The Nature of Spiritual Law
The Universal House of Justice, the authority in the Baha’i Faith to which all must turn, has stated:
“Just as there are laws governing our physical lives, requiring that we must supply our bodies with certain foods, maintain them within a certain range of temperatures, and so forth, if we wish to avoid physical disabilities, so also there are laws governing our spiritual lives. These laws are revealed to mankind in each age by the Manifestation of God, and obedience to them is of vital importance if each human being, and mankind in general, is to develop properly and harmoniously.” (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer; excerpts to all National Spiritual Assemblies, February 6, 1973: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 105-106)
There seems to be some confusion amongst believers about the nature of spiritual law. Perhaps we are accustomed to thinking of “laws” as something that a bunch of people produced after getting together and deliberating on. These laws come into existence, may or may not make any sense, might be unjust, and can just as easily go out of existence. They are, in a sense, arbitrary.
The nature of physical laws is completely different. Physical laws, such as gravity, electromagnetism, the conservation of energy and momentum, among an array of others, are descriptive. They are not prescriptive, which is to say that a bunch of scientists didn’t get together and say “today we’re going to legislate gravity”. Physical laws give structure to the physical universe; they describe how the universe works; the exists in an objective sense, meaning that it matters not one whit whether one “believes” in them or not. Jump out of the 40th floor of a skyscraper and you’re going to go splat, regardless of your belief system.
I infer from the House’s statement above that one aspect of spiritual law is the same as that of physical law: both have an objective existence, regardless of what one believes. In other words, just as physical law gives structure to the material realm, spiritual law gives structure to the spiritual realm. Obedience or lack thereof to either has consequences, beneficial in the case of obedience, detrimental in its absence.
“O servants! Lifeless is the body that is bereft of a soul, and withered the heart that is devoid of the remembrance of its Lord. Commune with the remembrance of the Friend and shun the enemy. Your enemy is such things as ye have acquired of your own inclination, to which ye have firmly clung, and whereby ye have sullied your souls. …” (1)
Disbelief in and resistance to the Law of God is one thing that we “acquire of our own inclination”; it is contrary to recognition of the objective existence of spiritual law, which ultimately applies to our souls regardless of our beliefs, just as physical law applies to our bodies without respect to what we believe. Because one of the purposes of spiritual law is to create a structure in our souls that conforms to the structure of the spiritual realm that governs the soul, failure to conform to it “sullies our souls” when compared to what they become when illumined by the lights of recognition and obedience.
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