We often wonder whether there is a deeper, higher and a nobler purpose to our lives than devoting it fully to pursuit of material aspirations. A fundamental purpose of our lives, in the Bahá’í view, is to contribute to the progress of the world civilisation – as Bahá’u’lláh says “All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilisation”.
Of course, pursuing a higher and a nobler purpose in life does not mean that we should neglect the material aspects of life.
It implies progressing materially and spiritually, together and simultaneously.
In order to contribute our share to an ever-advancing civilisation, we need to develop the powers and capacities latent within us. The purpose of education, therefore, should be to influence and guide this process.
As such, education should lead to the discovery and perfection of one’s capabilities and instil a commitment to serve the best interests of one’s community and the world as a whole. To achieve this, we need moral empowerment as well as intellectual development. We need to advance individually and also to contribute to advancement of civilisation.
Such education should cultivate tolerance, love, brotherhood, equality, compassion, understanding, humility, and an active commitment to justice. Besides, it should nurture in the individual an appreciation for the richness and importance of the world’s diverse cultural, religious, social systems and encourage unity in diversity.
To achieve this, our educational systems should be free of all forms of prejudice – whether it be religious, national, gender, racial or ethnic.
Bahá’u’lláh’s statement that all people “have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilisation,” implies that every person has both the right and the responsibility to contribute to this important enterprise whose goal is nothing less than the peace, prosperity and unity of humanity.
Knowledge, love and worship
In relation to the Creator and the purpose which the Creator has fixed for His creatures, human existence has a meaning.
The purpose of our lives, according to the Bahá’í Writings, is to know God and to worship Him, in addition to carrying forward an ever-advancing civilisation. Knowledge and worship of God lead us to the love of God; love of God in turn leads us to obedience to His commandments and service in His path. To serve God is to serve humanity.
For us to be able to contribute our share towards creation of a peaceful world civilisation based on principles of justice and prosperity, we need to be empowered to express their God-given talents and capacities in service to humanity.
Through service, the essential principles of social integration – including compassion, understanding, sacrifice, humility, and commitment to justice – are manifested in society.
Considering that humanity as a whole has now reached a new level of maturity, it is now possible to create societies founded upon cooperation, trust, and genuine concern for others.
The Bahá’í Writings say: “It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action. . . That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth”.
Teachings from God, brought to us through Divine Messengers, are the motivating power of civilisation.
The transforming effect of God’s teachings on the minds and souls is replicated in the society that gradually takes shape around such guidance.
“The Word of God creates new possibilities within both the individual consciousness and human relationships.”
Therefore, the purpose of our lives is to know and to worship God. It is to cultivate such attributes, skills, virtues and qualities that enable us to contribute towards building of an ever-advancing civilisation.
It is to serve humanity and to work for creation of a united world, upon which depends our well-being, peace and security. As Bahá’u’lláh says: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established”.
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