‘The Spiritual Teacher Is The First To Follow His Own Teaching’

Plato: The Phaedo: The Death of Socrates

‘Abdu’l Baha taught that ‘Spiritual Philosophers’ are to be distinguished from ‘mere philosophers’ by the extent to which they practice their ideals.

‘Some men and women glory in their exalted thoughts, but if these thoughts never reach the plane of action they remain useless: the power of thought is dependent on its manifestation in deeds. A philosopher’s thought may, however, in the world of progress and evolution, translate itself into the actions of other people, even when they themselves are unable or unwilling to show forth their grand ideals in their own lives. To this class the majority of philosophers belong, their teachings being high above their actions. This is the difference between philosophers who are Spiritual Teachers, and those who are mere philosophers: the Spiritual Teacher is the first to follow His own teaching; He brings down into the world of action His spiritual conceptions and ideals. His Divine thoughts are made manifest to the world. His thought is Himself, from which He is inseparable. When we find a philosopher emphasizing the importance and grandeur of justice, and then encouraging a rapacious monarch in his oppression and tyranny, we quickly realize that he belongs to the first class: for he thinks heavenly thoughts and does not practice the corresponding heavenly virtues.This state is impossible with Spiritual Philosophers, for they ever express their high and noble thoughts in actions’.

Paris Talks


4 thoughts on “‘The Spiritual Teacher Is The First To Follow His Own Teaching’

  1. `Abdu’l-Bahá arrived here in Montreal exactly one hundred years ago tonight, on a train from Boston. As you may imagine, this evening there will be a group of the Friends there at Windsor Station to mark the occasion as there was a century ago when He arrived. The next nine days will celebrate His days in Montreal.

  2. The first thing that comes to mind to me when I read this is those wealthy pro-sustainability activists who preach minimal consumption, reducing our carbon footprint, living in harmony with the world around us etc but then own private jets, large mansions, fly overseas regularly……… Of course, many are not like this, and those may be those “Spiritual Teachers” Abdu’l Baha refers to, who in our age are quickened by the force of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation and directed by an Unseen Creator to act to bring Baha’u’llah’s New World Order about, little do they know it.
    Again, the sustainability movement comes to mind. There are countless activists who bend their whole energies behind engaging with the local community, minimising their carbon footprint in their own lives and developing spiritually in order to make the world a better place in their own little way….
    I’m sure everyone will have a different take on this quote depending on their particular calling. For me, sustainability, and the role of spirituality in contributing to it, is something I’m very passionate about and in the process of getting more involved in at the moment.

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