Remembering God and forgetting others
The individual stands between the world and God, surrounded by other beings in the same scenario. So should our attention be on God, on ourselves, or on other people? A Sufi quote says something interesting about this matter:
It sounds a bit selfish and even solipsistic, but it seems to make some sense. It brings us back to the mystery that we all inhabit our own private universes. We can only think, feel and understand from our own point of view and can only infer what is going on in other people's private worlds. The most fundamental relationship is between the individual and God. He is our creator, sustainer and savior, so naturally our focus should be on Him.
This does not mean that other individuals are not important, but that they do not replace Ancient Gods and should not stand between us and Him. For this reason, in the end, the only relationship we can fully rely on is our personal relationship with God. All other relationships are based on this. And if we lose our connection to our Creator, our relationship with others will suffer as well—for we lack the spiritual insight and strength to acquire the qualities of love, forgiveness, or generosity ourselves.
This may sound a little extreme, because forgetting everything, but God would certainly lead to either asceticism or fundamentalism! Except it doesn't. To forget the world does not mean to leave the world or to avoid the things of the world or to blow them up. As Bahais we are to live in the world and engage in the affairs of the world in an effort to improve it. But in doing so we must be detached from these matters. How to detach from the world spiritually but not physically? We focus our attention on God: we use every task, every place, every person, every trial, every pleasure as a way to Him. As Baha'u'llah says of the spiritual seeker:
Our devotion is to God. When we love someone, it is because they are a child of God. When we look into their eyes, we are looking into the eyes of God. Not His Essence, but His Manifestation in the world. So other people are a passage to God for us. And on one level we transcend our human connection with them and attain their spiritual connection.