“The pathway of life is the road which leads to divine knowledge and attainment.” –‘Abdu’l-Bahá

The Human Soul 

The Rational Soul

The essential identity of every human being is a rational and immortal soul. The physical world is a place of composition and decomposition, of progress and decline. But the soul suffers no disintegration and no regression. It is “entirely out of the order of the physical creation”.1

We cannot understand the exact nature of the soul. It is, Bahá’u’lláh says, “a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind…can ever hope to unravel.2 The soul is ‘the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him”.3

Each individual life begins when the soul associates itself with the embryo at the time of conception. But the association is not material; the soul does not enter or leave the body and does not occupy physical space. Bahá’u’lláh uses the metaphor of the sun to explain the relationship between the soul and the body: “The soul of man is the sun by which his body is illumined, and from which it draweth its sustenance, and should be so regarded.4

The Bahá’í writings explain that such faculties of the mind as thought, reasoning, understanding and imagination are “inherent properties of the soul, even as the radiation of light is the essential property of the sun.5 The body of a man is “like unto a mirror, his soul is as the sun, and his mental faculties even as the rays that emanate from that source of light.6

It is through the exercise of the powers of the soul that human progress is achieved. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has said that the soul “can discover the realities of things, comprehend the peculiarities of beings, and penetrate the mysteries of existence. All sciences, knowledge, arts, wonders, institutions, discoveries and enterprises come from the exercised intelligence of the rational soul.7 He continues, stating that there was a time when such realities “were unknown, preserved mysteries and hidden secrets; the rational soul gradually discovered them and brought them out from the plane of the invisible and the hidden into the realm of the visible.8