A Bahá’í Perspective
The love our Creator has for us, in the Bahá’í view, is the reason for our creation. Despite the varying names we use for Him, there is only one God and the universe and all the creatures and forces within it are His creation.
“God has created all the world, and bestows His Divine Bounty upon every creature”, state the Bahá’í Writings, and they explain that the reality of God is beyond our understanding, though we may find expressions of His attributes in every created thing.
Even though we do not comprehend the essence of God, the purpose of our lives in the Bahá’í view, is to know God, to love Him and to grow closer to Him. What we can know about the unknowable God has been taught to us by the Founders of the great world religions.
The Founders of the great world religions, (or in Bahá’u’lláh’s words the Manifestations of God) are those special Beings who reveal to us the word and will of God. When we listen to them we are listening to our Creator. God sends His Manifestations to make Himself known to us, to show us the path to spiritual development, so that we may realize our true potential and make an effort to be closer to Him.
Bahá’u’lláh, the most recent of these Manifestations, teaches us that the signs of the existence of God are everywhere: “Every created thing in the whole universe is but a door leading into His knowledge, a sign of His sovereignty, a revelation of His names, a symbol of His majesty, a token of His power, a means of admittance into His straight Path…”.
The causes of enlightenment, salvation and prosperity
According to the Bahá’í Writings: “… that which is the cause of everlasting life, eternal honour, universal enlightenment, real salvation and prosperity is, first of all, the knowledge of God. It is known that the knowledge of God is beyond all knowledge, and it is the greatest glory of the human world…. Second, comes the love of God, the light of which shines in the lamp of the hearts of those who know God; its brilliant rays illuminate the horizon and give to man the life of the Kingdom”.
The love of God touches our lives continually. The way His love flows to us is through His eternal covenant.
“A Covenant in the religious sense”,according to the Bahá’í Writings,“is a binding agreement between God and man, whereby God requires of man certain behaviour in return for which He guarantees certain blessings, or whereby He gives man certain bounties in return for which He takes from those who accept them an undertaking to behave in a certain way”.
According to His eternal covenant, God never leaves us alone and without guidance. Whenever mankind moves away from God, forgets His teachings, He provides us with one of His Manifestations, who would make God’s will and purpose known to us.
Our part in the covenant is to recognize the Manifestation of God and to follow His teachings. It is the purpose of our lives, according to the Bahá’í Writings, to know God, through His Manifestations and to worship Him. Knowledge and worship of God lead us to the love of God; love of God in turn leads us to obedience to His commandments and service in His path.
Religions brought to us by the manifestations of God
Religions brought by the Manifestations of God are progressive expressions of God’s revelation for humanity. They all have the same basic spiritual teachings, which are repeated from age to age. Teachings such as love, generosity, truthfulness, faithfulness, chastity, prayer, justice and humility are among the core teachings of all religions. There are also significant similarities in the histories of religions, the experience of their followers and their impact on the societies around them.
The differences among religions, with respect to their social ordinances and forms of worship, exist because various religions have appeared at different times in history and among different peoples. The ability to distinguish between the eternal spiritual truths, on the one hand, and the social instruction specific to a time and place, on the other, makes it possible to appreciate both the unity of religions and their diversity.
The Bahá’í Writings state: “Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary, that they differ only in the nonessential aspects of their doctrines, and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society”.
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OPINION: Flora Teckie