Times Colonist

Try guid­ing your life with spir­i­tual jus­tice

- EMILY MAHBOBI Society · Spirituality · Justice · Religion · Law · Victoria · Baha'i Faith

In the Baha’i writ­ings, there is a well known quote by Baha’u’llah, writ­ten from God’s per­spec­tive about Jus­tice. It de­scribes Jus­tice (writ­ten with a cap­i­tal “J”) as the best-beloved of all things in God’s sight, as a gift from God to hu­man­ity, and the sign of His lov­ing-kind­ness.

Th­ese days, when the con­cept of jus­tice is brought up, one may think of lawyers and court, of prison sen­tences, of in­sur­ance set­tle­ments, maybe even of chil­dren los­ing their iPad priv­i­leges be­cause of a bro­ken rule. It’s easy to as­so­ci­ate jus­tice with pun­ish­ment and re­ward. What is to lose, and what is to gain? The an­swer we’re used to is usu­ally ei­ther money or time.

But what about Jus­tice with a cap­i­tal J? The prim­i­tive and ma­te­rial jus­tice we are fa­mil­iar with is a shadow de­rived from our in­stinct of what is de­scribed in Baha’u’llah’s writ­ings. One sen­tence from the above men­tioned quote stands out:

“By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of oth­ers, and shalt know of thine own knowl­edge and not through the knowl­edge of thy neigh­bour.”

One of the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of the Baha’i Faith is some­thing called the “In­de­pen­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion of Truth.” This is the con­cept that each per­son must take re­spon­si­bil­ity for re­search­ing the things they con­sider to be im­por­tant. To me, this quote is say­ing that by the aid of Jus­tice, we can find the truth, and that can only be done on an in­di­vid­ual level.

This brings us to the big ques­tion: what is Jus­tice?

A sa­cred and spir­i­tual no­tion of Jus­tice re­lies heav­ily on em­pa­thy. Once, when I was a child, I stole a plas­tic bracelet from a class­mate; I was never found out. In fact, I never heard from any­one that my class­mate had re­ported the bracelet stolen, or so much as even no­ticed it was gone. Here’s the kicker though: I was racked with guilt for the rest of the school year. I never had the guts to wear the bracelet, nor the brav­ery to re­turn it and apol­o­gize. In­stead, I wal­lowed in guilt and came to hate the bracelet. Look­ing back to­day, I can­not think of a more clear and sim­ple ex­am­ple of Jus­tice in my life.

Life, how­ever, is not sim­ple. As we grow up, our lives be­come deeply com­pli­cated, and chances are our sense of Jus­tice with a cap­i­tal J has damp­ened. Life sweeps us up in a tor­nado of prob­lems and is­sues, of­ten earthly and ma­te­ri­al­is­tic, and we for­get to take care of our spir­its. When we pos­sess a pure, kindly and ra­di­ant heart, it can be eas­ier to see when Jus­tice hap­pens: help­ing a neigh­bour feels good, a smile given earns a smile in re­turn, and snap­ping at a cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive brings about a feel­ing of guilt.

This is all to say that when we take the time to nur­ture our spir­its, our sense of em­pa­thy and spir­i­tual Jus­tice is sharp­ened, and that sense of Jus­tice is not al­ways aligned with our tra­di­tional view of le­gal jus­tice. Within this Jus­tice lies fun­da­men­tal truths about our spir­i­tual ex­is­tences.

You don’t have to take my word for it, though.

Emily Mahbobi, BMus (UVic), is a pi­anist, com­poser, and mu­sic teacher in Vic­to­ria, BC. She is a mem­ber of the key­board fac­ulty at the Vic­to­ria Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic, and a part-owner of Quadratic Sound. Emily is a mem­ber of the Baha’i Com­mu­nity.

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