I have long wondered about the Baha’i teachings on Nature. On Talisman9, a Baha’i discussion group, we have been debating the merits and meaning of Abdul Baha’s reference to ‘the impurities of Nature.

Here is my post on this from T9:

” In Some Answered Questions chapter 19 “The Baptism of Christ” Abdul
Baha wrote: “But the heavenly water and spirit, which are knowledge
and life, make the human heart good and pure; the heart which receives
a portion of the bounty of the Spirit becomes sanctified, good and
pure — that is to say, the reality of man becomes purified and
sanctified from the impurities of the world of nature. These natural
impurities are evil qualities: anger, lust worldliness, pride, lying,
hypocrisy, fraud, self-love, etc.”

I am intrigued by the use of the phrase “impurities of the world of
nature.” I wonder exactly what Abdul Baha meant.

For one thing we read elsewhere in SAQ of the non-existence of evil.
“God exists; evil is non-existent.” And then we read of the impurities
of the world of nature. Is this contradiction, I wonder.

In Baha’i nature is sometimes described as the source of impurities or
of evil, yet evils such as hypocrisy are found only in human affairs.
Nature is authentic and never hypocritical. The same can be said of
fraud and perhaps lying.

As we come from nature and as we can see evidence of God in nature I
see little benefit from denigrating nature in this way. It is the
foundation that we stand on and our origin. We are the brothers and
sisters of the creatures that we share the earth with. While it is
true that we can and should accept the breath of the spirit in ways
the animals cannot we need to respect nature as our physical mother
and symbol of our spiritual mother and father.

So — what do you think about this? Is this an example of translation
issues? Or is Abdul Baha saying that to become spiritual we must
reject the physical and the world of nature? Or grow beyond it? Can’t
we appreciate both aspects of our lives? What do you think?”

It seems to me that the impurities that Abdul Baha apparently finds in Natue are actually in human nature.

Personally I find spirit in Nature more than anywhere else.

The first part of the quote is particularly interesting to me:

“But the heavenly water and spirit, which are knowledge
and life, make the human heart good and pure; the heart which receives
a portion of the bounty of the Spirit becomes sanctified, good and
pure — that is to say, the reality of man becomes purified and
sanctified from the impurities of the world of nature.”

The heavenly water and spirit refers the sacred teachings and the Holy Spirit, I think. And yes these are uplifting at times — sacred writing usually, the holy spirit always. But so is Nature when one becomes immersed in it. In fact it can make one feel purified and sanctified, I believe. It’s a tonic for what ails you!

What do you think? Are the impurities we need to purge from ourselves in Nature or are they in human nature? Thanks for any thoughts you may be willing to share.

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