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How do I develop my inner potential and at the same time contribute to the well-being of humanity? According to the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith, each individual has a “twofold moral purpose” in life. Our first purpose is to strive to improve our own inner character. The second is to have a constructive effect on those around us.

Each person is like a “mine rich with gems of inestimable value.” We all have internal gems, so to speak: our God-given potentialities. These gems, however, need to be uncovered, refined and polished before they can show their beauty and benefit the world.

In order to develop any human potential, education is needed. “Lack of a proper education,” states Bahá’í scripture, deprives an individual “of that which he does inherently possess.” Through education, the mine of inner potential “reveals its treasures,” and “enables mankind to benefit therefrom.”

God has sent divine educators, born from age to age, to help humanity progress. Moses, Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad each inspired humanity to a new level of development.

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Baha’u’llah, Baha’is believe, was the most recent of these educators. Baha’u’llah taught that all human beings were created by God to “carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.” The ways in which a civilization advances — in business, ethics, governance, the use of science, technologies and art, in providing for the well-being and safety of communities — all depend, ultimately, upon the character of its people.

In fostering good character, these virtues — or gems — are vitally important: truthfulness; joyfulness; purity; peacefulness; justice; creativity; and servitude to humanity. These gems exist potentially in everyone, and are the beauty of the soul. When virtues are lacking, people suffer. When virtues shine in abundance, people and communities thrive.

If you wish to develop your inner potential and contribute toward the well-being of others, keep in mind the twofold moral purpose: strive to improve yourself through material and spiritual education. As the gems treasured within you become mined and polished, you contribute to the betterment of the world.

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Crenshaw is a member of the Baha’i Faith. He lives in Eureka. Reach him at davcren@aol.com.

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