Attach no importance to self-seeking … Heed them not. Deal in the contrary way.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 216)
Beyond the attention that religion, as formally conceived, has begun to command is a widespread revival of spiritual search. Expressed most commonly as an urge to discover a personal identity that transcends the merely physical, the development encourages a multitude of pursuits, both positive and negative in character. On the one hand, the search for justice and the promotion of the cause of international peace tend to have the effect of also arousing new perceptions of the individual’s role in society. Similarly, although focused on the mobilization of support for changes in social decision-making, movements like environmentalism and feminism induce a re-examination of people’s sense of themselves and of their purpose in life. A reorientation occurring in all the major religious communities is the accelerating migration of believers from traditional branches of the parent faiths to sects that attach primary importance to the spiritual search and personal experiences of their members. At the opposite pole, extraterrestrial sightings, “self-discovery” regimens, wilderness retreats, charismatic exaltation, various New Age enthusiasms, and the consciousness-raising efficacy attributed to narcotics and hallucinogens attract followings far larger and more diverse than anything enjoyed by spiritualism or theosophy at a similar historical turning point a century ago. For a Bahá’í, the proliferation even of cults and practices that may arouse aversion in the minds of many serves primarily as a reminder of the insight embodied in the ancient tale of Majnun, who sifted the dust in his search for the beloved Layli, although aware that she was pure spirit: “I seek her everywhere; haply somewhere I shall find her.”
(Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, One Common Faith)
Could ye apprehend with what wonders of My munificence and bounty I have willed to entrust your souls, ye would, of a truth, rid yourselves of attachment to all created things, and would gain a true knowledge of your own selves—a knowledge which is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being. Ye would find yourselves independent of all else but Me, and would perceive, with your inner and outer eye, and as manifest as the revelation of My effulgent Name, the seas of My loving-kindness and bounty moving within you.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 326-327)
It is only through continued action, reflection and consultation on their part that they will learn to read their own reality, to see their own possibilities, make their own resources, and respond to the exigencies of large-scale expansion and consolidation to come.
(Universal House of Justice, to the Continental Boards of Counsellors, 28 December 2010)
Man should know his own self, and understand those things which lead to loftiness or to abasement, to shame or to honor, to affluence or to poverty. After man has realized his own being, and become mature, then (material) means are required.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 145)
The object of God’s teaching to man is that man may know himself in order to comprehend the greatness of God.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 80)
There needs no chastisement of fire; self-knowledge is man’s punishment and his reward.
(Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 208)