The Baha’i Faith

A generalised view of  religion and a short overview of  the Baha’i Faith

Background: Religion is to do with belief.  What we believe,  individually, or as a society influences the shape our lives.  Historically speaking  belief is at the heart of all the  religions of the world. These  religions  continues to  dominate our lives in so far as  how we view the world, the language we use, what  we eat, how we  marry, how we  are buried,   what  calendar   we use   are all to do with our religion or the religious background of the country in which we live.  Basically there are two major world religious traditions: Semitic and Arian.

The Semitic tradition  includes all the Jewish. Christian and Muslim faiths .The

Arian  tradition includes the Zoroastrian, Hindu and  Buddhist faiths.

Is there anything in common between these different faiths?

It depends how you frame the question so the answer is yes and no. Yes in so far as all these religions encourage the faithful to  believe in a higher reality  and to behave in positive ways towards  each other. They also believe that  all people have souls which will continue to exist independently of the body. No in so far as they all have different rituals, laws,  ways of organisation and live in different kinds of communities.

So is there a problem here?

Yes. At the heart of  all these traditions is  the idea that  each of them is  ‘right’ and all the other religions/sects are wrong.

So does this  mean  that  religious people will  ever remain in conflict with one another, arguing about who  is right?

Maybe, but there is something else which is common to all these faiths: They all believe that their founders will return and establish the true religion, make the world a beautiful place and /or destroy the world and  take all the true believers  to heaven.

If this is true, does it means the religious people will  always disagree with each other till the end of time?

Well maybe, but maybe  not!  Bahai’s don’t think so.

So who or what are the Baha’is?

The world wide Baha’i community are inspired by he life and teachings and grace of Bahau’u’llah who lived throughout most of the  nineteenth centaury

What do the Baha’is believe:

They believe in many things but the big one is this: Each religion is a child of a spiritual event (the life inspiration and teaching of particular insightful and charismatic soul) and  that the spiritual event which all the different religions expect; the return of their  respective founders, is not a number of desperate   spiritual events, but one  massive common spiritual event which  fulfils the spiritual expectations of all  these religions.

What does this mean?

This means that the coming of the Messiah for the Jews  is also the coming of Christ for the Christians , which is also be the coming of the Kalki Avatar for the Hindus,  which is also  coming of the Shar Braham for the Zoroastrians,   the return of the Buddha of compassion for the Buddhists and  the Mahdi for the Moslems.

Is there anything more?

Yes and it’s the big one!  Bahai’s believe that this spiritual event has already happened. They say that in the person, life,  inspiration,  teachings  and laws of Baha’u’llah all  spiritual and theological  expectations  of the old  religions have been fulfilled. Bahai’s say that we are already  livening in the dawn of the new age, a new cycle of human growth. They say that the forces of this new cycle of growth is destined to  bring the peoples of the world together  into an ever more complex and glorious unity which will culminate in a beautiful world spiritual civilisation.

If this is so, how come everything seems to be so awful and getting worse?

Bahai’s say that the  new age is expressed  in different  ways: At a general level it is seen in  the explosion of insights and  understandings which drive the amazing discoveries of science and the extraordinary range of technological achievements.. These new ways of understanding  and thinking are  literally breaking down all the old  religious , social and political systems.  Cahos  confusion and breakdown are the necessary conditions which  we need to move though before we can collectively learn new forms of wise ways of living  and being. So things must get worse until we learn wise living!

So anti intuitively Bahai’s say that everything which is happening  in the human world at the moment  is in reality enabling  human kind to learn and realise its new potential and new ways of living, in relation to each other, and with the planet on which we live.

So who was Baha’u’llah?

Bahai’s say that at a spiritual level the new Age is most perfectly articulated in the inspirational wrings of Bahau’u’llah, and in the life of his son Abdul Baha.  Baha’u’llah was a  most wonderful charismatic and inspired  Persian soul. The  central focus of all his insights   was on the theme of  unity  and its many dimensions: Devine, mystical,  social, and political.

For the last 20 years  of his life he was held  as  prisoner of conscience in the prison city of Acca, then Palestine and now  Israel. It is here where his tomb is found.  For  Bahai’s it is the  holyest  spot on the planet and a place of pilgrimage. His Eldest son Abdul Baha, maintained the unity of his fathers faith and  gave practical expression to his fathers inspiration. He developed  his fathers teachings  into a religion of universal love and lived a beautiful life  which exemplified service to all, irrespective of class religions  creed or colour. He  exemplified his fathers ideals.

So what are the teachings?

Baha’u’llah’s  teachings are both simple and complex.: He taught The unity of God, the inner and unfolding  unity of all religions, and the essential oneness  of  all human kind. He taught that men and women are two wings of one human bird. He taught that truth is relative, and that the highest individual  human achievement is to  independently discover or realise one highest truth. . He taught that sciences and religion are two descriptions of one reality. He championed democracy, he forbade any form of  religious violence. He said that the grace of God had made the people of the world clean . (Unclean is  a big divisive  theological concept in past  religions) He taught that the world will come to understand its unity and celebrate its diversity.

. He prophesised a time when  all human war would cease,. He claimed that his most Holy Book, the book of Laws is the seed of a civilisation which, over generations will purify humanity  and   grow the  shape a great world civilisation founded on universal justice. This  civilisation which  will be  beautiful in all its aspects. Its establishment will fulfil  the many past visions which have prophesised that one day the earth will learn to live at peace and  become heavenly.

How does all this translate in  practical terms?:

The followers of Baha’u’llah are very positive about the future and what it holds. They are very inclusive in their thinking. They   build   communities at a local, national and at a world level which express universal love and  world justice. They  build an administrative system which reflects  and supports these values. They   invite all to join this  community of communities.  The ideas is not a denial but a fulfilment of the past. The ultimate aim is to enable all to realise their own exquisite nature, express their fullest potential and ever appreciate and live in harmony with   the exquisite beauty of  our planet

So what’s the future?

Well that’s up to all of us!! The Baha’i path contains an inclusive  vision, a spiritual practice and a practical  mechanisms to enable a  harmonious one world  community and civilisation establish itself. We are what we believe, so  if enough of us believe and  become informed  by this wonderful vision and this  brilliant practice, we will help grow this vision and  make ourselves and this planet ever more  wonderful. According to Baha’is  its  all  going to happen any way. The big question is this: Who wants to help make it happens?????

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