Diminished capacity and spiritual growth

Nov 2012
601
United States
I'll try to make this very brief, to get the discussion started:

The Baha'i Faith teachings on spiritual growth and advancement seem to hinge heavily upon the ability to investigate, observe, react, analyze, contemplate, reflect and gain knowledge in an intelligent, rational manner.

It is also my understanding, these are the capacities that separate us from animals, and make us more than just the biological species homo sapiens.


Which begs the question:

What about people with severe mental retardation? With brain damage, mental illness or otherwise diminished, disrupted or damaged capacity?

How can they follow God's teachings in this regard? What about their souls?

And, is a person born with severely low -- vegetative -- lack of intelligence, even in possession of a soul?
 
Jun 2009
473
earth
I seem to remember reading about this subject but I cannot find the exact quotation. I found a relevant quote from a BIC statement, below.

The gist of what I read, I think, was that everyone had a soul (from conception). Persons who were severely disabled and appeared to have little capacity for reason (and those who were very ill or suffering dementia) may show less evidence of a rational soul to the observer but their condition did not affect the development of their soul. Any one of us through accident or illness could end up in a severely disabled state and if you think about it, if we had a soul before that is eternal, it will still be!




I am sure I have read or have heard that a severely handicapped individual will be assured a special status in the next life, which is in keeping with God being Just. Also it has been suggested that such people provide opportunities for the development of virtues in others and are therefore most precious souls even if we cannot always communicate on what we feel is the same level.

Here is the quotation

"Secondly, the prejudice and discrimination that disabled people suffer is the product of the more general human tendency to label as "inferior" those who are somehow different. But the ostracism that disabled persons often experience can be even more intense, for it is founded on fear -- fear on the part of the ostracizer that he, too, may someday become the victim of disability. The only way to eradicate this fear is to educate every member of society to see disability for what it really is -- a mental or physical condition that may make everyday life more challenging, but that cannot affect the disabled person's soul, spirit, creativity, imagination or determination -- in short, some of the most valuable aspects of life. At the same time, such an appreciation will enable individuals to see through the outward handicaps of disabled persons, to their inner reality."

(Baha'i International Community, 1988 Aug 06, Human Rights Disability)
 
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Nov 2012
601
United States
Pollwr,

Thank you for sharing that information. That's what I've been inclinded to think too.

I think the biological body/brain is more of a means by which the spirit/soul -- which is really not part of this world -- can manifest in and experience life on Earth.

So, what we might see as a "disability," in that regard, is merely a weaker transmission, so to speak. That person's soul could very well be stronger than that of many people who appear very intelligent.
 
Mar 2013
10
Montana, USA
I like to think about it this way: I believe that these souls are placed here sometimes for us. For us, to learn lessons of compassion, humility, loving kindness. They are here to teach us these things. Very few of us have not seen or interacted with an autistic or developmentally disabled person, say. I think sometimes they are placed in our lives for a reason. If you look at it this way, you can see that you are truly blessed to come in contact with these angels. :happy:
 
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Oct 2011
4,213
Quilimari,Chile
I'll try to make this very brief, to get the discussion started:

The Baha'i Faith teachings on spiritual growth and advancement seem to hinge heavily upon the ability to investigate, observe, react, analyze, contemplate, reflect and gain knowledge in an intelligent, rational manner.

It is also my understanding, these are the capacities that separate us from animals, and make us more than just the biological species homo sapiens.


Which begs the question:

What about people with severe mental retardation? With brain damage, mental illness or otherwise diminished, disrupted or damaged capacity?

How can they follow God's teachings in this regard? What about their souls?

And, is a person born with severely low -- vegetative -- lack of intelligence, even in possession of a soul?
Dear friend I know somewhere someone asked Abdul-Baha of this matter of severally disabled people, as I recall Abdul-Baha said their soul was not affected. I am not sure where it is maybe LOG number 940 will be of assistance. Also 943 I think is along the line of MarvInMotana's thoughts, which I wholly agree with.
Aha here in LOG number 948, 955.
 
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