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There is a need in our world today for a unifying vision.
Whatever can be said about human beings, it must be accepted by every clear-thinking individual that we live on a single planet orbiting the sun. This simple fact, known already by the educated child, necessitates a demand for cooperation and goodwill among those who are sustained by the sun’s light and who eat from the fertile womb of the Earth.
We may wax poetic in our notions of oneness and claim for ourselves divine knowledge that place us all on the same tree of life. Such notions appeal to our intellect and higher faculties. What is often overlooked, however, is just how practical “oneness” is, and how scientifically rooted is the concept. After all, whatever we choose to believe in as the source of life, it surely must be recognized that you and I and everyone else did not spring into existence from separate sources.
Our greatest scientists many eons ago confirmed that energy is neither created nor destroyed, but transitions into new forms of energy. With such facts staring us in the face and with the weight of history ever present at our doors to remind us that war and chaos are the bitter fruits of notions of separateness, one wonders why we cling so tenaciously to creeds and teachings that would separate hand from wrist (speaking figuratively of the human being as a part of the whole of humanity).
What then is required to take us over the hump, so to speak; the hump being notions that this or that group of human beings are chosen by God or that only those of this group or sect will make it into heaven after death. What will it take for human beings everywhere to give up these ideas that obviously have no credibility? The answer I believe is clear: creating a new consciousness.
We know that the human brain consciously processes only about 40 impressions per second; and yet, astonishingly, more than 11 million impressions per second are received by the brain. What happens to the 10,999,960 impressions that we do not consciously process? These impressions are “filed” in the subconscious mind where they shape what the individual perceives as reality.
In a very real sense, we each live in our own reality. Knowing this, we must accept that the circumstances we bemoan in the world–poverty, war, sectarian violence, political shenanigans, and so on—are of our own creation. We have imagined human beings to be separate based on ethnicity, social standing or other spurious delineations. We have imagined all of this because of our level of consciousness:
Man confines his consciousness to this material plane. This new force will liberate him and he will become conscious of many planes and of the ultimate oneness of them all. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 7.
As a child grows and becomes more acquainted with the world, he or she begins to process information differently. Patterns of thought and actions are discovered that challenge childish beliefs and ultimately render them untenable. In this way the child’s consciousness expands, taking in more of a reality that reflects norms and accepted facts. If the child closes his eyes to the world and continues to believe his make-believe world is real, then he will eventually live at odds with the world he inhabits. He may even believe fact to be fiction and fiction to be fact. This is precisely the world, in many respects, that we live in today. Except we are not dealing with children, but for all intents and purposes educated adults.
Call it what you like—global awakening, cosmic consciousness, and so on—what matters is it is real and is happening everywhere. The new consciousness is sweeping away age-old ideas about God and religion. It is “democratizing” our experience of spirituality in a profound way. The notion, for example, that God has spoken but once in history through a single personage feels incongruent, even non-sensical, to increasing numbers of human beings. Whether this notion is or has ever been supported by the sacred texts of any religion is almost beside the point. The new consciousness renders such an idea wholly inconsistent with reality.
This new consciousness is revealing to us, in manifest ways, the oneness of the human species and the oneness of the divine truths that have flowed to us throughout the ages. These spiritual truths are like the “waves of one ocean” carrying us forward into an “ever advancing civilization” as envisioned by Baha’u’llah, the central figure of the Baha’i Faith.
With a new consciousness emerging within the world, we are becoming aware of new facts that render former childish beliefs untenable. Ours is an age, despite its protestations and still-too-frequent demonstrations of bitterness and violence, that is beginning to recognize the common origin and divine destiny of every human being. Spirituality is leading us into this new consciousness, but so is science and technology. As technology “shrinks” the size of the globe, creating more cultural and religious cross-roads, it is increasingly apparent that our collective destiny on this earth is entirely contingent upon our ability to see ourselves in each other.
Whatever our religious beliefs—or even if we have none—we can acknowledge that we are slowly moving towards a universal recognition of a fundamental truth revealed by Baha’u’llah: “The earth is but one country and mankind it’s citizens.” Indeed, this truth and others that cast before us a unifying vision of life on this planet do more than make us hopeful about the future—they open within us a door to a new, more unifying consciousness.