Five Physical and Five Spiritual Powers

Jul 2017
3
Australia
#1
Hi Everyone,

This is my first post on the board. I am looking forward to getting to know everyone more and engage in dialog and consultation.

I wanted to post about a quote that was a recent discussion between a friend and myself. It relates to Abdu'l-Baha's writing about the five spiritual powers or 'senses'.

FIVE PHYSICAL AND FIVE SPIRITUAL POWERS

In man five outer powers exist, which are the agents of perception, that is to say, through these five powers man perceives material beings. These are sight, which perceives visible forms; hearing, which perceives audible sounds; smell, which perceives odors; taste, which perceives foods; and feeling, which is in all parts of the body, and perceives tangible things. These five powers perceive outward existences.

Man has also spiritual powers: imagination, which conceives things; thought, which reflects upon realities; comprehension, which comprehends realities, memory, which retains whatever man imagines, thinks, and comprehends. The intermediary between the five outward powers and the inward powers, is the sense which they possess in common, that is to say, the sense which acts between the outer and inner powers, conveys to the inward powers whatever the outer powers discern. It is termed the common faculty, because it communicates between the outward and inward powers, and thus is common to the outward and inward powers.

For instance, sight is one of the outer powers; it sees and perceives this flower, and conveys this perception to the inner power—the common faculty—which transmits this perception to the power of imagination, which in its turn conceives and forms this image and transmits it to the power of thought; the power of thought reflects, and having grasped the reality, conveys it to the power of comprehension; the comprehension, when it has comprehended it, delivers the image of the object perceived to the memory, and the memory keeps it in its repository.

The outward powers are five: the power of sight, of hearing, of taste, of smell, and of feeling.

The inner powers are also five: the common faculty, and the powers of imagination, thought, comprehension, and memory.

Bahá’í World Faith—Selected Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Pages 317-318
Reflecting on this writing I came up with some further questions that I would be interested to hear others respond to.

- Is there a way we can measure our spiritual powers / senses in the material world similar to how one can test their perception of sight and hearing etc.?

- In the material world, if someone is born without one faculty, it is said that often the others are sharpened to compensate. Does anyone know if there is a danger of existing in the spiritual world without one of the spiritual faculties? (and as a result, do the other senses become sharpened?)

Sean.
 
Sep 2010
4,436
Normanton Far North Queensland
#2
Great to see you here Sean and welcome.

There are writings that say we can perceive the level of Spirituality below what we have achieved, but we can not perceive what is above what we have achieved. (Not in those Words, but hope have the context correct).

I would say there is no measuring this Gift.

I have always found this passage Interesting;

"..O servants! Not every mortal frame hath a spirit or is imbued with life. In this day he is endowed with spirit who with all his heart seeketh the abode of the Beloved. The end of all beginnings is to be found in this Day: Turn ye not a blind eye unto it. The matchless Friend is nigh: Stray not far from Him..."

The Tabernacle of Unity - Bahá'í Reference Library - The Tabernacle of Unity, Pages 67-71

Regards Tony
 
Aug 2014
1,362
Blue Planet
#3
The five spiritual senses (as Abdul Baha mentions) imagination, thought,comprehension, memory,and the common sense.

of course one can measure his/her spiritual senses. like the way one measures his/her eyesight by trying to read small lines, one can also measure his/her imagination (as an example) to find out how many things (or stories or happenings) can be imagined at once. or about thought, we can compare our power of thinking with that of a very clever, knowledgeable person.

in my personal opinion it is impossible to have no amount of one of the spiritual senses. all of us, have all of those senses. we may not use one or two of them consciously, but we always, unconsciously, use all of them. in case of physical senses, one of two of them may not work because the PHYSICAL faculty does not work. for example someone may be physically blind because the physical eye has some problems or the Norons in the brain. but the spiritual senses does not depend on physical faculties. we can sharpen them, yes, but it is impossible that we are born void of one or two of them.
 
Jul 2017
3
Australia
#4
...we can perceive the level of Spirituality below what we have achieved, but we can not perceive what is above what we have achieved.
Hi Tony,

Thanks for the response and warm welcome. I appreciated you sharing the passage of writing. The Tabernacle of Unity is a reference I am yet to read.

Your observation about perceiving what we have achieved resonates with me, whilst trying to comprehend that which is beyond our level of ability is exactly that, absent from our perception.

Sean.
 
Jul 2017
3
Australia
#5
...of course one can measure his/her spiritual senses.

...for example someone may be physically blind because the physical eye has some problems or the Norons in the brain. but the spiritual senses does not depend on physical faculties. we can sharpen them, yes, but it is impossible that we are born void of one or two of them.
Thanks for the response maryamar. Your ideas about measuring spiritual senses comparing them to exercises in imagination and discussion with someone highly intelligent make sense.

Also I didn't make the connection between spiritual senses not depending on any 'physical faculties'! Thank you.

Sean.
 
Apr 2017
196
Mexico
#6
Hi Everyone,

- In the material world, if someone is born without one faculty, it is said that often the others are sharpened to compensate. Does anyone know if there is a danger of existing in the spiritual world without one of the spiritual faculties? (and as a result, do the other senses become sharpened?)

Sean.
Hi, Sean!

Regarding your second question, millions of people live and die with intellectual disability, some of them with limited autonomy (free will). Let alone infants who die before developing full spiritual senses.
I recall having read Abdul'Bahá stating that these children are protected by the Mercy of God... but don't know still what it means. Whatever it means, I guess it can also be applied to adults with severe mental impairment.

This is a good food for thought for another thread.
 
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Apr 2017
196
Mexico
#7
- In the material world, if someone is born without one faculty, it is said that often the others are sharpened to compensate. Does anyone know if there is a danger of existing in the spiritual world without one of the spiritual faculties? (and as a result, do the other senses become sharpened?)

Sean.
Reflecting more on your question, perhaps we should not consider as a "danger" not having a spiritual faculty.

In the end, all creations have different spirits, able to do different things in different degrees, and these differences are not something to worry about.

For example, what is the difference in the development of spiritual faculties between me and The Buddha?
Probably, in spiritual terms, I am as distant from the Buddha as a chimpanzee is distant from me.
Now... should the chimpanzee worry about it?
Is there any chimpanzee that envies man for their artistic creations or laments not being able to make scientific discoveries? Yet it lives in the bliss of existence within its natural realm.

Therefore, I guess that what matters is to develop the faculties we got, and not to worry about the ones we didn't get. This is clear in the parable of the talents in the Gospels... and also in the Hidden Words from Bah'au'llah

O SON OF BEING! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof.

People with profound intellectual disability and infants enjoy a state of natural bliss when they feel the love and care from others and their basic needs are fulfilled. Probably this state of eternal bliss is what Abdul Bahá refers as being "under the Mercy of God".
 
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Aug 2014
1,362
Blue Planet
#8
Whatever it means, I guess it can also be applied to adults with severe mental impairment.
Hello Camchoe,
do you think those people (adults or infants) who are born with and live with mental impairments, have a lack in one of their spiritual/inner senses eg, thought? I think that may or may not be necessarily correct. I think there is nothing wrong with their inner senses. what is wrong is a part of the brain that has to process those vibrations from the soul. Thus, when such people go to the next world and they no more need the physical brain to process to vibrations from the soul, all of them have the ability to reflect, memorize, etc.
 
Apr 2017
196
Mexico
#9
Hi dear Maryamr:

I think those faculties do exist, but as potentials. Just like a seed that has the potential to become a tree. This is why I said that infants may die before developing "full" spiritual senses.

The fact that the soul starts existing when the material substrate (Fertilized egg) starts existing, and not before, tells us something important about the relationship between soul and body.

It tells me that, while in this mortal existence, the body is an essential gift of God that allows the soul to develop. Otherwise, God could have created you and me without a body in one of his many "spiritual worlds", without the need to go through this earthly existence. Both soul and body must develop in harmony, in unity, nurturing each other.

Consider the metaphor of the the life in the womb: a healthy womb is essential for a healthy baby to develop. If the womb is affected, the baby will not develop.
Well, the womb is like our temporal home (our bodies, our material world). The baby is like our soul. One day this baby will be born and will not need the womb anymore. She will say "Thank you and Good bye" to her temporal home. But from the time being, she needs it.

While in this mortal life, the body, with all its physical senses and brain, and painful and pleasurable experiences, is the essential gift of God that allows our souls to flourish.
 
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Mar 2013
540
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
#10
Dear friends, there is an article that we recently put on our blog site, valleyofunity.org which goes into some detail about the development of the soul, based on the Baha'i writings with some concepts described by Adib Teherzadeh many years ago.
See it here:
https://valleyofunity.org/blog1/

This material is also being used in a series of public discussions we are holding. Let us know what you think.
 

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