The bedrock concept of oneness and unity permeates much of the Baha’i writings:
The fundamental purpose animating the faith of God and His religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 215.
Because of this central Baha’i teaching, unity and oneness was uppermost in the minds of the committee in my area that planned the recent celebration of the Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah.
Therefore, we invited diverse groups to entertain, so all could partake in the beauty in the art of different cultures. We hoped not only to appreciate it ourselves, but to help spread that sense of joy and ultimate oneness to the many guests who attended.
We were gratified to hear many positive comments afterwards, and so pleased to get one in writing from local Eloy, Arizona Councilwoman JoAnne Galindo, whose words demonstrate that we achieved our goal. She wrote in part, “I was overcome with joy and pride to witness a small part of a global celebration of love for humanity in my community. The entertainment was diverse, yet all of the entertainers lifted the crowd with their stories, unity and their talent.”
Today divisive rhetoric fills newspapers and airwaves, and exerts its negative influence upon our souls. We Baha’is want to uproot it and replant heavenly thoughts in the soil of our hearts. Abdu’l-Baha explained:
If a man’s thought is constantly aspiring towards heavenly subjects then does he become saintly; if on the other hand his thought does not soar, but is directed downwards to centre itself upon the things of this world, he grows more and more material until he arrives at a state little better than that of a mere animal. – Paris Talks, pp. 17-18.
As long as man is a captive of habit, pursuing the dictates of self and desire, he is vanquished and defeated. This passionate personal ego takes the reins from his hands, crowds out the qualities of the divine ego and changes him into an animal, a creature unable to judge good from evil, or to distinguish light from darkness. He becomes blind to divine attributes, for this acquired individuality, the result of an evil routine of thought becomes the dominant note of his life. – Divine Philosophy, p. 133.
We can mitigate the negative influences if we immerse ourselves in reading the teachings of unity and oneness that come from all the great religious traditions, and make a conscious effort to put them into practice in our own lives:
Hindu teachings: To him who wisely sees … are all one. – Bhagavad Gita.
Judeo-Christian teachings: Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, profaning the covenant of our fathers? – Malachi 2:10.
Buddhist teachings: He who utters words / Gentle, instructive and true, / He who gives offence to none — / Him do I call a ‘brahman’. – Dhammapada – Sayings of the Buddha 3.
Islamic teachings: It is He Who hath produced you from a single soul: here is a place of sojourn and a place of departure: We detail Our signs for people who understand. – Qur’an 6:98.
Sikh teachings: The Lord Himself created the entire creation. / He Himself acts, and causes others to act. He Himself establishes. / From oneness, He has brought forth the countless multitudes …. they shall merge into the One once again. – Shri Guru Granth Sahib, Section 6.
Baha’i teachings: As the East and the West are illumined by one sun, so all races, nations, and creeds shall be seen as the servants of the One God. The whole earth is one home, and all peoples, did they but know it, are bathed in the oneness of God’s mercy. God created all. He gives sustenance to all. He guides and trains all under the shadow of his bounty. We must follow the example God Himself gives us, and do away with all disputations and quarrels. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 37.
This won’t happen on its own. It is up to us to create the atmosphere in which unity can develop:
We ask God to endow human souls with justice so that they may be fair, and may strive to provide for the comfort of all, that each member of humanity may pass his life in the utmost comfort and welfare. Then this material world will become the very paradise of the Kingdom, this elemental earth will be in a heavenly state and all the servants of God will live in the utmost joy, happiness and gladness. We must all strive and concentrate all our thoughts in order that such happiness may accrue to the world of humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 43.
Abdu’l-Baha’s hope for us is my prayer—and I wish it will be yours as well:
It is our hope that the bounties of God will encompass us all, the gifts of the divine become manifest, the lights of the Sun of Truth illumine our eyes, inspire our hearts, convey to our souls cheerful glad-tidings of God, cause our thoughts to become lofty and our efforts to be productive of glorious results. In a word, it is our hope that we may attain to that which is the summit of human aspirations and wishes. – Ibid., p. 112.
The Baha’i teachings tell us how to accomplish this lofty goal:
… concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content. Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness. – Paris Talks, p. 26.