God, the Creator of the universe, is all-knowing, all-loving and all-merciful. Just as the physical sun shines on the whole world, so the light of God is shed upon all Creation. “As the sun ripens the fruits of the earth, and gives life and warmth to all living beings, so shines the Sun of Truth on all souls, filling them with the fire of Divine love and understanding.”1
It is impossible for any mortal mind to truly understand the reality of God. Whatever is created can never comprehend or describe its creator. A table, for example, is incapable of understanding the craftsman who made it, even though his skills and attributes may be reflected in his creation.
However broad or imaginative our concept of God may be, it will always necessarily be circumscribed by the limitations of the human mind. “That which we imagine, is not the Reality of God; He, the Unknowable, the Unthinkable, is far beyond the highest conception of man.”2
Each kingdom of nature is incapable of understanding the level of existence higher than itself. A rock cannot imagine the growing power of a plant; a tree is unable to understand the powers of sight, hearing, smell or movement possessed by an animal; and an animal will never attain the consciousness that distinguishes a human being. Similarly, human minds will never be able to grasp fully the operations of the spiritual kingdom. “All superior kingdoms are incomprehensible to the inferior; how therefore could it be possible that the creature, man, should understand the almighty Creator of all?”3
While the true nature of God will always elude us, the purpose of our lives is to recognise, love, and grow closer to Him. “I have breathed within thee a breath of My own Spirit, that thou mayest be My lover.”4
What we can know about the unknowable God has been taught to us by the succession of Founders of the great world religions, the Manifestations of God. Throughout the ages, our belief in God—and the paths we have taken towards Him—have been shaped by Their teachings.
Bahá’u’lláh, the most recent of God’s Manifestations, teaches us that the signs of the existence of God are everywhere: “Every created thing in the whole universe is but a door leading into His knowledge, a sign of His sovereignty, a revelation of His names, a symbol of His majesty, a token of His power, a means of admittance into His straight Path…”5 The beauty, richness, and diversity of the natural world are thus all expressions of the attributes of God. “If we wish to come in touch with the reality of Divinity, we do so by recognizing its phenomena, its attributes and traces, which are widespread in the universe.”6
All things have been endowed with the capacity to reflect certain of God’s qualities. Human beings, however, have been invested with the power to potentially manifest all of His attributes. “Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee. Get thou from it thy radiance and seek none other than Me.”7
To assist us in knowing and worshipping God, the teachings of the Manifestations provide countless descriptions of spiritual attributes that we ourselves must develop—for example, wisdom and justice, truthfulness and courtesy, faithfulness and compassion. Such qualities are developed by thinking and acting in the light of divine guidance. “[B]y faith,” wrote ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “is meant, first, conscious knowledge, and second, the practice of good deeds.”8