The Eternal Quest for God: Introduction
Chapter 1
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Notes and Acknowledgements

Italics are used for all quotations from the Bahá'í Sacred Scriptures, namely `any part of the writings of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and the Master'. (Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Seeking the Light of the Kingdom (comp.), p.17.) Italics are not used for recorded utterances by `Abdu'l-Bahá. Although very important for the concepts and the explanations they convey, when they have `in one form or the other obtained His sanction' (Shoghi Effendi, quoted in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p.34) - as is the case, for example, with Some Answered Questions or The Promulgation of Universal Peace - they cannot `be considered Scripture'. (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p.208.)

Quotations from Italian publications are translated by the author, unless otherwise indicated.

This book was, in a way, written twice: first in Italian, and then again in English. For the English version I am particularly grateful to Ghitty Payman Galeotti, who encouraged me to accomplish this task, which I thought out of my reach. I wish to express my gratitude also to May Hofman Ballerio for her precious help in revising and editing the manuscript. Last but not least, I gratefully remember the patience of my wife Paola, who accepted my absence during the long hours I dedicated to this work.


The Bahá'í Faith presents itself to modern man as a solution to the manifold problems which afflict him on the social and individual level. It does not claim to be a sort of magic wand, which could suddenly transform our imperfect world into an improbable utopia, but it presents itself as a cause entitled to indicate goals and methods and to furnish ideas and energies necessary for a transformation to take place. This transformation will certainly be difficult and slow and will proceed according to the unchangeable laws of social development, until it brings man to a higher stage of civilization.1

The Bahá'í Faith offers a particular vision of man and the universe; on the one hand, it suggests a specific code of ethics whose application raises man to a higher level of maturity than hitherto; on the other, it suggests principles, structures and methods in the social and political sphere which would enable man -- as, by increasingly applying this ethic, he grows in his feelings and behaviours -- to build a world of peace and cooperation between the peoples of the earth. This kind of world is the only cradle in which an infant human intellect (infant in relation to the millions of years of man's existence on the planet) can develop and prosper, and gradually manifest the infinite potentialities with which man has been endowed.

Modern readers have been undoubtedly disappointed and wearied by the different ideas for the improvement of man and society, expounded down the centuries by philosophers, politicians, sociologists, and others. Their trust in religion has been seriously shaken by many unfortunate events. It is hoped, however, that despite these obstacles they may be induced to a preliminary investigation of the Bahá'í teachings and their proposed reforms.

To appreciate, let alone accept, an idea at its inception, is undoubtedly more difficult than appreciating an idea that is already producing concrete and visible results.2 It could be, in fact, considered the undertaking of a pioneer. But it is the pioneers who move the world and mark the paths of history: Columbus with his trust in the world being round; Galileo with his determination to follow the as yet unexplored paths of the scientific method in the study of nature and its phenomena; Pasteur and Koch with their diligent studies of the world of microorganisms, then unknown and almost inaccessible; the Bahá'ís of today, with their faith in a human nature moving towards perfection, in the attainability of peace and justice -- not utopia, but concrete goals to live and struggle for.


In 1912 during His historic travels in North America, `Abdu'l-Bahá said: `We must also render service to the world of intellectuality in order that the minds of men may increase in power and become keener in perception, assisting the intellect of man to attain its supremacy so that the ideal virtues may appear. Before a step is taken in this direction [1] we must be able to prove Divinity from the standpoint of reason so that no doubt or objection may remain for the rationalist. Afterward, [2] we must be able to prove the existence of the bounty of God -- that the divine bounty encompasses humanity and that it is transcendental. Furthermore, [3] we must demonstrate that the spirit of man is immortal, that it is not subject to disintegration and that it comprises the virtues of humanity.'3

This book is an attempt to respond to `Abdu'l-Bahá's exhortations. To this end, Bahá'í texts available in English have been perused in order to find passages which provide:

  1. rational proofs of the existence of God;

  2. explanations of the concept of `the bounty of God';

  3. guidance for tracing the spirit in the phenomenal world;

  4. rational proofs of the existence and immortality of human soul;

  5. explanations of the nature of man and the meaning of his individual and collective existence.

In collecting these passages it became evident that the Bahá'í texts describe criteria and methods we should conform to, if we want to obtain useful results in our intellectual endeavours. An introductory chapter was therefore written, dealing with research criteria and methods.

Though the concepts presented in these introductory pages may seem abstract and even difficult to understand, it is hoped that they will be useful for a fuller comprehension of subjects which are dealt with further on, subjects which -- since they concern man, his nature, his soul and his faculties -- are, perhaps, not only easier to understand but also of more immediate interest to the reader. Through the entire research and writing runs a common thread -- the consciousness that, in the words of the Universal House of Justice, `no Bahá'í at this early stage in Bahá'í history can rightly claim to have more than a partial and imperfect understanding', of 'a Revelation of such staggering magnitude'.4

It is hoped that these concepts, which have been expounded by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, will assist the reader to understand, appreciate, and put into practice the practical and concrete suggestions which the Bahá'í Faith offers to individuals and societies for achieving a world of justice and peace.

                              Julio Savi
                              Bologna, 23 May 1987
                              to 12 August 1988

Chapter 1
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