Every imperfect soul is self-centred and thinketh only of his own good. But as his thoughts expand a little he will begin to think of the welfare and comfort of his family. If his ideas still more widen, his concern will be the felicity of his fe1low citizens; and if still they widen, he will be thinking of the glory of his land and of his race. But when ideas and views reach the utmost degree of expansion and attain the stage of perfection, then will he be interested in the exaltation of humankind. He will then be the well-wisher of all men and the seeker of the weal and prosperity of all lands. This is indicative of perfection.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 69)
Every soul seeketh an object and cherisheth a desire, and day and night striveth to attain his aim. One craveth riches, another thirseth for glory and still another yearneth for fame, for art, for prosperity and the like. Yet finally all are doomed to loss and disappointment. One and all they leave behind them all that there is and empty-handed hasten to the realm beyond, and all their labours shall be in vain. To dust shall all return, denuded, depressed, disheartened and in utter despair.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 204)
Holding to the letter of the law is many times an indication of a desire for leadership. One who assumes to be the enforcer of the law shows an intellectual understanding of the Cause, but that spiritual guidance in them is not yet established.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, 24 June, 1915, pp. 43-44).
If a man is successful in his business, art, or profession he is thereby enabled to increase his physical wellbeing and to give his body the amount of ease and comfort in which it delights. All around us today we see how man surrounds himself with every modern convenience and luxury, and denies nothing to the physical and material side of his nature. But, take heed, lest in thinking too earnestly of the things of the body you forget the things of the soul: for material advantages do not elevate the spirit of a man. Perfection in worldly things is a joy to the body of a man but in no wise does it glorify his soul. It may be that a man who has every material benefit, and who lives surrounded by all the greatest comfort modern civilization can give him, is denied the all important gift of the Holy Spirit. It is indeed a good and praiseworthy thing to progress materially, but in so doing, let us not neglect the more important spiritual progress, and close our eyes to the Divine light shining in our midst. Only by improving spiritually as well as materially can we make any real progress, and become perfect beings.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 62-63)
Other attributes of perfection are to fear God, to love God by loving His servants, to exercise mildness and forbearance and calm, to be sincere, amenable, clement and compassionate; to have resolution and courage, trustworthiness and energy, to strive and struggle, to be generous, loyal, without malice, to have zeal and a sense of honour, to be high-minded and magnanimous, and to have regard for the rights of others. Whoever is lacking in these excellent human qualities is defective.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 40)
Perfection of work is man’s greatest reward. When a man sees his work perfected and this perfection is the result of incessant labour and application he is the happiest man in the world.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 6, No. 6, p. 44)
Strain every nerve to acquire both inner and outer perfections, for the fruit of the human tree hath ever been and will ever be perfections both within and without.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Education, p. 247)
The Bahá’ís, in spite of their self-sacrificing desire to give the last drop of their strength to serving the Cause, must guard against utterly depleting their forces and having breakdowns. For this can sometimes do more harm than good …
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 279)
The Universal House of Justice has emphasized the importance of our avoiding any tendency to take responsibility for the Cause into our own hands: ‘Service to the Cause of God requires absolute fidelity and integrity and unwavering faith in Him. No good but only evil can come from taking the responsibility for the future of God’s Cause into our own hands and trying to force it into ways that we wish it to go regardless of the clear texts and our own limitations. It is His Cause. He has promised that its light will not fail. Our part is to cling tenaciously to the revealed word and to the institutions that He has created to preserve His Covenant.’
(Universal House of Justice, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 119)
The believers … should endeavour to set such an example in their personal lives and conduct that others will feel impelled to embrace a Faith which reforms human character … not everyone achieves easily and rapidly the victory over self. What every believer, new or old, should realize is that the Cause has the spiritual power to recreate us if we make the effort to let that power influence us, and the greatest help in this respect is prayer. We must supplicate Bahá’u’lláh to assist us to overcome the failings in our own characters, and also exert our own will power in mastering ourselves.
(Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny. p. 442)
The gross materialism that engulfs the entire nation at the present hour; the attachment to worldly things that enshrouds the souls of men; the fears and anxieties that distract their minds … these are among the formidable obstacles that stand in the path of every would be warrior in the service of Bahá’u’lláh, obstacles which he must battle against and surmount in his crusade for the redemption of his own countrymen.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 13, No. 6, p. 152)
We humans are never going to become perfect, for perfection belongs to a realm we are not destined to enter.
(Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 453)
… to be free of one’s ego is a hallmark of perfection.
(Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 453)