Purpose of Life

The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. To this most excellent aim, this supreme objective, all the heavenly Books and the divinely-revealed and weighty Scriptures unequivocally bear witness. Whoso hath recognized the Day Spring of Divine guidance and entered His holy court hath drawn nigh unto God and attained His Presence, a Presence which is the real Paradise, and of which the loftiest mansions of heaven are but a symbol. Such a man hath attained the knowledge of the station of Him Who is "at the distance of two bows," Who standeth beyond the Sadratu'l-Muntaha. Whoso hath failed to recognize  Him will have condemned himself to the misery of remoteness, a remoteness which is naught but utter nothingness and the essence of the nethermost fire. Such will be his fate, though to outward seeming he may occupy the earth's loftiest seats and be established upon its most exalted throne.

Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 70-71

The supreme cause for creating the world and all that is therein is for man to know God.

In this Day whosoever is guided by the fragrance of the raiment of His mercy to gain admittance into the pristine Abode, which is the station of recognizing the Source of divine commandments and the Dayspring of His Revelation, hath everlastingly attained unto all good. Having reached this lofty station a twofold obligation resteth upon every soul. One is to be steadfast in the Cause with such steadfastness that were all the peoples of the world to attempt to prevent him from turning to the Source of Revelation, they would be powerless to do so. The other is observance of the divine ordinances which have streamed forth from the wellspring of His heavenly-propelled Pen. For man's knowledge of God cannot develop fully and adequately save by observing whatsoever hath been ordained by Him and is set forth in His heavenly Book.

Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 267

The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him.

Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 8

TO BE RECITED ONCE IN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS, AT NOON: I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee.

Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Prayers, Short Obligatory Prayer, p. 3

. . . in this world he must prepare himself for the life beyond. That which he needs in the world of the Kingdom must be obtained here. Just as he prepared himself in the world of the matrix by acquiring forces necessary in this sphere of existence, so, likewise, the indispensable forces of the divine existence must be potentially attained in this world. What is he in need of in the Kingdom which transcends the life and limitation of this mortal sphere? That world beyond is a world of sanctity and radiance; therefore, it is necessary that in this world he should acquire these divine attributes. In that world there is need of spirituality, faith, assurance, the knowledge and love of God. These he must attain in this world so that after his ascension from the earthly to the heavenly Kingdom he shall find all that is needful in that eternal life ready for him. That divine world is manifestly a world of lights; therefore, man has need of illumination here. That is a world of love; the love of God is essential. It is a world of perfections; virtues, or perfections, must be acquired. That world is vivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit; in this world we must seek them. That is the Kingdom of everlasting life; it must be attained during vanishing existence. By what means can man acquire these things? How shall he obtain these merciful gifts and powers? First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love of God. Third, through faith. Fourth, through philanthropic deeds. Fifth, through self-sacrifice. Sixth, through severance from this world. Seventh, through sanctity and holiness. Unless he acquires these forces and attains to these requirements, he will surely be deprived of the life that is eternal. But if he possesses the knowledge of God, becomes ignited through the fire of the love of God, witnesses the great and mighty signs of the Kingdom, becomes the cause of love among mankind and lives in the utmost state of sanctity and holiness, he shall surely attain to second birth, be baptized by the Holy Spirit and enjoy everlasting existence.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226

But the life of man is not so restricted; it is divine, eternal, not mortal and sensual. For him a spiritual existence and livelihood is prepared and ordained in the divine creative plan. His life is intended to be a life of spiritual enjoyment to which the animal can never attain. This enjoyment depends upon the acquisition of heavenly virtues. The sublimity of man is his attainment of the knowledge of God. The bliss of man is the acquiring of heavenly bestowals, which descend upon him in the outflow of the bounty of God. The happiness of man is in the fragrance of the love of God. This is the highest pinnacle of attainment in the human world.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 184

Love and obey your Heavenly Father, and rest assured that Divine help is yours. Verily I say unto you that you shall indeed conquer the world! Only have faith, patience and courage -- this is but the beginning, but surely you will succeed, for God is with you!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 101

Nothing has been created without a special destiny, for every creature has an innate station of attainment . . . The divine teachers desire man to be educated that he may attain to the high rank of his own reality, the deprivation of which is the rank of perdition . . . man needs the light of the Holy Spirit . . . When we come to the estate of man, we find his kingdom is vested with a divine superiority. Compared to the animal, his perfection or his imperfection is superior . . . Yet if man remain content in an undeveloped state viewed from the point of capacity he is the lowest of creatures. If he attains unto his heritage through divine wisdom, then he becomes a clear mirror in which the beauty of God is reflected; he has eternal life and becomes a participator of the sun of truth. This is to show you how considerable are the degrees of human achievement. The aim of the prophet of God is to raise man to the degree of knowledge of his potentiality and to illumine him through the light of the kingdom, to transform ignorance into wisdom, injustice into justice, error into knowledge, cruelty into affection and incapability into progress. In short, to make all the attainments of existence resplendent in him.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 110-111

Thanks be to God that thou hast obtained that which was sought by all prophets and holy souls; namely, the knowledge of God and the love of God. First, the knowledge; and, second, His unfathomable love. Also the different members of thy family, who followed thee and who obtained that which thou didst obtain. This is a great gift from God and hath no equal; although in this physical world its greatness is not perceivable, nor its nature clearly known, yet in the spiritual world it shineth like the sun. So long as the pearl remaineth hidden at the bottom of the sea, its value is not known nor its brilliancy and fineness seen, it is only when in the hands of the expert jeweler that its great beauty becomes revealed.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 415

One must remember that the purpose of this life is to prepare the soul for the next.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 359

You should also endeavour to engage in some useful occupation, or by training yourself to have such an occupation, as work in itself another means at our disposal, in accordance with our Teachings, to draw nearer to God, and to better grasp His purpose for us in this world.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 282

Man, therefore, is created to serve his Lord and worship him with a pure heart, hoping to attain His good pleasure. The purpose is not that he receive reward for his actions. Man's deeds are thus praiseworthy in the sight of God when they are performed solely for His love and for no other reason. To this Bahá’u’lláh testifies in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas: "Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty."

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

One of the traditions of Islam states that in the beginning God was a 'Hidden Treasure', but desired to be discovered and recognized. He created man for this purpose. And now man has found God and turned to Him. Returning to the Short Obligatory Prayer which Bahá’u’lláh revealed for His followers to recite each day, we read: "I bear witness O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee . . ."

Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 24

The other day a man asked Shoghi Effendi: "What is the object of life to a Bahá’í?" As the Guardian repeated his answer to me (I had not been present with the visitor), indeed, before he did, I wondered in my own mind what it had been. Had he told the man that to us the object of life is to know God, or perfect our own character? I never really dreamed of the answer he had given, which was this: the object of life to a Bahá’í is to promote the oneness of mankind. The whole object of our lives is bound up with the lives of all human beings: not a personal salvation we are seeking, but a universal one. We are not to cast eyes within ourselves and say "Now get busy saving your soul and reserving a comfortable berth in the Next World!" No, we are to get busy on bringing Heaven to the Planet. That is a very big concept. The Guardian then went on to explain that our aim is to produce a world civilization which will in turn react on the character of the individual. It is, in a way, the inverse of Christianity which started with the individual unit and through it reach out to the conglomerate life of men. This does not mean we must neglect to prune our personalities and weed out our faults and weaknesses. But it does mean we have to do a lot of radiating out to others of what we know to be true through the study of Bahá’u’lláh's teachings.

Ruhiyyih Khanum, A letter to the Bahá’í Youth http://bahai-library.com/khanum_letter_youth_1948