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My absolute favourite passage from the Baha’i Writings that grounds me the quickest when life becomes too unbearable and that reminds me to come back to the basics is the Tablet of the Truth Seeker.
The Tablet of the Truth Seeker is an excerpt from the Kitab-i-Iqan, the Book of Certitude. This book is also known as the “Epistle to the Uncle” because it comprises a tablet that Baha’u’llah wrote to Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali, a maternal uncle of the Bab, who sincerely wanted a deeper understanding of how his nephew was the Qaim, meaning the Promised One, foretold in Islam. Although wanting to believe this claim, the uncle had many questions, posed them to Baha’u’llah and received an answer.
Throughout the entire Kitab-i-Iqan, many prerequisites of those that seek the truth, or tread the Path of Positive Knowledge, are mentioned but in this article, I’d like to focus on those outlined in the Tablet of the Truth Seeker.
These qualities can apply to our quests to seek any type of knowledge or understanding–not just religious truth–and our quest for truth is a life-long journey. We are always seeking truth with every question we attempt to answer. For example, if I am working to better understand the truths that lie hidden in my daily yoga practice or when I read yogic philosophy and have difficulty in comprehending or feel like I am not getting a clear answer, I review this list to ensure I am equipped with the right attitudes and spiritual perceptions to receive an answer or clarification.
I feel that although these qualities are written very clearly and succinctly in the Kitab-i-Iqan, organizing them in a list with numbers helps me, as a western reader and mind, to see very clearly; I can determine which qualities are my strengths and which ones are priority growth areas I need to focus on deepening and to ultimately put into action, like I would a checklist for my day-to-day tasks. But, unlike a task, I cannot just check off a prerequisite as met as they are spiritual qualities of varying degrees that need to be developed to ever deeper levels of understanding, practice and application.
Below is a list of the prerequisites, including my own personal understanding of what each quality looks like to me and for my life, bearing in mind everyone’s understanding and application of these qualities will look different.
- “cleanse and purify his heart”
What is illuminating in the Tablet of the Truth Seeker is that it specifies five things we must purify our hearts from：
- “from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge”
- “allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy” (bearing in mind that in the Baha’i Writings, Satan is a metaphor for the insistent self, or our lower nature)
- “of every defilement, and sanctify his soul from all that pertaineth to water and clay”
- “from all shadowy and ephemeral attachments”
- “no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth”
The list continues，
2. “put his trust in God”
To remember that whatever is rejected is being redirected.
3. “renounce the peoples of the earth”
To be reminded that no one has the power like Almighty God, so to place my hopes and expectations on Him instead of on His creatures.
4. “detach himself from the world of dust”
My soul which is eternal and is not bound by this world of material means requires food and nourishment like prayer and meditation, and to reorient my energies if directed elsewhere.
5. “cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords”
To cleave unto a Divine and Almighty Source in times of test for steadfastness, and moral rectitude in times of refinement and trials.
6. “never seek to exalt himself above anyone”
To remember that we are all created from the same dust.
7. “wash away…every trace of pride and vainglory”
To strive to demonstrate humility.
8. “cling unto patience and resignation”
To let go of the things not meant for me and to surrender to God’s Will.
9. “observe silence”
To remember that it’s not always wise to speak.
10. “refrain from idle talk”
To keep my conversations on topics that bear fruit for the betterment of the world.
11. “regard backbiting as grievous error, and keep himself aloof from its dominion inasmuch as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul”
To remember that backbiting destroys unity.
12. “content with little”
The less I accumulate in the material realm gives me the opportunity to accrue more in a spiritual sense.
13. “be freed from all inordinate desire”
To keep my attention anxiously fixed on the needs of the world.
14. “treasure the companionship of those that have renounced the world”
To remember that I am the sum of the five people I spend the most time with.
15. “regard avoidance of boastful and worldly people a precious benefit”
To not be caught up in feelings of inferiority and to remember that humility is a princely virtue.
16. “At the dawn of every day he should commune with God”
To remember that there are certain distinct hours in the day that my veils are thinnest and I can hear God’s voice more clearly and to capitalize on those hours.
17. “with all his soul persevere in the quest of his Beloved.”
To remain ever so focused on my goal.
18. “He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention”
To have a point of focus to return to whenever I go astray.
19. “with the swiftness of lightning, pass by all else save Him”
To display selflessness and self-effacement.
20. “succor the dispossessed”
I must show my gratitude for my good fortune by caring for the needy.
21. “never withhold his favor from the destitute”
If I am given more than others, it is because more is expected of me.
22. “show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellowman”
To remember that we are the stewards of animals and must speak on their behalf if they are mistreated, and to safeguard human dignity and nobility at all times.
23. “not hesitate to offer up his life for his Beloved”
To dedicate my time and energy to the greater Cause of working to build communities.
24. “nor allow the censure of the people to turn him away from the Truth”
To not allow myself to cave in to the pressures of others when investigating the truth for my spiritual growth.
25. “not wish for others that which he doth not wish for himself”
To treat others as I would wish to be treated.
26. “nor promise that which he doth not fulfill”
To be careful that my words do not become empty, and to always safeguard my ability to be trustworthy.
27. “avoid fellowship with evildoers, and pray for the remission of their sins”
To remember that the company that I keep influences me, not to judge others, but to pray on behalf of others.
28. “forgive the sinful, and never despise his low estate”
To practice forgiveness and remember that we don’t know what our own fate shall be.
29. “regard all else beside God as transient”
That whether good or bad, change is a constant and that only God is changeless.
30. “count all things save Him…as utter nothingness.”
To maintain perspective of the world at all times, and to remember that not only are things ever-changing, but they are not as valuable as changeless God.
When I combine this list of 30 qualities for finding truth in addition to the 5 ways in which to purify our hearts, I end up with a robust list of 35 attitudes, qualities, or states of being to put into action.
From amongst these qualities, depending on my life circumstances and what I am going through, I may be better at practicing some more than others. That’s why it is essential for me to review this list often as the very review itself provides the combination of qualities that I will newly need to focus on. As we enter the new Gregorian year, perhaps this list might be helpful for you to review too in order to see what areas of growth you’d like to focus on.
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