Let me try to be clear. I did it. I am guilty.
Of what? Of spending a great deal of time daydreaming and writing blogs and ignoring the people in my life. And, taking it up a level, of yelling in anger.
The creation of God is perfect. So, is what I am guilty of, part of perfection or an error? Is the ‘computer program’, ‘the matrix’ a perfect program or does it have errors?
The creation of God is perfect. What I am guilty of, is part of that perfection. And so why would I even say there is something of which to be guilty?
Within the perfect creation is an unfoldment of consciousness in me to the wonder of creation and God. The consciousness was provoked by my early teachers – my parents and family and family friends; my school teachers and religion teachers; the bullies and the abusers; the attractive girls (a tautology, nonetheless …); my intense or rampaging university friends and co-students; my co-workers.
Within the perfect creation, I was provoked to ask ‘why’ and in the authentic search, against much mundane advice, I recognised Baha’u’llah. In Baha’u’llah’s own words, I had fulfilled my first duty, “… recognition of Him Who is the Day Spring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 330).
Of those laws, Baha’u’llah provokes my consciousness, again. “Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power.”(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 332). Against the outpouring of His laws, the fountain of choice wine, there I am guilty, there I am in error.
Yet, what is that guilt, that error, in the perfect creation? Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’u’llah’s son and mystery to the world, noted that there is an insistent self which the Cause of God is charged with bringing to yield, to selflessness, and, in that, to its everlasting glory, spirit on spirit. (Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 256)
What is that insistent self? Abdu’l-Baha provides two distinct contributions to this question. Firstly, that there is no evil in the perfect creation. However, an evil occurs in the failure of a spiritual quality to show up. “the qualities and admirable perfections of man, are purely good, and exist. Evil is simply their nonexistence.”(Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 261) Secondly, there is a perfect lower animal nature at the foundation of the material, physical, capacity of the human. “Each creature is the recipient of some portion of (God’s) power, and man, who contains the perfection of the mineral, the vegetable and animal, as well as his own distinctive qualities, has become the noblest of created beings.” (Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 22). This is human’s ‘natural’ capacity, “the creation of God, is purely good”. However, Abdu’l-Baha point to an acquired capacity that is like being accustomed to poison, “by taking a small quantity each day, and gradually increasing it, until he reaches such a point that he cannot live without .. the natural capacity and constitution can be changed, until by different habits and training they become entirely perverted.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 319)
Baha’u’llah, addressing the nature of the soul, confirms that it is “is exalted above, and is independent of body or mind” but that we show signs of weakness “is due to the hindrances that interpose themselves between his soul and his body.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 153) He goes on, “ (God) hath entrusted every created thing with a sign of His knowledge. This sign is the mirror of His beauty in the world of creation. The greater the effort exerted for the refinement of this sublime and noble mirror, the more faithfully will it be made to reflect the glory of the names and attributes of God, and reveal the wonders of His signs and knowledge. There can be no doubt whatever that, in consequence of the efforts which every man may consciously exert and as a result of the exertion of his own spiritual faculties, this mirror can be so cleansed from the dross of earthly defilements and purged from satanic fancies as to be able to draw nigh unto the meads of eternal holiness and attain the courts of everlasting fellowship.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 261)
So if we bring the analogies of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha together here we have an image of the ‘Light of God’ ‘The Holy Spirit’ reflected in the pure mirror. Yet in the habituation to poisonous or unseemly activities we are creating like a dross to form on the pure mirror. Dross doesn’t prevent the light shining but like a shadow appearing on the mirror, our life shows up as an insistent self, an evil.
Yet, we might ask, doesn’t the appearance of dross mean that the creation is imperfect. However, there is way in which the dross showing up is part of a perfect creation. This is when the view of perfection is not our view of some perfect comfort, but when it is a view that we are created into God’s great training ground. Here it is time to bring in another concept about our purpose in this world, “the appearance of the spirit is this: (it) is a Divine Trust, and it must traverse all conditions, for its passage and movement through the conditions of existence will be the means of its acquiring perfections. (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 199) “This world is not much of a place for the realization of truth. This world is but the womb of the world of reality.”(Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 112) “The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother. When the soul attaineth the Presence of God, it will assume the form that best befitteth its immortality and is worthy of its celestial habitation.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 156)
In this view, as demanded by Baha’u’llah it is our effort in cleaning dross that creates spiritual being, a being that is in proximity with eternal holiness and fellowship. The ‘dross’, the animal, the habituation to the world, is, therefore, the perfect methodology for the showing up of the soul’s qualities while in this world. Indeed the effort itself seems to be the key to the ultimate nourishment and formation of the soul.
So, having now formed an idea that we are a state in light and shadows that shows up distinctions between a clear mirror to the light and a shaded portion. Baha’u’llah’s Law and teachings define the clear surface like rainbows reflecting across the mirror, while the insistent-self defines the shadow of evil by creating a barrier to that light. Where does guilt lie? The insistent-self, recognising the play of light and its own shadows upon the surface, does despair. It knows that it cannot be as shadows and simultaneously revel in the light. Therefore it creates a wonderful trick. It takes its despair and turns it on itself in a story of unfulfilled yearning for an unattainable light. Not only yearning, but effort is constructed, for the self knows that effort, the law of God, is required. And so, guilt is born as an intricate looping act of effort on an unattainable goal, a Sisyphus-like activity which allows great strength to the insistent-self, which feels fully justified as a spiritual actor. Yet, the light is not unattainable, it is just there, where there is no despair.
The insistent-self, creating the trick of guilt, takes the past, the animal, and the habit, and shows it the Law of God, so that it can despise the self, and avoid cleaning the dross that is itself. The spiritual-self cannot destroy the insistent self for that is not possible in the light. The spiritual self can only love the creation of God that has created the insistent self, the past, the animal and the habit. In this moment of love, the spiritual self runs a rainbow along the loops of guilt, bringing sweet savours and joyful lilting. This effort offer no force, is an effort of love and compassion that feels more like a ‘giving way’ to an openness for everyone else and God. Guilt Is not wrong, it is just that it is an imaginary fight with itself. Like all things ‘drossful’ of our spiritual lamp, guilt requires a spiritual method, a knowing that guilt can be loved as it is. Guilt is not wrong, it just goes away in love. And in love, there is the resplendent, sweet-smelling garment of the Law of God.
Let me try to be clear. I did it. I am guilty.