We all want happiness, for ourselves and for all our loved ones—but where does it really come from?
When we interact with the ones we love we intuitively do our best to speak and act only in ways that would give rise to their well-being, peace, and feeling of security. Why? We know that doing otherwise would result in their discomfort—their unhappiness.
On the basis of their love, parents make years of effort and sacrifice for the happiness of their children. Genuine public administrators and leaders, on the basis of the love they have for others and society, make efforts for the happiness of all those within their jurisdictions.
Nonetheless, happiness seems to evade us, even in circumstances when we strive to do our best to always be in that state, and aid our loved ones to be happy, too. These questions, therefore, naturally arise: What is happiness? Where can we find it? Can we always remain in a state of happiness? What does it take to achieve happiness—and keep it?
The Baha’i teachings provide answers to these important questions, and aim to allow all people to walk the path of true happiness:
We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations …. That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened … These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family …. Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind …. – Baha’u’llah, The Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, p. viii.
The primary principle of the Baha’i Faith—the oneness of all religions—means that Baha’is believe all the great Faiths have the same underlying spiritual principles. The lives and the revelations of each of the universal educators of humanity—such as the Buddha, Christ, Muhammad and Baha’u’llah—prove that they love us all, and that their efforts all intend to produce human happiness.
Each of the revelations of these prophets and founders of the world’s major Faiths essentially brings an entire system of knowledge and wisdom. Every expressed thought by those prophets, the revealers of the Word of God, is connected, directly or indirectly, to all other thoughts they express, just as each revelation is essentially geared towards humanity completing its life-cycle in a manner harmonious with its own true nature.
So from a Baha’i perspective, happiness in this age of human maturity is directly connected to the promotion of the consciousness of the oneness of humanity and the building of a global order reflective of that oneness.
This concept of religious revelation aids us to perceive happiness as a reality intimately tied to the nature of the human journey from the physical to the spiritual realm. In relation to that spiritual journey, the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing council of the Baha’i world community, stated in its 1985 letter to the peoples of the world entitled “The Promise of World Peace’’ that the human spirit’s:
mysterious nature inclines it towards transcendence, a reaching towards an invisible realm, towards the ultimate reality, that unknowable essence of essences called God. The religions brought to mankind by a succession of spiritual luminaries have been the primary link between humanity and that ultimate reality, and have galvanized and refined mankind’s capacity to achieve spiritual success together with social progress. – The Promise of World Peace, October 1985, p. 1.
The Baha’i writings say that:
“… human happiness is founded upon spiritual behaviour.” – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 127.
We human beings can experience happiness, then, by acting in a divine manner.
Two calls to success and prosperity are being raised from the heights of the happiness of mankind, awakening the slumbering, granting sight to the blind, causing the heedless to become mindful, bestowing hearing upon the deaf, unloosing the tongue of the mute and resuscitating the dead.
The one is the call of civilization, of the progress of the material world. This pertaineth to the world of phenomena, promoteth the principles of material achievement, and is the trainer for the physical accomplishments of mankind it compriseth the laws, regulations, arts and sciences through which the world of humanity hath developed; laws and regulations which are the outcome of lofty ideals and the result of sound minds, and which have stepped forth into the arena of existence through the efforts of the wise and cultured in past and subsequent ages. The propagator and executive power of this call is just government.
The other is the soul-stirring call of God, Whose spiritual teachings are safeguards of the everlasting glory, the eternal happiness and illumination of the world of humanity, and cause attributes of mercy to be revealed in the human world and the life beyond.
This second call is founded upon the instructions and exhortations of the Lord and the admonitions and altruistic emotions belonging to the realm of morality which, like unto a brilliant light, brighten and illumine the lamp of the realities of mankind. Its penetrative power is the Word of God.
However, until material achievements, physical accomplishments and human virtues are reinforced by spiritual perfections, luminous qualities and characteristics of mercy, no fruit or result shall issue therefrom, nor will the happiness of the world of humanity, which is the ultimate aim, be attained. For although, on the one hand, material achievements and the development of the physical world produce prosperity, which exquisitely manifests its intended aims, on the other hand dangers, severe calamities and violent afflictions are imminent.
Consequently, when thou lookest at the orderly pattern of kingdoms, cities and villages, with the attractiveness of their adornments, the freshness of their natural resources, the refinement of their appliances, the ease of their means of travel, the extent of knowledge available about the world of nature, the great inventions, the colossal enterprises, the noble discoveries and scientific researches, thou wouldst conclude that civilization conduceth to the happiness and the progress of the human world. Yet shouldst thou turn thine eye to the discovery of destructive and infernal machines, to the development of forces of demolition and the invention of fiery implements, which uproot the tree of life, it would become evident and manifest unto thee that civilization is conjoined with barbarism. Progress and barbarism go hand in hand, unless material civilization be confirmed by Divine Guidance, by the revelations of the All-Merciful and by godly virtues, and be reinforced by spiritual conduct, by the ideals of the Kingdom and by the outpourings of the Realm of Might.
Consider now, that the most advanced and civilized countries of the world have been turned into arsenals of explosives, that the continents of the globe have been transformed into huge camps and battlefields, that the peoples of the world have formed themselves into armed nations, and that the governments of the world are vying with each other as to who will first step into the field of carnage and bloodshed, thus subjecting mankind to the utmost degree of affliction.
Therefore, this civilization and material progress should be combined with the Most Great Guidance so that this nether world may become the scene of the appearance of the bestowals of the Kingdom, and physical achievements may be conjoined with the effulgences of the Merciful. This in order that the beauty and perfection of the world of man may be unveiled and be manifested before all in the utmost grace and splendour. Thus everlasting glory and happiness shall be revealed.
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Bahá’ís of Botswana
Bahá’í communities are working together with their neighbours and friends to promote and contribute to the well-being and progress of society. In urban centres and rural villages, in homes and schools, citizens of all backgrounds, classes and ages are participating in a dynamic pattern of life, taking part in activities which are, at once, spiritual, social and educational.
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