Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Thought on Unity, part 3 of 3

We began with the simple idea of seeing the world in terms of positive values, instead of opposites. Then we continued with the concept of seeing everything in terms of a giant spiral, in which creation moves from the micro levels up to macro levels.

My question, though, is what good does this do us? How can we apply this idea of the spiral in our daily life?

To start, I'd like to refine the spiral just a bit. Imagine, if you will, that the line of the spiral is a wall. Oh, but not your normal wall. No, that just wouldn't do. It's a really tiny wall, say even starting at the ground itself. And the further it moves away from the centre, the taller it gets. Where we are, as humans, we can easily see over the wall between us and the centre, but that part of the wall that is on the outer edge of us, we can't. It's too tall. It blocks our view.

Why is this important?

Simple. Everything in any of the various kingdoms can comprehend that which is before it, to some degree or another. Animals, after all, know which plants and minerals are good for them, and we understand a bit about animals and minerals. "(N)o lower degree", says Abdu'l-Baha, "can understand a higher, such comprehension being impossible." He goes on and explains, "The higher plane, however, understandeth the lower. The animal, for instance, comprehendeth the mineral and vegetable, the human understandeth the planes of the animal, vegetable and mineral. But the mineral cannot possibly understand the realms of man. And notwithstanding the fact that all these entities co-exist in the phenomenal world, even so, no lower degree can ever comprehend a higher." So this wall is just a way to explain why we only get a tiny glimpse into the next kingdom. And perhaps why many don't believe it exists. (They seem to figure that some exit from the spiral is just around the corner, just barely out of sight.)

So, what does this have to do with my daily life? Baha'u'llah, as I'm sure you well know, said that heaven was nearness to God. Well, what He actually said was, "They say: 'Where is Paradise, and where is Hell?' Say: 'The one is reunion with Me; the other thine own self, O thou who dost associate a partner with God and doubtest.'"

Oh, still not clear? Well, I was at a school recently in which Dr Nader Saiedi said that the Bab had defined heaven as "the fulfillment of one's potential". I cannot verify this quote, for it was, I believe, his own translation, but it sure accords with everything I've read from the Bab.

When I combine these two concepts, heaven being nearness to God, as well as fulfillment of one's potential, and then mix it in the blender of my brain with the concept of that spiral, this is what I get: We seem to be somewhere in this spiral, and have the potential to move either forwards or backwards on it a bit. Moving forwards, towards the spiritual realms, is the same as moving towards God and the fulfilling of our potential as human beings, which is likened unto heaven. If we fall prey to our selfish desires, then this is giving in to our animalistic nature, and this is moving backwards along the spiral, which is like hell.

Of course, now that I have peered into the blender of my mind, all sorts of other things begin to show themselves. Baha'u'llah, in the Seven Valleys, quotes a famous Hadith that says, "Knowledge is a single point, but the ignorant have multiplied it." Of course, there seem to be two basic branches of knowledge, namely science and religion.

Science is the discovery of the world around us, which is the acquisition of knowledge. It helps us understand how cause and effect work in the physical realm, and help us use that to our advantage. This is one way to move a little bit further around that spiral. Of course, how we use that knowledge is another thing altogether. If we use our knowledge to the benefit of the human race, then we are showing forth our virtues, helping them grow and develop, and this moves us even further around that spiral towards the outer edges. But if we use that knowledge solely for our own personal benefit, to feed our own selfish desires, then that is more animal-like and moves us further in the spiral, into the narrow portions of it.

What about religion? Well, true religion, as opposed to superstition or blind dogmatic belief, also helps us discover how the world functions. It helps us understand more about the spiritual side of cause and effect. Every religion out there gives us moral guidelines that are to our own benefit. They also provide guidance about what humanity needs at any given time, and where we should focus our attention.

In either case, science or religion, they both help us move further along that spiral of growth towards the outer layers, for we are helping develop our attribute of knowledge.

Well, presuming that we use that knowledge for good and the betterment of humanity.

But how else does this spiral help in my daily life? I remember a long time ago someone told me that one of my jobs in life was to help others develop their own potential. Now I think it is more than just that, I think I am also here to help all things develop their potential, not just other people.

Take a rock, for example. If the heaven of that rock is to fulfill its potential, then I can help it attain its own heaven by doing just that. How, I'm not exactly sure, but I like to think of my artwork as a step in that process.

I do know, though, that I could easily help it attain its own hell: Pollution.

I think that something is pollution only because it is not fulfilling its potential. When we look at something, like a piece of plastic, and only see a short-term use for it, like a bag, then once that use is done, it is considered garbage. And that must be like hell for that piece of plastic. I believe that our job as spiritual beings is to see the long-term use of everything, and ensure that it is used to the best of its ability.

When I think of the environmental movement, this is what I envision.

And you know what? The same goes for animals. If we see an elephant merely as a carrier for a piece of ivory, then we are denying the full magnificent reality of that animal.

It also goes for children. When educators see children in a class room merely as identical cogs in a machine, or as numbers by which they can get more funding, then that is a sign of the impending failure of the educational system, and a poor forecast for the future of the community.

This spiral helps me envision my own place in a very complex world, filled with incredible diversity. It helps me see how I can be of assistance to everything around me, from minerals to animals and even people. It also helps me envision my own goal in life, namely to try and move ever further around that bend.

And you know what? Some people would say that I've already succeeded! They would say that I'm already slightly around the bend.

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