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For a practice of spirituality in the present


Let us begin with an excerpt from La Spiritualité naturelle (Natural Spirituality), by Bahram Elahi, to be published shortly. For people today, spirituality belongs to the past, a past one rejects or admires, but in any case, a past long gone by. In his introduction, Bahram Elahi challenges this viewpoint and suggests we adopt toward spirituality the same attitude as the one we naturally have towards the sciences—a confident state of mind oriented towards research and progress:

“Throughout history, mankind has continuously advanced in the material sciences: each generation, relying on the acquisitions of previous generations, has sought to add an additional brick to the edifice of scientific knowledge. However, referring to our predecessors does not imply that nothing new remains to be discovered, but rather that we are seeking to deepen our knowledge, to take a few steps forward ourselves and in so doing, facilitate new discoveries.

In every enterprise, humankind has always looked to the future and will continue to do so, except where religion and spirituality are concerned. When it comes to spirituality, we only see the past. It is as if nothing can be added to the words of our predecessors, or as if no one is able to have access to the source that inspired them, to rediscover spiritual truths in their present form and to extract new truths. We consider the science of spirituality to be inaccessible and untouchable, as though it belonged to the realm of mystery. Yet, there is an astonishing analogy between science and spirituality: while science consists in studying the causal truths that underlie matter, spirituality consists in studying the causal truths that underlie the spirit, and in particular man’s spirit or soul.

In spiritual matters, we behave as if we were conditioned by a ‘cult of the past’. This attitude has been inculcated in us for so long over generations that it has, in a sense, become inscribed in our genes. We are paralyzed by the feeling of being powerless to discover or rediscover truths regarding the meaning of our existence or life in the other world, etc. Thus, although no one in our time has seen or heard the prophets of the past, or read the texts they themselves wrote or those written during their lifetime, we naturally accept principles conveyed by word of mouth through tradition without knowing whether their authenticity has been established. Yet, when one of our contemporaries speaks of a spiritual principle that was not explicitly addressed by our predecessors or for which all traces may have been lost, we tend to automatically reject it, without further examination, as if in this domain, the source of knowledge has run dry or has henceforth become inaccessible. That is why for centuries we have hardly advanced in our knowledge of spirituality.

Meanwhile, our intellectual capacity has developed considerably, such that we can no longer satisfy ourselves with the kind of spirituality established centuries ago for people of another era. Thus, there is an ever-increasing gap between the spiritual principles and the intellectual level of human beings. And it is this gap, among other things, which engenders the disorientation and the abuses that are so readily observable today and that lead to an increasing denial of any form of spirituality.

Yet, to believe that no human being in our time can participate in the progress of the science of spirituality, which is the essence and the fruit of any revealed religion, to believe that no one can so much as verify the authenticity of a principle inherited through tradition, is tantamount to contradicting His justness and clemency. Could it be that He really has consigned us forever into oblivion? In the past, prophets and authentic saints–spiritual “scholars”–made revelations and discovered divine truths that were useful to the people of their time. Is one to believe that among today’s population there are no authentic divine individuals? What then, can we make of His justness? In ancient times, the earth was much less populated than it is today. And yet, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad and thousands of other divine individuals all attest to the permanence of the link between people and the Divine. How is one to believe that despite today’s significantly greater population, no one is capable of teaching people spiritual truths?

One may respond by saying that these divine human beings came once and for all and said everything that needed to be said for the remainder of all time. If spirituality is one entity and the past prophets have revealed all its principles, what need is there for new revelations? This response would be legitimate had these principles been conveyed to us in their entirety, without being stripped of, or deviated from their true meaning, if we could truly understand the symbols and allegories that belong to another time and if the socio-cultural context that conditioned the revelation of these principles were still the same today. When revealed to human beings through authentic prophets, the divine principles are clear, lucid and understandable for the people of the time; when passed on from generation to generation, they gradually take on the ‘color’ of human beings, progressively lose their clarity and transparency and, taken out of their context, ultimately depart from their original meaning. Moreover, while fundamental principles such as divine unicity and prayer, for example, do not themselves change, the way they are understood by human beings, as well as the manner in which they are applied, change over time and according to culture.

Each prophet addressed his people in their own language and according to their own culture. Although what the prophets have said concerning the fundamental principles governing the relationship between human beings and the Divine remains true, the manner in which it was presented in the past is no longer adapted to people today. Regardless of the subject, a good teacher always adapts himself to his students. Likewise, a true spiritual teacher must have a modern lifestyle and speak a language that resonates within his or her contemporaries, not one that was meant for the peoples of the past. The miracles of divine men (miracles always accompany an authentic spirituality) must therefore be adapted to the civilizations and the people they address. Today, should someone, through divine power, reproduce a real similar to the model of the ancients, it would not have the same effect on people. It might even be attributed to technology, conjuring or illusion. Though people would undoubtedly be impressed, they would nonetheless not suddenly believe in God. The miracle of each era must be adapted to the intellect and the level of consciousness of the people of that era.

For all these reasons, an educating Creator, in the form of God of the time, periodically and with each great change of civilization, reminds human beings of the fundamental principles they may have forgotten or distorted over time and teaches them additional laws that are necessary for their spiritual perfection and adapted to the requirements of their own time.

He is unique and he who wants to know Him must see Him through the eyes of his time. Neither the Creator nor the primordial nature of the human being has changed; what has changed are the times and the human intellect. As was the case with people in the past, people today need guidance adapted to their times and their intellect and it would be contrary to divine justness for them to be deprived of such and left on their own. We should therefore expect that divine guidance, capable of imparting true spiritual teachings, exists at all times and without it, we run the risk of turning our backs on Truth.

But, to be able to recognize such guidance, one needs to put all prejudice aside, stop worshipping the obsolete and overcome the feeling of inferiority and powerlessness that feeds the cult of the past and prevents one from seeking Truth where it is. It is necessary to regain self-confidence and, while still respecting the past, give attention to the present. If our predecessors had wise men and spiritual geniuses among them, we must expect to find some among us as well. Such individuals are able not only to extract and revive the divine truths to share them with us, but also to discover spiritual principles adapted to our current lives by presenting them to us in our own language.

One may object that this reasoning opens the door to opportunists. However, opportunists have always existed and the individual is not necessarily defenseless against them. Human beings have been given the gift of reason and common sense and if, by relying on it, they seek truth for truth’s sake, they will not fall into the traps laid by charlatans. Their sense of truth will be awakened and will enable them to feel truth in the spiritual domain, beyond rhetoric and theatrics. By thus relying on reason and common sense and by using as an example the behavior of the authentic divine individuals of the past, characterized by dignity, simplicity, humility and emotional detachment, they will know how to recognize such opportunists. If what they hear is contrary to the original ethical and divine principles – for example spirituality without morality – or if they are asked to relinquish their freedom of conscience, they will know who they are dealing with. Once again, given divine justness, humankind can be certain that He will never abandon them without leaving them a way to deal with whatever might influence them to stray from the path of knowledge leading to the Source.

I myself have found one such way in the ideas of Ostad Elahi. Everything I have presented in my work is derived from his teachings. Using revelation and numerous references as a basis, he carried out his own research, supported by personal experiences. Ultimately, he formulated his own discoveries into a coherent and “rational” system of thought, making them accessible to anyone who should take an interest in them.

Authentic spirituality, like all divine truth, is expressed in a language that is simple and direct, but profound in meaning and impact. Only He or true divine individuals can probe the depth of this science, the science of the divine truths needed for the education of human thought. (…) Divine guidance is omnipresent. It does not belong to any particular individual or group and it should not be used for any form of personal gain. Any individual who truly searches for it will find it eventually, no matter where he or she may be. Truth knows no bounds; it lies within each of us.”

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  1. Pseudo Oct 10, 2009 6:17 am 1

    I wanted to thank e-ostadelahi and associates for posting this article written by Dr. Bahram Elahi. It was touching and every word written was very true and heart warming. Thank you.

  2. Paolo Oct 25, 2009 9:33 pm 2

    This key sentence is very touching: in every enterprise, humankind has always looked to the future and will continue to do so, except where religion and spirituality are concerned”- this is one of the reasons why many stop searching for more. This article encourages us to go and discover what spirituality means, today, for a human being in the twenty first century. Dr. Bahram Elahi truly understands how to awaken an individual’s “metaphysical” curiosity.

  3. Zulu Oct 31, 2009 8:45 am 3

    Sometimes I just want to ask: doesn’t God expect too much from humankind? God created us as imperfect beings. We do have an intellect but the intellect is saturated with ego and we all know how ego alters our judgments. But the fact is, we don’t really understand much and most of the time our intellect acts against comprehending spiritual matters. And then, in addition to all these internal obstacles we are living in an ego-ridden world; a world that constantly reinforces our imperious self. We are bombarded with unethical and anti-divine values. And yet, we are so proud of our accomplishments in science and technology. Even science, for many, seems to have to stand against spirituality. In other words, we seem to lack the metrics and measures in science today to discuss spirituality. Moreover, scientists who try to extend the scientific research into the spiritual realm are often not taken as seriously.
    It almost seems as though God hides the truth like a gem amongst a bunch of invaluable but eye-catching stones and then expects humankind to dig in and find it! I just want to plead with God and say please cast a glance at us helpless humankind and make the truth a little more vivid for us to see!

  4. John Locke Nov 08, 2009 8:52 am 4

    I do have one question, in this article, the author says: “Their sense of truth will be awakened and will enable them to feel truth in the spiritual domain, beyond rhetoric and theatrics”. I’m curious to understand what it exactly meant by “the sense of truth” and how does one go about awakening it. I’m curious to learn what others reading the article think about this. Also, thanks for sharing this with us interested individuals.

  5. Zulu Nov 12, 2009 9:11 am 5

    My understanding is that similar to our physical senses we also have spiritual senses which belong to the celestial soul. For instance, some places that were witnessed to negative or tragic events radiate a negative energy that a person with a certain level of sensitivity can feel. Such person usually feels uncomfortable in these places without knowing the reason behind it. Or the Disciples of Jesus felt the manifestation of the Source in him. I bet if one of them was alive and present and if we could ask how he recognized the Truth in Jesus, he would simple say: I could clearly “see” the Divine in him! Truth is not seen by the eye of the head, but with the eye of the soul…

    “The sense of truth” reminds me of the book “Flatland” by Edwin Abbot; which in it a Square was challenged to understand the world of 3-dimension!

    What makes it hard though, is that unlike our physical senses, we need to develop our spiritual senses.

  6. Ali Tinat(Zoghi). Dec 09, 2009 4:17 pm 6

    While fully agreeing with Zulu’s perception of “The Sense Of truth” I also like to add the following:
    I. I do not like to make the famous Category mistake of the Cartesian Philosophers—dualism of mind–body(Ghost In The Machine division of Spirit and body)—and therefore do not divide our senses into physical and spiritual but rather an extension of the same senses that we all possess and use regardless of being aware of them fully or not.

    II. “The Sense Of truth” to me also extends to our constant craving we all have in terms of judging, weighing, reasoning, measuring, evaluating, plus sensing everything we come across at some level, especially when our self interest is concerned, and in order to find its truth in terms of form and format. Another word for this is evaluation. It is for this very same reason that we also—consciously or subconsciously—are often confronted with a nagging inner feeling that what we consider to be truth is but a part and parcel of the actual life forms that is surrounding us. The more we find out about such life forms—be it a Bee or a plant—the more its truth is revealed to us. In short, the more we investigate and find out about an entity, the more its wonders are revealed to us due to the growth of our understanding. This is due to the expansion of our ten senses—for the sake of understanding let me refer to this as physical–spiritual—that we now have the exact perception to better fathom and see the truth within a particular item on the menu of our understanding of the truth.
    Spirituality, as a science of our present time, and according to the guidelines of Ostad Elahi, is an step by step formula based on the examination of the self, one’s motives, intentions, and all within the very frameworks of our modern daily life. It is by knowing the truth about one’s true self that one can come to the ultimate truth—one’s source.

  7. Ali Tinat(Zoghi). Dec 09, 2009 4:31 pm 7

    P.S. For better understanding of the term “category–mistake” please check Gilbert Ryle’s book The Concept of Mind, chapter 1, section 2.

  8. Eileen Feb 12, 2011 11:42 pm 8

    I, too, would like to thank Dr. Bahram Elahi for posting this article. I am very glad that we humans are out of the “cult of the past”. Thank goodness that the words for authentic spirituality are simple and direct. I hope that all human beings will receive help from the Divine to learn the lessons and put them into practice correctly, to attain His satisfaction.

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