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4 Indigenous Steps to “Enlighten the Whole World”

Christopher Buck & Kevin Locke | Jan 30, 2020

PART 59 IN SERIES Indigenous Messengers of God

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Christopher Buck & Kevin Locke | Jan 30, 2020

PART 59 IN SERIES Indigenous Messengers of God

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

This extensive series of articles on Indigenous Messengers of God has now become a visual presentation on the Baha’i prophecy that “these Indians … will … enlighten the whole world.” 

This new slideshow basically presents our thoughts and reflections on two key statements by Abdu’l-Baha regarding the importance and eventual destiny of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas:

Attach great importance to the Indigenous population of America. … Likewise, these Indians, should they be educated and guided, there can be no doubt that they will become so illumined as to enlighten the whole world. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 33.

Undoubtedly in those regions [the Americas] the Call of God must have been raised in ancient times, but it hath been forgotten now. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Tablet to Amir Khan.

Q: Kevin, would you like to comment on how these two Baha’i texts relate to each other?

A: Yes, Chris, these two statements by Abdu’l-Baha are intimately related, because of the high destiny he envisioned precisely because the “Call of God” was “raised” on this land among the many different groups of Indigenous peoples. This call summoned the faithful to turn their sights toward the higher realm in obedience to universal holy ordinances of prayer, fasting and all things leading to piety and spiritual growth. Both statements foresee a day of fulfillment, in which the descendants of all the Indigenous tribal peoples would be illumined and ennobled. Praise be God that they now have the ability to bear witness to the realization of the trust reposed in the hearts of those who initially heard the Call of God in “ancient times,” as the Tablet to Amir Kahn so clearly and eloquently states.

Q: In the slideshow, we offer a list of the following Indigenous messengers of God as identified in some of the more well-known Indigenous spiritual traditions. In this list, we’ve included specific references to various articles on each of these prophets and enlighteners in this Indigenous Messengers of God series:

  1. Deganawida, the Peacemaker (Parts 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 17, 18, 22 & 25)
  2. White Buffalo Calf Woman (Parts 3, 16, 19, 23, 24, 25, 27 & 28)
  3. Sweet Medicine (Part 30)
  4. Lone Man (Parts 38 & 39)
  5. Breathmaker (Part 40)
  6. Quetzalcoatl (Parts 2 & 32)
  7. Viracocha (Part 4)
  8. Gluskap (Parts 56, 57 & 58)
  9. Talking God (Part 54)
  10. Bunjil (Part 34)

So Kevin, what, in your opinion, is the significance of this list? Would you agree that here, Abdu’l-Baha clearly establishes a foundational Baha’i principle regarding the messengers of God to First Nations peoples? Although the names of these Indigenous messengers of God cannot be added to the official Baha’i list of the manifestations of God who founded the best-known world religions, can they be recognized and respected by Baha’is and the followers of all other major global Faiths? 

A: This brief list represents only a tiny fraction of those who raised the “Call of God” in the Americas before they were called the Americas, during the “pre-contact” era. After 500 years of brutal genocide of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, so much of the divine heritage of this land has been utterly effaced. So we are fortunate to have as much of a record as we do. Just as we revere and recognize the spiritual power and wisdom of messengers like Moses, Abraham, Krishna, Buddha, Christ and Muhammad, we all need to recognize the light of the teachings of these Indigenous messengers.

1. Building Spiritual Parity between Traditions

Q: Next, Kevin, you and I offer four proposed steps for helping to hasten the fulfillment of Abdu’l-Baha’s remarkable prophecy that the Indigenous peoples of the Americas could enlighten the world. So let’s go one step at a time – the first step, as we see it, builds equal spiritual parity between Baha’i and Indigenous sacred traditions. Would you agree, Kevin, that the first precondition for the fulfillment of Abdu’l-Baha’s remarkable prophecy is a dynamic interaction, or interplay, between the sacred teachings of the Baha’i Faith and sacred Indigenous traditions? Could the dynamic and exemplary synergy between the two become the greatest cause of the enlightenment foreseen and foretold by Abdu’l-Baha? 

A: Abdu’l-Baha’s “Tablet to Amir Khan” assures us that the “Call of God” had been raised in this land, long ago, before Europeans reached the Americas. The continuity, and survival, of the teachings of those Indigenous messengers who raised that Call, against all odds, could be construed as a proof of the power and efficacy of the universality of those teachings. For a community which has survived 500 years of unparalleled genocide and marginalization, a Herculean effort must be made to achieve the fulfillment of Abdu’l-Baha’s remarkable prophecy.

For that synergy to occur, first there needs to be reciprocal recognition and respect of Indigenous and Baha’i spirituality. Spiritual parity between Baha’i and Indigenous sacred traditions, as equal, is a first step in the process of progress and fulfillment of Abdu’l-Baha’s prophecy. As the Baha’i teachings so clearly and cogently say:

… the proofs applicable to one Prophet are equally applicable to another. … since the Prophets themselves, the Founders, have loved, praised and testified of each other, why should we disagree and be alienated? God is one. He is the Shepherd of all. We are His sheep and, therefore, should live together in love and unity. We should manifest the spirit of justness and goodwill toward each other. Shall we do this, or shall we censure and pronounce anathema, praising ourselves and condemning all others? What possible good can come from such attitude and action? – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 409.

Q: How could this begin to occur?

A: Perhaps Baha’u’llah offers us a perfect example of what might need to occur in this passage:

… 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. They are, one and all, the Manifestations of His Self, the Repositories of His might, the Treasuries of His Revelation, the Dawning-Places of His splendour and the Daysprings of His light. Through them are manifested the signs of sanctity in the realities of all things and the tokens of oneness in the essences of all beings. Through them are revealed the elements of glorification in the heavenly realities and the exponents of praise in the eternal essences. From them hath all creation proceeded and unto them shall return all that hath been mentioned. And since in their inmost Beings they are the same Luminaries and the self-same Mysteries, thou shouldst view their outward conditions in the same light, that thou mayest recognize them all as one Being, nay, find them united in their words, speech, and utterance. – Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, pp. 24–25.

Similarly, Indigenous peoples need to first understand that the illumination shed by those Indigenous messengers of God who first raised the Call of God in this hemisphere, the Americas, can find its fulfillment in the message of Baha’u’llah, which will result in the enlightenment of the entire planet.

You can download the new slideshow here.

Click here for a smaller version of the slideshow.

Next in the series: The Spiritual Destiny of Indigenous Peoples

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