Material World

Attachment to the earthly world, in relation to attachment to the spiritual world, is considered as a sin.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 125

Bahá’u’lláh has announced that no matter how far the world of humanity may advance in material civilization, it is nevertheless in need of spiritual virtues and the bounties of God. The spirit of man is not illumined and quickened through material sources. It is not resuscitated by investigating phenomena of the world of matter.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 288

For attachment to the world has become the cause of the bondage of spirits, and this bondage is identical with sin.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 123

If the hope of man be limited to the material world, what ultimate result is he working for? A man with even a little understanding must realize that he should not emulate the worm that holds to the earth in which it is finally buried. How can man be satisfied with this low degree? How can he find happiness there? My hope is that you may become free from the material world and strive to understand the meaning of the heavenly world, the world of lasting qualities, the world of truth, the world of eternal kingliness, so that your life may not be barren of results, for the life of the material man has no fruit of reality. Lasting results are produced by reflecting the heavenly existence.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 56

If the soul identifies itself with the material world it remains dark, for in the natural world there is corruption, aggression, struggles for existence, greed, darkness, transgression and vice. If the soul remains in this station and moves along these paths it will be the recipient of this darkness; but if it becomes the recipient of the graces of the world of mind, its darkness will be transformed into light, its tyranny into justice, its ignorance into wisdom, its aggression into loving kindness; until it reach the apex. Then there will not remain any struggle for existence. Man will become free from egotism; he will be released from the material world; he will become the personification of justice and virtue, for a sanctified soul illumines humanity and is an honor to mankind, conferring life upon the children of men and suffering all nations to attain to the station of perfect unity. Therefore, we can apply the name "holy soul" to such a one.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 120

Man must sever himself from the influences of the world of matter, from the world of nature and its laws; for the material world is the world of corruption and death. It is the world of evil and darkness, of animalism and ferocity, bloodthirstiness, ambition and avarice, of self-worship, egotism and passion; it is the world of nature. Man must strip himself of all these imperfections, must sacrifice these tendencies which are peculiar to the outer and material world of existence.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 451

Material development may be likened to the glass of a lamp, whereas divine virtues and spiritual susceptibilities are the light within the glass. The lamp chimney is worthless without the light; likewise, man in his material condition requires the radiance and vivification of the divine graces and merciful attributes. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit he is lifeless. Although physically and mentally alive, he is spiritually dead. Christ announced, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," meaning that man must be born again. As the babe is born into the light of this physical world, so must the physical and intellectual man be born into the light of the world of Divinity.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 288

No matter how the material world may progress, no matter how splendidly it may adorn itself, it can never be anything but a lifeless body unless the soul is within, for it is the soul that animates the body; the body alone has no real significance. Deprived of the blessings of the Holy Spirit the material body would be inert.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 133

Verily, I pray God to sanctify thee from the material and thus clothe thee with the garment of holiness and the mantle of purity and send through thee the glad-tidings of thy Lord from the Kingdom of Heaven.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 269

The material world, in relation to the spiritual world, is a world of imperfections. It is full of dangers anddifficulties which have been greatly aggravated by man's neglect and misuse of his responsibilities. Human society itself, which exists in the material world, is in disastrous disarray.

Universal House of Justice, September 11, 1995, to a National Spiritual Assembly

A believer becomes attached to the things of this world when he allows his material, intellectual and selfish interests to take precedence over the interests of the Cause of God. This does not mean that he has to forego his personal interests, but rather to use them in promoting his spiritual pursuits, and not to allow earthly things to come between him and God.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 20

Attachment to this world may be described as anything which becomes a barrier between God and man, depriving the individual from drawing near to his Maker. It is clear from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh that God has created this world for man alone.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 21-22

If all the inhabitants of the earth should gather they will fail to withstand you, for they are on the wane, whereas you are waxing stronger. They are retrogressing; you are progressing.

Compilations, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 372

One may be wealthy, yet detached from material things. Man can achieve this if he lives his life in accordance with the teachings of God. In one of His Tablets, Bahá’u’lláh states that the good things of this world and its beautiful products are all the manifestations of the attributes of God. To possess them will not become the cause of attachment to material things, provided the individual does not fix his affections upon them, nor allow himself to be possessed by them, because this world and all that is therein are like unto a passing shadow and transitory.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 22-23

Should a man wish to adorn himself with the ornaments of the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the benefits it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he alloweth nothing whatever to intervene between him and God, for God hath ordained every good thing, whether created in the heavens or in the earth, for such of His servants as truly believe in Him. Eat ye, O people, of the good things which God hath allowed you, and deprive not yourselves from His wondrous bounties. Render thanks and praise unto Him, and be of them that are truly thankful.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 21-22

Then He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] laughed, with that wonderful gleam of humour in His face. "All these Boards and committees: of what importance are they? The really important thing is to spread the Cause of God. I am not on any committee."

The Diary of Juliet Thompson

This means that the world and all that is therein is created for man. God wants him to benefit from its wealth, to exploit its resources wisely and in harmony with nature, to work and possess all the good things he can earn, and to enjoy all the legitimate pleasures that life bestows upon him. But at no time must he allow the things of this world to possess him and rule over his heart and soul.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 21-22