In 2016, a leading scientist wrote an essay in a prestigious scientific journal entitled, “What is the Most Astounding Fact About the Universe?”
His answer: “The entire universe, on all scales, in all places, and at all times, obeys the same fundamental laws of nature.”
On the one hand, that is astounding. But, on the other hand, when we think about it, how could we exist any other way? Can you imagine living in a universe that wasn’t held together by the same laws of nature? Would life in a chaotic, random, unpredictable and lawless universe even be possible?
Science now understands that the laws of nature are constant, can be observed, and allow us to identify patterns in all realms of existence. The Baha’i teachings take that knowledge one step further, telling us that the physical and spiritual realms are mirror reflections of the same essential reality.
… nature is subject to a sound organization, to inviolable laws, to a perfect order, and to a consummate design, from which it never departs. To such an extent is this true that were you to gaze with the eye of insight and discernment, you would observe that all things—from the smallest invisible atom to the largest globes in the world of existence, such as the sun or the other great stars and luminous bodies—are most perfectly organized, be it with regard to their order, their composition, their outward form, or their motion, and that all are subject to one universal law from which they never depart. – Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, p. 3.
Abdu’l-Baha goes on to say that all aspects of nature, being subject to the one universal law, are “in the grasp of” the one Creator, who determines the ideal laws and organizing principles of the entire creation.
This includes the principles that govern the unfolding of evolution in all realms, where it is evident that patterns like the regular recurrence of seasons, the rise and fall of civilizations, and the sequence of spiritual epochs all share repeating cycles of growth, maturity, decline, and renewal. These cyclical patterns represent a process of transformation that holds the promise of rebirth leading to perpetual progress.
Spiritual epochs have clearly grown and guided humanity’s conscious evolution over the millennia. Spiritual, religious, and social consciousness increases in complexity as our individual and collective development unfolds. Also governed by one universal law, this process of maturation followed by decline and eventual renewal is as evident in the realm of religion as it is in individual development, social development, and the cycles of seasons.
The world’s major prophets—including Krishna, Abraham, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and Baha’u’llah, founder of the Baha’i Faith in the mid-19th century—have each in their own time impacted the development of humanity. Together, they’ve changed the course of human life over the last four thousand years, bringing about a leap of consciousness with each new epoch they initiated.
Evolution in all realms is tied together, as is becoming more evident every day. We’re coming to see that all of Creation is an indivisible oneness, that deep down everything is interconnected, and that all is subject to one law. As 20th-century Jesuit priest and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin put it, “Ultimately, somehow or other there must be only a single energy at play in the world.” This awareness stems from the same spiritual foundation as the Baha’i worldview:
Just as the solar cycle has its four seasons, the cycle of the Sun of Reality has its distinct and successive periods. Each brings its vernal season or springtime. When the Sun of Reality returns to quicken the world of mankind, a divine bounty descends from the heaven of generosity. The realm of thoughts and ideals is set in motion and blessed with new life. Minds are developed, hopes brighten, aspirations become spiritual…It is the springtime of the inner world. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 12.
We live in times of massive change, a necessary element for our inevitable yet precarious progress. Never has there been a greater opportunity–and need–to participate in and take action on behalf of this unfolding process. A renewed commitment to our own spirituality is the only thing that will give us security–personally and collectively–in these changing times.