The Firm Cord of Servitude

By Theo Cope

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #30
Louhelen Bahá'í School: Michigan, USA
October 6–8, 2000
(see list of papers from #30)

    Many works on mysticism from a psychological point of view adopt a view that is psychophysiological. A true psychology takes the psyche/soul as an independent and autonomous reality. 'Abdu'l-Bahá informs the Bahá'í teacher that they must become "embodied intellect and personified spirit," offering us an approach to mysticism that is embodied and psychological. Often when one explores religious texts the known ideas and their genealogies are the "lens" one interprets with. This article uses the psychological ideas of Carl Jung, especially the "God concept," as well as the introversion and extraversion typologies, to present ideas about mystic experience based upon these essential types. The article calls for a serious re-thinking and revisioning of mysticism's claims of "union with God" in light of the Bahá'í Teachings as well as Jungian psychology. Usually a psychological approach is eschewed since most views are a "psychology without the psyche," that is, a psychology founded upon psychophysiology instead of a psychology with the soul as Jung proposed. If one looks at the Bahá'í writings and how they respond to the claims of the wahdat al-wujud and wahdat ash-shudud found in Islamic mystical thought, and explores them in light of Jungian typology, the claims and counterclaims become irrelevant. We can come to a humble realization that no matter what the claim of any mystic are, no matter how profound their concepts are, "such mind and heart can never transcend that which is the creature of their own conceptions and the product of their own thoughts." In so doing, we come to express profound nature of the soul, the psyche, in creating the God-image. This leads us to consider an embodied mysticism and a "mystery-minded" mysticism which is in accord with the station of servitude that the human reality embodies.

    This article is a written meditation on passages of the Bahá'í writings, and the point is argued that when we come to again learn the profound mystery of the soul, the limitation of a contingent reality becomes freeing instead of viewed as limitation. We come to learn for the first time how it is that "He hath known God who hath known himself," and that this is embodied in the psyche as a reflection of the Primal Word. No matter how far one progresses in mystic illumination, we can never transcend the station of servanthood.

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