An old friend told me that Ruhi describes three levels of understanding of the writings, and through an intellectual reaction to the statement, I came to accept an understanding of self.
Knowing and understanding the writings are rarely my weaknesses. This isn't some self proclaimed exaltation of my intelligence or my being. Rather, it's part of a setup that leads to a rather damning indictment. Inspiration from a year ago forbade me from reading the 7 Valleys & the 4 Valleys until I after I had read through the Aqdas and the Iqan (again). I innately understood the reason why then but clarity of such self-advisement became abundantly clear today.
My problem is not knowing. It's never been knowing. It's never been understanding. I've always been able to read and process esoteric information, to discern patterns, to test theories on my own, and to understand how one can apply that knowledge in practical, daily life. It's a natural consequence of having read philosophy and religion on my own as an independent student since the 8th grade.
There's also cognitive knowledge and understanding and then there's knowing with certitude. Even the latter has not been my problem. I vaguely remember a conversation (at university roughly 10 years ago) with a person of faith, who expressed polite jealously that God proved Himself to me multiple times. He pointed out that God usually doesn't indulge arrogant challenges of "if God exists, then God will do xyz to prove to me He exists"... which is true for most. Not me. I stopped counting, but it was roughly one to two handfuls of disparate events. I have no excuse. Even moreso is the regularity with which I experienced those moments of spiritual extascy and joy, that flood of overwhelming knowledge/awakening/understanding that serves to inspire one to better himself and transforms belief into true faith of conviction and certitude. Knowledge and understanding are not my weaknesses.
And lest ye think I'm self-aggrandizing. I'm not trying to. I'm not claiming that I know everything or that I understand everything. I'm not suggesting I've unraveled any special knowledge. There's a simplicity to spiritual divine knowledge - it really is as simple as the first few of The Hidden Words suggest - pure, kind and radiant heart, knowing justice, and knowing God. Everything else is a kind of elaboration, an unfolding of very simple, elegant principles. The beauty about enlightenment is that there's always more minutia, subtley, and beauty to uncover in such basic principles. The intersection of the basics and their derivatives lead to an exponentially infinite number of derivatives of understanding. I'm still unraveling and with great humility I can say with certainty that I am far from knowing and understanding the infinite expanse that is enlightenment.
Furthermore, I know I can do. Don't get me wrong. I have my insecurities and weaknesses that manifest in failures to manifest spirituality in action. However, I can breathe. I can move. I can talk. I can see, hear, feel. I have many abilities that most of us are blessed with. I have some unique talents, too, as we all have different talents. Fundamentally, I know I can do because I do everyday... just that I'm not always doing what I ought to be doing or doing it to the extent my conscience demands of me.
What I am claiming though is that God has blessed me with the knowledge with which I can better myself, the intelligence to understand that knowledge and apply it in a diversity of contexts, the spiritual experiences that provide the certitude to know when I'm avoiding my true responsibilities and obligations and when I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, and the simple capability of being able to plan and follow through on self improvement. I'm sure I'm not alone, and there's nothing unique here for people who have an active and demanding conscience. I am unbelievably blessed.
The damning indictment is that I'm not "being"... I've never gone through Ruhi but I expect it makes a distinction between "knowing", "doing", and "being". I have the first two down... the last part is my weakness. Perhaps "being" is the wrong word. Unfettered? Pure in heart and motive? The "true" in "true seeker"?
In its most fundamental form, my lack of being manifests as the part of me that doesn't want to exist. It just wants complete obliteration of the soul, bordering on being unmade. I know such an outcome is not metaphysically available, and I'm cognitively aware that's just my lesser being whispering and using guilt and shame to its advantage.
What is an option is annihilation of the self, a level of existence where I exist in harmony with what God expects of me. It's an existence with no doubt - just joy in knowing that all that I am and all that I do is His Will, etc. etc. I know I've tasted fleeting bits of that, as that what drives my certitude. Yet with all that I know, all that I experience and feel, I lack the motivation to want that goal for the right reasons. I'm wanting it because it's what I can get... not because it's the best thing in the universe that anybody could ask for.
This is a terrible insult towards God - to suggest that I'm settling for enlightenment and salvation, as if they were a 2nd place prize. Yet, what I want is something more, more than what I am entitled to as a human. It's fundamentally Luciferan. It's the desire to be more and have more than what God bestows. Knowing that I am denied it, I hear the whisper that calls for the soul's oblivion: why bother serving in Heaven, if you're not going to get what you really want? I'm ashamed of this and I've known of it, but I am starting to understand just how unbelievably damning this is.
It wouldn't surprise me if this is one of the reasons the most seemingly holy of people can find themselves barred from nearness to Him at the moment of their death - even suggesting that one is entitled to anything from God because it's promised in scripture smacks of a terrible arrogance. Likewise, the seemingly most undeserving person, with humble and pure intent, can theoretically find themselves awakened by His Grace and attain the everlasting life as His humble servant, doing what He so commands and experiencing the constant awakening of life as He breathes love into one's soul. How such a person serves God may be different than somebody who has consistently served Him, but it doesn't really matter, does it? God overflows one's cup... the arrogant and the prideful care about the size of that cup. The humble and the pure graciously accept it for what it is and are able to drink more deeply, but still - their cups will overflow, as a constant reminder of just how limited they are. And perhaps with time, God might surprise one with an expression of grace, a new cup that is larger.
But today, I have a better understanding of my greatest weakness... it's almost as if Baha'u'llah dragged me out of bed, sat me down, and said, "Look. Get with the program. Here's a laundry list. You can do it. Get to it. Quit complaining. Forget what you did. I'm judging you on what you'll do. And quit worrying about how you screwed up. You're in line for Heaven. That's what counts. Don't complain about others being ahead of you in line, and don't complain about what you'll get when pass those gates. You lost your place in line before and that was your choice, but you're in line now. Get it? I know you do. You perceive the sea of misery that is the human condition... many are those who don't even know of this line to Heaven even exists. Many are just content to do it their way or the old way, and you see how it can sometimes compound their personal misery even with the best of intentions, contributing to the overall human condition that is so often plagued by misery. You sense the complexity. You understand the simplicity of the answer and the difficulty and magnitude of the solution. You understand with humility how small a role you play in the larger scheme of things. You've glimpsed all of this and you turned away because you couldn't bear its sight. How many times have I inspired you to do something, and you chose not to for whatever excuse you came up with. I know that you know. Don't worry, though. I'll make you into one who can brave it, though. When I'm done with you, you won't care about the weight or complexity or your inferiorities and weakness, because you'll have grown. It won't matter because you'll be doing what I tell you. You know suffering. You know because you know separation. You were my adversary, knowingly. Most do it to rebel out of ignorance. But you did it with knowledge and out of spite, and you've paid for it and will continue pay for it to deal with natural consequences for some time. I know that you know. But how blessed are you that you know separation first hand. You can appreciate such plight with such certainty. Most don't even know they're suffering. I've given you so much, but you still shuffle your feet and frown. Others would trade all that they have to get your place here. Are you not thankful? Are you going to spit in my face a third time? Do you dare demand more of Me? I bring you to the path leading to Heaven, offer forgiveness, instruct you, give you certitude, and you can't even bring yourself to want it for the right reason. You're like the lover that can't bring himself to say 'I love you' to the girl he loves, even though she's the most wonderful and loving person in his life. You're the guy that is more than willing to say 'I care about you a lot'. Don't worry, though. I know why you are this way, even if you don't fully understand. I know you'll come around, eventually. In the meantime, get to it. I'll tolerate you doing it for the wrong reason because I love you. That's how much God loves you. Follow through and the change that you so desperately seek will happen. I know that you know."