“Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved? and what seeker findeth rest away from his heart’s desire? To the true lover reunion is life, and separation is death. His breast is void of patience and his heart hath no peace. A myriad lives he would forsake to hasten to the abode of his beloved." - Baha'u'llah
In man's quest to attain the honour and privilege of nearness to God, there are certain conditions required to be met which are described in greater detail in the sections below, however the requirements to finding God are summarized in this single verse:
"O SON OF EARTH! Wouldst thou have Me, seek none other than Me; and wouldst thou gaze upon My beauty, close thine eyes to the world and all that is therein; for My will and the will of another than Me, even as fire and water, cannot dwell together in one heart." - Baha'u'llah
If you truly desire God, seek only Him. And if you desire to behold His Beauty, then turn your affections away from yourself, and away from the trivial benefits of the world, and instead desire His Will, and whatever is pleasing to Him.
The heart being thus free from impediment and no longer entirely occupied by one's personal desires, will now have space for the light and grace of God to shine, and sooner or later this hard clay of the heart will soften, and the tulips of understanding and certitude and Faith will begin to blossom.
God is always near to His creature, but our own condition and awareness of the Presence of God varies and despite the nearness of God to us, we may be far from Him. In the same way that a gardener is close to and aware of his roses, but the roses are unaware of and far from the gardener who cares for them.
"O MOVING FORM OF DUST! I desire communion with thee, but thou wouldst put no trust in Me. The sword of thy rebellion hath felled the tree of thy hope. At all times I am near unto thee, but thou art ever far from Me. Imperishable glory I have chosen for thee, yet boundless shame thou hast chosen for thyself. While there is yet time, return, and lose not thy chance." - Baha'u'llah
When one feels distant from God it is always beneficial to be aware of His Love and Will which is constantly surrounding us and within us, no matter how far we ourselves may be from Him.
"My love is in thee, know it, that thou mayest find Me near unto thee" – Baha’u’llah
No matter how far you may feel from God, knowing that God's love is always with you will remind you of God's Presence and nearness.
If at any moment you were to place your hand on your heart and feel your heartbeat you may be reminded that despite your unconsciousness of those processes, an unseen Force has brought together billions of atoms, has raised you up in dignity and honour as a human, and breathed a life force within you.
“I have breathed within thee a breath of My own Spirit, that thou mayest be My lover. Why hast thou forsaken Me and sought a beloved other than Me?” – Baha’u’llah
Although at times in your life you may drift far from God, God is always with you, and His bountiful care and love permeates and surrounds you and is the Cause of your existence and life.
The state of a thing determines its capacities and what it is attracted to. If you are not in the state which is receptive to the grace of God, then you will be deprived of it, and even were it to be made available to you, you would be unable to be attracted to it. In the same way that the light of the sun, although existing, is non-existent to the blind man, and although beautiful, is repulsive to the bat. Both the bat, and the blind man, are deprived of the bounty of the sun due to their own nature being incompatible with it. It is for this same reason that throughout history people such as Peter the fisherman have been able to find and be attracted to God, wheras others could not - It was their own inner state which assisted (or prevented) them from finding God.
“Yea to the beetle a sweet fragrance seemeth foul, and to the man sick of a rheum a pleasant perfume is as naught.” – Baha’u’llah
What state must we be in, in order to find God?
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." - Matthew 5:8 (King James Bible)
The most important state related to finding God is the state of "purity" which will be elaborated on in the following section.
"O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting." - Baha'u'llah
It is the heart which reflects the light of God, and it must be kept undefiled. A pure heart is like a polished mirror which is free of dust. As soon as it is placed in front of the glorious rays of the sun it will immediately and faithfully reflect that light. An impure heart is like a mirror stained with dust which although surrounded by the same light of the sun has no share in its radiance or beauty.
"O SON OF BEING! Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation." - Baha'u'llah
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." - Matthew 5:8 (King James Bible)
In order to find God and have faith, purity of heart is one of the necessary requirements. Unfortunately one cannot inherit either purity or faith from one's parents, it must be earned and found by each soul individually as a personal struggle over one's ego. Although a difficult and sometimes lifelong struggle, the reward is immense, it is the reward of finding the Treasure, the fruit of this earthly life, which is recognition and love of God.
Purity of heart implies restraint of the ego:
"He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vain-glory, must cling unto patience and resignation..." - Baha'u'llah
Purity of heart implies purity of thought:
"He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention" - Baha'u'llah
Purity of heart implies moderation in one's life:
"He should be content with little, and be freed from all inordinate desire" - Baha'u'llah
In summary, one of the greatest factors related to finding God which is within your control is the efforts you make to purify your self, and your actions:
"Purification is regarded as the most acceptable means for attaining nearness unto God and as the most meritorious of all deeds...purge all thine acts and thy pursuits that thou mayest be nurtured in the paradise of pure love, and perchance mayest attain the presence of Him Whom God shall make manifest, adorned with a purity which He highly cherisheth" - The Bab
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." - Matthew 7:21 (King James Bible)
“Llet him then who hopeth to meet his Lord work a righteous work" - Quran 18:110 (Rodwell Translation)
Purity of heart is an essential requirement which relates to ones Inner condition, or what you are. However also important in winning God's good pleasure, and ultimately His Grace and Guidance is what you do. When the heart is pure, then ones's actions can also be pure, and will sooner or later win the good pleasure of God which as will be elaborated on in the following section is the final prerequisite for finding God and attaining Faith.
What are some of the actions one may undertake in order to win the good pleasure and guidance of his God?
"He must cling to the robe of obedience to the commandments, and hold fast to the cord of shunning all forbidden things, that he may be nourished from the cup of the Law and informed of the mysteries of Truth.” - Baha'u'llah
The Laws and advices of God serve to protect and guide one's actions, and make "what you do" pleasing and acceptable to God. Advices such as:
"That seeker should, also, regard backbiting as grievous error, and keep himself aloof from its dominion, inasmuch as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul" - Baha'u'llah
"He should succor the dispossessed, and never withhold his favor from the destitute." - Baha'u'llah
"He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellow-man, to him who is endowed with the power of utterance." - Baha'u'llah
"He should not wish for others that which he doth not wish for himself, nor promise that which he doth not fulfil." - Baha'u'llah
"With all his heart he should avoid fellowship with evil-doers, and pray for the remission of their sins." - Baha'u'llah
"Charity is pleasing and praiseworthy in the sight of God and is regarded as a prince among goodly deeds." - Baha'u'llah
"O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men. This can best be achieved through pure and holy deeds, through a virtuous life and a goodly behavior." - Baha'u'llah
With perseverence, sooner or later your sacrificial and selfless exertions in the field of service to others, and the performing of righteous acts and obedience to God will reach the point where this condition is met:
"Whoso maketh efforts for Us" - Quran 29:69
And when this condition is met, you will enjoy the promised reward of:
"In Our ways shall We assuredly guide him.” - Quran 29:69
Those who have found God, have always performed deeds which were considered pleasing to God, prior to their having found Him:
"Be thankful to God for having enabled you to recognise His Cause. Whoever has received this blessing must, prior to his acceptance, have performed some deed which, though he himself was unaware of its character, was ordained by God as a means whereby he has been guided to find and embrace the Truth. As to those who have remained deprived of such a blessing, their acts alone have hindered them from recognising the truth of this Revelation." - Baha'u'llah
If a heart is pure and selfless, and one's acts are likewise pure and selfless. Although the pre-requisites for one to find God have been met, it is still not sufficient for man to reach his goal.
If the soil of the earth is perfectly purified of weeds and thistles, and also sewn with goodly seeds. Can it blossom on its own?
There is a missing piece, and that is a piece which comes from far beyond and far above the soil, it is the life giving rain drops and sunshine from on high - the Grace of God, and Bounty of God.
"This seed craveth, therefore, in its inmost being, for the waters of Thy mercy and the living fountain of Thy grace. Send down upon it, from the heaven of Thy loving-kindness, that which will enable it to flourish beneath Thy shadow and within the borders of Thy court. Thou art He Who watereth the hearts of all that have recognized Thee from Thy plenteous stream and the fountain of Thy living waters.
Praised be God, the Lord of the worlds." - Baha'u'llah
The following verses also testify to the truth that the final step of man being permitted to finding God, is God Himself allowing the creature to find Him, and this being an act of grace.
"No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost". - 1 Corinthians 12:2 KJB
(i.e. A person who is today a Christian cannot sincerely say and believe that Jesus is Lord without the confirmation of the Holy Spirit having helped him)
"Whom Allah willeth, He leaveth to wander: whom He willeth, He placeth on the way that is straight” – Surat Al-’An`ām 6:39
(i.e. A person who is today a Muslim cannot have attained a right path without the confirmation of God having placed him on it)
And in the Words of Baha'u'llah, whom Baha'is regard as the most recent Prophet of God:
"Hold Thou, through Thy wondrous favors and mercies, the hands of Thy creatures, and suffer them not to be separated from the grace which Thou hast ordained as the means whereby they can recognize Thee...” - Baha'u'llah
True Faith and nearness to God is ultimately a gift, a priceless gift which God bestows on the soul which is living in a manner which is pleasing to Him. Without God's good pleasure and gift of guidance, no soul can ever hope to find God - no matter how pure hearted, no matter how obedient and submissive to His Laws, no matter how persistent and determined in his search. However it is a Divine Promise that God will guide the soul who strives for Him - therefore we strive, and in that way eventually win His good pleasure, and receive His Promised Grace.
Although Faith and recognition of God are outcomes of the inner state of the heart of man, and the grace of God, and cannot be attained purely through cold rationalizing, still logical proofs which are aimed at the mind are a powerful means to help one begin the journey to finding nearness to God.
Logical proofs of God alone can never inspire a heart with the recognition or love of God, but a logical realisation of the existence of the Creator can be a powerful means for one to arise and commit themselves to undertake the difficult journey of righteous living which is what leads man to a more befitting recognition of his God. It is only the pure heart which can reflect the light of God, but a confident mind can lead to a confident heart.
For a collection of some of the logical proofs of the existence of your Creator click here
“O thou seeker of the True One! If thou wishest the divine knowledge and recognition, purify thy heart from all beside God, be wholly attracted to the ideal, beloved One; search for and choose Him and apply thyself to rational and authoritative arguments. For arguments are a guide to the path and by this the heart will be turned unto the Sun of Truth. And when the heart is turned unto the Sun, then the eye will be opened and will recognize the Sun through the Sun itself. Then (man) will be in no need of arguments (or proofs)..." - Abdu'l-Baha
Once you have attained the Treasure which you seek, which is the honour of finding and loving your God, you must persist in showing goodly deeds and a praiseworthy character so that this greatest of Treasures will never slip from your hands ever again. If this newly found love and Faith is not translated into selfless and sacrificial actions in the field of service then the desired result is not achieved and the Faith will not last. Arise immediately and strive to contribute to the betterment of the world. Use your talents, your energy, your time, your wealth for the service of the common good. Be of service to your neighbourhood, your community, your nation, your planet.
“Ye are the saplings which the hand of Loving-kindness hath planted in the soil of mercy, and which the showers of bounty have made to flourish. He hath protected you from the mighty winds of misbelief, and the tempestuous gales of impiety, and nurtured you with the hands of His loving providence. Now is the time for you to put forth your leaves, and yield your fruit. The fruits of the tree of man have ever been and are goodly deeds and a praiseworthy character." - Baha'u'llah
In your search for God there is a warning which must be known:
“O CHILDREN OF THE DIVINE AND INVISIBLE ESSENCE! Ye shall be hindered from loving Me and souls shall be perturbed as they make mention of Me. For minds cannot grasp Me nor hearts contain Me." - Baha'u'llah
In your search for God it must be known that God Himself is immensely exalted above your capacity to comprehend Him. Whatever we imagine of God Himself is entirely unworthy, and innacurate, and there is no possibility of human intellect ever being able to comprehend the true nature of it's Creator.
For example a table which has been carved into shape by a carpenter can never comprehend or imagine what the true nature of the carpenter which made it is like. If a wooden table could speak, it may ask, "is my creator made of softwood or is he made of hardwood?", because that is its capacity and level, and anything beyond that is invisible and impossible and incomprehensible to it. For instance it can never know that its creator is a human who can laugh, and dream, and think. Similarly our Creator is inconceivably superior to man himself, and far beyond man's capacity to comprehend Him. Like the wooden table we may ask "is our Creator a man or a woman?", but God is neither a man, nor a woman, those are simply concepts which his unrestrained Will has chosen to create in the physical universe. He Himself is immensely exalted above whatever we imagine about Him.
The closest we can ever reach to God, the closest we can ever get to knowing God personally, is by reaching and knowing His Prophets, who reflect God's attributes to us in the greatest intensity possible. So when one attempts to "Find God" or "Draw Near To God", what they are in fact attempting to do is to draw close to the Prophet of God. Depending on which region of the world your ancestors are from then the Prophet who introduced you to God was either Moses, or Krishna, or Buddha, or Christ, or Muhammad. They are all the Manifestations of God, and the Revealers of His Beauty. In this day and age Baha'is regard Baha'u'llah to be the most recent Prophet of God, and the revealer of His Beauty. If you wish to know God more personally, refer to the sacred Words revealed by His Holy Prophets, and read about their noble, virtuous, and selfless lives.
Those who attempt to comprehend what the complete nature of the Infinite Creator is are on a perilous path which can only lead to despair and mental illness, because they are attempting the forbidden, which is the attempt to contain the limitless Ocean in a tea cup.
“Veiled from this was Moses
Though all strength and light;
Then thou who hast no wings at all,
Attempt not flight" - The Mathnavi
Likewise those who claim to have no need of the Prophets of God to act as the intermediary between themselves and God, and claim to know God directly are also on a perilous path which can only lead to despair, because whatever they imagine of God, or whatever they imagine of what God's Will is, are a creation of their own intellects, and therefore inferior to themselves (let alone being the "Voice of God"). There is no direct tie between the finite man and the Infinite Lord, all bounties of God received by man are received through an appointed intermediary. For example warmth and light are always received through the intermediary of the sun, and man cannot claim to be able to bypass the sun and receive heat and light "directly from God". Similarly he cannot have any direct tie whatsoever with the Lord of Creation.
“And since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation, and no resemblance whatever can exist between the transient and the Eternal, the contingent and the Absolute, He hath ordained that in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven." - Baha'u'llah
Any knowledge we have of God is not of God Himself, but simply descriptions of the things He has Created. God is known to us by His Signs, by the things which His Will has created - And His Greatest Signs are the Prophets of God, those pure and stainless Souls who appear amongst mankind from time to time. In this era that Sign of God is Baha'u'llah
Except for direct quotations from the Baha'i Writings, all opinions expressed on this blog are simply personal understandings and therefore not authoritative. This site is an individual initiative and is not affiliated with any Baha'i Institutions. To visit the official website of the Baha’i Faith please visit www.bahai.org