There have never been times like these, nor will there ever be again. These are end times: one age is ending and a new one is well underway.
The Baha’i teachings say that we arrived at this point through the operation of a divine plan of which most of us are dimly aware and that we have only begun to understand. We can only begin to understand that greater creative plan of God when we act on our own individual agency, open our eyes and seek the truth:
God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another’s ears nor comprehend with another’s brain. Each human creature has individual endowment, power and responsibility in the creative plan of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 293.
This divine spiritual plan embraces and moves us all, and always has. It presents us with choices, binds us to consequences and draws us nearer to its irresistible intent. While we control how we respond, we might respond better if we understood the basic processes at play.
In this series of essays, we’ll attempt to understand those processes and try to determine and comprehend what the Baha’i writings tell us about this overall divine plan.
To understand the divine plan requires an appreciation of the historic force of religion. The plan, however, is not religious in the sense we often think. It is not sectarian, doesn’t play favorites, is not particularly concerned about our theological distinctions, and is not impressed with our general morality. It is, however, soteriological; which means that it is designed to save us, both individually and collectively.
In this story, all about the higher divine processes at work, we’ll need to talk about both the positive and negative effects of religion. That will help us trace the past and future path of the divine plan, explore how we have arrived at our current state, and discuss what our times truly mean for the future of humanity.
Because the plan is divine, you will want to consider, at least for a while, the idea that there may be a Creator.
To aid in that consideration, we’ll consider a few proofs of God – and the relative value of proofs. The godly narrative, however, has tentative hold in modern culture, so to see why it is important, we’ll reflect on its past role and, using my own experience, I’ll share why it is important today and what it would mean to abandon it. Then, to bring the reader near to the most wondrous (and unexpected) aspects of faith, I’ll share the story of my own personal spiritual awakening.
Then we’ll reach the heart of the story: reviewing how religious movements each form a part of a single divine plan, how they often go astray, how they brought us here, and the critical choices that now lie before adherents of all religions.
Even if you are not particularly religious – I’m not sure I am either – I hope you will enjoy this series of essays, as it will certainly give you important things to ponder. If we’re lucky, at the end you may find that you want to play a part in this great divine plan – and that we are all in the midst of a true reformation.