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Question: What do the Baha’i teachings say about the purpose of why people are here on earth?
Baha’u’llah writes simply that the purpose of human existence is to know and love God, to cultivate human virtues, and to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. In one of my favorite passages, He writes:
Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him—a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation…. Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 65.
God sends humanity the Manifestations (Krishna, Christ, Buddha, Baha’u’llah, etc) to help with all of these major goals of life. Because we love God and humanity, we desire to learn virtues; because we learn virtues we can better help to create a peaceful, unified, truly human civilization. The purpose of religion goes hand in hand with these spiritual objectives. Baha’u’llah writes:
The Purpose of the one true God, exalted be His glory, in revealing Himself unto men is to lay bare those gems that lie hidden within the mine of their true and inmost selves. That the diverse communions of the earth, and the manifold systems of religious belief, should never be allowed to foster the feelings of animosity among men, is, in this Day, of the essence of the Faith of God and His Religion. These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source, and are the rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 287.
Gird up the loins of your endeavor, O people of Baha, that haply the tumult of religious dissension and strife that agitateth the peoples of the earth may be stilled, that every trace of it may be completely obliterated. For the love of God, and them that serve Him, arise to aid this most sublime and momentous Revelation. Religious fanaticism and hatred are a world-devouring fire, whose violence none can quench. The Hand of Divine power can, alone, deliver mankind from this desolating affliction….
The utterance of God is a lamp, whose light is these words: Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He Who is the Day Star of Truth beareth Me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 287.
For Baha’is, I think that says it all.