Effort is required for success


There is a connection between the spiritual and the physical, a connection of similar and parallel laws that guide us as we progress toward our goals. One of these concerns the need for effort in order to succeed. In the physical world, for example, will, sincerity, time, effort, diligence, focus, habit, persistence and passion are required in order to possess a skill, such as how to play a musical instrument, attain athletic prowess, or learn medicine, engineering, or law. The same is true in the attainment of spiritual qualities. They don’t just happen. They, too, are achieved in the same way.


Bahá’u’lláh, referring to the Qur’an, assures us that effort results in guidance along the right path:


“Whensoever he hath fulfilled the conditions implied in the verse: ‘Whoso maketh efforts for Us,’ he shall enjoy the blessings conferred by the words: “In Our Ways shall We assuredly guide him.’ ”


And again He says to us:


“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 [the mirror in our soul that reflects God’s beauty] 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.”


There is, however, a condition which each of us must first meet before we begin this spiritual effort, in order to obtain this success:


“When a true seeker determineth to take the step of search in the path leading unto the knowledge of the Ancient of Days, he must, before all else, cleanse his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge, and the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy.”


The means, among other things, that one must put aside the obstacles of preconceived notions and a preference for material pursuits. If we are going to search, then let’s search without letting other things get in our way. In particular, Bahá’u’lláh tells us that:


The seeker must purge his breast of every defilement and sanctify his soul “from all that pertaineth to water and clay, from all shadowy and ephemeral attachments.”


He must so cleanse his heart that “no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth.”


And also (don’t panic and continue breathing normally):


He must, at all times, put his trust in God

Never exalt himself above anyone

Wash away every trace of pride and vain-glory

Cling unto patience and resignation

Observe silence and refrain from idle talk

Avoid backbiting

Be content with little and freed from all inordinate desire

Treasure the companionship of them that have renounced the world

Avoid boastful and worldly people

Commune with God at the dawn of every day

Persevere in the quest of his Beloved

Consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention

Pass by all else save Him

Succor the dispossessed

Show kindness to animals

Not hesitate to offer up his life for His beloved

Not allow the censure of the people to turn him away from the truth

Not wish for others that which he does not wish for himself

Do not promise that which he cannot fulfill

Avoid fellowship with evil-doers with all his heart

Forgive the sinful and never despise their low estate.


Whew! Hey!! No, wait! Don’t turn and run, now! This is too important. I know, I know. Makes you want to return to that comfortable embrace of women and booze, doesn’t it? One thing is for sure, becoming a spiritual person is no task for wimps. What a reminder of how imperfect we are!  Do you think you can do it? Yes, you can! You’ve got the Right Stuff. You can do it. Bahá’u’lláh tells us so:


“He will never deal unjustly with any one, neither will He task a soul beyond its power. He, verily, is the Compassionate, the All-Merciful.”


This is something that all of us are asked to do. And why is this important?


“Our purpose in revealing these convincing and weighty utterances is to impress upon the seeker that he should regard all else beside God as transient, and count all things save Him, Who is the Object of all adoration, as utter nothingness.”


And also:

“These are among the attributes of the exalted, and constitute the hall-mark of the spiritually-minded. They have already been mentioned in connection with the requirements of the wayfarers that tread the path of Positive Knowledge. When the detached wayfarer and sincere seeker hath fulfilled these essential conditions, then and only then can he be called a true seeker.”


And finally, Bahá’u’lláh tells us this about that with these wondrous Words:


“Only when the lamp of search, of earnest striving, of longing desire, of passionate devotion, of fervid love, of rapture, and ecstasy, is kindled within the seeker’s heart, and the breeze of His loving-kindness is wafted upon his soul, will the darkness of error be dispelled, the mists of doubts and misgivings be dissipated, and the lights of knowledge and certitude envelop his being. At that hour will the Mystic Herald, bearing the joyful tidings of the Spirit, shine forth from the City of God resplendent as the morn, and, through the trumpet-blast of knowledge, will awaken the heart, the soul, and the spirit from the slumber of heedlessness. Then will the manifold favors and outpouring grace of the holy and everlasting Spirit confer such new life upon the seeker that he will find himself endowed with a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind. He will contemplate the manifest signs of the universe, and will penetrate the hidden mysteries of the soul. Gazing with the eye of God, he will perceive within every atom a door that leadeth him to the stations of absolute certitude. He will discover in all things the mysteries of Divine Revelation, and the evidences of an everlasting Manifestation.”


How long do we have to do this and when should we begin? Again, there is a parallel between the physical world and the spiritual one, as this story shows:


An Army paratrooper in training was about to bail out of the airplane for his first jump, and he was nervous.  He asked his sergeant, “When should I pull the ripcord?”


The sergeant answered, “Son, you have the rest of your life.”



The quotations from the Bahá’í Writings and related information are from Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, page 106 and pages 262 – 267.

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