A pivotal concept in the Bahá’í teachings is that the refinement of one’s inner character and service to humanity are inseparable facets of life. Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written on his
We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.
In light of this, Bahá’ís have come to appreciate the operation of a two-fold purpose that is fundamental to their lives: to attend to their own spiritual and intellectual growth and to contribute to the transformation of society.
This two-fold purpose helps to shape the endeavours of Bahá’ís in all areas. Thus, for example, they are not only expected to pray and reflect daily in their personal lives, but also to make efforts to infuse their surroundings with a devotional spirit; they are asked, not only to deepen their own knowledge of the Faith, but also to share with others Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings; they are not only admonished to learn to resist the dictates of the ego in their own lives, but also to strive, with courage and humility, to reverse the tendencies of a culture that glorifies self-gratification and erodes the foundations of solidarity.