The Baha’i teachings identify the founders and prophets of the world’s great Faiths as Messengers or Manifestations of God. United in their intent, one in their purpose and progressive in their revelations, these Manifestations – Krishna, Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Christ, Muhammad, Baha’u’llah, and others whose names are lost to written history – all brought the message of God for their respective eras and guided humanity toward love, kindness and peace.
Abdu’l-Baha encouraged a greater understanding of the nature of the Manifestations of God in the book Some Answered Questions. He condensed the four terms used by Baha’u’llah, i.e. two natures and two stations, into three stations, making the separate meanings clear:
Know that the Holy Manifestations, though They have the degrees of endless perfections, yet, speaking generally, have only three stations. The first station is the physical; the second station is the human, which is that of the rational soul; the third is that of the divine appearance and the heavenly splendor. – Some Answered Questions, p. 151
The first station is the physical. Abdu’l-Baha explains:
The physical station is phenomenal; it is composed of elements, and necessarily everything that is composed is subject to decomposition. It is not possible that a composition should not be disintegrated. – ibid, p. 151.
This is the material nature Baha’u’llah spoke about, which refers to the physical body of the Prophets of God. Through this physical reality, the Manifestations may experience all the limitations of the human body – its pain and suffering and its mortality.
However, these experiences do not change the rational soul. Abdu’l-Baha writes:
Thus consider what thousands of vicissitudes can happen to the body of man, but the spirit is not affected by them; it may even be that some members of the body are entirely crippled, but the essence of the mind remains and is everlasting. A thousand accidents may happen to a garment, but for the wearer of it there is no danger. – ibid, pp. 155-156.
Abdu’l-Baha then elucidates the second station of the Chosen Ones of God — the rational soul:
The second is the station of the rational soul, which is the human reality. This is also phenomenal, and the Holy Manifestations share it with all mankind. – ibid, p. 156.
This definitive statement, that the Manifestations have a human soul, clearly means they are not Logos incarnate. Baha’is understand their human soul, however, as special. It is, as Baha’u’llah made plain, a “pure and stainless Soul,” an undefiled perfect mirror of God’s light. Baha’u’llah explains of the Chosen Ones of God:
These sanctified Mirrors, the Daysprings of ancient glory are one and all Exponents on earth of Him Who is the central Orb of the universe, its Essence and ultimate Purpose. From Him proceed their knowledge and power; from Him is derived their sovereignty. The beauty of their countenance is but a reflection of His image, and their revelation is a sign of His deathless glory. They are the Treasuries of divine knowledge, and the Repositories of celestial wisdom. Through them is transmitted a grace that is infinite, and by them is revealed a light that can never fade. – The Book of Certitude, pp. 99-100.
According to the Baha’i teachings these special Souls, the Manifestations of God, are constant reflections of the Light or Logos of God. They are, in Qur’anic terms, Prophets endowed with constancy (Qur’an 46:34.) This constancy distinguishes them from the minor prophets of God, such as Isaiah, or Ezekiel, whom God may reach or inspire via His Logos.
The Manifestations of God, the Baha’i teachings proclaim, are one. This central truth, the pivotal principle of the entire Baha’i Faith, means that all religion is part of a single system:
If thou be of the inmates of this city within the ocean of divine unity, thou wilt view all the Prophets and Messengers of God as one soul and one body, as one light and one spirit, in such wise that the first among them would be last and the last would be first. For they have all arisen to proclaim His Cause and have established the laws of divine wisdom. – Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 31.