We just celebrated another New Year. New Year is often associated with change, improvements, and renewal. It is usually associated with decisions on how we want to change our material lives for better.
It should also be a time for reflection, for new and noble resolutions on how we want to transform our spiritual lives and the society we live in.
In this new year, let us resolve to focus attention on our personal spiritual transformation and the development of our spiritual capacities. 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"
Our spiritual capacities
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.
Through acquisition of spiritual virtues, the individual and society can be transformed. The universal spiritual principles which lie at the heart of religion -- tolerance, compassion, love, justice, humility, sacrifice, trustworthiness, dedication to the well-being of others, and unity -- are the foundations of progressive civilisation.
As 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."
It is important that the material and the spiritual aspects in our lives advance together for humanity to prosper and be happy.
There is an important link between practical and spiritual aspects of human life.
The body is the instrument of the soul's development in this earthly life, and as such physical health and development cannot be neglected.
Material means are essential for humanity to be able to pursue its spiritual and other goals, as long as we use our material means towards the primary goal in life, which is fostering our soul's progress, and contributing towards the spiritual transformation of our societies. We should therefore endeavour to maintain a balance between the spiritual and material aspects of our lives, while allowing the spiritual nature to take control.
How do we acquire spirituality?
First we should be aware of the existence of the spiritual realm. Such awareness comes mainly through the knowledge of the messengers of God, who are the link between man and the spiritual world.
Therefore, the knowledge of the founders of world religions would be a natural starting point or the foundation in the process of our spiritual development.
The question then arises as to what steps to follow after the recognition of the messenger of God. Even though the recognition of the messenger of God is the most important, but this recognition alone is not a sufficient basis for spiritual growth.
Observing the laws and teachings of God is the next step in our path to spiritual growth. In other words our efforts to conform to the standards of behaviour, thought, and attitude expressed in the scriptures should complement our belief in God and His messenger. According to the Bahá'í Writings: ". . . true spirituality is like unto a lake of clear water which reflects the divine. . . There is another kind which is like a mirage, seeming to be spiritual when it is not. That which is truly spiritual must light the path to God, and must result in deeds. We cannot believe the call to be spiritual when there is no result."
"Every progress depends on two things, knowledge and practice. First acquire knowledge, and, when conviction is reached, put it into practice."
In conclusion: Conscious belief, dependence upon God and obedience to His will are essential in our path to spiritual transformation.
Spiritual growth is an educational process for which one needs to assume responsibility and by which we learn to conform and act in accordance with the laws and teachings of God.
In this new year may we all, increase daily in spirituality, may we attain lasting joy at our homes, work places and in our societies, and contribute our share towards peace and tranquillity on earth and an ever advancing civilisation.