The Symbolism of a Tree's Branch

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Spiritual Function

It's important to remain flexible in your interpretation of the symbol of the branch.  In the Baha'i faith, a branch is not really a symbol of unity.  It is more like a symbol of the thing that needs to be unified.  Some documents might refer to humanity as leaves of the same branch.  Others might say that humans are all branches of the same tree.  To spite it's shortcomings, the branch is closer to God than symbols like the fish. [text] [text] [text]

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Practical Application

The branch analogy is a way for people to stop defining "us" in terms of "them".  If there is an injustice happening anywhere in the world, it might as well be happening in our back yards.  Also, things like racial and political prejudice should break down in the face of this analogy.  If there is friction between the branches, only God can bring them together. [text] [text] [text]

Some branches will never be spiritually healthy.  Those branches are analogies for problematic ideologies that do not adhere to the will of God.  The Baha'i text advises us to cut those branches off.  This doesn't mean that the people who follow those ideologies should always be punished.  It just means that they can't behave that way anymore.  Some of them can subscribe to more Godlike ideologies.  But, others might require both spiritual and physical healing. [text] [text]

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Relation to the Sun

As the source of infallible truth, the Sun brings unity to the branches of the tree.  In the Baha'i faith, truthful information can never contradict other truthful information.  Thus, truth can only be obtained by way of unity.  Also, unity is a good indication of truth.  However, not all sources of unity are necessarily sources of truth.  Sometimes unity can be best described as a bunch of people getting together to make the problem worse.  Those types of collaborations should be avoided. [text] [text]

Related Quotes

  • "O people of the world, ye are all the fruit of one tree and the leaves of one branch. Walk with perfect charity, concord, affection, and agreement. I swear by the Sun of Truth, the light of agreement shall brighten and illumine the horizons." - Abdu'l Baha
  • "This nature is subject to a sound organization, to inviolable laws, to a perfect order, and to a consummate design, from which it never departs." - Abdu'l Baha
  • "Racial and national prejudices which separate mankind into groups and branches, likewise, have a false and unjustifiable foundation, for all men are the children of Adam and essentially of one family. There should be no racial alienation or national division among humankind. Such distinctions as French, German, Persian, Anglo-Saxon are human and artificial; they have neither significance nor recognition in the estimation of God." - Abdu'l Baha

Related Symbols

The Symbolism of the Ocean

The Symbolism of a Tree's Roots