Luxembourg Government Praises Baha’i Community

The Luxembourg Baha’i community’s involvement in society has been praised by a high-ranking government minister on a special visit to the national Baha’i centre.Minister of Finance Luc Frieden made his remarks at a celebration marking National Day, the official birthday of His Royal Highness Henri, Grand-Duke of Luxembourg.Citing the importance of the values of tolerance and unity, the minister expressed the government’s gratitude to the Baha’is for their commitment to the life of the country.”The value of a religious community, or any other organization, should be a reflection of the contribution it makes towards the development of society,” said Mr. Frieden. To that end, Mr. Frieden spoke of the importance of people being involved in the community in which they live, “looking more to the common good and the effects of their actions on others.”Amir Saberin, the chair of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Luxembourg described the occasion as “very historic and significant for us.”

Source: BWNS

‘Spirit Is The Lamp’

'Glad Day' By William Blake

I was reading `Abdu’l-Bahá’s explanation of the nature of the soul and found the following passages most enlightening.

From the moment the soul leaves the body and arrives in the Heavenly World, its evolution is spiritual, and that evolution is: The approaching unto God.

In the physical creation, evolution is from one degree of perfection to another. The mineral passes with its mineral perfections to the vegetable; the vegetable, with its perfections, passes to the animal world, and so on to that of humanity. This world is full of seeming contradictions; in each of these kingdoms (mineral, vegetable and animal) life exists in its degree; though when compared to the life in a man, the earth appears to be dead, yet she, too, lives and has a life of her own. In this world things live and die, and live again in other forms of life, but in the world of the spirit it is quite otherwise.

The soul does not evolve from degree to degree as a law—it only evolves nearer to God, by the Mercy and Bounty of God.

The soul is not a combination of elements, it is not composed of many atoms, it is of one indivisible substance and therefore eternal. It is entirely out of the order of the physical creation; it is immortal! In the world of spirit there is no retrogression. The world of mortality is a world of contradictions, of opposites; motion being compulsory everything must either go forward or retreat. In the realm of spirit there is no retreat possible, all movement is bound to be towards a perfect state. ‘Progress’ is the expression of spirit in the world of matter. The intelligence of man, his reasoning powers, his knowledge, his scientific achievements, all these being manifestations of the spirit, partake of the inevitable law of spiritual progress and are, therefore, of necessity, immortal.

‘Paris Talks’

Question.—What is the difference between the mind, spirit and soul?

Answer.—It has been before explained that spirit is universally divided into five categories: the vegetable spirit, the animal spirit, the human spirit, the spirit of faith, and the Holy Spirit.

The vegetable spirit is the power of growth which is brought about in the seed through the influence of other existences.

The animal spirit is the power of all the senses, which is realized from the composition and mingling of elements; when this composition decomposes, the power also perishes and becomes annihilated. It may be likened to this lamp: when the oil, wick and fire are combined, it is lighted; and when this combination is dissolved—that is to say, when the combined parts are separated from one another—the lamp also is extinguished.

The human spirit which distinguishes man from the animal is the rational soul, and these two names—the human spirit and the rational soul—designate one thing. This spirit, which in the terminology of the philosophers is the rational soul, embraces all beings, and as far as human ability permits discovers the realities of things and becomes cognizant of their peculiarities and effects, and of the qualities and properties of beings.

But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. 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.

But the mind is the power of the human spirit. Spirit is the lamp; mind is the light which shines from the lamp. Spirit is the tree, and the mind is the fruit. Mind is the perfection of the spirit and is its essential quality, as the sun’s rays are the essential necessity of the sun. This explanation, though short, is complete; therefore, reflect upon it, and if God wills, you may become acquainted with the details.

‘Some Answered Questions’

‘Sol Invictus’

Sol Invictus ("The Invincible Sun") was the official sun god of the late Roman Empire and also a title given to the Perseo-Roman God Mithras

I find Bahá’u’lláh’s use of sun imagery in his writings intriguing. In the Kitab-i-Iqan Bahá’u’lláh elucidates solar symbolism in scripture and describes the spiritual teachers of humankind as the ‘Suns of Truth’-

And now, concerning His words–“The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give light, and the stars shall fall from heaven.” By the terms “sun” and “moon,” mentioned in the writings of the Prophets of God, is not meant solely the sun and moon of the visible universe. Nay rather, manifold are the meanings they have intended for these terms. In every instance they have attached to them a particular significance. Thus, by the “sun” in one sense is meant those Suns of Truth Who rise from the dayspring of ancient glory, and fill the world with a liberal effusion of grace from on high. These Suns of Truth are the universal Manifestations of God in the worlds of His attributes and names.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá elaborated on this theme in ‘Some Answered Questions’ saying

The Reality of Divinity may be compared to the sun, which from the height of its magnificence shines upon all the horizons; and each horizon, and each soul, receives a share of its radiance. If this light and these rays did not exist, beings would not exist; all beings express something and partake of some ray and portion of this light. The splendours of the perfections, bounties and attributes of God shine forth and radiate from the reality of the Perfect Man—that is to say, the Unique One, the supreme Manifestation of God. Other beings receive only one ray, but the supreme Manifestation is the mirror for this Sun, which appears and becomes manifest in it, with all its perfections, attributes, signs and wonders.

(Interestingly the rays of the sun or a reflection in a mirror were originally the metaphors used by Neo-Platonists such as Plotinus to describe the way the universe emanates from a transcendent God (the One) who remains unaffected or undiminished by creation).

The sun is also used as a metaphorical description of the attributes of God- for example in ‘Prayers and Meditations’ Baha’u’llah refers to-

‘the sun of Thine essence’

‘the splendours of the sun of Thy beauty’

and

‘the splendours of the Sun of Thy oneness’

In addition the sun serves as a metaphor for spiritual truth and understanding- for example-

This is the Sun that shineth in the heaven of Thy will and the splendor of which the veils of the workers of iniquity and the doubts of the evil doers can never cloud. …

and

Hold Thou the hand of this seeker who hath set his face towards Thee, O my Lord, and draw him out of the depths of his vain imaginations, that the light of certainty may shine brightly above the horizon of his heart in the days whereon the sun of the knowledge of Thy creatures hath been darkened through the shining of the Day-Star of Thy glory…

One of my favourite occurances of sun imagery is in ‘The Hidden Words’ when it is used to symbolise spiritual awakening-

O SON OF MAN! Many a day hath passed over thee whilst thou hast busied thyself with thy fancies and idle imaginings. How long art thou to slumber on thy bed? Lift up thy head from slumber, for the Sun hath risen to the zenith, haply it may shine upon thee with the light of beauty.