Three Principles that Heal the Illusion of Separation

Seeing all things in existence as an interconnected whole, a oneness in which everything in the whole is an inseparable part, means nothing is ever separate from the whole.

In the Baha’i teachings, Abdu’l-Baha provided the needed context and framework from which to draw principles that further explain and support this concept. Here, in the book Some Answered Questions, he succinctly characterized the unified wholeness of reality: “The evolution of existence is one. The divine order is one. All beings great and small are subject to one law and one order.”

Abdu’l-Baha seems to be saying that this divine order allows for only one interconnected process by which all things in existence develop and depend upon.

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From this holistic view of reality, we can derive three organizing principles in which apparent opposites — like yin and yang, feminine and masculine — transcend their own assumed duality.

The Evolution Principle

First, the Evolution Principle says evolution is directional, toward ever-wider circles of unity. In all realms, all things are tied together, and evolve through a process of growth, maturity, decline, and eventual renewal, always toward their inherent potential.  

Because we understand the way things evolve by the consciousness we bring to it, and because our consciousness is extremely challenged in these times of misinformation and deep divides, thinking of evolution’s path as a straight line creates problems for us. 

Even the crises and conflicts we see all around us contribute to the built-in ups and downs of evolution’s direction, which always unfolds in a spiraling fashion, toward renewal.  

In the mid-1800s, just prior to Darwin’s groundbreaking grand vision of biological and social evolution, the Baha’i writings reconciled the two prevailing views of evolution and divine creation by explaining how all life evolves harmoniously. Abdu’l-Baha affirmed that because all things are interconnected, cooperation and reciprocity are the true catalysts for evolution:

… all beings are linked together like a chain; and mutual aid, assistance, and interaction are among their intrinsic properties, the cause of their formation, development and growth. 

Evolution is thus determined by universal law, a design which all things follow. A holistic view sees the whole first, and evolution as part of a single great process encompassing the entire creation.

The Consciousness Principle

Second, the Consciousness Principle says consciousness is an innate potentiality unfolding toward right relationships on all levels. Yet, consciousness is dependent upon the initiative we take to actively investigate reality.  

Nothing expands our consciousness more than the proactive search for truth. Now more than ever, the independent investigation of reality leads to the spiritualization of human consciousness. The awakening of new capacities brings with it the recognition of new responsibilities for a collective maturity that can restructure society. 

Our individual search for truth leads us toward interconnectedness and wholeness. In fulfilling the potentiality of our own consciousness, we find how connected we all are. The world’s sacred traditions assure us of this: “Seek and ye shall find …” The Baha’i writings go further, as Abdu’l-Baha said in a 1912 speech in New York City: “If we investigate the religions to discover the principles underlying their foundations, we will find they agree, for the fundamental reality of them is one and not multiple.” 

In our time, the search for truth, the investigation of reality, is a spiritual principle as much as it is a human right. 

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The Wholeness Principle

Third, the Wholeness Principle says reality is one, and all of Creation is a whole. All things are part of the same web of wholeness and find sustenance and realization through just one power. This holistic, nondual principle is at the heart of the world’s mystic traditions. 

Because all things are tied together, they operate as a whole, rather than as separate, competing entities. The transformation taking place now in the world rests upon a two-fold process of purging and reshaping everything we know, so wholeness can be recognized and our unity established. 

The Baha’i writings of Shoghi Effendi clarify the next step in humanity’s evolution: 

A world, growing to maturity, must … recognize the oneness and wholeness of human relationships, and establish once and for all the machinery that can best incarnate this fundamental principle of its life.  

These three principles, when merged, form a meta-principle underlying them all: consciousness evolves toward wholeness. One law and one order guide us toward this awareness. 

Adapted from A New Story of Wholeness: An Experiential Guide for Connecting the Human Family by Robert Atkinson.

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