Spiritual Growth

Nature is the material world. When we look upon it, we see that it is dark and imperfect. For instance, if we allow a piece of land to remain in its natural condition, we will find it covered with thorns and thistles; useless weeds and wild vegetation will flourish upon it, and it will become like a jungle. The trees will be fruitless, lacking beauty and symmetry; wild animals, noxious insects and reptiles will abound in its dark recesses. This is the incompleteness and imperfection of the world of nature. To change these conditions, we must clear the ground and cultivate it so that flowers may grow instead of thorns and weeds -- that is to say, we must illumine the dark world of nature. In their primal natural state, the forests are dim, gloomy, impenetrable. Man opens them to the light, clears away the tangled underbrush and plants fruitful trees. Soon the wild woodlands and jungle are changed into productive orchards and beautiful gardens; order has replaced chaos; the dark realm of nature has become illumined and brightened by cultivation. If man himself is left in his natural state, he will become lower than the animal and continue to grow more ignorant and imperfect.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 308-309

The point is this: that to gain control over physical bodies is an extremely easy matter, but to bring spirits within the bonds of serenity is a most arduous undertaking. This is not the work of everybody. It necessitates a divine and holy potency, the potency of inspiration, the power of the Holy Spirit.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 276

The spiritual growth of the soul is similar to the organic growth of living creatures. To return to the metaphor of the tree, whose life begins with the planting of a seed: it grows gradually, bringing forth branches, leaves, shoots and offshoots one after another, until the time comes when it produces its fruit. The stage of fruition may be said to constitute the crowning achievement of the tree; it is that stage in which the tree has fulfilled the purpose for which it was created. But the tree cannot produce its fruit by itself. It acts as a female and has to be pollinated by a male element which fertilizes its ovules. Other living creatures which produce their young also go through the same process of intercourse with their male counterparts. The same is true of the soul. It comes into being at the time of conception, it gradually acquires divine qualities, but there comes a time when it has to produce its fruit. Not until the soul reaches this point can it be said to have fulfilled its destiny. This can happen when, following the above principle of male and female interaction, the soul assumes the function of the female and establishes a spiritual intercourse with another agency. If it chooses the material world as a partner, then the child born of that union will be a materialistic way of life which deprives the soul of its spiritual heritage. A great many people in the world allow themselves to fall in love with material things; consequently the soul is impoverished and although it is a spiritual entity, it becomes sullied with worldly affections and gives birth to materialism, an offspring unworthy of its high station. But the Covenant of God enjoins upon man to recognize His Manifestation and turn to Him. These are the words of Bahá’u’lláh as revealed in a prayer stating the purpose of creation: "I bear witness, O my God, that Thou has created me to know Thee and to worship Thee..." By turning with devotion to Bahá’u’lláh, the Manifestation of God in this day, by submitting to His Will and becoming enamoured of Him, the soul becomes a fertile instrument and a worthy recipient for the outpouring of His Revelation. Through the establishment of a spiritual intercourse with the energizing forces of this Revelation, the soul becomes fertilized and will give birth to a noble offspring -- the spirit of faith. This is the ultimate and most glorious destiny for the soul, the purpose for which it is created.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 17