The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
At times, life is hard, as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and painful moments. Like the ever flowing water of a river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of the summers and the piercing chill of its winters. But through it all, God walks with us. Never forget that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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. You are loosed from ancient superstitions which have kept men ignorant, destroying the foundation of true humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 19.
So far in this series of essays, we’ve explored the universal quality of the cyclical—from the natural rhythm of our breath, to the built-in organic sequence of each human life, to the millennia-long series of revelations that brings us the repeated advent and renewal of religion. Awareness and comprehension of these cycles of existence, so fundamental to our understanding of how life functions, can also help us locate ourselves, personally, figuring out our path within each of the stages of life.
Knowing where we are in the cycle of our own life—what stage of maturation we’ve achieved, for example, in comparison with the others around us—can help us evaluate the true spirit of the age we live in. By evaluating our own hopes and dreams, we can sometimes find ways to comprehend the collective hopes and dreams of all people. Give it some thought for a moment: how would you characterize the spirit of this particular time in human history? Can you identify, in your own mind, the highest ideals and best hopes of our era? What’s the spirit of this age, in your view?
O thou lover of reality! His Highness, the Merciful, has manifested love and harmony to the world of humanity, so that all of the individuals may find a complete connection with each other and the lights of the Oneness of God may appear in the human world. For this He sent the Holy Manifestations; revealed the heavenly books; established the divine religions so that these holy souls, these revealed books, and these divine religions may become the cause of unity, agreement harmony and love in the world of humanity. … As this age is a luminous age and this century the century of knowledge, new teachings are necessary, a new effulgence is essential and a new life is needed. The souls cannot accept the ancient ideas, a new thought and new teachings are necessary that shall be the spirit of this age and the light of this century. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 9, p. 103.
Baha’is believe that today we all have the enormous privilege and opportunity of living in a fresh new cycle of divine inspiration:
Baha’u’llah’s teachings are the health of the world. They represent the spirit of this age, the light of this age, the well-being of this age, the soul of this cycle. The world will be at rest when they are put into practice, for they are reality. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, pp. 85-86.
He hath in every age and cycle, in conformity with His transcendent wisdom, sent forth a divine Messenger to revive the dispirited and despondent souls with the living waters of His utterance, One Who is indeed the Expounder, the true Interpreter, inasmuch as man is unable to comprehend that which hath streamed forth from the Pen of Glory and is recorded in His heavenly Books. Men at all times and under all conditions stand in need of one to exhort them, guide them and to instruct and teach them. Therefore He hath sent forth His Messengers, His Prophets and chosen ones that they might acquaint the people with the divine purpose underlying the revelation of Books and the raising up of Messengers, and that everyone may become aware of the trust of God which is latent in the reality of every soul. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 161.
“The trust of God,” Baha’u’llah wrote, “which is latent in the reality of every soul”—that’s why the Baha’i teachings say God has sent humanity a series of divine messengers, the prophets of the great Faiths, to awaken that latent trust in each of our souls and set it aflame:
The lights of reality must now be revealed, and the secrets of God’s bestowals must now be made known, and now must the olden grace shine forth and this world change into the pleasure-ground of heaven, the garden of God. And out of pure hearts, and through heavenly bounties, all the perfections, qualities and attributes of the divine must now be made manifest. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 232.
In one sense, even though this fresh infusion of spiritual power has entered human hearts through Baha’u’llah’s new revelation of the Baha’i Faith, it has become our sacred, spiritual responsibility—each one of us—to turn that power into action:
…every cycle hath its own characteristics which are determined by the capacities of the people and their readiness to accept fresh revelations of the truth from behind the veil. All things are ordained by God according to a given measure. – from a provisional translation of Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet of the Universe.
Haste thou to life before death cometh; haste thou to the spring season before autumn draweth in; and before illness striketh, haste thou to healing—that thou mayest become a physician of the spirit who, with the breaths of the Holy Spirit, healeth all manner of sickness in this famed and glorious age. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 56-57.
Next: Eating the Ripe Fruit of Life