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Understanding Divine Education: A Baha'i Perspective

Need for Education

Divine Education

Every human being is born with predestined potentials and capacities. Education is the only means to discover and develop such capacities. Without education, all the predestined capacities remain unattained.

 

“Were there no educator, all souls would remain savage, and were it not for the teacher, the children would be ignorant creatures.”[1]

 

Bahá’u’lláh describes man as a mine and that the capacities latent in man as valuable gems hidden in this mine. These gems can be obtained only from the mine through Education:

 

“The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.”[2]

 

What is Divine Education

‘Abdu’l-Bahá describes the three realities of man as—physical, intellectual and spiritual:

 

Man is endowed with an outer or physical reality. It belongs to the material realm, the animal kingdom, because it has sprung from the material world.
“… But man is endowed with a second reality, the rational or intellectual reality ….
“… Yet there is a third reality in man, the spiritual reality. Through its medium one discovers spiritual revelations, a celestial faculty which is infinite as regards the intellectual as well as physical realms.”[3]

 

Every reality of man needs education to unravel its capacities. Humanity has been able to provide physical and intellectual education to develop the physical and intellectual realities of man, material civilization is the result of such education.

 

The spiritual reality of man also needs education to produce the divine attributes and qualities hidden within it. This education is called divine education and has always been provided only by religion.[4]

 

“If a person be unlettered, and yet clothed with divine excellence, … that individual will contribute to the welfare of society, and his inability to read and write will do him no harm. And if a person be versed in the arts and every branch of knowledge, … and not take on the characteristics of God, … —then he is harm personified, and nothing will come of all his learning and intellectual accomplishments but scandal and torment.
“If, however, an individual hath spiritual characteristics, and virtues that shine out, and his purpose in life be spiritual and his inclinations be directed toward God, and he also study other branches of knowledge—then we have light upon light ….”[5]

[1] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 126.

[2] Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings, p. 260; and Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 162.

[3] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Foundations of World Unity, p. 51.

[4] Refer to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, pp. 7–10; and The Compilation of

Compilations, Vol. I (Education), pp. 278, 282.

[5] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. I (Education), p. 282.

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