality of human existence. The forces and powers necessary for this world were bestowed upon him in that limited condition. In this world he needed eyes; he received them potentially in the other. He needed ears; he obtained them there in readiness and preparation for his new existence. The powers requisite in this world were conferred upon him in the world of the matrix so that when he entered this realm of real existence he not only possessed all necessary functions and powers but found provision for his material sustenance awaiting him.

Therefore, in this world he must prepare himself for the life beyond. That which he needs in the world of the Kingdom must be obtained here. Just as he prepared himself in the world of the matrix by acquiring forces necessary in this sphere of existence, so, likewise, the indispensable forces of the divine existence must be potentially attained in this world.

What is he in need of in the Kingdom which transcends the life and limitation of this mortal sphere? That world beyond is a world of sanctity and radiance; therefore, it is necessary that in this world he should acquire these divine attributes. In that world there is need of spirituality, faith, assurance, the knowledge and love of God. These he must attain in this world so that after his ascension from the earthly to the heavenly Kingdom he shall find all that is needful in that eternal life ready for him.

That divine world is manifestly a world of lights; therefore, man has need of illumination here. That is a world of love; the love of God is essential. It is a world of perfections; virtues, or perfections, must be acquired. That world is vivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit; in this world we must seek them. That is the Kingdom of everlasting life; it must be attained during this vanishing existence.

By what means can man acquire these things? How shall he obtain these merciful gifts and powers? First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love of God. Third, through faith. Fourth, through philanthropic deeds. Fifth, through self-sacrifice. Sixth, through severance from this world. Seventh, through sanctity and holiness. Unless he acquires these forces and attains to these requirements, he will surely be deprived of the life that is eternal. But if he possesses the knowledge of God, becomes ignited through the fire of the love of God, witnesses the great and mighty signs of the Kingdom, becomes the cause of love among mankind and lives in the utmost state of sanctity and holiness, he shall surely attain to second birth, be baptized by the Holy Spirit and enjoy everlasting existence.

Is it not astonishing that although man has been created for the knowledge and love of God, for the virtues of the human world, for spirituality, heavenly illumination and eternal life, nevertheless, he continues ignorant and negligent of all this? Consider how he seeks knowledge of everything except knowledge of God. For instance, his utmost desire is to penetrate the mysteries of the lowest strata of the earth. Day by day he strives to know what can be found ten meters below the surface, what he can discover within the stone, what he can learn by archaeological research in the dust. He 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 much he is attracted to the mysteries of matter, and how completely unaware he is of the mysteries of Divinity! Nay, he is utterly negligent and oblivious of the secrets of Divinity. How great his ignorance! 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.

Praise be to God! You have heard the call of the Kingdom. Your eyes are opened; you have turned to God. Your purpose is the good pleasure of God, the understanding of the mysteries of the heart and investigation of the realities. Day and night you must strive that you may attain to the significances of the heavenly Kingdom, perceive the signs of Divinity, acquire certainty of knowledge and realize that this world has a Creator, a Vivifier, a Provider, an Architect—knowing this through proofs and evidences and not through susceptibilities, nay, rather, through decisive arguments and real vision—that is to say, visualizing it as clearly as the outer eye beholds the sun. In this way may you behold the presence of God and attain to the knowledge of the holy, divine Manifestations.

You must come into the knowledge of the divine Manifestations and Their teachings through proofs and evidences. You must unseal the mysteries of the supreme Kingdom and become capable of discovering the inner realities of things. Then shall you be the manifestations of the mercy of God and true believers, firm and steadfast in the Cause of God.

Praise be to God! The door of divine knowledge has been opened by Baháu’lláh, for He has laid the foundation whereby man may become acquainted with the verities of heaven and earth and has bestowed the utmost confirmation in this day. He is our Teacher and Adviser; He is our Seer and the One clement toward us. He has prepared His gifts and vouchsafed His bounties, revealed every admonition and behest, prepared for us the means of eternal glory, breathed upon us the life-quickening breaths of the Holy Spirit, opened before our faces the doors of the paradise of Abhá and caused the lights of the Sun of Truth to shine upon us. The clouds of mercy have poured down their precious rain. The sea of favor is swelling and surging toward us.

The spiritual springtime has come. Infinite bounties and graces have appeared. What bestowal is greater than this? We must appreciate the divine generosity and act in accordance with the teachings of Baháu’lláh so that all good may be stored up for us and in both worlds we shall become precious and acceptable to God, attain to everlasting blessings, taste the delicacy of the love of God, find the sweetness of the knowledge of God, perceive the heavenly bestowal and witness the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is my advice, and this is my admonition.

The Planes of the Soul

As to the planes of the soul, its conditions and degrees; the cause of its abasement and exaltation and its origin, know thou: spirit hath illimitable stations and innumerable conditions or degrees. But in the world of existence they are generally limited and enumerated as:

1) the cohesive mineral,

2) the growing vegetable,

3) the sensible animal,

4) the mortal human,

5) the abased soul (the soul inclined to evil),

6) the self-accusing soul,

7) the inspired soul,

8) the assured soul,

9) the contented soul,

10) the approved or accepted soul,

11) the perfect soul,

12) the soul of the Kingdom (Malakut),

13) the soul of the Dominion or Empyrean of Heaven (Jabarut),

14) and the Divine soul of the Heavenly court (Lahut).

By the human mortal soul (4) is meant that spirit, which is characterized by the power of speech. That is to say, the spirit which sustains human powers, physical and mental faculties, perfections, divine knowledge, sciences, arts and mystic wisdom. It is likewise subject to the influence of dark passions and earthly imperfections. How great is God for this astonishing miracle and this great point, this perfect word in the Book of existence. Thus it is evident that the spirit manifests different aspects and traverses various contrasting and endless grades or stations. It has the capacity to become a mirror for the endless grades or stations. It has the capacity to become a mirror for the reflection of the manifestation of divine realities (Lahutiyyih) and a point for reflecting perfect divine attributes. Also there are grades of abasement for it in this world of existence. It can be veiled by the impure veils produced by the limitations which prevent its attaining to its source and point of origin, and shut it out from the signs of its Creator which have been deposited within it, through the bounty of its Maker. And due to its progression in the realms of nearness and proximity and because of its abasement in the wilderness of remoteness and perversity — it is clothed in each grade with a different appearance. Therefore in each stage it is described by a certain term.
For instance, when it is in the depths of degradation and the lowest grades of animal passions and takes pleasure in evil and ephemeral diversions, becomes hardened by the coldness of this world of existence and dull and neglectful of the warmth and love of its Creator, the Merciful, the Bountiful, then on account of its degradation in the wasteland of death and perversity and its occupation with evil and rebellious pursuits, it is characterized as the abased or evil soul (5). As God says, “the soul leads one to evil unless God have pity upon it.”

From this dark and dreary baseness, the soul progresses to a point where it occasionally receives an indication of its degradation in the abyss of ignorance of the path it is treading, of the ignorance veiling it from its Creator, and of its forgetfulness of the remembrance of God. From time to time the breeze of awareness passes over him and stirs him to momentary wakefulness. Upon observing its immersion in the depths of ignorance and negligence, it accuses itself; and seeing itself lost in the desert of evil, it reproaches itself. It becomes remorseful through its lowliness and baseness, for having fallen to such grades of passion and degradation and for being hindered by accumulated veils from attaining higher spiritual degrees. It becomes hindered from the remembrance of God due to these satanic imaginings and because of remorse and reproachfulness and for blaming itself, it is called the self-accusing soul (6). As God says, “I will not swear by the self-accusing spirit.”

When the soul rising from this most lowly and bestial condition and ascends to a more dignified and nearer station and degree and is assisted by divine confirmations and receives signs of inspiration and is inspired by the meaning of the Book, as it is said, “Read thy Book, it is sufficient unto thee this day”; and the reality of day and night becomes apparent to it, and it is invited to the Shores of the ocean of knowledge, is nourished by divine food from the heavenly paradise, is fed from the fruits of the tree of bounty, drinks from the streams of generosity, is sustained by the eternal delicacies, tastes the sweetness of choice morsels, befittingly realizes its elevation and degradation, its rise and fall, judges its affairs with insight, resolves its own difficulties, inclines itself away from the ephemeral to the eternal, withdraws its sight from all created things, sets itself towards the Presence of the Almighty, receives calls from the Concourse on High, attends to that which causes its advancement until it attains to the summit of assurance and the throne of gratitude, becoming a focal center of inspiration among men and gains from its efforts those fruits which will lead it to the goal of its desire — it thus is then referred to as the inspired soul (7). It distinguishes its evil doings from its noble deeds. As God says, “So God inspired him with his evil doings and his good deeds.”

Through its awakening to the remembrance of its Lord and the call of its Creator, its arising from the couch of false imaginings, its recollection of God, the Most High, its ascension to the degrees of love and assurance, its immersion in the ocean of certitude, its recognition of the signs of God in the dawning-place of the world of existence, the horizon of the worlds of being and the Manifestation of the sign of Unity from the dawning-point of heaven, its entrance into the heart of paradise, its vibration through the warmth of God’s love, its progress towards God, the Almighty, the Most-Powerful, its sitting upon the throne of peace and constancy and its proffering from the cups of steadfastness at all times — it is referred to as the assured soul (8).

As it was assured in its faith, ended its waverings, eased its difficulties, cooled its heat, refined and removed its veils, changed its darkness into light, set aside its vain pursuits, replaced its imperfections with perfections, tore asunder its veils, uncovered its mysteries, revolutionized the soil of its being and cast off its burdens so that God, hid Guide, Savior, Light-Giver and his Maker, and how exalted is He above the sayings of the ignorant — it attains to this most great, perfect, refined, pure, sweet station and drinks from this stream which is finer than the breeze, and reaches the stage of submission and contentment, now it will leave behind its desires, deliver its affairs into the hands of God, the Most Great King, place its trust in Him and will recline upon the cushion of His Grace and Generosity and shall not choose the most great comfort in place of the most great suffering, but will be content with what has been decreed for it by God — so much so as to be happy and rejoiceful in the time of suffering and grateful and thankful when the ocean of pain and catastrophe is agitated — and if the arrows of hardships reach him from the clouds of Divine decree and the rain of suffering descend upon it, you will see it honey-tongued, giving thanks to God, the Help in Peril and eloquently praising and remembering his Lord, the Most Gracious. This is the station that if thou attainest it thou shall acquire such joy that sorrows cannot reach thee, and such happiness as cannot be affected by any unpleasantness, such ease and comfort as will not be changed into hardship and distress and a tranquillity that will not be followed by agitation or difficulties, because the reins of the affairs are in the mighty grasp of the Lord, and the whole earth is in His grip in the Day of Resurrection and the heavens are rolled up on His right. High and exalted is He above the partners they assign to Him! So much so that not a leaf will move upon a tree and not a fruit will drop except by the Will of thy Lord, the Merciful, the Compassionate. He who walks upon this exalted plane has no will, rest, movement, destiny or decree save that which God ordaineth. He becometh, through the effulgence of the signs of unity, entirely selfless in his essence, his attributes and his very being, even as the shadows vanish before the shining forth of the Ancient Day Star. With the soul’s will has vanished and disappeared in the Will of God, it will become God’s will. Its satisfaction will be God’s satisfaction. Then the veils shall be removed and duality will pass from the reality of the heart. Then the sign of contentment appears in the soul and because of this satisfaction with the decree of its Creator and its submission to the commands of its Maker, it is referred to as the contented soul (9).

Through the outpourings of such bounties and being surrounded with luxuries and delicacies, clothed in the robe of generosity and favor, dressed in the raiment of submission and contentment, the soul will be addressed by the Concourse on High: “Blessed art thou for having traversed the whole way and pursued the path, until thou arrived to the stream of faithfulness and drank from the pure waters of dedication and contentment, left behind thy desires, submitted to the decree of thy Lord, offered up all thou didst possess and sacrificed thy heart, thy spirit and being in the path of thy Lord — and these are the light of thine eyes! And because of this thou attained to this most exalted and glorious station and will enter acceptable in the presence of the Lord thy God, resting in the shade of His Grace, happy, joyful and exhilarated through His Graciousness and Bounty, since “great is His Favor towards His devoted servants!” Then due to its elevation to this realm of contentment which is highly pleasing to God and because of its being accepted at the threshold of its Creator — it is referred to as the approved soul (10).

And after taking flight on the wings of holiness unto the celestial realm of this paradise and having tasted the sweetness of its degrees of intimacy in the garden of paradise, having acquired therein these high and noble attributes and ascended unto this lofty spiritual condition and when from its reality have streamed forth fountains of divine wisdom and it has become the recipient and dawning-place for the effulgence of this light and has attained assurance through the remembrance of God, the Almighty and become contented with His decrees and approved or accepted at the threshold of His door — it is referred to and known as the perfect soul (11).

Through the acquisition of such divine perfections it thus becomes worthy and prepared to enter into the Kingdom of God (Malakut) (12), which is the paradise of the righteous and the dwelling-place of the just, those whose faces are illumined through the Glad-Tidings of God, and whose countenances shine with the signs of God. To this degree of attainment God refers saying: “O thou assured soul, return to thy God, contented and accepted, pass in among my servants and thus enter My palace.”

(At this point there come 2 lengthy paragraphs of mystic and poetic description of Malakut)

When the soul opens the wings of its spirit and is attracted by the divine influences and soars to the loftiest horizon and turns to the Abha Kingdom, it will ascend to the station of Divine Empyrean or Dominion (Jabarut) (13), and will be confirmed by the supreme and manifest power and the great and ancient mystery and will become informed of the mysteries of the unseen and hidden realities by reason of which the hearts of the knowing ones are consumed in their longing after them, and will reflect the Rays from the Sun of Reality and in all aspects and conditions disclose its manifestations and lights and will ascend to a station which hath been sanctified from the perception of the perceiving ones.

Since this station has been created from the essence of power, might, grandeur, sovereignty, majesty and independence, it is freed from things that have limitations and duality. It is the essence of unity, oneness and uniqueness. It is light upon light, mystery upon mystery, the Sadratu’l-Muntaha, the supreme degree, the highest center, the furthermost point of worship (Masjid’ul-Aqsa of the Night Journey), the most sublime aspiration in the world of creation. Its perfections have neither beginning, end nor limitations. Happy the one who attains this lofty and holy station!

Concerning the Divine Spirit of the Soul (Alahiyyih) (14), it is the Supreme Reality comprising all the divine and heavenly realities manifested by the Ancient Light.

(At this point there come 2 paragraphs of mystic and brilliant explanation)

No matter how high the soaring one fly in the utmost degrees of knowledge and understanding, no matter how near the worshippers of the One True God ascend towards the summits of certitude, they are but reading letters from the book of their own selves, and reaching only to the brilliant unseen signs that are enshrined in the reality of their own beings, and circling round the center of their own entities. Thus the degrees which are beyond their realm of understanding shall never be perceived nor understood by them.

(At this point the Tablet goes on until its end with 7 more paragraphs of mysterious and detailed explanations.)

By God, the Forgiving, and the Manifest Beauty! If anyone from among the pure and devoted would turn to God in this Great Day and would gaze with the purest vision, not only shall he know all the meanings and realities latent in every word of the verses of God, the Self-Subsisting, the Mighty, but he shall know even those in every letter and point, because all these realities and significances flow in their entirety in the essence of these words, these letters and points. From them streams gush forth and within them oceans surge! Happy are those who attain!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá

(Provisional Translations, ‘Abdu’l-Baha – Planes of the Soul, p. 1)

EXTRACTS FROM A TABLET OF ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ (Persian and Arabic)

[Provisional translation]

(Originally published in Egypt. This Tablet is many pages long, and what follows are extracts from it. The Tablet is not authorized for publication.)

The balance of masculine and feminine power

One day I listened a talk online and I heard: “A leader can act as warrior and as a healer. As a warrior, the leader acts with power and decision. That is the Yang, or masculine aspect of leadership. But most of time the leader acts as a healer, in an open, receptive and nourishing state. That is the feminine, or Yin aspect of leadership. This mixture of doing and being, of warrior and healer, is both productive and potent. There is a third aspect of leadership and that is called in Chinese “Dao” or “Tao”. Periodically, the leader withdraws from the group and returns to silence, returns to God. Being, doing, being, then Dao. The leader withdraws in order to empty the self of what has happened and to restore the spirit. What draws my deep attention is the relationship between the Taoist concept of Yin and Yang and the Feminine and Masculine aspects of leadership.

「萬物負陰而抱陽,沖氣以為和。」(老子道德經42章)

(萬物都帶陰而抱陽,兩者運勢的作用下協調運作。)

All beings carry Yin and embrace Yang, they achieve harmony by combining these forces. (Laozi, Dao De Ching chapter 42)

「知其雄,守其雌,為天下谿。…知其白,守其黑,為天下式。…知其榮,守其辱,為天下谷。」(老子道德經28章)

(聖者知道他具有的雄性特質,但大部分的時間他運用雌性的特質,人們歸向他是因為被他雌性特質的強大影響力所吸引,那就像水必會匯集溪流一樣,人必會歸向聖者。…聖者知道他的名望來自於他身上帶著的光輝,但他往往選擇隱晦的狀態生活,他在人前隱晦,正示範了自然界(精神)隱晦的特質。…聖者知道他具有的莊嚴榮耀,但他持守以謙卑過生活,智者謙卑的心涵藏萬有,他包容一切,他的包容性就像山谷般能容納一切所有一樣。)

A Master knows his masculine power, but most of the time he uses his feminine power, the people come to him because the potent influence of power makes the people to be attracted to him just like the stream collects water.

A Master knows that fame follows from the light he sheds, but he instead lives as an obscured being, his obscurity is a demonstration of the obscurity of the natural law itself.

A Master knows his glory, but he instead lives as a lowly being, the master contains all beings because of his openness and receptivity just like a valley can contain everything. (Laozi, Dao De Ching chapter 28)

These virtues described by Laozi are perfect to illustrate the attributes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This also helps me to understand that masculine and feminine power is the power of our divine. If we can learn to keep them in balance in our spiritual practice, it is the power that can really change the world.

What are the virtues in masculine and feminine power? For masculine (Yang), they include: direction, logic, focus, integrity, stability, independence, discipline, confidence, force, strength, purpose, control. For feminine (Yin), they include: submissiveness, modesty, receptivity, empathy, radiance, flow, sensuality, nurturing, affection, sharing, tenderness, patience, love. These attributes should be the potential qualities we all have and not dominant in just man or woman. As the Dao De Ching tells us, they need to be in balance in order to achieve harmony inside and outside. It also tells us, if we live life most of time in obscurity (or modesty) as a feminine being, the world can be gentle and be nourished. The masculine power shows in our action and doing. The feminine power shows more in who we are and how we live. They are the two aspects of our spiritual lives, doing and being, productive and potent.

Yin and Yang is the movement of our life. Yin and Yang also is the process of civilization. We can’t progress just by doing and without discovering and enhancing our feminine power. The feminine power is the power to nourish our spiritual life and give the human temple the life of the spirit. Look at the world we are living in now, it seems more dominated by the masculine power. The divine civilization can’t progress without the infusion of spirit. Nourishing our life of the spirit is developing our feminine power.

Learning to keep the balance of Yin and Yang is part of the process of our spiritual growth, to get back to our natural inner being. With it, we will look at every challenge in our life from a different perspective. We must try to understand what virtues we need to cultivate in order to keep our Yin and Yang in balance. What we experience is just for us to learn more about ourselves, and help us to see which masculine virtues, or which feminine virtues need to be strengthened. To see what virtues we need to strengthen, we must see with God’s eyes and know what God’s desire is for us.

The New Age will be an Age Less Masculine, The Feminine and Masculine Elements will be More Evenly Balanced (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 615)

The feminine and masculine, the negative and positive are opposing elements; their union produces a new creation. (BW – Baha’I World Volumes, Volume 1, p. 152)

As we can see, Yin and Yang is the principle of nature. Keeping them balance is how things work in harmony. Laozi told us how it works. Use feminine power to nourish our spirit and others. Practice living in modesty and lowliness will help to enhance the feminine power and subdue the masculine power of which we have plenty in the world right now. “Return to Dao”, it is also very important in that our heart need to be able to be still in front of God to replenish the spirit. We can’t nourish our life of the spirit without God. Spending a little bit time to mediate allows us quiet time to replenish our spirit, to strength ourselves in the spiritual journey.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá said “Look at me, follow me, be as I am.” What we look at and what we follow has deeper meaning after we understand more about the balance of Yin and Yang. I hope the wisdom of Laozi and the demonstration of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life can help us think about the priority of our spiritual development. For the equality of men and women in our world and for each person’s development, both men and women need a balance of masculine and feminine powers. This will bring the establishment of a divine civilization.

Mind to heart, understanding what God desires for me

A lot of times I hear people ask what is the difference between mind and heart. How do we know if we use our mind or our heart? I have been wondering the same question for a long time. When my mind thinks about something, reasons about something or imagines something, I see this as kind of like surfing. Imagine when we surf on the ocean, we go with the wave. Usually we won’t try to stop, because we know we will fall and might get hurt. We let the wave continue to lead us until we get to the shore. When our mind thinks about something and it keeps rolling, most of the time we will let it keep rolling like we go with the wave, especially if we are full of emotions. And we won’t stop it until we reach the point to stop us. That is the point where we hit the shore. This kind of surfing is on the very surface of the ocean. So this kind of mind is like the very surface of our inner world.

 “O My servants! My holy, My divinely ordained Revelation may be likened unto an ocean in whose depths are concealed innumerable pearls of great price, of surpassing luster. It is the duty of every seeker to bestir himself and strive to attain the shores of this ocean, so that he may, in proportion to the eagerness of his search and the efforts he hath exerted, partake of such benefits as have been pre-ordained in God’s irrevocable and hidden Tablets. (Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 153)

In God’s teaching, we learn that we can’t find a hidden treasure unless we dive into the ocean. If we see our inner world like an ocean, then we know we can’t find the treasure unless we dive into our deeper mind. How can we dive into it? Here, I will use what I experienced recently as an example and show you how I observe different depths of my mind in my mediation.

There are many fears we have when we raise kids. My daughter just turned fifteen. She wants to be like her friends and to learn to drive. To me, trusting her to be able to drive safely is my concern. The more I insist she needs to wait, the more she feels it should be now. So I bring the question to my meditation. I put away all my thinking and just look into my feelings. I see hurt and pain from been misunderstood. The feeling brings me to look deeper and try to see what I am afraid of. The conflicts we have had before seem to flow up to the surface. I see in those different conditions of conflict there is the same thing, the same painful feeling. I look and look again and try to find what I was really afraid of. I can’t find the reasons but only the pain I am afraid of. All the reasoning is the effect of the root issue. The root issue is the pain which I am afraid of.

Then I start to ask myself another question, what causes this fear? Honestly, I can’t see the answer. But it seems there is something that tells me to look at others’ feelings. When I switch my attention to my daughter’s feeling, I start to feel her heart and pain. We were in the same degree of fear but afraid of different things. If my daughter has her needs as an indicator whether she is loved or not, then if I insist not to give in, it will cause her fear. This is the same with me, if I use how much she shows responsibility as an indicator to determine if she has earned my trust and is able to get what she asks for, we both are experiencing the fear in our own path. This act of “looking at others’ feelings” helps me come to realize we are the same, we experience the same degree of fear when we have conflict. Coming to this realization helps me to overcome my own pain and be able to feel my daughter’s pain. And be able to embrace instead of letting the painful feeling continue.

I start seeing the meaning of what I have experienced. I know that I need to cultivate compassion more and the solution requires that I consider the fear which my daughter might have. So how can I resolve the issue? Maybe we can address how to achieve that goal together by looking into how we can share the responsibility. Which part she can learn to earn herself and which part can we provide as parents. So she can plan ahead and start doing something to show she is responsible. In the process we can help each other without fear.

O SON OF MAN! If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, Arabic 7)

When my mind shifts from reasoning into feeling, it’s like my mind stops surfing on the surface of the ocean and starts to dive into the ocean. The top layer of the mind is feeling. When I look deeper into the fear, I dive into it more. When I receive inspiration, I start to turn away myself and not focus on my painful feelings anymore. The inspiration surely is not on the surface of the mind. When I get past that point, I feel my mind is in a stable condition and am able to look into my daughter’s feelings. At that point, the meaning and the purpose for what I experienced becomes clearer and clearer. The deeper we dive into our mind, we see the opposite side of things and different meanings. In that deep layer of mind, we understand the reason why God allows that thing to happen. We see the purpose and we see what we have to learn from it. We may see the particular things we need to improve. For me this experience is for me to learn to be more compassionate and be able to see a way to make things work.

When we close the door to our feelings, we close the door to the vital currents that energize and activate our thoughts and actions. We cannot begin the process of understanding the effects of our emotions upon us, our environment, and other people, or the effects of the emotions of other people upon themselves, their environment, and us. Without an awareness of our emotions, we cannot associate the effects of anger, sadness, grief, and joy-within ourselves or others-with their causes. We cannot distinguish between that part of us which is personality and that part of us which is soul. Without an awareness of our feelings we cannot experience compassion. How can we share the sufferings and the joys of others if we cannot experience our own?  (Gary Zukav, the Seat of the Soul)

Like learning to dive, we need to practice diving into our mind. In this meditation process, we observe different things in different depths of our mind. Seeking inspiration and seeking the love of God, we need to pass the agitated surface and go deep into our heart. In that state of mind, our mind is calm enough and able to simply observe what is there and not be caught up in it. In that state we may be able to see that inspiration is different from imagination. We will be able to understand the meaning of what we have experienced and see our heart’s desire from God. We see that the challenges we encounter are for a great purpose, for us to grow spiritually. We also feel more connected with God and feel more His love. This is what I would say: Behind the fear is a solution when we anchor our heart to God.

This is how I learned more about God, by seeking the meanings to overcome the challenges I have and understand what God has desired for me. The more I try to seek His pleaure, the more I feel His love.

O SON OF BEING! Thy Paradise is My love; thy heavenly home, reunion with Me. Enter therein and tarry not. This is that which hath been destined for thee in Our kingdom above and Our exalted dominion. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, Arabic 6)

O SON OF BEING! My love is My stronghold; he that entereth therein is safe and secure, and he that turneth away shall surely stray and perish. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, Arabic 9)

How do we know God ?

Know that the reality of the Divinity and the nature of the divine Essence is ineffable sanctity and absolute holiness; that is, it is exalted above and sanctified beyond every praise. All the attributes ascribed to the highest degrees of existence are, with regard to this station, mere imagination. The Invisible and Inaccessible can never be known; the absolute Essence can never be described. For the divine Essence is an all-encompassing reality, and all created things are encompassed. The all-encompassing must assuredly be greater than that which is encompassed, and thus the latter can in no wise discover the former or comprehend its reality. No matter how far human minds may advance, even attaining the highest degree of human comprehension, the uttermost limit of this comprehension is to behold the signs and attributes of God in the world of creation and not in the realm of Divinity. For the essence and the attributes of the all-glorious Lord are enshrined in the inaccessible heights of sanctity, and human minds and understandings will never find a path to that station. “The way is barred, and all seeking rejected.”

—— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions 37

From His Creation

The connection between God and His creation is that of the originator and the originated, of the sun and the dark bodies of the universe, of the craftsman and his handiwork. Not only is the sun sanctified in its very essence above all the bodies that receive its illumination, but its light is also, in its essence, sanctified from and independent of the earth. So, though the earth is nurtured by the sun and is the recipient of its light, the sun and its rays are nonetheless sanctified above it. But were it not for the sun, the earth and all terrestrial life could not exist.

—— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions 53

 

From His Manifestations

The Daysprings of those effulgences, the Dawning-places of those revelations, and the Sources of those manifestations are those Exponents of holiness, those universal Realities and divine Beings Who are the true mirrors of the sanctified Essence of the Divinity. All the perfections, bounties, and splendours of the one true God are plainly visible in the realities of His Holy Manifestations, even as the light of the sun is fully reflected with all its perfections and bounties in a clear and spotless mirror. …no soul has ever fathomed the reality of the Essence of the Divinity so as to be able to intimate, describe, praise, or glorify it. Thus all that the human reality knows, discovers, and understands of the names, attributes, and perfections of God refers to these holy Manifestations and leads nowhere else: “The way is cut off, and all seeking rejected.”

—— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions 37

 From ourselves

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Genesis 126” This indicates that man is of the image and likeness of God—that is to say, the perfections of God, the divine virtues, are reflected or revealed in the human reality. Just as the light and effulgence of the sun when cast upon a polished mirror are reflected fully, gloriously, so, likewise, the qualities and attributes of Divinity are radiated from the depths of a pure human heart. This is an evidence that man is the most noble of God’s creatures.

 Man is, therefore, superior to all the creatures below him, the loftiest and most glorious being of creation. 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. When this seed is planted and cultivated, the tree is revealed. Likewise, the greater world, the macrocosm, is latent and miniatured in the lesser world, or microcosm, of man. This constitutes the universality or perfection of virtues potential in mankind. Therefore, it is said that man has been created in the image and likeness of God.
—— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 30 April 1912 Talk

The spirits of men proceed from God by emanation, in the same way as the discourse proceeds from the speaker and the writing from the writer; that is, the speaker himself does not become the speech, any more than the writer becomes the writing: The connection is rather one of emanational procession. For the speaker remains in an absolute state of ability and power, as the discourse emanates from him, even as the action emanates from its author. The true Speaker, the divine Essence, ever remains in the same condition and experiences no change or alteration, no transformation or vicissitude. It has neither beginning nor end. The procession of human spirits from God is therefore an emanational procession.

—— Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions 54

 The inner essence of man is unknown and unfathomed, but it is known and characterized by its attributes. Thus everything is known by its attributes and not by its essence: Even though the human mind encompasses all things, and all outward things are in turn encompassed by it, yet the latter are unknown with regard to their essence and can only be known with regard to their attributes. How then can the ancient and everlasting Lord, Who is sanctified above all comprehension and imagining, be known in His Essence? That is, as created things can only be known through their attributes and not in their essence, the reality of the Divinity, too, must be unknown with regard to its essence and known only with respect to its attributes.

—— Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions 59