In the Bahá’í Faith, saints are those who have achieved the highest degree of mastery over their ego.
By this definition, any of us can become saints. All we have to do is:
- obey the laws of God
- seek to live the life laid down in the Bahá’í Teachings
- pray and struggle
The ego is the animal in us, the heritage of the flesh which is full of selfish desires. By obeying the laws of God, seeking to live the life laid down in our teachings, and prayer and struggle, we can subdue our egos. We call people ‘Saints’ who have achieved the highest degree of mastery over their ego. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 114)
In order to achieve this mastery, though, saints (and all of us) have to go through tribulations and suffering in order to purify our hearts and souls for receiving the light of God:
All the Saints that shine in the history of society had to pass through tribulations. Their form was various but their effect has always been the same, namely, the purification of our heart and soul for receiving the light of God. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 203-204)
Suffering because of a broken heart also seems to be part of the equation:
We as Bahá’ís cannot but believe that suffering is often an essential part of our service. The Prophets suffered bitterly, so did all the Saints and Martyrs, and often ‘fed on the fragments of those broken hearts’, as Bahá’u’lláh says in one of His beautiful prayers. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 579)
It’s not enough to go through suffering, though – saints also have to feel joyous and happy in the midst of our severest tests and trials!
Physical pain is a necessary accompaniment of all human existence, and as such is unavoidable. As long as there will be life on earth, there will be also suffering, in various forms and degrees. But suffering, although an inescapable reality, can nevertheless be utilized as a means for the attainment of happiness. This is the interpretation given to it by all the prophets and saints who, in the midst of severe tests and trials, felt happy and joyous and experienced what is best and holiest in life. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 280)
How to Become a Saint
Here’s how to become a saint – the guidance is embedded in this one quote!:
Saints are men who have freed themselves from the world of matter and who have overcome sin. They live in the world but are not of it, their thoughts being continually in the world of the spirit. Their lives are spent in holiness, and their deeds show forth love, justice and godliness. They are illumined from on high; they are as bright and shining lamps in the dark places of the earth. These are the saints of God. The apostles, who were the disciples of Jesus Christ, were just as other men are; they, like their fellows, were attracted by the things of the world, and each thought only of his own advantage. They knew little of justice, nor were the Divine perfections found in their midst. But when they followed Christ and believed in Him, their ignorance gave place to understanding, cruelty was changed to justice, falsehood to truth, darkness into light. They had been worldly, they became spiritual and divine. They had been children of darkness, they became sons of God, they became saints! Strive therefore to follow in their steps, leaving all worldly things behind, and striving to attain to the Spiritual Kingdom. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 60-61)
You can use this checklist as you work towards your goal!
- Have you freed yourself from the world of matter?
- Have you overcome sin?
- Do you live in the world but are not of it?
- Are your thoughts continually in the world of the spirit?
- Is your life spent in holiness?
- Do your deeds show forth love, justice and godliness?
- Are you illumined from on high?
- Are you a bright and shining lamp in the dark places of the earth?
You may think you are far from achieving these things, but every single effort you make is magnified by God.
An act, however infinitesimal, is, when viewed in the mirror of the knowledge of God, mightier than a mountain. Every drop proffered in His path is as the sea in that mirror. (Bahá’u’lláh, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 4)
You don’t have to be ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to attain this station! And you don’t have to be perfect at any of them either . . . you just have to strive!
Great mysteries happen when we become Bahá’í! As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us in the quote above, the disciples of Jesus Christ, were just as other men (just as we are the disciples of Bahá’u’lláh):
- They were attracted by the things of the world
- Each thought only of his own advantage
- They knew little of justice
- They had none of the Divine perfections
But when they followed Christ (when we follow Bahá’u’lláh) and believed in Him:
- Their ignorance gave place to understanding
- Cruelty was changed to justice
- Falsehood was changed to truth
- Darkness was changed into light
- They had been worldly and became spiritual and divine
- They had been children of darkness, they became sons of god
They became saints! And we can too!
God wants us to become saints. He tells us that it’s a praiseworthy course of action; and well worth striving for!
There are two kinds of Bahá’ís, one might say: those whose religion is Bahá’í and those who live for the Faith. Needless to say if one can belong to the latter category, if one can be in the vanguard of heroes, martyrs and saints, it is more praiseworthy in the sight of God. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 78)
Many of us have learned to hate ourselves and minimize our worth. We need to know the truth about how God sees us. To that end I’ve written a Love Letter from God, to remind us. You might like reading or listening to it!
Let’s all make up our minds to become saints! All it takes is to follow the Counsels of the Baha’i Writings:
Therefore I say unto you that ye should strive to follow the counsels of these Blessed Books, and so order your lives that ye may, following the examples set before you, become yourselves the saints of the Most High! (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 200)
As well as dedication and will-power!
He urges you to make up your minds to do great, great deeds for the Faith; the condition of the world is steadily growing worse, and your generation must provide the saints, heroes, martyrs and administrators of future years. With dedication and will power you can rise to great heights. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 629)
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