Monday, 21 February 2011

The spirit of faith

I am working on the next section of my study guide for SAQ. I thought I'd put up a small section of it now, because it was interesting for me when I wrote it. Abdu'l-Baha usually says that there are five spirits: plant, animal, human, spirit of faith, and holy spirit. The human spirit, as explained in the previous chapter, "The organisation of nature":

"is the intellectual power of investigation and discovery, and the reasoning faculty that apprehends ideas and intelligible and sensible things. It encompasses all things. It can make discoveries in the spiritual worlds as well as in the physical world. (38) Its power is behind the development of sciences, arts, law, inventions and so on, which were once hidden and unknown. (48) The human spirit is the highest level of perception in nature. (58)"

The following small section explains the relationship between the human spirit and the spirit of faith. The key thing that came out of it for me is that the human spirit, that enormously inventive power of investigation, cannot, alone, steer a person into the realms of the heavenly realities. This can only be done through the spirit of faith. The flight of the soul into the heavenly realities can only take place if the soul accesses the power of the spirit of faith. Human intellect and reason, alone, cannot do it. It is another power, beyond the human powers, that can transport us heavenwards. That power is the spirit of faith, which is beyond nature and is not a power of investigation.

Virtues appear only through the spirit of faith

The spirit of faith, or heavenly spirit, is a level of spirit above the human spirit. Unlike the human spirit, it is not a spirit of nature and it is not a power of investigation. It is a ray of light that comes from the Holy Spirit (the manifestation) and it is a bounty of God enjoyed only by the righteous. (36, 58)

The spirit of faith is the power that causes human beings to realise their spiritual capacity. Humans access it through the writings of the manifestation, which teach people the secrets and realities of the heavenly worlds. Knowledge of these spiritual worlds cannot be gained by the investigative powers of the human spirit because those worlds are beyond the material world. (36) The human spirit must be aided by the power of faith. "It is like a mirror which, although clear, polished, and brilliant is still in need of light. Until a ray of the sun reflects upon it, it cannot discover the heavenly secrets." (55)

Abdu'l-Baha gives a list of examples of divine perfections that humans acquire in attaining perfection: "These are the divine appearances, the heavenly bounties, the sublime emotions, the love and knowledge of God; universal wisdom, intellectual perception, scientific discoveries, justice, equity, truthfulness, benevolence, natural courage and innate fortitude; the respect for rights and the keeping of agreements and covenants; rectitude in all circumstances; serving the truth under all conditions; the sacrifice of one's life for the good of all people; kindness and esteem for all nations; obedience to the teachings of God; service in the Divine Kingdom; the guidance of the people, and the education of the nations and races." (15)

If any trace of these divine perfections appears in the world of nature, it is unstable, for it is not supported by the spirit of faith. It is ephemeral like the sun shining on a wall. (15)