Dost Thou Reckon Thyself Only a Puny Form?

“Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form When within thee the universe is folded?”

The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys, “The Valley of Wonderment”, quoting ‘Alí , p. 34


In his 1968 paper called, Becoming Your True Self; Daniel Jordan writes:

“It is interesting to note that, if our basic capacities are knowing and loving, and if we are created in the image of God, then knowing and loving must be among the attributes of God. In The Hidden Words, Bahá’u’lláh indicates that this is so. He says, “O Son of Man! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty.” (#3 Arabic, online at

Further, if God is unknowable and if we are created in His image, then we may expect something in ourselves also to be unknown. This unknown is the as-yet unexpressed potential within us — latent capacities for knowing and loving. In a very dramatic way, Bahá’u’lláh points to that vast unknown in ourselves when he quotes in the Seven Valleys the verse of a well-known Persian poet: “Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form / When within thee the universe if folded?” (Valley of Wonderment, online at

None of us knows his capacity for love or how much he can learn. Just as we had to have faith before we could learn about the attributes of God, so must we have faith before we can know something of ourselves. We must love — be attracted to, have a particular attitude towards — that unknown in our own selves if it is to become released. If we relate satisfactorily to the unknown in ourselves, we will be able to relate to the unknown in others. In other words, we have to accept others not only for what they presently are but also for what they can become; otherwise, we impede their process of transformation and keep them from becoming their own true selves.

This is why a person who has given up on himself, who has stopped becoming and has therefore betrayed his potential, will find all his relationships with other human beings disturbed, unsatisfying, and even painful. To accept and relate to another human being just as he is at a particular moment in time precludes the development of anything more than a superficial relationship. To achieve deeply meaningful relationships with other human beings, we have also to accept the unknown possibilities within them, for that acceptance constitutes one important source of their courage to become. In more personal terms, if you do not accept the unknown possibilities in yourself, you will not be able to establish anything more than superficial relationships with other human beings, and you will not be able to help them to develop their potential nor yourself to develop your own.

Daniel Jordan
This morning I found this article by one of my most respected anthropologists and much loved Stanford professor, Robert Sapolsky. The long article is appropriately long, deeply thought-provoking while confirming. It speaks to the artificial feeding of the human soul and reproduction of online communities distinguished by more equipment and less substance. The result is a bleached social context that is bereft of the fragrances of love, trust, fidelity, faith, sacrifice, nobility, patience, integrity, compassion, unity, and all that supports and promotes real human connection and community.
Towards the end of his well-written paper, Sapolsky states:

This mental disorder (Capgras syndrome) gives us a unique insight into the digital age.

“This can lead to a problem; namely that we become increasingly vulnerable to imposters. Our social media lives are rife with simulations, and simulations of simulations of reality. We are contacted online by people who claim they know us, who wish to save us from cybersecurity breaches, who invite us to open their links. And who are probably not quite who they say they are. .

By any logic, this should induce all of us to have Capgras delusions, to find it plausible that everyone we encounter is an imposter. After all, how can one’s faith in the veracity of people not be shaken when you sent all that money to the guy who claimed he was from the IRS? .

But something very different has occurred instead. This withering of primate familiarity in the face of technology prompts us to mistake an acquaintance for a friend, just because the two of you have a Snapchat streak for the last umpteen days, or because you both like all the same Facebook pages. It allows us to become intimate with people whose familiarity then proves false. After all, we can now fall in love with people online whose hair we have never smelled. .

Through history, Capgras syndrome has been a cultural mirror of a dissociative mind, where thoughts of recognition and feelings of intimacy have been sundered. It is still that mirror. Today we think that what is false and artificial in the world around us is substantive and meaningful. It’s not that loved ones and friends are mistaken for simulations, but that simulations are mistaken for them.” .

Robert Sapolsky is a professor of biology, neurology, and neurosurgery at Stanford University, and author of A Primate’s Memoir and Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. His newest book, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst will be published in the spring.


I would like to remind myself of the following thought-provoking passages by Baha’u’llah about human reality. The subject of human relations to one’s own self, to others, and to God deserves a life long reflection. I like to leave you with the following selections:

“Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It 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. If it is faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him.”

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection LXXXII, pp. 158-159

“Verily I say, the human soul is, in its essence, one of the signs of God, a mystery among His mysteries. It is one of the mighty signs of the Almighty, the harbinger that proclaimeth the reality of all the worlds of God. Within it lieth concealed that which the world is now utterly incapable of apprehending.”

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection LXXXII, p. 160

A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for over 20 years, specializes in using the Bahá’í Teachings to identify theories, techniques, and approaches that produce the best results for her clients. She is the founder and executive director of the Center for Global Integrated Education, a non-profit Bahá’í-inspired educational organization.


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