"This," says ‘Abdu’l- Bahá, "has been the mission of all the divine messengers -- to make man conscious of his eternal part.
"This," says ‘Abdu’l- Bahá, "has been the mission of all the divine messengers -- to make man conscious of his eternal part.
Although a person of good deeds is acceptable at the Threshold of the Almighty, yet it is first "to know," and then "to do." Although a blind man produceth a most wonderful and exquisite art, yet he is deprived of seeing it. Consider how most animals labor for man, draw loads and facilitate travel; yet, as they are ignorant, they receive no reward for this toil and labor. The cloud raineth, roses and hyacinths grow; the plain and meadow, the garden and trees become green and blossom; yet they do not realize the results and outcome of all these. The lamp is lighted, but as it hath not a conscious knowledge of itself, no one hath become glad because of it. Moreover, a soul of excellent deeds and good manners will undoubtedly advance from whatever horizon he beholdeth the lights radiating. Herein lies the difference: By faith is meant, first, conscious knowledge, and second, the practice of good deeds.
And all this newness hath its source in the fresh outpourings of wondrous grace and favour from the Lord of the Kingdom, which have renewed the world. The people, therefore, must be set completely free from their old patterns of thought, that all their attention may be focused upon these new principles, for these are the light of this time and the very spirit of this age.
Unless these Teachings are effectively spread among the people, until the old ways, the old concepts, are gone and forgotten, this world of being will find no peace, nor will it reflect the perfections of the Heavenly Kingdom. Strive ye with all your hearts to make the heedless conscious, to waken those who sleep, to bring knowledge to the ignorant, to make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and restore the dead to life.
Consider how there are thousands of heedless souls who are asleep, while there is one who is conscious and awake! Even a His Holiness Christ has said, the friends of God are the salt of the earth, and the salt is but a little part of the whole. Undoubtedly the friends of God have been endowed with ability and capacity, on which account they became of the "chosen" and not of the "called." O thou spiritual friend! This world is a prison for heavenly souls, and this earthly world is but a cage, and not a nest, unto the divine birds. A prisoner who is awake and conscious will certainly seek for freedom, and mindful bird will certainly wish for deliverance from the cage. When the heart becometh free from attachment unto this world, it will crave for the world of the Kingdom and seek for eternal life.
Furthermore man sees in the world of dreams. He travels in the East, he travels in the West, although his body is stationary, his body is here. It is that reality in him which makes the journey while the body sleeps. There is no doubt that a reality exists other than the outward, physical reality. Again for instance a person is dead, is buried in the ground. Afterward you see him in the world of dreams and speak with him although his body is interred in the earth. Who is the person you see in your dreams, talk to and who also speaks with you? This again proves that there is another reality different from the physical one which dies and is buried. Thus it is certain that in man there is a reality which is not the physical body. Sometimes the body becomes weak but that other reality is in its own normal state. The body goes to sleep, becomes as one dead but that reality is moving about, comprehending things, expressing them and is even conscious of itself. This other and inner reality is called the heavenly body, the ethereal form which corresponds to this body. This is the conscious reality which discovers the inner meaning of things, for the outer body of man does not discover anything. The inner ethereal reality grasps the mysteries of existence, discovers scientific truths and indicates their technical application. It discovers electricity, produces the telegraph, the telephone and opens the door to the world of arts. If the outer material body did this, the animal would likewise be able to make scientific and wonderful discoveries, for the animal shares with man all physical powers and limitations. What then is that power which penetrates the realities of existence and which is not to be found in the animal? It is the inner reality which comprehends things, throws light upon the mysteries of life and being, discovers the heavenly Kingdom, unseals the mysteries of God and differentiates man from the brute. Of this there can be no doubt.
His Holiness Jesus Christ referring to the prophecy of Isaiah, spoke of those who "having eyes, see not, having ears, hear not, having hearts, understand not," yet they were to be healed. Therefore it is evident that the bounties of Christ transformed the eye which was blind into a seeing one, rendered the ear which was formerly deaf, attentive, and made the hard, callous heart tender and sensitive. In other words the meaning is that although the people possess external eyes, yet the insight or perception of the soul is blind; although the outer ear hears, the spiritual hearing is deaf; although they possess conscious hearts they are without illumination; and the bounties of His Holiness Christ save souls from these conditions. It is evident then that the manifestation of the Messiah was synonymous with universal mercy. His providence was universal and his teachings were for all. His lights were not restricted to a few. Every "Christ" came to the world of mankind. Therefore we must investigate the foundation of divine religion, discover its reality, re-establish it and spread its message throughout the world so that it may become the source of illumination and enlightenment to mankind, the spiritually dead become alive, the spiritually blind receive sight and those who are inattentive to God become awakened.
His Holiness the Christ says, "Whosoever has not received a portion of the spirit is as dead. Let the dead bury their dead." This means that although the souls of humanity are living, yet if they are deprived of contact with the spirit they are as dead. In another place Christ says, "You must be baptized with the spirit." This spirit of faith is the flame of reality, the life of humanity and the cause of eternal illumination. It inspires man to attain the virtues and perfections of the divine world. It is my hope that each one of you may become conscious of this flame.
How strange then it seems that man, notwithstanding his endowment with this ideal power, will descend to a level beneath him and declare himself no greater than that which is manifestly inferior to his real station. God has created such a conscious spirit within him that he is the most wonderful of all contingent beings. In ignoring these virtues he descends to the material plane, considers matter the ruler of existence and denies that which lies beyond. Is this virtue?
In the whole world there is hardly one who is conscious of reality. Bahá’u’lláh in appearing has brought the force to rend the veils. He has spread the teachings which are the soul of our time, opened the doors to the seekers of the great law, breathed into the hearts a great love, united those who were at enmity and given victory to saints and pure spirits.
Man confines his consciousness to this material plane. This new force will liberate him and he will become conscious of many planes and of the ultimate oneness of them all.
No doubt the breeze of God hath awakened thee from thy sleep, until thou hast become conscious of the bounties of the Kingdom which are descending at this time.
O Compassionate God! Thanks be to Thee for Thou hast awakened and made (me) conscious. Thou hast given me a seeing eye and favored me with a hearing ear; hast led me to Thy Kingdom and guided me to Thy Path. Thou hast shown me the right way and caused me to enter the Ark of Deliverance.
O ye heedless one, be ye conscious! O ye sleepers, be ye awake! O ye blind ones, see! O ye deaf ones, hear! O ye dumb ones, speak! O ye dead ones, be quickened! O ye destitute ones, receive a portion and share! It is the irradiation of the Merciful One and the moving of the boundless sea! It is the bounty of the wonderful springtime and the downpour of the rain of the gift of the Great Lord!" This is thy mission.
The animal possesses no power of ideation or conscious intelligence; it is a captive of the senses and deprived of that which lies beyond them. It is subject to what the eye sees, the ear hears, the nostrils sense, the taste detects and touch reveals. These sensations are acceptable and sufficient for the animal. But that which is beyond the range of the senses, that realm of phenomena through which the conscious pathway to the kingdom of God leads, the world of spiritual susceptibilities and divine religion, -- of these the animal is completely unaware, for in its highest station it is a captive of nature. One of the strangest things witnessed is that the materialists of today are proud of their natural instincts and bondage. They state that nothing is entitled to belief and acceptance except that which is sensible or tangible. By their own statements they are captives of nature, unconscious of the spiritual world, uninformed of the divine Kingdom and unaware of heavenly bestowals. If this be a virtue the animal has attained it to a superlative degree, for the animal is absolutely ignorant of the realm of spirit and out of touch with the inner world of conscious realization.
The favors of God are all-surrounding but should the conscious eye of the soul of man remain veiled and darkened he will be led to deny these universal signs and remain deprived of these manifestations of divine bounty. Therefore we must endeavor with heart and soul in order that the veil covering the eye of inner vision may be removed, that we may behold the manifestations of the signs of God, discern His mysterious graces, and realize that material blessings as compared with spiritual bounties are as nothing. The spiritual blessings of God are greatest. When we were in the mineral kingdom, although endowed with certain gifts and powers, they were not to be compared with the blessings of the human kingdom. In the matrix of the mother we were the recipients of endowments and blessings of God, yet these were as nothing compared to the powers and graces bestowed upon us after birth into this human world. Likewise if we are born from the matrix of this physical and phenomenal environment into the freedom and loftiness of the life and vision spiritual, we shall consider this mortal existence and its blessings as worthless by comparison.
This movement eludes organization -- it is the realization of a new spirit. The foundation of that spirit is the love of God; and its method, the love and service of mankind. Many who have never heard of this revelation teach its laws and spiritual truths. These people are performing what Bahá’u’lláh hath commanded though they never heard of him. The power of Bahá’u’lláh’s words is compelling -- therefore, you must know and love them. For instance, in the spring season trees burst forth into verdure, though they are not conscious of the sunshine, of the falling rain or the gentle breeze -- nevertheless, the power of nature urges them on to yield forth their fruits.
You have asked as to what point in man's evolution he becomes conscious of self. This consciousness of self in man is a gradual process, and does not start at a definite point. It grows in him in this world and continues to do so in the future spiritual world. "Man can certainly recall past experiences in his evolution, and even when his soul leaves this world it will still remember its past.
If he is to fulfill his true mission in life as a follower of the Blessed Perfection, he will pattern his life according to the Teachings. The believer cannot attain this objective merely by living according to a set of rigid regulations. When his life is oriented toward service to Bahá’u’lláh, and when every conscious act is performed within this frame of reference, he will not fail to achieve the true purpose of his life.
It should also be realized that a child, from early life,is a conscious and thinking soul, a member of his family with his own duties towards it, and is able to make his own sacrifices for the Faith in many ways. It is suggested that the children should be made to feel that they are given the privilege and opportunity of participating in the decisions as to the services their parents are able to offer, thus making their own conscious decision to accept those services with consequence for their own lives. Indeed, the children can be led to realize that it is the earnest wish of their parents to undertake such services with their children's whole-hearted support.