BAHAI THINKING IV
Terraces leading to the tomb of the Herald of Bahá'u'lláh on Mount Karmel in Haifa, Israel.
God communicates with mankind. He calls Chosen Ones among His creatures between heaven and earth. They thereby rise above themselves and can speak as God. As Jesus says in the Gospel: "I and my Father are one."
The Prophets who manifest God have available to them the power of the creative word. Words are audible or readable thoughts. The ability to discover their inner meaning is dependent on the capacity of the open mind. The current horizon of thought is wider than in earlier centuries. Therefore, the level of information offered in the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh reaches further and is more complex than in the Divine dispensations that preceded the current age. The concept of one world in modern thinking and politics lies simultaneously at the core of the Bahá'í Faith.
There is a mystic correlation between the degree of the capacity of mankind and the outpouring of divine wisdom that add the spiritual dimension to man's own conception of the world. Revealed truth is, therefore, a spiritual remedy perfectly suited to the time in which it is offered to the human mind.
In the past, new sources of religiosity originally arose in parts of the cultural geography of mankind. All religions have a eternal, changeless core of truth that is clothed in a mantle of social principles and laws that are tied to a time and a culture. At the beginning of a spiritual springtime, this mantle of civilization is renewed by God. The Originators of all religions told of a later Manifestation. In the new millennium, the mantle of revelation for the first time enwraps the whole planet at once. Still, God will reveal new insight again after the passage of at least one thousand years.
In order to manifest Himself to man God does not need to descend to Bethlehem nor die on the cross on Golgotha. God takes no human form, is not born from the womb, does not die and therefore needs not rise from the dead. Nothing about the Holy Spirit that reaches out to man is mortal, changeable or composed of matter. The Logos or creative Word does not literally "become flesh", does not need to "live among men", but manifests in the Reflectors of Heaven, God's Manifestations who may be called Jesus the Christ, Mohammed the Apostle of God, Gautama the Buddha or Bahá'u'lláh the Prince of Peace.
God's Manifestations are like mirrors from which the Light of God shines. That Light does not change when it reflects in another reflector. The sun of yesterday is also the sun of today. God and the Mirror Image are, in man's reality, one.
The inflexible dogma of the Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit in Christian theology has been explained by Bahá'u'lláh: Father and Son are bound together by the Holy Spirit, like the sun and the moon by the light which is inherent to the nature of the Sun. But there is only one Sun.
Every Manifestation of God builds upon that which was revealed earlier. The Bearer of a divine revelation is each time the son of another mother, but the Being that manifests in the Chosen Ones is always the same Father in Heaven.
God has, throughout evolution, revealed Himself progressively to mankind. The dynamic of heaven empowers all essential processes of the enlightenment and organization of the human species.
According to the Bahá'í teachings, mankind has, in this age, matured to a high degree of knowledge. The race that now populates the planet knows more, is aware of more, can do more and has a new mental flexibility. Modern man can operate on a larger scale of time and space than the generations before him and should be able to realize the dream of eternal peace. World peace will turn out to be an unimaginable blessing for the planet. This step into the next step of political evolution is foreordained in the divine conception of mankind and must therefore be taken. Historical circumstances will, if necessary, force man to submit to this order.
All the Manifestations of God have inspired their age and enlightened it with new consciousness. At each stage of history, spiritual and social growth require a new, cosmic release of inspiration and information. The highest norm in this new millennium is unity in diversity. Everything depends upon everything else - in physics, in humanity and in the transcendent worlds.
Mankind has the capacity to perceive of the existence of a higher reality than the world that he shares with lower forms of life. The Teachers, who come from heaven, broaden this awareness with a stream of wisdom and the supernatural grace that flows from Them. In those moments that Bahá'u'lláh revealed Words of God, historians have recorded that the people present were even physically overwhelmed.
The Messengers of God bring redeeming clarity to our shadowed understanding of the Universe, the phenomenon of creation, social necessities and the true nature of death. Each time, these Teachers bring an end to soulless ideas about God, His realms and what His purpose for man is. Their pronouncements are always in perfect accord with reason although they also bring information that may be above reasoning. Meaningless dogmas do not belong to the thesaurus of the Holy Spirit; the divines always conceive them. There are no foggy clouds in the vaults of reason and the cathedrals of the light of God.
God's revelations nurse the growth of man. Revelation is the inner side of human evolution. From this development of tens of thousands of years, a new species of human being unfolds. The cocoons of religious thinking burst and a ever-increasing number of people leave their parental homes for the rebirth of religion in the world.
The Teachers, who have been sent by God, have always added new insights to that which humanity had earlier understood. Whenever they appeared, they renewed conditions, and the human spirit was raised from the dead. Each time they brought a higher order of awareness and ethics into the world.
The new humanity that Christ brought triumphed over the inhumanity of Rome. Mohammed created the first transcontinental realm under a law of equality from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Indus River. Now a planetary kingdom is coming, bathing in the morning sun of a planet-wide enlightenment of unseen splendor. The era of prophecies has passed, and the gates are opened to the cycle of fulfillment.
Each Messenger reflected a conceivable portion of the Truth. All have taught man that there is a Holy Being beyond nature, and that for man death leads to the endless life of the conscious soul. The inner being of man radiantly survives his grave. Therefore man's real interests should lie on a higher plane than the materialistic world alone. Common sense and reason thereby become the natural bases for living a life directed towards the stars.
Not one of Messengers of God have received the gratitude of the age in which He appeared. All of them were treated unjustly and were made to suffer by the people of Their time. All religions are underestimated in the beginning. The learned and the priests of a ruling religion have never acknowledged the Manifestations of God that challenged their power and position. They have always used their power over the hearts and minds against the revolutions that came from heaven and through which the world, in spite of all resistance, changed in the end.
The Báb, Who as God's Herald in 1844, announced the coming of a new age, was shot down by a firing brigade at the age of 31 in Persia, as an alleged disturber of the law and order of the Shi'ah theocracy of Islám.
Bahá'u'lláh, Who from 1863 revealed God's Plan for the coming thousand years, was tortured, incarcerated and exiled and held a Prisoner by the rulers of Persia and Turkey until His death, in 1892.
But the Manifestations of God always triumph over oppression and neglect. The mystic power which flows from Them touches everything. Like the sun that penetrates all matter with its light and whose warmth brings life alive, even if the objects it touches are not aware of it. In the same way, the recent Revelation has already for more than a hundred years autonomously changed the conditions of mankind. It is a privilege of man to be able to read the signs of the time, but insight and acceptance of the divine phenomenon is in no way a precondition for the impact of the Coming of Bahá'u'lláh on everybody and everything in this new era.
From the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh
And since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation, and no resemblance whatever can exist between the transient and the Eternal, the contingent and the Absolute, He hath ordained that in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven. Unto this subtle, this mysterious and ethereal Being He hath assigned a twofold nature; the physical, pertaining to the world of matter, and the spiritual, which is born of the substance of God Himself. He hath, moreover, conferred upon Him a double station.
The first station, which is related to His innermost reality, representeth Him as One Whose voice is the voice of God Himself. To this testifieth the tradition: “Manifold and mysterious is My relationship with God. I am He, Himself, and He is I, Myself, except that I am that I am, and He is that He is.” And in like manner, the words: “Arise, O Muhammad, for lo, the Lover and the Beloved are joined together and made one in Thee.” He similarly saith: “There is no distinction whatsoever between Thee and Them, except that They are Thy Servants.” The second station is the human station, exemplified by the following verses: “I am but a man like you.” “Say, praise be to my Lord! Am I more than a man, an apostle?”
These Essences of Detachment, these resplendent Realities are the channels of God’s all-pervasive grace. Led by the light of unfailing guidance, and invested with supreme sovereignty, They are commissioned to use the inspiration of Their words, the effusions of Their infallible grace and the sanctifying breeze of Their Revelation for the cleansing of every longing heart and receptive spirit from the dross and dust of earthly cares and limitations. Then, and only then, will the Trust of God, latent in the reality of man, emerge, as resplendent as the rising Orb of Divine Revelation, from behind the veil of concealment, and implant the ensign of its revealed glory upon the summits of men’s hearts.
The measure of the revelation of the Prophets of God in this world, however, must differ. Each and every one of them hath been the Bearer of a distinct Message, and hath been commissioned to reveal Himself through specific acts. It is for this reason that they appear to vary in their greatness. Their Revelation may be likened unto the light of the moon that sheddeth its radiance upon the earth. Though every time it appeareth, it revealeth a fresh measure of its brightness, yet its inherent splendor can never diminish, nor can its light suffer extinction.
It is clear and evident, therefore, that any apparent variation in the intensity of their light is not inherent in the light itself, but should rather be attributed to the varying receptivity of an ever-changing world. Every Prophet Whom the Almighty and Peerless Creator hath purposed to send to the peoples of the earth hath been entrusted with a Message, and charged to act in a manner that would best meet the requirements of the age in which He appeared. God’s purpose in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold. The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and guide them to the light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the peace and tranquility of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can be established.