We have just started 2019 with joy, and with high expectation. A new year is often associated with goals and resolutions on how we want to change our material lives for the better. Should it not be also a time for reflection, for new and noble resolutions on how to transform our spiritual lives and the society we live in?
Spiritual transformation is the basis for lasting improvements in our lives and central in our approach to social change.
The world today is facing a series of unprecedented challenges. At the same time, we are also faced with tremendous opportunities to work towards the common good and of creating peaceful and flourishing societies. To have a purposeful life, following good moral standards and achieving cooperation amongst individuals and nations are all derived from the spiritual dimension of life.
Therefore, the same way as we improve and transform our material surroundings for the new year, we also need to focus on the development of our spiritual capacities. We need to reinforce our material achievements with spiritual perfections.
As stated in the Bahá'í Writings: “… the world of spirit needs new life, the world of mind necessitates new animus and development, the world of souls a new bounty, the world of morality a reformation, the world of divine effulgence ever new bestowals. …thoughts must be lofty and ideals uplifted in order that the world of humanity may become assisted in new conditions of reform. When this reformation affects every degree, then will come the very Day of the Lord of which all the prophets have spoken. That is the Day wherein the whole world will be regenerated”.
Solutions to global problems through spiritual principles
There are spiritual principles through which solutions can be found for global problems. Decency and integrity of individual and collective conduct; the solving of problems through the application of spiritual principles; the practice of consultation in a spirit of unity; and the belief in the oneness of humanity, for example.
Cultivation of a sense of spirituality – that mystic feeling which unites us with God – is essential for our spiritual well-being and growth. We are all endowed with innate spiritual capacities, development of which is critical to human advancement. These capacities are capacities of the soul; the human soul which is eternal. Spiritual growth is the process of developing our spiritual capacities. Considering that man's life on earth is a preparation for the spiritual world to follow, as such the proper and full development of spiritual capacities should be the primary goal in our lives.
The Bahá’í Writings assert: “ … we must strive to become more spiritual, more luminous, to follow the counsel of the Divine Teaching, to serve the cause of unity and true equality, to be merciful, to reflect the love of the Highest on all men, so that the light of the Spirit shall be apparent in all our deeds, to the end that all humanity shall be united, the stormy sea thereof calmed, and all rough waves disappear from off the surface of life's ocean henceforth unruffled and peaceful”.
Translating good ideas and resolutions into action
As we set noble resolutions for the New Year let us have the determination and perseverance to carry them into action. We all praise and admire noble actions and good deeds and would like to be treated well by others. We all would like to live in a better society and in a peaceful world. Meaningful change and improvement in our societies result from development of qualities and attitudes in the individual that foster constructive patterns of human interaction as well as acquisition of technical capacities. To have a better society founded on peace, cooperation, dignity, rectitude of conduct and justice is achievable through spiritual awareness and virtuous life as well as material discovery and progress.
As stated in the Bahá’í Scriptures:
“In this new year new fruits must be forthcoming, for that is the provision and intention of spiritual reformation. … of what avail is the reformation of physical conditions unless they are concomitant with spiritual reformations? For the essential reality is the spirit; the foundational basis is the spirit; the life of man is due to the spirit; the happiness, the animus, the radiance, the glory of man -- all are due to the spirit …”
Therefore, for humanity to prosper and be happy, the material and the spiritual aspects in life must advance together. Prosperity, in its fullest sense, can only be achieved through combination of spiritual and material well-being.
Spiritual transformation is not only the basis for lasting improvements in our lives, but it is also central in our approach to social change. Lasting joy, peace and prosperity will result from material achievements reinforced by spiritual perfections.
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