Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The primal call

I wanted to talk some more about why it is important to approach God through our inner selves and not through others, such as the House of Justice. As I explained last time, the inner self - that is, our soul - is the vehicle by which we are linked permanently to God. Through this celestial umbilical cord, we know God and communicate with God.

One reason it is important that we look to our own souls to know God is that God has imprinted them with key information. This information tells us the essential nature of our relationship with God - that God has a primary claim on us and therefore God's will, desire and love are greater than any other concern.

Baha'u'llah describes how this claim was made, in the Hidden Words. He describes a scene in pre-eternity in which we are told about the primal call and its importance to us:

O My friends! Have ye forgotten that true and radiant morn, when in those hallowed and blessed surroundings ye were all gathered in My presence beneath the shade of the tree of life, which is planted in the all-glorious paradise? Awe-struck ye listened as I gave utterance to these three most holy words: O friends! Prefer not your will to Mine, never desire that which I have not desired for you, and approach Me not with lifeless hearts, defiled with worldly desires and cravings. Would ye but sanctify your souls, ye would at this present hour recall that place and those surroundings, and the truth of My utterance should be made evident unto all of you." Persian Hidden Words, no 19)

Baha'u'llah tells us that, in a radiant morn, he seated us under a tree and then gave us some instructions: to be satisfied with what God has willed and desired for you and to invest your heart in your communication with God. Then he tells us that if we sanctify our souls, we'd remember that scene and the guidance he gave us.

The point I want to make is that the soul is the key here. It is the reality that has the memory placed in it. Only by going back to our souls and forgetting all else can we read the instructions of the celestial imprint placed on us.

This fundamental spiritual process can never take place in the soul of someone else. We cannot grow spiritually by relying on someone else's memory of the instructions given on that radiant dawn. We have to remember it ourselves within ourselves. If someone else tells you that God has a claim on you that trumps all others and, out of fear or persuasion, you believe them, can you be said to have remembered it yourself?

Baha'u'llah tells us that our faith cannot be conditioned on another - "For the faith of no man can be conditioned by any one except himself." (Gleanings, LXXV). This means not only that we can't justify our disbelief on the fact that others disbelieved, but also that we can't justify our belief on the fact that others believed.

Those like Counsellor Murphy (I'll call them 'loyalists') who tell us that we have been given a gift to see God through the eyes of the House of Justice say this because they believe that this is the path to uniting the community. They fear that if individuals are left to see God for themselves, they'll go off in all directions and chaos will reign.

If, as I am arguing, God wants us to develop our link with God through our souls, what was God's plan for overcoming what the loyalists fear? If we all looked within, instead of to the House, how would that lead to unity? The answer is that, if we looked within, we'd all find God. We'd all find the divine reality and the divine attributes that Baha'u'llah tells us have been placed in there. (I have covered this issue of God within in my previous message.)

But, in addition to that, we'd also discover the important instructions that God imprinted on our souls in pre-eternity. They have been placed there so that, when we look within, we'll immediately see that God has an absolute claim on us. We'd see God's will, desire and love are over us and greater than any other influence. This inner recognition leads to the fear of God and to our willing compliance with God's purpose for us. And this brings about unity. No one who has truly remembered that scene from pre-eternity is going to be lead by self and passion.

To have everyone looking to the House of Justice is not the path to unity. Firstly, it is inconsistent with the plan God has mapped out for us, where we are all asked to look within. Secondly, it is not spiritually fulfilling for the believers. They never attain the direct link with the divine through their own souls, which is their birthright. Thirdly, it limits the community's vision to that of the nine souls on the House. What of the vision of others? How can the community be successful in teaching if the vision of each member is not brought to bear on the task?