The Creator, the Created, and the Clay Pot

Why should I listen to God? The short and easy answer: because God says so. However – that answer probably sufficed when we were spiritual children, but doesn’t always work well for grownups.

In our spiritual adulthood the parental “because God says so” answer falls flat, as it’s no longer adequate to satisfy what we’re now capable of asking. 

But because it’s an important question, and has to do with our relationship to the Creator, it’s more than worthy of further exploration.

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At our human level, let’s just say we decide to make a clay pot. As the creator of that ceramic vessel, we get to decide how it will be used, and the properties it will require. What do we need to factor in for cold, heat, and strength? How can we choose the proper clay and construction? We’ll need to add a protective glaze, and fire the pot for a chosen time and temperature in a kiln, to strengthen it, but not destroy it in the process. In short, we instill in it what is necessary for its long and useful life. We, in fact, have set the rules and parameters for its future use. If its limitations are not respected, the object is prone to damage and breakage. 

When the pot is finished, as we inspect the results of our hard work, we know of a certainty that it did not create itself. So, it is with human beings, as the Baha’i teachings say

… man has not created himself, but rather that his creator and fashioner is another than he. And it is certain and indisputable that the creator of man is not like man himself, because a powerless being cannot create another being, and an active creator must possess all perfections to produce his handiwork.

Essentially, we’re in the same relationship to God as our pot is to us. We are the creation of a Supreme Being. Our Creator knows us, understands what we’re made of, and knows what will keep us whole, allowing us to advance both materially and spiritually through life and not burn ourselves up in the process.

Yes, it’s a simple analogy, but it is instructive. As we view our creation, we’re also aware that the pot doesn’t have the ability to know and understand its creator. So it is with humans.    

To every discerning and illuminated heart it is evident that God, The unknowable Essence, the Divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or the human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is, and hath ever been, veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of man. No vision taketh in Him, but He taketh in all vision; He is the subtile, the All-Perceiving.

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Here again, we’re in the same relationship to God, as our pot is to us. We, the created, can never know our Creator. Luckily for us, this is where we and our pot have the ability to part ways. Out of God’s love, we’ve been given a soul, our differentiator from the purely material world. With that soul we have the ability to know and love God; however, God is still hidden from our sight. Just as we know what is needed for our creation, God knows what we need. Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote:

Messengers of God have ever been the channels of His abounding grace, and whatsoever man hath received from God hath been through the intermediary of those Embodiments of holiness and Essences of detachment, those Repositories of His knowledge and Exponents of His Cause.

It’s humbling to think we have things in common with something made with our own hands. But, we’ve actually been given a choice whether to remain at that level – solely material in nature – or move on from that to a higher spiritual plane. 

However, bereft of God’s guidance, our behavior can sink far lower than any animal driven by simple, blind instinct – but we’re blessed in our ability to listen to our Creator. So, we each have a decision to make: do we live up to what we’re created to be, or not? 

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