The believers are like an ocean

The aim of the appearance of the Blessed Perfection – may my life be a sacrifice for His beloved ones! – was the unity and agreement of all the people of the world. Therefore, my utmost desire, firstly, is the accord and union and love of the believers and after that of all the people of the world. Now, if unity and agreement is not established among the believers, I will become heartbroken and the afflictions will leave a greater imprint upon me. But if the fragrance of love and unity among the believers is wafted to my nostrils, every trial will become a mercy, every unhappiness a joy, every difficulty an expansion, every misery a treasure an every hardship a felicity.1

After thinking about the meaning of “ego”, an image came to mind of a vessel filled with water, afloat on a gigantic ocean. The purpose of the vessel is to keep the water contained within it separate from the rest of the ocean – even though they are of the same substance. No matter how long the vessel might drift upon the water, it will always remain separated from the rest.

Human society today has bottled up the spirits of men and women, just as though the waters of the ocean had been separated into individual containers. Imagine what it would be like if the whole Pacific were divided into one gallon and one pint jars; not the whole ocean in one huge tank, but divided up into millions of tiny vessels, each separating one part of the water from the rest.

Every attribute we know the ocean to have would disappear. Without the union of the water, there would be no surging waves and no currents. The fish could not swim, and reefs would be impossible. It would become a dead place; or at least, if the fish still lived, it would hardly be called an enviable existence. The waters they were used to roaming in freely would become tiny, cramped spaces, where each could only hear his neighbor moving – but never see him.

The Pacific would become utterly still. Looking out, we would see endless rows and columns of vessels – perhaps of many shapes and colors – but without motion. The sea would be stilled, because the currents which once flowed through it would have lost their course-ways.

I think such a sight seems horrific. The most wonderful attribute of the Pacific, or of any ocean, is its amazing fluidity: the way that the waters ceaselessly press upon and caress the shores. It gives me great peace to watch the waters move, knowing that beneath the waves a whole other world takes place.

Yet despite the horror, isn’t this what our world has become? We seclude the most sensitive part of ourselves within a boundary that might be called “ego”. This prevents the ocean of human life from surging in the vast waves of progress that we all long for.

If one’s spiritual nature could be called the fluid and dynamic aspect of his person – that essential “being” which survives any sort of mental or physical change – then by releasing ourselves from the prison of self we would allow our communal essences to commingle and blend.

In the ocean there is no concept of a fixed amount of water. A gallon poured in is immediately irretrievable. But a gallon jug thrown in can be pulled out with that same gallon intact, down to the last molecule.

Perhaps we seclude ourselves in order to preserve what we perceive to be our individuality. Yet this seclusion only prevents the waters from joining, and precludes the appearance of those very aspects which make the ocean livable. Imagine what it would be like if the souls of all men became blended in such a way that we were not just united, but even as one soul: just as one does not point to a certain part of the ocean as say, “see, that part of the ocean is separate from the rest,” rather every part of the ocean is considered “the ocean”. When ships drown at sea we do not blame a particular part of the sea – the sea as a whole is held responsible. The waters of the ocean are viewed as a single body of water, and likewise the souls of men would be regarded as one soul.

What the surging of the human sea would look like, I have no idea. The days of global unity are not yet here – although it promises to be glorious.

Once when I was watching a film on the desert, they showed a water tower standing in the middle of an wide open plain. Around the tower were thousands of mirrors, each tracking the light of the sun in order to aim it at the tower. Above the tower was a cistern, filled with water, which would then boil and produce electricity by the pressure of the steam. Thus, by employing the simple principles of unity and reflection it was possible to produce energy using nothing more than mirrors, water and sunlight.

It would seem that we are like those mirrors and at the center stands the goal we are all looking toward: lasting peace. This peace is held up by the latticework of a sound administration, awaiting each of our individual rays to heat it up and bring out the energy that is latent within it.

Above, the sun shines down its rays bountifully and without discrimination. But the rays alone are not enough to activate the cistern. The task involved – and indeed this is the only real problem to be solved – is how to get the mirrors to align unitedly toward the tower.

When we, as a race of spiritual beings, are turned firstly toward the Sun, and secondly toward the tower; that is, when our reflective nature is aimed primarily at the Sun, and our orientation is such that we reflect the light of that Sun on our appointed task; then an energy will be produced such as we have never seen before – though it was always present – since we had never realized it until that moment.

It would seem that when the barriers of self that separate us from one another and Our Beloved are finally dropped, and when the divided waters of the Ocean are finally merged into a single sea, I think humanity will witness the very thing which all the Prophets of God have professed as Their ultimate goal and purpose. It would be a society in which the waters need never be separated again – not separate from one other, nor from God, neither from happiness nor tranquility. In such a world we would never feel alone again. Instead of seeking to preserve our individuality to the exclusion of such a reality, we would work towards bettering the condition of the entire sea itself.

Such a state of being could only be described as the Kingdom of God on earth. Now, while I have no certainty that this is the way such a thing will come about, it seems to me that the Writings stress very greatly the importance of harmony and unity. Religion, a Latin-derived word stemming from “re-ligare” – which means literally “to bind or fasten together again” – has been called by Bahá’u’lláh, “the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples.” The Guardian declared, “… the purpose of religion to be the promotion of amity and concord.” He said of `Abdu’l-Bahá that “… The Master often denied Himself any station just to maintain the unity of the friends for that was His primary object.” We have often heard the quote that, “If religion proves to be the source of hatred, enmity and contention, if it becomes the cause of warfare and strife and influences men to kill each other, its absence is preferable.” Bahá’u’lláh likewise commands us: “Ye have been forbidden in the Book of God to engage in contention and conflict, to strike another, or to commit similar acts whereby hearts and souls may be saddened…” He tells of the Báb that “… A fine of nineteen mithqals of gold had formerly been prescribed by Him Who is the Lord of all mankind for anyone who was the cause of sadness to another…” And in the ninth Ishráq of the Tablet of Ishráqát (Splendors), Bahá’u’lláh reveals that “The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God’s holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife. The religion of God and His divine law are the most potent instruments and the surest of all means for the dawning of the light of unity amongst men.”

With this in mind, perhaps the reason why religion has been given that very name (i.e., to bind together again), is because, for whatever reason, we have somehow become separated and through the agency of God’s Will we will be enabled someday to join together again in spiritual harmony. If the laws of nature were allowed to prevail, I am sure we would end up bathing in each other’s blood. However, it is powerfully cogent to me to think that since we are beings of such tremendous capacity, then as a race there would also exist some as yet unrealized potential – a treasure which the key of God’s Word has been destined to unlock in the hearts of men. Perhaps the existentialists believe that life has no purpose beyond the evident happenings that we see, but isn’t it more appealing to the mind to think that we are all moving toward something definite and spectacular? Perhaps toward a pattern of existence which defies all current models of human interrelationship. The design of the pattern has been laid down by the Manifestations of God; the raw material has been handed us by Providence; and the yearning to build it has been fused into our very core. I think the most fulfilling thing any one of us can do is to throw down everything we hold dear, embrace one another, and discover a wealth stemming from unity that far exceeds any possession we could ever own.

On this note, I would like to close with a quote that a fellow Bahá’í shared with me which I had never seen before. It certainly seems to indicate something wonderful awaiting us in the coming age.

O ye friends of God! Today is the day of union and this age is the age of harmony in the world of existence. “Verily, God loveth those who are working in His path in groups, for they are a solid foundation.” Consider ye that he says “in groups,” united and bound together, supporting one another. “To work,” mentioned in this holy verse, does not mean, in this greatest age, to perform it with swords, spears, shafts and arrows, but rather with sincere intentions, good designs, useful advices, divine moralities, beautiful actions, spiritual qualities, educating the public, guiding the souls of mankind, diffusing spiritual fragrances, explaining divine illustrations, showing convincing proofs and doing charitable deeds. When the holy souls, through the angelic power, will arise to show forth these celestial characteristics, establishing a band of harmony, each of these souls shall be regarded as one thousand persons and the waves of this greatest ocean shall be considered as the army of the hosts of the Supreme Concourse.

What a great blessing it is when the torrents, streams, currents, tides, and drops are all gathered in one place! They will form a great ocean and the real harmony shall overcome and reign in such a manner that all the rules, laws, distinctions and differences of the imaginations of these souls shall disappear and vanish like little drops and shall be submerged in the ocean of spiritual unity. By the Ancient Beauty, in this case and condition, the blessings of the great ocean will overflow and canals shall become as spacious as an endless ocean and each drop shall become as a boundless sea!

O ye friends of God! Strive to attain to this high and sublime station and show forth such a brightness in these days that its radiance may appear from the eternal horizons. This is the real foundation of the Cause of God; this is the essence of the divine doctrine; this is the cause of the revelation of the heavenly Scriptures; this is the means of the appearance of the Sun of the divine world; this is the way of the establishment of God upon the bodily throne.2

But perhaps the theme of my post isn’t very clear. I apologize if it seems to ramble. The basic idea is that unity is by far the most important goal for our community to strive toward. Even knowledge, though it may appeal to us all, is little more than a tool to be put to use by our spiritual natures. And like any tool, such as knives or the like, its usefulness is only worthwhile so long as no one gets harmed in the process. Otherwise, abandoning it entirely is far better than some kind of Pyrrhic victory, when the road to our dreams has been paved by the broken hearts of our loved ones and friends.

  1. `Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 403

  2. ibid, p. 401