Independent Investigation of Truth
Baha’u’llah, Prophet- Founder of the Bahai Faith, encourages mankind to independently seek truth. It is the responsibility of each individual to discover the truth and to use the resources God has endowed man with to not only investigate the truth but to recognize the confirmations from God.
Baha’u’llah has said, “Know ye that God has created in man the power of reason, whereby man is enabled to investigate reality. God has not intended man to imitate blindly his fathers and ancestors.
He has endowed him with mind, or the faculty of reasoning, by the exercise of which he is to investigate and discover the truth and that which he finds real and true he must accept. He must not be an imitator or blind follower of any soul. He must not rely implicitly upon the opinion of any man without investigation; nay, each soul must seek intelligently and independently, arriving at a real conclusion and bound only by that reality. The greatest cause of bereavement and disheartening in the world of humanity is ignorance based upon blind imitation. It is due to this that wars and battles prevail; from this cause hatred and animosity arise continually among mankind.”
“When a man has found the joy of life in one place, he returns to that same spot to find more joy. When a man has found gold in a mine, he returns again to that mine to dig for more gold. This shows the internal force and natural instinct which God has given to man, and the power of vital energy which is born in him.” ‘Abdu’l Bahá, Son of Bahá’u’lláh and leader of the Bahá’í Faith from 1892 until 1921.
Religion as a Unifying Force
“The most segregated hour in America is 11 o’clock Sunday morning”. This statement is attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The question is why is this so? Why has religion become such a divisive force in our modern time? The Baha’i Faith teaches us that racial, ethnic or national discord is a spiritual malady. To rectify that we have to find a spiritual solution. The Baha’i perspective on this matter is best stated by the prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah:
“Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.
All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth.”
Beauty and Harmony in Diversity
From a Talk Given by the Son of the Profit/Founder of the Baha’i Faith, Abdu’l Bahá in Paris on October 28, 1911
The Creator of all is One God.
From this same God all creation sprang into existence, and He is the one goal, towards which everything in nature yearns. This conception was embodied in the words of Christ, when He said, 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end'. Man is the sum of Creation, and the Perfect Man is the expression of the complete thought of the Creator -- the Word of God.
Consider the world of created beings, how varied and diverse they are in species, yet with one sole origin. All the differences that appear are those of outward form and color. This diversity of type is apparent throughout the whole of nature.
Behold a beautiful garden full of flowers, shrubs, and trees. Each flower has a different charm, a peculiar beauty, its own delicious perfume and beautiful color. The trees too, how varied are they in size, in growth, in foliage -- and what different fruits they bear! Yet all these flowers, shrubs and trees spring from the self-same earth, the same sun shines upon them and the same clouds give them rain.
So it is with humanity. It is made up of many races, and its peoples are of different color, white, black, yellow, brown and red -- but they all come from the same God, and all are servants to Him. This diversity among the children of men has unhappily not the same effect as it has among the vegetable creation, where the spirit shown is more harmonious. Among men exists the diversity of animosity, and it is this that causes war and hatred among the different nations of the world.
Differences which are only those of blood also cause them to destroy and kill one another. Alas! that this should still be so. Let us look rather at the beauty in diversity, the beauty of harmony, and learn a lesson from the vegetable creation. If you beheld a garden in which all the plants were the same as to form, color and perfume, it would not seem beautiful to you at all, but, rather, monotonous and dull. The garden which is pleasing to the eye and which makes the heart glad, is the garden in which are growing side by side flowers of every hue, form and perfume, and the joyous contrast of color is what makes for charm and beauty. So is it with trees. An orchard full of fruit trees is a delight; so is a plantation planted with many species of shrubs. It is just the diversity and variety that constitutes its charm; each flower, each tree, each fruit, beside being beautiful in itself, brings out by contrast the qualities of the others, and shows to advantage the special loveliness of each and all.
"Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility." Bahá’u’lláh (The Glory of God), Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith
Early in the morning hours of 29 May, Bahá’is around the world commemorated the ascension of the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh, who departed this world one-hundred twenty years ago in 1892. In reflecting on the loss of such a beloved and dearly-cherished Personage from this material world, we are reminded of the profound spiritual connections that transcend the physical bonds that we share on this material plane. Bahá’u’lláh Himself said, referring to His own passing, “Let not your hearts be perturbed, O people, when the glory of My Presence is withdrawn, and the ocean of My utterance is stilled. In My presence amongst you there is a wisdom, and in My absence there is yet another, inscrutable to all but God, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing.”
In our own lives, we may find ourselves struggling to cope with the reasons for a death, particularly an untimely one. While this process can be perplexing and frustrating, we recall that Divine wisdom surpasses our own understanding and that the workings of the spiritual realms often exceed our ability to comprehend them. While grief and sadness are natural and appropriate emotions in the wake of the death of a loved one, we may find consolation in the fact that, when freed from the limitations of the material world, a departed individual can enjoy a profound, spiritual connection with us in a way that was never possible when he or she was still alive.
May we reflect often on the spiritual realm and on our loved ones who now enjoy it without material limitations. Let us also strive that our lives in this world reflect the beauty of that infinitely glorious spiritual world.