Human beings are remarkable creatures. They are infinitely complex for they have hidden dimensions that would astonish people if they knew about them. I will break the dimensions down into three.
In the first place, a person occupies the physical world and interacts with the world using a physical body and that body’s many functions and capabilities. In the second place, a person occupies a private, psychological world, which is an expansive, placeless reality in which a person is aware of themselves and their inner and outer environment. Within this world, a person uses a combination of mind and heart to process information that is coming in from inside and out. The person does this processing in various ways such as via thoughts, feelings, impressions, ideas, reasonings, imaginings, narratives and so on.
In the third place, a person occupies a spiritual dimension due to the functioning of the soul, which exists in the spiritual world of the Kingdom. It is what Baha’is usually refer to as the higher self. It is divine and eternal because the soul is a spark of the divine spirit. The soul operates like a little power station that generates in the person an awareness of not only themselves and the world, but potentially of spiritual worlds beyond this world. This celestial potential lies at the horizon of the psychological world, which is the shore of a boundless spiritual reality sitting waiting to be discovered.
Accordingly, the big question is: how do we awaken ourselves to the spiritual dimension of creation? Fundamentally, we do this by engaging with the Word of God, which Baha’u’llah describes as an elixir that can transmute copper into gold. That means it can transmute the spiritual condition of the person from earthly to heavenly.
“Likewise, these souls, through the potency of the Divine Elixir, traverse, in the twinkling of an eye, the world of dust and advance into the realm of holiness; and with one step cover the earth of limitations and reach the domain of the Placeless.”Kitab-i-Iqan p157
But for this process to take root, a person must shut off, for the purposes of this journey, all aspects of themselves that they use for operating in the physical world. This involves shifting one’s affections and focus away from the domain of the lower self to the realm of the higher self. It does not mean neglecting to live a meaningful life in the lower world. Life in this world is important for spiritual growth because Nature and all the other realities in this world display the will of God. It is crucial to see what happens here as Truth and to learn from it. That is why Arabic hidden word no 2 says to look at the world with the eye of justice, because in doing that, God can confide in us.
Moreoever, to awaken ourselves to the realities of the celestial realm, a person must set out on the journey of discovery entirely alone. I explained above that experience of the celestial realities happens in the interior of the person, as an extension of the inner faculties, such as insight, active imagination, inner hearing, and the susceptibilities of the inmost heart and fascination of the mind. If these are the tools a person uses to engage with the celestial realm, then it is impossible to take someone else along, or follow someone else’s lead. That is why it is crucial to see with our own eyes and know with our own knowledge (AHW2), that is why we must journey independently of everyone else, because the tools for the journey are located within. All other options are ruled out.
Having detached from the lower world and taken the decision to go it alone, then one can begin to engage with the Word of Baha’u’llah. The Word of Baha’u’llah is filled with glorious imagery and narratives. Baha’u’llah wrote these wonderful tablets so that readers can use them as a mental ladder that they can climb up to reach the heavens. Therefore, as we read, we use our imagination to picture the images and events that Baha’u’llah depicts in the text. By doing this, a new dynamic within the soul begins to take root, as the stories start to take on a unique and personal meaning. Then, in a startling display of power on the part of the divine, we look around us at Nature and at events in the world and see in them representations of the same stories we discover in the text. We start to see how arrangements in the world illustrate meanings that Baha’u’llah has hidden in his words. Gradually, a lineup of meaning between the Word, our internal imaging and understanding, and the realities of the world begins to emerge.
Keep at it. As Baha’u’llah says to do, read his writings morning and evening and say the obligatory and other prayers. Meditate on the Word of Baha’u’llah. This spiritual discipline is necessary for the process of spiritual awakening and growth to occur. If we are too busy participating in activities in the world to give proper consideration and time to this discipline, we cannot grow. Understanding the divine Word goes hand in hand with inner transformation. No amount of work and service can replace it. By engaging with the text in this active way, we will experience inspiration, get answers to problems, create a vision for our future, receive invisible aid from the Kingdom, and feel happy and fulfilled. This is a broad overview of how I understand mystical growth to happen. One thing that is certain is that at the root of it is private interaction with the Word. The practice of devotions is not just about absorbing information and disciplining one’s character, it is also about releasing the soul so that it can soar in the heavens and witness in the active imagination the heavenly places and their inhabitants and activities. When we die, the realms of the Placeless become our heavenly homeland. Time devoted to engaging with the celestial stories now is preparation for what will eventually become permanent.
“There can be no doubt whatever that, in consequence of the efforts which every man may consciously exert and as a result of the exertion of his own spiritual faculties, this mirror [of the soul] can be so cleansed from the dross of earthly defilements and purged from satanic fancies as to be able to draw nigh unto the meads of eternal holiness and attain the courts of everlasting fellowship.”Gleanings CXXIV
An examination of the philosophical basis for Baha’u’llah’s thought as a theosophy can be found in Jean-Marc Lepain’s Archeology of the Kingdom of God, pp164-169, 174-177.