At the outset, it has to be mentioned that, for the sake of simplicity, we are studying these Bahá’i Writings on economics briefly without going too deeply into their importance and implications. Volumes can be written on each of these Writings, and each could be the subject of extensive research. As time goes by, we will realize their importance and how they can and will bring us towards a totally different economic system. Future economists will write books on how these Sacred Writings changed our spiritual, social and economic lives. So please bear in mind that the simplicity of the language and my feeble attempts to share my understanding of them does not do them justice. Many Writings could be mentioned here, but I chose these on purpose because they cover many areas related to economics.
THE STATION OF MAN
“Lofty is the station of man, were he to hold fast to righteousness and truth and to remain firm and steadfast in the Cause… His is the loftiest station, and his influence educateth the world of being.” Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p.220
“If, on the contrary, the spiritual nature of the soul has been so strengthened that it holds the material side in subjection, then does man approach the Divine; his humanity becomes so glorified that the virtues of the Celestial Assembly are manifested in him; he radiates the Mercy of God, he stimulates the spiritual progress of mankind, for he becomes a lamp to show light on their path.” – Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p.65-66
God has told us that He created man in His image. Man’s station is very high, and he has a great spiritual destiny. But in the world of economics, this is not recognized. Man is a labourer, a manager, or a consumer, and his contribution is limited to that. The system does not recognize that his spiritual aspirations need to be the goal for an economic system, a system that enables him and provides him with tools so that he can work towards his spiritual destiny and spiritual goals, to become a spiritual being who has a human experience, rather than a human being who has a spiritual experience.
MATERIAL CIVILIZATION AND SPIRITUAL CIVILIZATION
“Material civilization has reached an advanced plane, but now there is need of spiritual civilization. Material civilization alone will not satisfy; it cannot meet the conditions and requirements of the present age; its benefits are limited to the world of matter. There is no limitation to the spirit of man, for spirit in itself is progressive, and if the divine civilization be established, the spirit of man will advance.” – Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 101
“As heretofore material civilization has been extended, the divine civilization must now be promulgated. Until the two agree, real happiness among mankind will be unknown. By mere intellectual development and power of reason, man cannot attain to his fullest degree – that is to say, by means of intellect alone he cannot accomplish the progress effected by religion.” – Ibid, p. 170
The history of mankind has demonstrated that man hasn’t realized that he has two natures – one is his material nature, and the other is his spiritual nature. History has been shown man’s development in terms of inventions, scientific knowledge, a higher standard of living and generally material progress. Man is satisfied that he has made significant improvements, and he can calculate his gains yearly. But the sad point is that his spiritual growth has not kept up with his material progress. Man’s ignorance about his nature, his spiritual nature, has made him one-sided – all his energies are spent on material gain. He does not know that he has a spiritual side and that his material progress depends on his spiritual progress, because all decisions made, if not made on a spiritual basis, will not be beneficial for his soul and his being. The perfect harmony is that in which material civilization and spiritual civilization go hand in hand. At present, there is a significant imbalance between the two civilizations.