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The purpose of our existence: excerpt 2 of a lecture by Bahram Elahi, MD

Ostad Elahi used to define his teachings as a new medicine of the soul: one that is adapted to the true nature of human beings and adheres to the law of causality governing both their spiritual and material lives. The spirituality he practiced was natural spirituality, and he considered the process of spiritual perfection to resemble an academic curriculum.

The excerpts presented here are drawn from a lecture given at the Sorbonne in March 2011, in which Professor Bahram Elahi revisits various aspects of Ostad Elahi’s philosophy. Rephrasing them in a simple and direct manner, he relates these points to fundamental questions and examines them from a rational standpoint.

To begin with, who are we? What is this self that we identify with? And what prevents us, in practice, from connecting to it? These questions relate to the issue of the soul and the fight against the imperious self. Next, why are we here? What is the meaning of this earthly life? These questions relate to the idea of spiritual development as a cognitive process: the process of perfecting our ordinary reason into sound reason.

As the discussion unfolds, an original definition of spirituality begins to take shape and the exact role of connecting to the divine, of faith and emotions, becomes clear.

Further readings:

The soul and the conscious self Excerpt No. 1 – The soul and the conscious self

To begin with, who are we? What is this self that we identify with? And what prevents us, in practice, from connecting to it? These questions relate to the issue of the soul and the fight against the imperious self. [read more]

Sound reason Excerpt No. 3 – Sound reason

We are like pupils: our life on earth should be used to obtain the “certificates of primary and secondary education” that will then allow us to go through the higher stages of our process of perfection. [read more]

A few fundamental principles Excerpt No. 4 – A few fundamental principles

Is it enough to have faith and become acquainted with the fundamental principles of spirituality to secure one’s spiritual future? That is the question addressed in the following excerpt by Prof. Bahram Elahi… [read more]

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  1. maxfarsh Oct 21, 2011 6:55 pm 1

    Thank you for posting and translating this lecture.

    Before becoming familiar with Ostad Elahi’s teaching, I used to think of spirituality as the goal to obtain inner-peace and achieve ecstasy. And I have to admit, as Prof. Elahi mentions, what he presented would be disappointing for someone who thinks the way I used to think. There is a lot in this lecture that requires careful analysis. As a spiritual interest of mine, the word will-power and reason was highlighted. I hope to see more articles in the future that will discuss practical ways in inceasing will-power and enhancing the sound reason. As a side note, it would be great if these lectures are translated and voiced over in English (mp3 format) so I can listen to them without the video capability.

  2. Kay Oct 22, 2011 11:33 am 2

    I speak for myself when I say that these videos give me the inspiration and motivation to study my ‘self’ as Dr. Elahi defines it. This video in particular shows me the vast importance of avoiding the tantalising distractions that this world can subject us to – even those that take the apparent form of ‘spirituality’.

    Even though for many of us this notion of ‘studying’ to develop spiritually is disappointing when compared to some of the attractive appeals that the ‘spiritual bazaar’ appears to offer, I find great comfort in knowing that we can, at the very least, identify these deviations the more we study our own ‘self’ and expand our field of perception.

    A fantastic video, one that has helped me think deeper about life on this earth. Thank you.

  3. Z Oct 22, 2011 12:13 pm 3

    I have transcribed this lecture. I cannot promise that I haven’t made any spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, etc.


    A lecture by
    Prof. Bahram Elahi

    Sorbonne, March 2011

    Excerpt 2

    The Purpose of our

    Every being has a suitable natural environment for its life and lives well only in that natural environment, which we call its natural environment. The original environment for the life of the soul, our “self”, lies in the spiritual dimension; it is elsewhere. Well then, if it is elsewhere, what are we doing here? I say that we are parachuted from our origin down to earth to carry out our process of spiritual perfection. What is the process of spiritual perfection? It is like asking: “What does studying do for children? Why do we have them study?” Well, if you can find an answer as to why you send your children to school, then I will say it’s the same thing. The process of perfection is the same thing. So why study? To increase our understanding. Increasing our understanding expands our field of perception. The clearer and the broader our field of perception, the better, the happier, and the more respected we feel. The process of spiritual perfection, which stems from natural spirituality, resembles an academic programme, an academic cycle with different levels. First, there is the primary level, or primary certificate. All the main monotheistic religions compel their followers to receive this certificate. It consists in inculcating belief in the one God, in the survival of the soul in another world, and inculcating moral rules or morality. That’s all. Those who have assimilated these three points are finished: they have received their certificate of primary studies, even as they change lives. But when we change lives, what is it that changes? It is the body. We leave the body behind, but it is always the same self that moves on. So a self that has received its primary certificate will continue to retain it. Then there is the secondary certificate. The certificate of secondary studies consists in learning the fundamentals of spirituality. Here, nothing is imposed, nothing is inculcated. This marks the beginning of working on yourself. You will have to understand the principles, apply them, and analyse the results to reach your conclusions. These two certificates—primary and secondary—can only be obtained during life on earth. You cannot receive them in the other world; you have to obtain them here on earth. And just as any academic programme, progress is sequential, meaning that as long as you haven’t completed one sequence, you will not be admitted to the next. For instance, if someone hasn’t received his primary certificate, you can explain spirituality to him all day long, and he will look at you and say: “Well, that’s great, it’s good reasoning and there’s no argument against what you’re saying, but that doesn’t mean that I have to believe it.” And he is being sincere, too. He just doesn’t get it. It’s like talking to a 5 or 6 year-old boy and telling him: “The feelings you will have when you grow up, the feelings you will have for your girlfriend or girlfriends…” He will just stare at you wide-eyed and reply: “What are you talking about?” He doesn’t understand. The purpose of spirituality is not to pursue ecstasy, to perform miracles, to exhibit wonders, or to cure diseases: those are deviations—they are like drugs for the soul. Spirituality means studying; it is quite serious. What you are dealing with here is knowledge and cognition. You need reason, you need willpower, you need at least some mental balance. Don’t let the “spiritual bazaar” and its numerous shops fool you. Each shop has something for sale: one will sell you ecstasy, another will sell you altered states of consciousness, another will sell you physical or psychological well-being, another will sell you inner peace… All that is child’s play, it’s not spirituality. It is like saying: “Medicine consists in learning a little bit about herbal tea, drinking some when you feel pain, and that’s it.” I know that what I’m saying is disappointing, that it’s not appealing. Nobody likes studying. We don’t like to study. Yet without making an effort and without studying, you won’t obtain anything serious either. But once you make some progress, once you start advancing towards perfection, then, as your sound reason develops, you experience certain emotions stemming from your knowledge that no other type of emotion can replace.

  4. wire Oct 22, 2011 1:56 pm 4

    I am not sure I understand what it means to need “mental balance” in the pursuit of our spiritual studies. Besides the obvious meaning, what does it to tell us at a deeper level?

  5. Nader Oct 22, 2011 5:54 pm 5

    Thank you so much for sharing this video. Very informative.

  6. 724 Oct 22, 2011 7:00 pm 6

    May I just pull out some keywords that captivated me in this lecture? “original environment”, “parachute!”, “certificate”, “not imposed”, “sequence”, “emotions stemming from knowledge”, and my favorite: “understand, apply, analyze the results to reach your conclusion”. Can’t thank you enough…

  7. nahjaf Oct 23, 2011 3:17 am 7

    Prof. Elahi’s words are not only abundant in wisdom and erudition, their clarity and simplicity penetrate the heart and mind, and his kindness permeates through his every expression. One cannot help but feel animated and motivated, when listening to this insightful lecture.

  8. Noel Oct 23, 2011 12:53 pm 8

    While I agree that it is disappointing and not very appealing to realize that any progress in spirituality requires effort and study, I found the following points extremely enlightening and motivating.

    “And just as any academic program, progress is sequential, meaning that as long as you haven’t completed one sequence, you will not be admitted to the next. ”

    From this I realized that if I want to understand more and get closer to the true reality, I need make an effort and apply myself to my studies so that I will be “admitted” to the next dimension or stage of understanding.

    It is very clear in material studies that if I have not completed elementary school, I will not be admitted to high school or university. Therefore, I reasoned that if I want to progress and go to the next levels of understanding in spirituality, I need to work hard and and take my studies seriously now.

    “But once you make some progress, once you start advancing towards perfection, then, as your sound reason develops, you experience certain emotions stemming from your knowledge that no other type of emotion can replace.”

    This sentence motivated me to focus and try harder as it underscores that increasing my understanding and expanding my field of perception in spirituality through study and effort will result in the experience of true happiness.

    It reminds me of how I dread the thought of beginning an exercise program. Yet I have found that when I commit myself to exercising regularly and apply myself consistently, the benefits and enjoyment that I experience outweigh my initial resistance and encourage me to continue with more motivation and drive.

    Thank you for continuing to post excerpts from these wonderful lectures.

  9. Jean-Jacques Stern Oct 23, 2011 11:04 pm 9

    @ Maxfarsh
    I fully agree with you concerning the stark contrast that exists between spirituality according to Prof. Elahi and spirituality according to what most of us attribute to that word. One really needs to make an effort in order to adopt a rational attitude and forget about “inner peace”, “ecstasy”, etc. to focus on understanding and cognition.
    Concerning your “side note”, what prevents you from recording the text yourself on your mp3? You could even use Z’s transcription!

  10. Saga Oct 24, 2011 10:51 pm 10

    The key point presented here, to me, is that miracles come from one’s own efforts and not externally. It is interesting that Dr. Elahi says that as one’s sound mind develops, one experiences certain emotions stemming from one’s knowledge. Which is contra psychological well-being and inner peace which, I think, most of us are seeking. When going to a psychologist, the goal would probably be to reach a state of well-being, but natural spirituality does not talk about the goal, but rather the process. The process will result in an emotion, which can not even be described. So the hard part is to motivate one self to do something for the goal of something not understandable until one has done what is required to be able to comprehend it. So how can one increase one’s driving force? To be concerned for one’s own spiritual future, as one is with one’s material future. So how can the other world become more tangible to increase one’s motivation? Perhaps by not looking for extrenal results in one’s life that alters one’s mood of happiness, but rather remind oneself that it is a childish behaviour. Perhaps it is simply by Just Doing It that creates a true student.

  11. k Oct 25, 2011 7:39 pm 11

    Can someone make a reference to what the fundamentals of spirituality consists of?

  12. k Oct 25, 2011 7:44 pm 12

    Maybe mental balance means to have a healthy psyche.

  13. maxfarsh Oct 25, 2011 10:12 pm 13

    Thanks for the transcript.

    Thanks for your comment. Correct me if I am wrong. The lecture is stating that “Inner peace” should not be a goal of spirituality. However, would “inner peace” be a positive side-effect of obtaining understanding and cognition? “Inner peace” is a hard word to define. As an extreme illustation, if a person wins the lottery or loses their whole family, it does not affect their state. While “innter peace” is not a goal, it would be good to know how it relates to spirituality, if it does at all. On my sidenote, you are correct.

  14. red Oct 27, 2011 4:54 pm 14

    I was able to find a decent definition of “mental balance.” As per thefreedictionary.com it means: “The healthy psychological state of someone with good judgment.” Dr Elahi stated that we need “some” mental balance. This makes sense because without at least “some” mental balance, we are not able to listen to our sound reason and we are not able to use our willpower to execute what our sound reason is expressing.

  15. Afsaneh Oct 29, 2011 2:27 pm 15

    Wonderful lecture as always! Thanks a lot!

    You can read more about “inner peace” in Bahram Elahi’s books. As I understood, inner peace is good but if it’s earned by “Natural Meditation” not by artificial ways that “spiritual bazaar” offers that are addictive like drugs and their results won’t last long. You can read about “Natural Meditation” here:

    – The Path of Perfection [Paperback] – M. D. Bahram Elahi – chapter 29, Natural Meditation, page 164

  16. A. Oct 31, 2011 7:16 am 16

    “But once you make some progress, once you start advancing towards perfection, then, as your sound reason develops, you experience certain emotions stemming from your knowledge that no other type of emotion can replace.”

    When one first hears such a statement, the first reaction is one of surprise because it is rare to associate two words like “knowledge” and “emotion”. Nevertheless, thinking about it, I lived through several experiences where a better knowledge of myself made me feel very intense emotions.

    Around ten years ago I had a rather ugly personality flaw: jealousy. Now every time I felt the negative emotions engendered by jealousy, a short time later certain unpleasant things happened to me: for example, I made some mistakes in the fulfillment of certain tasks and the very persons who had been the object of my jealousy reprimanded me. After a few years, during which I had to learn to fight against a long list of negative emotions caused such situations, I eventually formulated the hypothesis that my jealousy and the unpleasant experiences were probably somewhat connected … and this was quickly confirmed by an experience that followed shortly thereafter.

    I still remember to this very day, the happiness and the amazement which I felt during several days after. It was a real epiphany. The suffering of the humiliations had disappeared and had been replaced by joy, as if a new world showed itself to me, and this without any need of visions and miracles. I was able to observe, through my personal spiritual practice, that events were not the fruit of random fate, and that the cause of what happened to me was within myself. It was incredible, I was completely amazed and incredibly happy.

  17. HA Oct 31, 2011 3:12 pm 17

    Thank you so much for sharing this lecture with us.

    I think you can read about “fundamentals of spirituality” in Bahram Elahi’s books : “Foundations of Natural Spirituality” and “path of perfection”.

  18. k Nov 02, 2011 8:48 am 18

    @HA: Thank you for your response. But I was more looking for an exact page citation…
    I think the question-answer section of the last chapter in Spirituality is a Science is related to my question. What I was asking for was some bullet points about the fundamentals of spirituality.

  19. ramin Nov 05, 2011 4:23 am 19

    I thank you for the transcript and wonderful lecture.Time is come to dedicate more quality time to our duty to get the primary certificate with their help.

  20. Juneone Nov 05, 2011 5:27 pm 20

    Thank you for posting this….i have been in need of a boost these past few weeks as the activities of life seem to be overwhelming my attentions.

    @A So many ideas jumping out at me. But this particular morning , I am having a strong reaction to this same sentence about replacing my broken knowledge with knowledge that everlasting, unequivocal. So much work to do…

  21. Johnny Nov 06, 2011 12:20 am 21

    @k: Chapter 40 of ‘The Path of Perfection’ (p 221), Dr Elahi summarizes the fundamental principles in a series of bullet points. Although greatly condensed here (and I sincerely apologize in advance for any inaccuracies), these consist of:

    – The existence of the Creator – a unique, intelligent, transcendent, active and benevolent entity which encompasses and governs all things.
    – The divine presence throughout creation, the principle of causality, and the vital essence.
    – The process of spiritual perfection: the maturation and growth of the Self, enabling us to expand our consciousness and eventually fulfil the purpose of our existence – which is to benefit from all the existing graces throughout creation.
    – The psychospiritual organism consisting of both a celestial and terrestrial pole. Through their interaction, our spiritual development is facilitated.
    – Inner struggle: each component of the Self has certain impluses and tendancies, and we must make an effort to establish equilibrium between these, by using willpower and reason.

    “Accordingly, the basis of our work for reaching perfection is to have attention to the Source and to fight against the imperious self.”

    A link on this site which I also found to be very useful in discussing the fundamentals of spirituality was that which summarized the different aspects of Ostad Elahi’s philosophy: http://www.e-ostadelahi.com/eoe-en/ostad-elahi’s-thought-in-seven-points/

    Many thanks to the editorial board for uploading this wonderful video, and to everyone for each comment and contribution to this forum.

  22. BTOR Nov 07, 2011 5:43 am 22

    Academic indeed! Brief, deep, to the point.
    Thanks for sharing the lecture.

  23. Eileen Nov 08, 2011 11:16 pm 23

    I think and feel that I receive such extremely positive benefits from Prof. Elahi’s lessons on Ostad Elahi’s philosophy regarding our purpose in this world and what we must do to follow, how to put into practice, Natural Spirituality. It is only information from Ostad Elahi’s lessons and his music that enable me to struggle against and overcome feelings of depression and disillusionment from all the news in the world, current events, and soothsayers of doom.
    I would also like to note that I think this particular excerpt from Prof. Elahi’s lecture will be most appropriate and beneficial for people who are just starting to learn about Ostad’s philosophy. With gratitude, thank you.

  24. wire Dec 18, 2011 6:58 pm 24

    Seeking a feeling of inner peace should not be the goal of spirituality.

    While I have heard this idea for a few years now, it is only recently that I realized how much this seeking of a peaceful feeling has affected my spiritual work, and how much I do exactly this on a daily basis. I realized that seeking a feeling of inner peace for me is equivalent to satisfying my own pride/ego. I would do enough work (i.e. reading and praying) until I felt a sense of satisfaction with myself. I almost would show off to God how much I had done “spiritually”… and would feel completely content with myself. This contentment gradually became translated by my ego into inner peace, where I felt that what I was doing was sufficient because I felt good about it. It was only when I became very busy with school that I could not perform my daily readings/prayers to the same degree of my own satisfaction—that is when I did them, it did not give me the same feeling of inner peace (translated by my ego into a lack of pride). This would be fine except that I lost motivation for doing my readings/prayers to the point of barely doing them on a weekly basis! So in this case, my intention to do my reading/prayers was not God’s satisfaction, but instead satisfying my own ego (seeking inner peace), and with this intention, I did not last a minute. If I had kept some semblance of proper intention, God would have helped me and I would have continued with His help to do my spiritual work. But when I sought only to find peace within myself, I could not continue. My imperious self completely tricked me in this case.

  25. k Jan 19, 2012 9:30 pm 25

    @Johnny (comment 21):
    Thanks you for all your contributions in the comment sections. Regarding my question in comment 11 about the fundamentals of spirituality: Are you sure that the things you refer to are the fundamentals of spirituality? For example chapter 40 in The Path of Perfection is about “The Path of Perfection at a Glance”. Don’t you think that this is a bit higher (advanced) than the fundamentals of spirituality. I think it is quite important we know exactly what the fundamentals of spirituality consist of because it is extremely frightening to imagine to come back to earth. Actually I think this is the most motivating reason for practicing spirituality; that is practice so that you don’t come back to earth.

  26. k Jan 19, 2012 10:00 pm 26

    Actually I think the answer to my question is contained in the lecture: Quote from the Lecture:
    “The certificate of secondary studies consists in learning the fundamentals of spirituality. Here, nothing is imposed, nothing is inculcated. This marks the beginning of working on yourself. You will have to understand the principles, apply them, and analyse the results to reach your conclusions.”

    That is, the fundamentals of spirituality consist of starting to working on oneself; understanding the principles, apply them and analyse the results to reach our conclusions.
    I am almost sure that what is meant by the *principles* is the principles of Natural Spirituality. As I recall they are mentioned in Spirituality is a Science, Study I.

  27. Sou Jun 09, 2018 3:42 am 27

    When I read all the comments which are very thoughtful and rich, I can’t be more amazed to realize that Professor Elahi expresses with such clarity and simplicity, and in such a short passage, so much content, that every sentence of it needs a discussion in itself!
    Furthermore, from the comments it becomes gradually clear that, putting these words into practice reveals much more the extent of their impact.
    Many thanks for these videos.

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