With a comprehensiveness that illumines the most challenging issues faced by humanity today, the Baha’i teachings are built upon an understanding of evolution – both physical and spiritual.
The Baha’i teachings view evolution as a process that leads us from and back to wholeness, a process that also takes humanity as a whole from its infancy through stages of struggle and challenge to its collective maturity.
A big picture perspective of humanity’s evolution of consciousness reveals a process of repeating cycles of birth, growth, maturity, decline, and renewal that characterize our journey to wholeness.
Just as the acorn tree is contained within the seed but takes many years of growth and maturation to reach its fruition, the human body is an even more dramatic example of a system designed to maintain and grow into its own wholeness.
Wholeness in the human body is experienced in the qualities of completeness, harmony, balance, and unity within all the parts of a whole. We started off as two cells becoming one. Then after months in the womb undergoing a process of cell division and differentiation, our body became one of, if not the, most amazing expressions of unity in diversity found in nature.
After we’re born, it takes many more years for our body to evolve into a system where its eventual 30 trillion different cells and some 80 different organs, each with a unique purpose, perform their vital life-sustaining functions expressing this most complex, multi-layered form of unity in diversity to work together in harmony and balance through a unity of purpose to maintain its inherent wholeness-in-motion, or its innate state of health, as a whole.
The human body is a whole system operating according to the governing principle of cooperation to ensure the healthy functioning of the whole.
In the same way, as the health of the body is contingent upon the unity and wholeness of every cell and every organ, so is the health of society contingent upon the unity and wholeness of every member of the entire human family. This is expressed vividly in Baha’u’llah’s statement:
Regard the world as the human body which, though at its creation whole and perfect, hath been afflicted, through various causes, with grave disorders and maladies … The mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples.
From this we might say that wholeness is the remedy for an ailing humanity, just as it is for the individual. But there is a lot more to this quote. We can also extrapolate from it three phases of our individual and collective evolution.
First, as Baha’u’llah wrote, we were created whole and perfect. But as we know from sacred stories and myths like The Garden of Eden and Pandora’s Box, and many others, things didn’t stay that way.
Second, this fall from wholeness brought about many millennia of being afflicted, through various causes, with grave disorders and maladies.
Third, though, there is a resolution, a remedy for the healing of all the world, and that is the union of all its peoples. Healing is making whole again!
So here we have a concise history of humanity’s social evolution, as well as our own personal evolution. We came from wholeness, spent much time in the throes of separation and duality, and now we have at our fingertips the means, and the remedy, for returning to our wholeness.
What does “created whole and perfect” really mean, then? It means having the innate capacity to evolve into a complex system that is complete on its own and within which all its parts function in balance and harmony as one unified whole.
This is where we are in this historic moment. After having lived with a consciousness of duality and separation for an extended period of time, the Baha’i teachings promise that humanity is now entering a unitive age leading to harmony and peace – all built upon a consciousness of wholeness.
Today, as we approach a consciousness of global integration, a new story of our wholeness is needed to frame this interconnectedness. Wholeness is the remedy for an ailing humanity, as well as for what ails us individually. All parts of the entire cosmos were created whole and perfect, to work in harmony and balance with all other parts of the whole.
Yet, because we experience afflictions and maladies in life, transformation is needed to return us to our original wholeness.
Next in this series, we’ll explore further the personal and collective pattern of transformation designed to return us to our innate wholeness.
Adapted from Robert Atkinson’s book A New Story of Wholeness: An Experiential Guide for Connecting the Human Family.