A new chapter in the life of the planet has been opened. Humanity has attained its maturity, and the race consciousness has awakened to the fact that it must put away the childish things which seemed necessary in the day of the “survival of the fittest…” This is a new cycle of human power. All the horizons of the world are luminous and the world will become indeed as a garden and a paradise. It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes.
The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and the fundamental oneness of religion. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 12.
Today a new, integrating and unifying force, associated with the message of Baha’u’llah but certainly not limited to it, continues to energize the hearts and souls of humanity–while the old, destructive forces increasingly tend toward corruption and decay.
This newly emerging world unity involves much more than a simple recognition of humanity’s common interests. It calls us to greater heights than the mere cessation of hostilities in the world; and it implies the complete unification and the coming of age of the entire human race.
For this to occur, a period of massive change must move the world out of its current condition. Ultimately, Baha’is believe that Baha’u’llah’s message of unity functions as a mighty instrument for the transformation such a massive change demands:
The world’s equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this Most Great, this new World Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System–the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 136.
In the coming of Christ the Divine teachings were given in accordance with the infancy of the human race. The teachings of Baha’u’llah have the same basic principles, but are according to the stage of the maturity of the world and the requirements of this illumined age. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 7, p. 220.
The emerging meaning of our world’s current suffering, turmoil and pain will, Baha’u’llah reassures us, result in the growth, the development, and finally the full maturation of the human race. These wonderful principles of peace, harmony and world unity aren’t the sole property of the Baha’is–they’re gifts from the Baha’i teachings to all humanity.
Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha spent their lives bringing these principles to people all over the world, not a simple or easy process. Baha’u’llah suffered repeated imprisonment and exile for these teachings. His society–first with slander, then censorship, then censure, then repression–tried to reject, suppress and destroy what Baha’u’llah taught and wrote. When those attempts failed to halt the rapid spread of his teachings, more brutal measures followed. Several thousand Baha’is underwent exile, torture and execution. Like Christ and the other messengers of God, Baha’u’llah suffered immensely for challenging the existing order and bringing a new, spiritual vision to the world. He persisted, despite the pain of torture, the threat of death, and the reality of the prison bars, and the progressive Baha’i teachings spread. Now they have begun to infuse the planet with a new, unifying spirit, a springtime of growth and maturity.
Baha’u’llah challenged us to do two things: walk our own spiritual path; and help humanity walk a collective path, which means knowing and loving God, and carrying forth an “ever-advancing civilization.” Our job, as mature spiritual beings, requires us to spread the wealth, the happiness and the fulfillment of service to others. Abdu’l-Baha puts it in a very direct way:
Act in accordance with the counsels of the Lord: that is, rise up in such wise, and with such qualities, as to endow the body of this world with a living soul, and to bring this young child, humanity, to the stage of adulthood. – Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 34.
For Baha’is, and for those whose path moves them toward similar goals, this stage of our individual and collective maturity brings us the delicious, life-giving fruits of spiritual growth.