Last night at the Junior Youth Animator training we read the following quotation from the Baha’i Writings:
“The more we search for ourselves, the less likely we are to find ourselves; and the more we search for God, and to serve our fellow-men, the more profoundly will we become acquainted with ourselves, and the more inwardly assured. This is one of the great spiritual laws of life.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954)
It made me think a lot about how we go about the process of searching for ourselves. When we say we are “lost” or need to go find ourselves, and often “disappear” from the world in order to facilitate that process. But the Guardian (Shoghi Effendi) is clear as to how the process of spiritual growth and transformation is to occur: through worship of God and service to others!
I’m still figuring out how I want to present myself to the world, of course. Last night, out of several conversations, I started thinking about why I do certain things in different situations. This is not to over-analyze myself, but rather to understand my own motives and actions in order to learn and grow. How we choose to act outwardly reflects our inner selves.
“Man’s evolution is both individual and collective, because of his twofold relationship to himself and to the society in which he lives. Individual evolution starts with the early stages of one’s existence. Consciousness too grows with this evolution.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 14, 1938)
We can’t separate ourselves from society. Monasticism and similar activities are discouraged. We are to grow spiritually by being a part of the community around us. Sometimes our communities can test us, our fellow Baha’is can be a trial. The state of the world is crumbling and it is easy to feel hopeless. The link below has a wonderful quote.
“The believers, as we all know, should endeavour to set such an
example in their personal lives and conduct that others will feel
impelled to embrace a Faith which reforms human character.
However, unfortunately, not everyone achieves easily and rapidly
the victory over self. What every believer, new or old, should
realize is that the Cause has the spiritual power to re-create us
if we make the effort to let that power influence us, and the
greatest help in this respect is prayer. We must supplicate
Baha’u’llah to assist us to overcome the failings in our own
characters, and also exert our own will power in mastering
“He will certainly pray for the work of the beloved Cause there and
especially that new souls may be attracted and embrace the Faith.
He will also pray that the believers may, for the sake of God, draw
close to each other and not permit each other’s short-comings to
be a source of disunity and consequently a means of depriving
thirsty souls of this life-giving Message! The world is full of
evil and dark forces and the friends must not permit these forces
to get hold of them by thinking and feeling negatively towards each
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an
individual believer, January 27, 1945)
Thanks to my webmaster and spiritual brother, Paul, for help finding some of these quotes. You’re awesome!
Very interesting observations. It’s definitely true that in the past, in my quest to ‘find myself’, it has involved social isolation as well as spiritual isolation. Of course, this was before I even HAD a spiritual life – but even now that I have a spiritual path, it is at times difficult for me to put the two together.
Thanks for the quotes and insight! 🙂
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised anymore when I find myself shoulder to shoulder with my close friends on the same path. Many of the topics you touched on here we discussed Tuesday night at Ruhi. The part that stood out most to me was this:
“…if we make the effort to let that power influence us, and the greatest help in this respect is prayer.”
First: that we must exert effort (!) to let God’s power influence us. We can’t just say we want it and then kick back.
Second: that prayer is the greatest help. It helps in unfathomable ways. I don’t always know how, and probably never will be able to. But it’s just like making a plane fly: you can’t see the air, but you can see its effects. Prayer, I’m discovering, smooths out my flight.
Mmm… Laminar flow prayer?
i just used that quote for the evening program during Youth Eagle this week… the one about finding yourself through God.
This one hits home. I just went through a period of extreme change where at first I tried to isolate myhing, I quit my job, I almost never left my house, I wouldnt take phone calls or cal lpeople back for weeks or months. I found myself slipping further and further away from “myself”, which was what I was trying to find.
Not until I reconnected with Myk( and met Lacey)through the amazing power of the internet and started in the Ruhi courses did I find what I was really looking for. Great post.