Investigating the Truth, meaning finding the purpose of our lives, which is ultimately spiritual, is a huge principle of the Baha’i Faith. This is about how every individual should look into, or investigate each religion for themselves and then decide. The Truth refers to our spiritual nature and to learn about our creator, God.
“Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another’s ears nor comprehend with another’s brain. Each human creature has individual endowment, power and responsibility in the creative plan of God. Therefore depend upon your own reason and judgment and adhere to the outcome of your own investigation; otherwise you will be utterly submerged in the sea of ignorance and deprived of all the bounties of God.” – Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet Founder of the Baha’i Faith.
If a person is born into a Baha’i family, it is the parent’s duty along with the help of the Baha’i community to educate the new child on spirituality. At the age of 15, the person decides if they want to become a Baha’i or something else. If they are do not want to join the Faith, become some other religion or to continue investigating, everyone, especially the parents must oblige.
This was and still is something I hold very close to my heart. Born on both sides to fourth generation Baha’is, my family and our friends thought I would become a Baha’i right away. When I turned 15, I told my parents that I was not ready to become a Baha’i, I still had many questions about religion and life. My mother understood and just asked I never stop searching for answers. My father and many others had to bite their tongue for fear of my mother and I thank God most that she was strong in her belief in her daughter.
Another important principle of the Baha’i Faith is not to judge. In the last written work of Baha’u’llah, He emphasizes, “Henceforward, everyone should utter that which is meet and seemly, and should refrain from slander, abuse and whatever causeth sadness…” Easier said than done, no one cannot deny that. Everyone has their own personal path; most important is their spiritual journey. However, people have their stigmas and unfortunately gossiping about others faults and choices is ever present. Anyone who was gossiped about for whatever reason knows how much it can hurt and even possibly second-guess yourself.
My mother has her faults but judging and gossiping are not one of them. As a child I was quite a curious person, always asking questions about life and death and everything in between. She embraced all my questions, if she did not know the answer, she and I would search for them in books, asking friends or family who might know (these are the days before the internet). As I got older and were exposed to different cultures and religions; I spoke to my friends who are Hindu, Christian, and atheists trying to investigate further. By now, the internet was the most popular resource too.
“God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself.” ~ Abdul-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace
Things kept me from really investigating such as school, graduation, finding work. Then sometime around November 2012, a family friend, Ed who is writing a book about the prophets dating back to Abraham, offered to help my investigation by recommending a few books and to consult on them. “My mission is not to make you Baha’i but to help you find answers.” I started on three different books, God Passes By written by Shoghi Effendi, Kitab-i-Iqan a holy text written by Baha’u’llah, and Baha’u’llah & His Stations by Michael Sours. After several months of reading and consulting, I was ready to reaffirm my belief in Baha’u’llah. I was and still am far from having answers but the main question of my purpose in life was answered to me. My parents were of course thrilled but more than that, proud that I never gave up my search.
Every person’s journey is different and the important thing is to not give up your investigation. Equally important is not to judge other people’s paths. We have our right to have our own thoughts but we should not backbite, gossip or judge on another person’s life choices because not only is that damaging to the person but to ourselves as well. It took me 24 years to know how I wanted to live my life spiritually. For some who are born to Baha’i parents, it takes 15.
This is my personal journey, I had my fair share of ups and downs, but I stayed strong. Each person has the right to decide their life’s path at the pace that is right for them. All you can hope for is that you stay strong and believe in yourself, and hopefully you have a person or two that will back you up.