Chapter 4 – Spiritual Transformation and Fulfillment

I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.

We are made in God’s image, which lies hidden in our soul. Our life’s purpose is to manifest that image. Transformation is the process by which the hidden image is revealed. A little girl and her mother were visiting a friend. As the little girl was walking through the gardens, she saw a peacock with its wings outstretched, a scene she had never seen before. She got so excited, she ran to her mother and shouted, “Come quickly, a chicken is in bloom!” Yes, transformation is the blooming of a lowly bird into a lofty and princely peacock. Like the little girl, we seldom see a soul outstretched, a mind expanded, a heart in full bloom.

A peaceful world and a peaceful mind; if we had both, we would have heaven on earth. Prophecies predict and the Bahá’í writings confirm that we are on the verge of having both: a peaceful world for the mind and a peaceful mind for the world. We are witnessing the dawning of “a new heaven,” the gift of “a new earth,” and the birth of a new vision of human life and purpose.

Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered …be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create… _Isaiah 65:17-18

This book is an invitation to spiritual adventure, a call to new frontiers of knowledge, a journey to self-awareness and understanding.

True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self.24 _Bahá’u’lláh

“Of all human resources, the most precious is the desire to improve.” The Bahá’í Faith offers you a chance for spiritual trans-form-ation, the inspiration to go beyond your present “form” to see a far more splendid image of yourself and your destiny.

Is not the object of every Revelation to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly and inwardly…?25 _Bahá’u’lláh

Bahá’u’lláh reveals an enchanting world—a world, which like a revolving kaleidoscope, allows you to see as yet unseen and sublime images in yourself and your future. He offers you the incentive to search and to soar above your present “form,” to overstep the boundaries you have set on yourself, to evolve and reveal an ever-increasing and ever- glowing spectrum of beauty and harmony locked deep within you.

Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord… Like clothing you will change them… _Psalms 102:18,26

I will give them one heart and one way of life… _Jeremiah 32:39

We have, then, called into being a new creation, as a token of Our grace…26 _Bahá’u’lláh

And the splendor of that light is in the hearts, yet it is hidden under the veilings of sense and the conditions of this earth, even as a candle within a lantern of iron, and only when the lantern is removed doth the light of the candle shine out.

In like manner, when thou strippest the wrappings of illusion from off thine heart, the lights of oneness will be made manifest.27 _Bahá’u’lláh

Lift up the veil that…ye may…behold that which no eye hath beheld, and hear that which no ear hath heard.28 _ Bahá’u’lláh

Once you have lifted “the veil” and seen the blooming of your self and “the beauty of the Beloved,” you will gain a momentum that can move the world, that can transform the human race, that can turn the dark of gloom and grief into the dawn of glory.

Once you start to make the transformational awakening journey, there is no going back. You develop a knowledge that is so powerful that you will wonder how you could have lived any other way.29

But before this magic can happen, before the beautiful but concealed butterfly of your soul can reveal its wonders, tear the veil, and soar to the grand arena of freedom and harmony, you must replace all your negative thoughts (“I can’t.” “It is impossible.” “It is hard.” “It is too late.” “I don’t have time.”) with positive visions and images:

You have so little faith…if you have faith… Nothing will be impossible to you. _Christ (Matt. 17:20-21)

As you have faith, so shall your powers and blessings be.30_ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

He whom the grace of Thy mercy aideth, though he be but a drop, shall become the boundless ocean, and the merest atom which the outpouring of Thy loving-kindness assisteth, shall shine even as the radiant star…31 _ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

A little girl knocked on a door. A lady opened it and inquired:

Lady: What can I do for you?
Girl: I want to sell cookies to save the planet from pollution.
Lady: How much money is needed for this?
Girl: Billions of dollars.
Lady: Do you plan to collect all that money by yourself?
Girl: No, I have a friend.
Lady: Is he as little and young as you are?
Girl: No. He is a lot bigger, older, wiser, and kinder. You may have heard about Him. His name is God.

Uncertainty, doubt, and unwillingness to make a commitment pose the first obstacles to change:

Pass beyond the baser stages of doubt and rise to the exalted heights of certainty.32 _Bahá’u’lláh

O Son Of Man!
Many a day hath passed over thee whilst thou hast busied thyself with thy fancies and idle imaginings. How long art thou to slumber on thy bed? Lift up thy head from slumber, for the Sun hath risen to the zenith, haply it may shine upon thee with the light of beauty.33 _Bahá’u’lláh

We should advance from the stage of simply “hearing” or knowing to that of “seeing” the beauty of the Beloved in all His splendor:

I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see You. _Job 42:5

It is said that “seeing is believing,” but the reverse is also true: “believing is seeing.” Believing attracts blessings and activates unseen powers to remove the veils and to expand your vision.

Every journey begins with a first step. Before any transformation can take place, we must be willing to unlock our heart and let a glimmer of light reach the vast—indeed infinite— realm of our higher consciousness. This story illustrates the point. A man lost his key and kept searching for it in the street. A friend came along and asked:

“What are you doing?”
“I am looking for my key.”
“Where did you lose it?”
“Inside my house.”
“Then why are you searching for it in the street?”
“Because the door to my house is locked and there is more light outside!”

The house is the inner self and the street the outer world. Many search for answers all around them, while their hearts are closed. Unless the heart is unlocked and a glimmer of the light let in, no new frontiers can be seen, no transformation can take place. Without the glimmer and glory of that light, the kaleidoscope cannot reveal its enchanting images. Spinning alone in the darkness of desire will not unravel our divine potential; it will only lead to dizzying and distressing spells.

Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful…34 _Bahá’u’lláh

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? _I Corinthians 3:16

No one can unlock the heart except the heart itself. No one else has the key, nowhere else can it be found. Duplicates are simply unavailable.

All that which ye potentially possess can…be manifested only as a result of your own volition.35 _Bahá’u’lláh

Our efforts, like a magnet, attract the divine blessings.

For results depend upon means, and the grace of God shall be all-sufficient unto you.36 _Bahá’u’lláh

The “self” as God made it is free and flawless. Little by little we build walls around it, and put ceilings above it. We insulate it against heat and cold. At first we feel comfortable and secure. But soon the rain falls, the wind blows, and everything begins to shake and fall.

John Quincy Adams is well but the house in which he lives at the present time is becoming dilapidated. It’s tottering on its foundations. Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it. Its roof is pretty well worn out. Its walls are much shattered and tremble with every wind. I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it soon. But he himself is quite well, quite well. _John Quincy Adams

If you say, “Why do I need personal transformation? I am doing fine,” then examine the following passage from Dr. Wayne Dyer, a noted author and psychologist who has transformed many thousands, perhaps millions, of lives. This is what he says about himself:

I never imagined myself needing to change. I did not have a plan to change my old ways, or a set of goals to improve anything in my life. I felt confident that I had my life running the way I wanted it to. I was extremely successful professionally, and nothing seemed to me to be missing. Yet I have undergone a major transformation that has added a luster to each of my days that I never even contemplated a few years ago.37

An essential step to self-growth is humility, the deflating of the ego. A politician once asked a saint if she could teach him the best lesson she had learned in life. The saint indicated that she could not teach him that lesson but would help him discover it for himself. The saint told him to go into the woods, raise his eyes and hands heavenwards, keep them that way for at least half an hour a day until the answer was revealed to him. The next day the politician came to the saint and said, “I did exactly what you told me to do, but didn’t receive any revelation. If anything, I felt more like a fool.” “Well,” replied the saint, “Isn’t that a good revelation for a first try?”

No human being can estimate his own potential, can conceive the heights to which he can ascend. “It is a simple procedure to calculate the number of seeds in an apple. But who among us can ever say how many apples are in a seed?”

Blessed are those who recognize the thirst in their soul for spiritual knowledge, those who see the poverty in their spirit, those humble enough to acknowledge and mourn their own pains and suffering as well as those of others:

Blessed are the poor [humble] in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. _Christ (Matt. 5:3-6)

Most people pursue a life of quiet desperation. Some live in a state of panic; they run about aimlessly. Others vegetate in a state of inertia: they feel bored, depressed, unable to advance. Others are always running but never arriving. They chase an illusive butterfly that forever eludes them. Still others only cope and conform; their goal is to be “normal.” Very few people—noted psychologist Maslow estimates only one percent—experience the abundant life with all its wonders and ecstasies.

Some people are as immovable and unreachable as a damp stump, and if confronted with the spark of the Spirit, they instantly emit the smoke of resistance to smother the spark. They are as obstinate in their ways as a little girl whose mother asked her to do some task. She said, “I don’t want to.” Her mother responded, “Then do what you want to.” The little girl yelled, “But I don’t want to do what I want to do.”

I once met a retired director of a university library who proudly declared that he had plenty of time to read. Instantly I thought he would be a good candidate for a book offer. I said, “With all the free time you have, would you like to read a book with a spiritual or religious tone?” He had his finger on the trigger. “I have been doing fine without God and faith for the last seventy years,” he declared proudly. I knew I was in trouble. One more miscalculation on my part! I knew right away that I had met a dead end road and so I changed direction. What I wanted to tell him was this: “Did not the world get along without electricity?” Of course that would have triggered a sharp argument—one I would try to avoid unless I was sure of winning! and there was no prospect of that. Once I heard on the radio that when electric light arrived, the candle industry was threatened!

Some people like to be lost in their dreams and illusions and they don’t like interruptions. A woman said to her pastor: “I really liked your sermon today.” “Why?” asked the pastor. “Because you interrupted my thoughts only five times,” she answered.

Some people want to avoid or postpone the inevitable. They try everything within their power to stay safely in their comfort zone. A woman invited a friend to a meeting on spiritual transformation. The friend arrived just when people were leaving. The woman asked him, “Why are you so late?” “Because,” he answered, “when I want to do something extraordinary I flip a coin to tell me if I should proceed.” “But flipping a coin doesn’t take that long!” “Well,” he responded calmly, “I was not getting the right answer. So I flipped the coin 200 times to see if I could find any pattern. At last I got tired, and decided to come!”

As a proverb teaches, a person who “knows that he knows not” is on his way to perfection. A person who “knows not that he knows not” is asleep. He needs awakening. (It seems most people live in this state.) A person who “knows not but thinks he knows” is in trouble. He needs a change of heart. As long as we think we are green, we continue to grow. The moment we think we are ripe, we begin to rot.

Our stress and distress come mainly from a mistaken identity, from taking “the house” for “the householder.” It comes from assuming that the real “I” is the visible frame rather than the intelligent, invisible resident. The mistaken identity offends and agonizes the owner of the house. It causes incalculable pain and suffering to the highly sensitive occupant. If this brief and simple message were taken to heart, it would impregnate our planet with great transformational powers that would give birth to a new race of humanity, a new creation:

Man is, in reality, a spiritual being, and only when he lives in the spirit is he truly happy.38 _ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Consider the metaphor of a fruitcake, adapted from Dr. Dyer. Suppose you see a beautiful picture of a fruitcake on a package. You buy it and take it home. When you open the package, you find none of the beauty inside. Disappointed, you throw away the content

and keep the package, cherishing, praising, and watching it with the hope that it may suddenly transform into a nourishing, tantalizing cake. But your hunger pangs continue to complain and to remind you that no nourishment can come from looking, hoping, and dreaming. As Dr. Dyer concludes:

Your life may be just like that. You may be paying so much attention to the package that contains the real you that you toss away the most vital ingredients. Your form is the package, and while its beauty and appearance may seem all- important, it primarily serves to contain all the rest of your magnificent humanity. The container cannot give you the pleasure and satisfaction and nourishment that the contents do. Even though you cannot see what is inside that beautiful package, you know that whatever it is provides you with important and irreplaceable nourishment. A lifetime of focusing exclusively on the package will result in a spiritually undernourished and quite unhappy you.39

The package is already made. It is as perfect as it can be. But the flour is as yet unpalatable. To reveal its potential, it must be beaten, kneaded, molded, and baked in the fire.