The Human Soul by Adib Taherzadeh

The Human Soul
Mr. Adib Taherzadeh. Photo © by the BIC.

Have you ever wondered what the next life is like? What eternity is like? Have you ever wondered how a non-physical existence could approach the beauty of the earth’s beauty and majesty, as well as the vastness of the universe?

A talk by the late Mr. Adib Taherzadeh may provide some gems of wisdom and answer to any questions you may have.

This talk about the soul’s reality was recorded at a time that has not yet been ascertained. It was uploaded by by Anton Medvedev in 2009 at

There is no copyright on that page, and I could not contact Mr. Medvedev at the time I attempted in 2016 because the page to contact him was not accepting queries. I combined the four audio files into one file, including shortening the fourth audio file that seems to have had another talk on it. I added some introductory information about Mr. Taherzadeh.

I’ve attempted to accurately transcribe Mr. Taherzadeh’s talk to the best of my ability. There were times I could not make out words and times when I felt the words were better summarized. It would behoove people to listen to the talk first and use this transcript as a guide. There are times when I changed verb tenses and edited his remarks. In short, this is not a verbatim transcript, but a general guide.

The YouTube slideshow has been posted. It features a short introductory slideshow about Mr. Taherzadeh, and then his talk follows.

The Human Soul
by Mr. Adib Taherzadeh

“Many, Many peoples of the world do not think about the soul. Perhaps even millions of peoples don’t know that they have a soul; or, if they do, they never think about it.

“And yet, the soul is the greatest motivating power within man, and it is the knowledge of the soul which will enable us to appreciate our motives and our functions, and our life.

“The soul is a spiritual reality. It’s not something that you can discuss in the light of physics or mathematics. It’s a spiritual reality.”

Mr. Taherzadeh said that we cannot understand the true reality of the soul itself.

“But, we perhaps will be able to appreciate its characteristics and its powers. “Therefore, the only source we have to appreciate and understand something about the soul is to turn to the holy books of various religions because the idea of the soul, that we have a soul, really, has been given to us through the teachings of these great world religions.”

“… Both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá … have shed so much light on this subject of the soul that if you compiled their writings together, probably you would make one or two volumes. …

“Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have explained to us that the soul is not a material thing, that you cannot put it into your body or pull it out of your body. It is not something that you can attach anything to it. It is exalted above exit or entry. … It is a spiritual entity.


“Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have told that it is an emanation from the spiritual worlds of God. We are told the soul comes to us, is born, is created at the time of conception; that it did not exist before in this life or anywhere. And that it came at the time when a person was conceived.

“When the first cell is created in the womb of the mother, and the soul is associated with it, then this is the beginning of a human being. … When you say the soul is associated with the body is … a relationship with a material thing. Even that is not possible for the soul.”

Mr. Taherzadeh said humanity has no words that can adequately explain the soul.

“We have to use a word, so we say the soul is associated with the body.

“‘Abdu’l-Bahá has described this association of the soul and the body as the association of light and a mirror. If you look at the mirror you will find there is light in it, but the light is not in the mirror that you can take your hands and take it away. There is a relationship between the light and the mirror; that is all. … If you break the mirror, nothing happens to the light.

“‘Abdu’l-Bahá has explained to us that this is the way that God has created us. …

Mr. Taherzadeh strongly encouraged those listening to his talk to turn to the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

“There is no other way that we can understand and appreciate this spiritual reality; this great spiritual essence, which we call the soul.”

He then said there is something else that can help us understand.

“This creation … is one entity. There are not two different worlds. There is not such thing as a spiritual world separate from the physical world. God’s creation is one entity. …

“The same laws and principles that you will find in nature, these same laws and principles, are applied to the world of man. The same laws and principles are applied to religion. The same laws and principles are applied in the spiritual worlds of God.

“We find that since we know something about the laws of nature, we may be able to appreciate something of the spiritual laws as well because they are similar. The similarity is very striking.

“The only difference is that when you have a law or principle in nature, when it is applied to a higher level, you have to add certain characteristics to it. Certain characteristics, certain features, are added to it, which you cannot find in the lower kingdom.


“I say this because it’s a very important point for us to appreciate that one way of having some idea about the soul, some idea, not necessarily to understand it because we will never understand the soul, is to also look at nature.”

Looking at nature alone is not sufficient, however.

“We should look at nature and also look at the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and the combination of the two will enable us to understand something of the soul. … We can only understand its characteristics; we do not understand its essence.

“There is a tablet from Bahá’u’lláh that I want to mention it to you. There is a verse in Islam which says that if you want to know yourself,
if you want to know God, you should know yourself. One of the disciples of The Bab asked Bahá’u’lláh to give him the meaning of this verse. What does it mean that you should know yourself, that when you know yourself, you will know God?”

Mr. Taherzadeh said Bahá’u’lláh revealed a tablet in answer to the question, which was translated by Shoghi Effendi and is in Gleanings.

“Bahá’u’lláh mentions that everything we do as a human being is motivated by our soul. … Our mind is a manifestation of the soul. The soul manifests itself in the body; it appears in the body in the form of mind or intellect. The heart which gives life, that also is a manifestation of the soul. Our senses are the manifestation of the soul. Our hearing, our sight, all these things.

“Bahá’u’lláh says that the sum total of all these manifestations will not make the soul. If you put together all the manifestations of the soul in the body, it will never make the soul. …

“{Baha’u’llah} says that if you live as long as you like, you will never know the essence of your soul, the reality of your soul, because it is exalted above this world of matter.

“He says that whenever a person reaches to that state of absolute impotence, when you realize your impotence, that you shall never know the essence of your soul, then you reach the point that you say, ‘If I cannot know the essence of my soul, the reality of my soul, how can I ever know the essence and the reality of the Creator of my soul, which is God?’”

“We shall never know the essence of our soul but we can understand some characteristics of it, some characteristics according to our capacity. … The laws of nature can help us.”

There are manifold lessons to be learned by our experiences in this life.

“Everything that you come into in this life, which is created by God, is a counterpart of something spiritual. Things in this life do not come about haphazardly. You see a tree here, for example. This tree is a counterpart of something spiritual in the spiritual worlds of God. The tree has got a counterpart in the world of man. The tree has a counterpart in world of religion. You talk about the Tree of Knowledge, for instance. It is a counterpart of this physical tree. So, for everything which you see in this life, there is a counterpart.

“In the writings there is one of the examples of this counterpart which is given, a parallel. We are told, for example, that the sun is a counterpart of the Founders of great world religions; the Manifestations of God. The same quality that the sun has, the same function of the sun. The sun pours its energies upon this life and gives life to it. So do the Manifestations of God, the Founders of great religions. They all pour their spiritual energies upon mankind. You can say the sun and the Manifestations of God are counterparts of each other in different realms.


“Now if you want to understand the soul, which is a spiritual thing, if we could find a counterpart for it in this life, something physical, that is similar to it, that has the same characteristics, then when we study that counterpart, that physical counterpart, then we can get some ideas about the soul ~ some ideas.

“… We cannot go alone on our own on this journey. We have constantly to seek the support and understanding from the writings. From the writings, it appears that the counterpart, the physical counterpart of the soul in this life, is the embryo which grows in the womb of the mother. That is to say whatever happens to the embryo, whatever stages the embryo grows in the womb of the mother, and for whatever purpose, the same thing applies to the soul. …

“‘Abdu’l-Bahá has given us several examples of the embryo being similar to the soul. When you examine the characteristics of the embryo growing in the womb of the mother, it will become very interesting, the parallels that you can draw.

“The physical body of man is created at the time of conception as one cell comes into being. That cell has nothing in it; there is nothing that you can see in this cell. You cannot see any limbs or organs or a person, but that cell has the capacity to multiply and eventually to become a perfect human being.

“It is the same thing with the soul. When the soul comes to us at the time of conception, that soul has nothing, no virtues, no qualities, no perfections, but it can acquire them in this life. … So, you see, there is a similarity.

“Another similarity is that the embryo grows gradually within the womb of the mother. It gradually acquires limbs and organs and the soul is the same way. It gradually acquires qualities and perfections. It takes a long time in this life to acquire these qualities and perfections.

“I am using this particular similarity, purely, to help us understand something, and what I am saying will never be the soul ~ I want to repeat this over and over again; but, it gives us some idea of our soul.

“… The embryo must grow in the womb of the mother. That’s its place. It’s not growing anywhere else. It is attached to the womb of the mother ~ its home. … It will never leave it as long the person lives, the soul will not leave it. In the same way as the embryo growing in the womb of the mother, it does not leave the womb world. It’s there.

“There are other similarities. … The womb of the mother is not a place for the embryo to live in for all its life. Oh, no. It’s only a temporary period, a transitory period, during which time the soul, the embryo, will grow in the womb of the mother.

“You see the similarity again with the soul. This world that we live in is not a place for the soul. This is not its home. This is not its permament home. This is a transitory period.

“Every one of us, whether you are 50 years old or a hundred years old, that we live in this world, the soul is with us for that period in this world but it’s not its home. Oh, no. This is a transitory period. See how important this point is? If only mankind would realize this, humanity realize that this world is not a place to focus all our attention to, as if you are going to live it in all our lives. It’s only a transitory period.

“Another similarity is this, that the purpose of the embryo growing in the womb of the mother really is to acquire limbs and organs. Limbs and organs grow so that it can become the perfect human being.

“The same thing is for the soul in this life. The purpose of the soul being with us is that it may acquire spiritual qualities. Qualities, perfections and virtues that it has to acquire in this life. This is the purpose of it.


“You will find that when you look at creation in this life, you can see what God has done. He has brought two opposite things together.”

While reminding the audience that we must not assume there is an actual attachment of the soul to the body, Mr. Taherzadeh said each person, as a result of conception, has a physical and a spiritual nature.

While many people on earth focus on acquiring things, including wealth, that is not our purpose here. Far from it.

“The purpose of all of this is that this spirit, this soul of man may grow and become spiritual, acquire qualities and perfections.”

Acquiring these thing is a mysterious process, the counterpart of which can be found in the womb.

“… Most of the limbs and organs which the child acquires in the womb of the mother are not needed in his embryonic life. He doesn’t need his hands, and his feet, and his eyes. He doesn’t need them, really. They are needed in the next life when he is born.

“You see the similarity again. … You read in the writings … that all the virtues and perfections that we are supposed to acquire in this life are really needed in the next life. We must acquire them for the next life.

“Indeed, when you think carefully, you will find that these virtues and perfections that the soul acquires in this life, whether you use them here or not, you still can live, although we must use all these virtues and qualities in this life.

“For example, we must love. If you don’t love, this virtue of love will never grow in our soul. There are millions of peoples who live without it and yet they carry on their life. …

“When our soul acquires these qualities and perfections, when our soul acquires the quality of love, when our soul acquires the quality of unity, when the soul acquires the quality of knowledge, when it acquires all the other virtues that are in the teachings in the next life, these qualities and perfections become a part of his being perhaps; we don’t know. But it appears that way. …

“A child in the womb of the mother has two perfect eyes towards the end of his life there. Pefect eyes, but he can’t see with them because there is no light. Those eyes are useless in the womb of the mother, but when he is born those eyes become useful because there is light.

“It appears it’s the same thing with the qualities and perfections of the soul. These qualities and perfections that we acquire in this life are for the next life, so that they become active or whatever is the word for it, which we cannot use a word, we cannot find a word to describe how these qualities and perfections ~ love, knowledge and wisdom ~ which we carry with us to the next life, how they will become part of our spiritual beings and how they will function spiritually.

“There is another principle here, which is very interesting also. Another similarity. You see how many similarities there are? You will find that if the child does not acquire its limbs and organs in the womb world, he cannot acquire them in this life. You cannot acquire limbs and organs in this life which will be just natural limbs and organs. He is handicapped. It seems to be the same thing again.


“This is why we have to acquire them here: all the perfections and qualities and virtues our souls must acquire in this life.”

When one considers what Mr. Taherzadeh said, the importance of refining our characters takes on a sense of urgency. Complacency is no excuse and may stunt our growth.

“… Do you see here what God has done again? You will find that he has brought together these two opposite forces ~ the material and the spiritual. At first when he brought them together at the time of conception, … there was only one cell at the time. And there was, we cannot call it anything, but say a soul was created. The soul had no qualities and perfections.

“What has happened to it in this lifetime of 60 or 70 years that we live here? Look at what happens to it. That soul which came to us 70 or 80 years when we were conceived, and having no qualities and perfections, now it has acquired all the qualities, perfections, virtues, carried on the teachings of God. It has recognized God and has recognized all kinds of things. It has grown enormously spiritually. See the difference. This is the purpose.

“In one the writings we come across other analogies. The analogy of the bird being placed in a cage. It’s very similar to our soul in this life. … What is the purpose of the bird being placed in the cage? The purpose is to feed it so that it may get stronger and stronger every day, so that when the cage breaks the bird is strong and takes its flight in the realms of God, in the realms above. The home of the bird is not within the cage. The bird is created to live in a high place ~ not in the cage.

“In this form of association, like the bird and the cage, we find we can … feed the soul; make it strong. But, then, what do we do with it? What does mankind do with this soul? What does it do with this bird within the cage? Do we feed the bird? Do we feed the soul?”

Mr. Taherzadeh said that many people today do not even think of the soul, let alone feed it. He said that when the soul is not fed with spiritual food ~ the word of God, then it becomes stunted and does not grow.

“Another thing we do is we tie him up with so many strings here and there, so many attachments we have to this world, we tie the wings of our soul to the material world so tight that even when the cage breaks, the bird cannot fly. It is still attached to the things of this world.

“There is another principle in nature and that is that everything returns to its origin. The body of man is composed of atoms. When a person dies, the body decomposes and it returns to its origin which is dust, which is this earth. It returns to its origin.

“The soul also returns to its origin. Where did it come from? We are told in the writings very clearly that the soul has come from the spiritual worlds of God. … What a difference!

“When it first came, it had no virtues, no qualities, no perfections. Now look at it. It has got an identity, a personality and Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have told us that we will retain that identity in the spiritual worlds of God.

“He says we will associate with one another. He says the holy souls will associate with the Prophets and the Founders of great religions and the Manifestations of God in the next life. It’s not something that you lose consciousness of who you are.

“Let me say here another thing, which is also important to talk about when we are talking about the soul and the spiritual worlds of God. Where is the next world, where we are told our soul will go to? We are talking about the spiritual world. Baha’u’llah tells us that the spiritual worlds of God are infinite in range. It’s not just one spiritual world of God; it’s infinite in range.


“In fact, anything which is associated with the existence of God is infinite. There are never limitations with God. Anything he has created is infinite. Look at this universe, this physical universe is infinite. And the same thing is with the spiritual worlds of God.

“… When you look at nature you will find when a child is growing within the womb of the mother, where is he? Where is he living? When a child is living within the womb of the mother, he is here in this world. Isn’t he? He is living in this world with his mother. Only a small barrier prevents him from recognizing this great world, but he is here.

“Have you ever seen in a farm when an egg opens up and a chicken comes out? Where was the chicken before the egg breaks? He was here, but there was a shell preventing him from seeing and from recognizing it.

“We are told that the next world is here. It is closer to us than we think. There is another thing here, another similarity. A child, as long as he lives in the womb of the mother, he is not given the capacity to understand what a small place he is living in, in comparison with this world that he is going to be born into. Very small. But the child has not got the capacity to understand that. He does not know. So he is content.”

Mr. Taherzadeh said that if a child in the womb knew of this physical world, if God had bestowed upon him the capacity to understand what came next, he would want to be born immediately.

“In the writings it’s mentioned that if ever the glory of the next life was disclosed to the eyes of men, then all of humanity would wish to go immediately. Maybe they would commit suicide. Who knows? They would want to go immediately.

“The same God which has not given the capacity to the child to understand the smallness of the place he lives in and the greatness and vastness of the universe which awaits him, the same God has not given us, as long as we live here, the capacity to understand what the soul is, in fact, and the world that awaits him after separation from the body.

“We are told very clearly by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that this world is as small in relation to the next world. This world in relation to the next world is as small as the womb of the mother is in relation to this life. That gives us an idea; exactly the same thing.

“It is not disclosed to our eyes once we are living here. We don’t think about it. We cannot understand it. We cannot appreciate anything about our existence in the spiritual worlds of God. We cannot.

“Then, let us go a little further. We find that when a child is born he brings with him everything it has. He does not leave anything behind. Everything that it has he brings with him.

“It is the same thing with us when we go from this world. When the association between the body and the soul comes to an end and we say a person dies, the body remains on this earth. The soul departs. The shell, so to speak, breaks … at the time we depart from this world. We carry anything which is good. We cannot carry anything with us which we call bad because bad has no existence of itself.

“Don’t misunderstand me when I say that bad has no existence of itself. There are plenty of bad things in the world; plenty of them. More than any good in this day and age, particularly. But, it has no existence of itself, meaning bad is the lack of good.

“When a person is bad, you can say he is very little good. That’s what it means, really. … A bad man is a very little good man. Poverty does not exist in a sense. It has no existence of itself, like darkness has no existence of itself. Light has ~ you can carry light from one room to another but you can’t say to a person ‘bring some darkness’ with you.

“It’s the same thing with poverty. If you are a poor man, you cannot say I am a very poor man, and I’m going to visit your house and I’m going to bring all my poverty with me. All your poverty means you have very little money. That’s all it means.

“And that is what we take to the next world. Whatever is good that we have we can take with us to the next life. From there, we start our spiritual life. … We start our spiritual journey depending on what we have acquired in this life. What qualities and perfections we have acquired in this life decide the level on which we are going to live. …

“From the writings we know one thing and that is what Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have told us: In the next life, man will be graded, humanity will be graded ~ divided into levels of existence like in this life He has created different levels of existence. You have the mineral world, the vegetable world, the animal world, and look at the animal world itself, there are so many grades of animals. …

“In the next life, we will be divided. Those on a high level will encompass those on a higher level. Those who are on a lower level will never understand those on a higher level. …

“This is the meaning of heaven and hell, really. The nearest you are to God, you are in heaven. If you are on a lower level, it is deprivation. It’s all relative terms ~ heaven and hell. God likes this somehow, but we don’t know why but he does. …

“We have been comparing the embryo growing in the womb of the mother with the soul, which grows in this world. There is one difference. The embryo and all the physical beings have no control over what they do. The embryo grows because the laws of nature make it so. It grows without any will.

“When you apply that law or that principle to a spiritual world or to a higher level, something is added to it. The soul also grows in this life. It acquires qualities and perfections, but there is one thing added to it. It has a choice. It can make the choice. It can make a choice of either acquiring qualities and perfections or not, whereas the embryo does not have that choice.

“A tree grows. If you put the seed down, it grows. It has no choice. It grows. A man has a choice to either grow in the right way or the wrong way; to acquire qualities or not acquire qualities. This is a great difference. When you apply these laws from the world of nature to a higher level, you will find that these things are added to it.

“This is a very important point, really, in our study of the teachings of the faith of Bahá’u’lláh. In any religion, you will find that … you can trace their origin in nature. You can see nature is, in fact, a reflection of the teachings of God. Many of the major teachings of Baha’u’llah, for example, are very natural things. You can find their similarities in nature.”

Mr. Taherzadeh said to study nature along with the writings to develop your understanding of life and creation.

“The purpose of life is that we acquire qualities and perfections in this life and we carry them with us to the next stage, which is the spiritual worlds of God. From there, we start our journey; that journey will never end, according to Bahá’u’lláh. He says that man has a beginning, and that is when we are created, but it has no end, that it will continue as long as God exists.

“Can you imagine this great glory of being born and living, and then never ending this journey? Always going closer and closer to God, but never reaching Him in the spiritual worlds of God. Endless, limitless, infinite, immortal is the soul.

“Having said all of this, I wanted to mention another dimension in relation to the soul. A very important dimension. So important that all that I have said so far becomes only partial when you look at this particular dimension.


“In order to explain this dimension …, I will use the language of nature so that we can understand easier these spiritiual, you might say, teachings. It’s a very great help. … When you look at it carefully, you will find, if you can say it without referring to nature, it will be the same as what is in the writings.

“Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have used a great many such examples in their writings. … Let me take you to nature again. In nature, you will find anything that has an organic growth; always begins its existence with a seed. You plant a seed in the ground and the seed grows and becomes a tree. The tree grows and eventually becomes mature and so on.

“The same thing is with the soul. Our soul is exactly the same thing. It has an organic growth. It begins with a seed, you can say, a spiritual seed and then it grows and acquires qualities and perfections in this life as we said. Just like a tree grows.

“But there comes a point in the life of a tree that it must give its fruit and when it gives its fruit, we say that it has fulfilled itself. A tree which gives its fruit has fulfilled itself because it was created for this purpose, for creating its own seed. This is a state of maturity, giving birth to something.

“In life you will find that a tree cannot produce a tree by itself. It has to be pollinated from a different source. A mother cannot give birth to her child on her own. The female cannot give birth to a child on her own. There must be a relationship with a male factor, with a man, so that the female conceives a child … and gives birth to a child.

“Our soul is the same thing. … If it is going to fulfill itself, the soul must produce a child; must give birth to a child. … I’m not talking about the body {but} our soul. Where does it turn to refertilize, so to speak? This is the point: Where does it turn to? It has a choice to turn wherever it likes.”

Rebirth is a theme in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

“… They say that our soul, which is now acting as a female, and wants to produce a child, should turn to the influences of the Manifestation of God. The word Manifestation of God is a word Bahá’ís use to indicate the Prophets and the Founders of great religions. At each age, there have been Manifestations of God.

“In this age, Bahá’ís say this {Manifestation} is Bahá’u’lláh. For a Bahá’í, the soul acting as a female will turn to the influences of the Revealation of Bahá’u’lláh. It opens itself up to the Revelations of Baha’u’llah. It establishes a mystical, a spiritual intercourse, with those forces. These forces will be released within the soul.

“There comes a time that the soul becomes pregnant, so to speak. What is its child, when it is produced? The spirit of faith. The spirit of faith is produced. Our soul gives birth to the spirit of faith.

“This friends, Bahá’u’lláh tells us, is the purpose of God creating man. Not to just create a soul to come here and have good qualities and perfections, but to give birth to the spirit of faith.

“The spirit of faith comes not to us by our own efforts. It is impossible to become a Bahá’í by yourself or becoming a Christian at the time of Christ. The only way that we can have faith is that this mystical, spiritual relationship must be established. The forces of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah in this age will penetrate into the heart of a person, into the soul, and there comes a point that he says, ‘I believe.’


“And when the soul says, ‘I believe,’ that child is born; the spirit of faith is born. Bahá’u’lláh tells us in every age it has been the same. When Peter recognized Christ …, what did he do? He opened his soul to the influences of the Revealtion of Christ. What happened to him? He acquired the spirit of faith.

“That spirit of faith {owes} its origin to two sources. One is from Bahá’u’lláh in this age. In the time of Christ, it was Christ. In the time of Bahá’u’lláh, it’s Bahá’u’lláh.

“It also owes its existence to the soul itself. Just like a parent. Our faith is very dear, not only to ourselves, but also to the One who has fertilized our souls, influenced our souls.

“Bahá’u’lláh has told us in the writings that if the station of a person who acquires the spirit of faith is known in this world, all of humanity will swoon and die when they see the greatness of this particular station.

“And, then, we come to another point, giving birth to a child is one thing. Perhaps it’s easy to give birth to a child, or maybe I shouldn’t say that, but it is easy to give birth to a child. All mothers will tell you it’s easy.”

There were a lot of laughs, as Mr. Taherzadeh jested.

“It’s much more difficult to enable the child to grow, to protect that child every step of the way, to help him grow healthily. That’s much more difficult. It’s easy, perhaps, today to become a Bahá’í, but its more difficult to let our faith grow.

“One of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is that we must always examine ourselves to see whether our morning, this morning, our spiritual conditions are better than yesterday, and this is the trend to which we should become accustomed, that the qualities and perfections, which come always from these Manifestations of God, we acquire them in such a way, that our morning today is definitely in a better state than the previous day.

“How can we do that? How can we enable that the spirit of faith, which has grown, to grow, to steadily grow healthily?”

Mr. Taherzadeh said we must return to nature and also consult the writings in preparation to answer these questions.

“When you go to nature, you will find what does a mother do when a child is born to her? What does she do? The first thing she does is feed that child with milk. The child has never had the taste of milk before. None of us can remember what it was like when we first had the taste of milk the first time, but we become accusomted to it after a a while.

“There comes a time when … you must have it. It’s the same thing with the soul. The spirit of faith, once it is born, it has to be fed with spiritual food. Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have told us that the spiritual food is the word of God. The word of Christ was the spiritual food for the people of His time.

“Today, without having the spiritual food, we cannot grow. Bahá’ís know this This is one of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh that every morning and every evening we have to read His writings. The writings of Bahá’u’lláh. The writings of the Faith.


“It becomes our spiritual food. We do not read them so that our knowledge may increase; that’s a different thing. … To read the writings in the mornings and evenings is the source of our spiritual growth.

“This subject of the soul, which I have given to you in the form of mostly going to nature, and drawing a parallel, is so important, so vital, for the achievement of all the great hopes that we have for the world of humanity, that if the peoples of the world would realize that these few days that they are living in this world are not worth fighting, are not worth disliking, are not worth disagreeing, because none of these things can we take with us into the next life. None of these things. They are all negative things.

“Then, if they would realize, if the peoples of the world, and this is, I think, our function, more and more, to explain to people that … the major part of a human being is his soul.

“It is that soul that if that soul is perfect, if that soul establishes a mystical relationship with God and recognizes that truth, then world conditions will be so different.

“We as Baha’is, wherever we go, we incline people toward this particular understanding of spiritual values in the life of man. It is in this way that the soul can play a major part in establishing … peace or anything else which is worthwhile in human endeavor. We can establish it by recognizing the spiritual values in our souls. …

“Always remember this: our soul must grow day by day because in this life things are either growing or declining. There is nothing stationary, so if I feel that there is nothing happening to me ~ I cannot feel anything great, it means, that perhaps, that I am on the decline.”

Mr. Taherzadeh concluded by saying that humans must always aspire to grow spiritually because that “is the key to all the aspirations of the human race.”



Is World Peace Attainable?

It was a time when nations were armed to the teeth and motivated by economic, political, religious and social rivalries with a dark malignancy of a very virulent blood lust in which ancient enmities would be settled with one a victor and the other, the defeated.

Rather than build their societies to withstand the natural challenges that face any country, any people and any economy, leaders prided themselves on the advanced arms of death and mayhem that they purchased with their respective peoples’ treasuries.

As the war drums drummed louder, more nations made threatening statements, more leaders flexed their military muscle with troop movements, threats and an appeal to nationalism as opposed to a sane and rational patriotism.

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No more would “the other” be tolerated. It was a time of choose or be chosen. A time to be victorious or defeated. There was little time, if any, for reason. Calls for peace were drowned out by the bellicose newspapers and speakers’ increasingly fevered calls to fight for the Motherland or Fatherland. Such calls were bereft of any inkling of discernment to understand that the entire world is not made up of races, but of the human race.

Alliances were made; alliances were broken. No matter, the world remained armed to the teeth and anxious for war.

Conflicts throughout the world preceded the match that lit the powder keg. Despite their lethality, they were mere runners-up to to future horrors unleashed in a grotesque orgy of murder and mayhem.

To say humanity faced a powder keg ready to blow should have been apparent to most educated observers of the time. All that was needed was a match, and the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand lit that match on June 28, 1914, when the slow death march to war began.

The year? Why it was 1914. The Great War would last four years and introduce humanity to industrialized warfare the likes the world had never seen. The carnage was vast. It claimed 9,911,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen who were were slaughtered; about seven million civilians were blown to bits and cut into shards; and 21,219,500 servicemen, servicewomen and civilians were wounded. Among the dead, 7,750,000 were never recovered by their families and were simply listed as “missing.”

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What became The War To End All Wars, as World War I was also called by many, including my Grandma Hill, was actually a prelude to World War II and a violent legacy of more than 100 years of wars, conflicts, civil wars, police actions and more.

Today, the world appears to be facing what could become a full-fledged third world war in the Middle East. The similarities to the lead-up to World War I are disturbing. The lethality of today’s weapons are exponentially more.

Humanity has never been better equipped to unleash its carnage upon one another.

In Syria alone, you have the world’s two greatest military powers, The Russian Federation and the United States of America, allied and at odds. There is a witch’s brew of terrorist organizations fighting.

Add to that the complexity of other allegiances and alliances and you have a recipe for disaster; a recipe for world war.

The complexities of alliances and allegiances in Syria seems to defy logic, but they do point to the very real possibility of an event and/or a series of events that could lead to a cataclysmic war. It’s a powder keg like the world has never seen.

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War, famine, prejudice, racism, religious intolerance and fanaticism, and economic warfare might make some throw up their hands in despair. People can be forgiven for thinking there is no hope and that there is no way out of perpetual war, but there is an alternative path ~ a way out of this quagmire of war following war and it involves religion ~ something many in the world have lost hope for and openly mock.

“No serious attempt to set human affairs aright, to achieve world peace, can ignore religion,” states The Universal House of Justice in “The Promise of World Peace.”

“Man’s perception and practice of it are largely the stuff of history. An eminent historian described religion as a ‘faculty of human nature’. That the perversion of this faculty has contributed to much of the confusion in society and the conflicts in and between individuals can hardly be denied.

“But neither can any fair-minded observer discount the preponderating influence exerted by religion on the vital expressions of civilization. Furthermore, its indispensability to social order has repeatedly been demonstrated by its direct effect on laws and morality.”

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The Universal House of Justice published “The Promise of World Peace” in 1985.

Coincidentally, shortly thereafter, there was an effort on the part of the then-Soviet Union and the United States of America to bridge the divides that had separated them.

While leaders in the East and West may have favored rapprochement at that time, it seems to me that this spirit was not followed up by subsequent administrations in many countries.

It seems as if humanity lost a chance, but all is not lost ~ although we may be running out of time before more cataclysmic events batter humanity.

“It is out of a deep sense of spiritual and moral duty that we are impelled at this opportune moment to invite your attention to the penetrating insights first communicated to the rulers of mankind more than a century ago by Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, of which we are the Trustees.

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“’The winds of despair’”, Bahá’u’lláh wrote, “’are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divides and afflicts the human race is daily increasing. The signs of impending convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing order appears to be lamentably defective.’”

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“This prophetic judgement has been amply confirmed by the common experience of humanity. Flaws in the prevailing order are conspicuous in the inability of sovereign states organized as United Nations to exorcize the spectre of war, the threatened collapse of the international economic order, the spread of anarchy and terrorism, and the intense suffering which these and other afflictions are causing to increasing millions.

“Indeed, so much have aggression and conflict come to characterize our social, economic and religious systems, that many have succumbed to the view that such behaviour is intrinsic to human nature and therefore ineradicable.”

Syria, Yemen and Central Africa are the hot spots at this writing, but there are ugly reminders throughout Europe and Asia that old hostilities, enmities and hatred still smolder. All that needs to occur are winds of discord that will again fan the flames into raging fires.

“With the entrenchment of this view, a paralyzing contradiction has developed in human affairs,” The Universal House of Justice Stated.

“On the one hand, people of all nations proclaim not only their readiness but their longing for peace and harmony, for an end to the harrowing apprehensions tormenting their daily lives.

“On the other, uncritical assent is given to the proposition that human beings are incorrigibly selfish and aggressive and thus incapable of erecting a social system at once progressive and peaceful, dynamic and harmonious, a system giving free play to individual creativity and initiative but based on co-operation and reciprocity.”

Bahá’u’lláh’s address the establishment of world peace.

“The principle of collective security was propounded by Him in statements addressed to the rulers of the world,” The Universal House of Justice noted.

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“Shoghi Effendi commented on his meaning: ‘What else could these weighty words signify,” he wrote, “if they did not point to the inevitable curtailment of unfettered national sovereignty as an indispensable preliminary to the formation of the future Commonwealth of all the nations of the world? Some form of a world super-state must needs be evolved, in whose favour all the nations of the world will have willingly ceded every claim to make war, certain rights to impose taxation and all rights to maintain armaments, except for purposes of maintaining internal order within their respective dominions. Such a state will have to include within its orbit an International Executive adequate to enforce supreme and unchallengeable authority on every recalcitrant member of the commonwealth; a World Parliament whose members shall be elected by the people in their respective countries and whose election shall be confirmed by their respective governments; and a Supreme Tribunal whose judgement will have a binding effect even in such cases where the parties concerned did not voluntarily agree to submit their case to its consideration.

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“’A world community in which all economic barriers will have been permanently demolished and the interdependence of capital and labour definitely recognized; in which the clamour of religious fanaticism and strife will have been forever stilled; in which the flame of racial animosity will have been finally extinguished; in which a single code of international law—the product of the considered judgement of the world’s federated representatives—shall have as its sanction the instant and coercive intervention of the combined forces of the federated units; and finally a world community in which the fury of a capricious and militant nationalism will have been transmuted into an abiding consciousness of world citizenship—such indeed, appears, in its broadest outline, the Order anticipated by Bahá’u’lláh, an Order that shall come to be regarded as the fairest fruit of a slowly maturing age.’”

The House of Justice also noted that the implementation of such measures was noted by Bahá’u’lláh:

“The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world’s Great Peace amongst men.”

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One can be forgiven if they question the reality of such an all-embracing vision can be championed by the world’s leaders and populations.

However, that prompts further questions: how many more world wars can humanity survive? How many more famines? How many mass migrations causing an infinite number of issues?

How many more regional wars will make millions more homeless, claim hundreds of thousands of lives, including countless individuals who are crippled for life by their wounds.

In light of the religious-themed art I create, such art has been criticized by some as nothing more than “over-used slogans” and “boring bromides” from a believer in Utopian dreams.

Although Utopia on earth is not possible because as humans we are imperfect, world peace can be a reality. Furthermore, isn’t it more unrealistic to assume humanity can continue making war on one another forever?

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“The courage, the resolution, the pure motive, the selfless love of one people for another—all the spiritual and moral qualities required for effecting this momentous step towards peace are focused on the will to act,” The Universal House of Justice states.

“And it is towards arousing the necessary volition that earnest consideration must be given to the reality of man, namely, his thought. To understand the relevance of this potent reality is also to appreciate the social necessity of actualizing its unique value through candid, dispassionate and cordial consultation, and of acting upon the results of this process.

“Bahá’u’lláh insistently drew attention to the virtues and indispensability of consultation for ordering human affairs. He said: ‘Consultation bestows greater awareness and transmutes conjecture into certitude. It is a shining light which, in a dark world, leads the way and guides. For everything there is and will continue to be a station of perfection and maturity. The maturity of the gift of understanding is made manifest through consultation.’”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of Bahá’u’lláh and authorized interpreter of his teachings, offered his insights on this world gathering’s proceedings:

“They must make the Cause of Peace the object of general consultation,” he said, “and seek by every means in their power to establish a Union of the nations of the world.

“They must conclude a binding treaty and establish a covenant, the provisions of which shall be sound, inviolable and definite. They must proclaim it to all the world and obtain for it the sanction of all the human race.”

It is not an ordinary or simplistic effort to champion the cause of peace. It is something the entire world should aspire to; that said, one can be forgiven again if, looking at the wars of the world today, doubts the possibility of well-being and peace.

Yet it is a possible and a noble aspiration.

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“This supreme and noble undertaking—the real source of the peace and well-being of all the world—should be regarded as sacred by all that dwell on earth,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said. “All the forces of humanity must be mobilized to ensure the stability and permanence of this Most Great Covenant.

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“In this all-embracing Pact the limits and frontiers of each and every nation should be clearly fixed, the principles underlying the relations of governments towards one another definitely laid down, and all international agreements and obligations ascertained.

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“In like manner, the size of the armaments of every government should be strictly limited, for if the preparations for war and the military forces of any nation should be allowed to increase, they will arouse the suspicion of others. The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government. Should this greatest of all remedies be applied to the sick body of the world, it will assuredly recover from its ills and will remain eternally safe and secure.”

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In noting the significance of a world gathering, The Universal House of Justice said in 1985 that “the holding of this mighty convocation is long overdue.”

Indeed it is. How much more suffering must the people of the earth endure before humanity awakens to this practical and essential call to peace and a world gathering to implement a lasting global peace?

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Source for all quotes: “The Promise of World Peace”, which is copyrighted by The Universal House of Justice.

(Editor’s note: This column is not intended to imply support of it by The Universal House of Justice and/or any Bahá’í institution and/or individual. Opinions in it are those of the author only. Please visit the Bahá’í International Community’s Web site for official Bahá’í Faith information.)