Although the body politic is one family yet because of lack of harmonious relations some members are comfortable and some in direst misery, some members are satisfied and some are hungry, some members are clothed in most costly garments and some families are in need of food and shelter. Why? Because this family lacks the necessary reciprocity and symmetry. This household is not well arranged. This household is not living under a perfect law. All the laws which are legislated do not ensure happiness. They do not provide comfort. Therefore a law must be given to this family by means of which all the members of this family will enjoy equal well-being and happiness. Is it possible for one member of a family to be subjected to the utmost misery and to abject poverty and for the rest of the family to be comfortable? It is impossible unless those members of the family be senseless, atrophied, inhospitable, unkind. Then they would say, “Though these members do belong to our family—let them alone. Let us look after ourselves. Let them die. So long as I am comfortable, I am honored, I am happy—this my brother—let him die. If he be in misery let him remain in misery, so long as I am comfortable. If he is hungry let him remain so; I am satisfied. If he is without clothes, so long as I am clothed, let him remain as he is. If he is shelterless, homeless, so long as I have a home, let him remain in the wilderness. Such utter indifference in the human family is due to lack of control, to lack of a working law, to lack of kindness in its midst. If kindness had been shown to the members of this family surely all the members thereof would have enjoyed comfort and happiness.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 38)
But if he show the slightest taint of selfish desires and self love, his efforts will lead to nothing and he will be destroyed and left hopeless at the last.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 71)
I hope the beloved of God and the maid-servants of the Merciful will be entirely freed from selfishness. Should this become their nature, they will indeed become manifestations of great bounties, and the doors of the divine grace will open.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 136)
If man were to care for himself only he would be nothing but an animal for only the animals are thus egoistic. If you bring a thousand sheep to a well to kill nine hundred and ninety-nine the one remaining sheep would go on grazing, not thinking of the others and worrying not at all about the lost, never bothering that its own kind had passed away, or had perished or been killed. To look after one’s self only is therefore an animal propensity. It is the animal propensity to live solitary and alone. It is the animal proclivity to look after one’s own comfort. But man was created to be a man—to be fair, to be just, to be merciful, to be kind to all his species, never to be willing that he himself be well off while others are in misery and distress—this is an attribute of the animal and not of man. Nay, rather, man should be willing to accept hardships for himself in order that others may enjoy wealth; he should enjoy trouble for himself that others may enjoy happiness and well-being. This is the attribute of man. This is becoming of man. Otherwise man is not man—he is less than the animal.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 42)
Men keep their possessions for their own enjoyment and do not share sufficiently with others the bounty received from God. Spring is thus changed into the winter of selfishness and egotism.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 82)
Must forget his own selfish conditions that he may thus arise to the station of sacrifice. It should be to such a degree that if he sleep, it should not be for pleasure, but to rest the body in order to do better, to speak better, to explain more beautifully, to serve the servants of God and to prove the truths. When he remains awake, he should seek to be attentive, serve the Cause of God and sacrifice his own stations for those of God. When he attains to this station, the confirmations of the Holy Spirit will surely reach him, and man with this power can withstand all who inhabit the earth.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 384)
Nothing is more contrary to the spirit of the Cause than discord and strife, which are the inevitable outcome of selfishness and greed.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 6)
Self love is a strange trait and the means of the destruction of many important souls in the world. If man be imbued with all good qualities but be selfish, all the other virtues will fade or pass away and eventually he will grow worse.
(Annamarie Honnold, Vignettes from the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 10).
The heart must be sanctified from every form of selfishness and lust, for the weapons of the unitarians and the saints were and are the fear of God.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, A Traveller’s Narrative, p. 45)
Therefore it is evident that warfare, cruelty and bloodshed in the kingdom of man are caused by human greed, hatred and selfishness.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 24)
Thy letter was understood. Thou hast asked, very humbly, for certain things and all were worthy to be coveted. Thou desirest forgiveness of sins; didst ask for great unity and peace; sought nearness to the Threshold of God; hoped to be detached from thine own will, seeking the will of God; prayed for rescue from self-love (or selfishness); hoped for progress in the station of knowledge; desired to serve God; and prayed that thy honorable husband and thy children may be set aglow with the fire of the love of God and may manifest light on their brows through the radiance of the knowledge of God. All these wishes are well worthy of asking. Especially the rescue from self-love. This is a strange trait and the means of the destruction of many important souls in the world. If man be imbued with all good qualities but be selfish, all the other virtues will fade or pass away and eventually he will grow worse.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 135-136)
To such an extent have the winds of desire and self prevailed, that they have extinguished the lights of reason and conscience within the hearts. Although the doors of the divine knowledge are opened by the keys of the Supreme Power, and the essences of the being of things are enlightened and illumined through the knowledge-light and holy bounties, to such an extent that within everything a door of knowledge is opened and within every atom traces of the sun are visible, yet notwithstanding that these manifestations of knowledge have pervaded the world, they have considered the door of knowledge closed, and the rains of mercy withheld. Holding fast to supposition, they are kept afar from the firm strong handle of knowledge. They seem to have intrinsically no desire for knowledge and its door, nor think of its appearance. For in supposition and imagination they have found doors to bread, and in the appearance of the Manifestor of knowledge they see nothing except the sacrifice of life. So they naturally flee from this and hold fast to the other. Although they know the divine command is one, yet from every direction a decree emanates and from every place an order is brought forth. No two are found who agree upon the same command, for they seek no God but desire and follow no path but error. They deem leadership the ultimate accomplishment of the aim and account pride and haughtiness as final attainment to the Beloved. They consider selfish deceptions preferable to the divine decrees. They have turned aside from submission and resignation and are occupied with plots and hypocrisies; preserving these attitudes with all power and strength, lest a blemish find access to their dignity or a flaw appear in their honor. Should an eye be illumined by the collyrium of divine enlightenments, it would behold a number of wild beasts preying upon the dead bodies of the servants. What tribulations and distress could be greater than these mentioned conditions? For if one wishes to seek a truth or knowledge, he knows not to whom to refer nor from whom to enquire, because opinions are different and paths are many.
(Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 11)