The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
Are you tuning in to the spirit of the age? We are so fortunate to be living in this remarkable time, despite the pandemic of negatives.
This age, Baha’is believe, has opened a new, revelatory, and transformative era in human history – one that will ultimately witness the collective maturation of humankind. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, described it this way:
The long ages of infancy and childhood, through which the human race had to pass, have receded into the background. Humanity is now experiencing the commotions invariably associated with the most turbulent stage of its evolution, the stage of adolescence, when the impetuosity of youth and its vehemence reach their climax, and must gradually be superseded by the calmness, the wisdom, and the maturity that characterize the stage of manhood. Then will the human race reach that stature of ripeness which will enable it to acquire all the powers and capacities upon which its ultimate development must depend.
Unification of the whole of mankind is the hall-mark of the stage which human society is now approaching.
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For Baha’is, the revelation of Baha’u’llah ushered in this new age, which also fulfills the prophecies of past religions, marking the return of the prophets of old. Shoghi Effendi, in his book God Passes By, characterized Baha’u’llah’s realization of those ancient prophetic promises:
To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the “Everlasting Father,” the “Lord of Hosts” come down “with ten thousands of saints”; to Christendom Christ returned “in the glory of the Father,” to Shi’ah Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the “Spirit of God” (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.
At the same time of the appearance of Baha’u’llah as Christ come “in the glory of the Father,” re-formations began to rise in many different religious and spiritual traditions. Outstanding people in various Faiths were inspired to restore the original teachings of their belief systems, their
lives mirroring the light in response to the new spiritual impetus released in the world.
The Christian Mystical Reformation
In the Bible the “word” is, according to Alan Watts, sound rather than syllables. Mystical being, then, is closer to resonance than to perpetually disgorging words
When souls do tune in to this resonance, to the spiritual forces released by the advent of the Creator’s most recent messenger, they receive, and can be creative with, the great positive energies that always flow into this world when a new revelation appears.
In the most recent religious renaissance, the simplest and most all-encompassing statement of the pan-religious theology that has emerged might be all is one: there is only one God, one Holy Spirit, and one human family. This recognition of oneness, the core of the Baha’i teachings, has begun to pervade religious thought in many, many different Faiths. The Holy Spirit is reflected preeminently by the perfect mirrors of the messengers, and when a new one appears, the global effect is profound.
Interestingly, leaders of Christian thought like the theologian Karl Rahner have said; “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all.”
All of us, in some measure, are affected by the renewal, or re-flowering within the pantheon of the great religions, just as a rising tide lifts all boats. This energy and potential can be felt and used by all of us as individuals as well as by groups.
When religion is renewed, science also undergoes a re-formation. Islam at its height brought astonishing progress in the scientific and technological world that outshone the Western Dark Ages and eventually led to the Renaissance and to the mixed blessing of the Enlightenment.
The Socratic principle – that “the unexamined life is not worth living” – is strengthened whenever we can celebrate the oneness of all paths through reverence for the unknown and unknowable mystery of the infinite Creator, instead of asserting exclusivity over some theology. Theologians of the world may quarrel, but the mystics of the world speak the same language.
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A Baha’i, Inspired by the Christian Mystics and Philosophers
Personally, I’m inspired by the Christian philosopher Matthew Fox, best known for Creation Spirituality. He points to the “ground of being” as a vital turning point in theology for all people, including Christians and those from other traditions. Fox often references Thomas Merton, a much-loved and revered Christian thinker who extended his heart and mind into dialogues with people of many traditions in heartfelt discourses like this one. I take delight, with Fox, that the great Vietnamese Zen master Thich Naht Hanh says the “ground of being” is his favorite term for God. (Matthew Fox’s videos on his YouTube channel are HERE.)
Have you ever had a “ground of being” experience of immediate contact with the mystical? If so, how did it transform your view of the world and your place in it? The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person, and the divine power of our creativity, call us all to do justice and practice compassion.
“All these studies,” wrote the Christian theologian Thomas Merton, “are united by one central concern: to understand various ways in which men of different traditions have conceived the meaning and method of the ‘way’ which leads to the highest levels of religious or of metaphysical awareness.”
The Baha’i teachings agree:
… we must be willing to clear away all that we have previously learned, all that would clog our steps on the way to truth; we must not shrink if necessary from beginning our education all over again. We must not allow our love for any one religion or any one personality to so blind our eyes that we become fettered by superstition! When we are freed from all these bonds, seeking with liberated minds, then shall we be able to arrive at our goal.
“Seek the truth, the truth shall make you free.” So shall we see the truth in all religions, for truth is in all and truth is one!
Whether you come from a Christian background or some other background, the benefits are legion if we tune in to the positive inspired re-formations within major faith communities.
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“The starting point is at the center of our own being. When we awaken to the Divine within us, It will reach out and embrace everything around us, and It will discover the same Presence in people and in events and in all nature. For God is not separate from what He is doing. The Divine Life is in everyone and in everything. This is the secret that Jesus discovered. This is why he was able to speak as no other person ever spoke. This is why he was able to perform the miracles of ...Love and healing, and in so doing prove a fact so simple, so fundamental, but so powerful that people stand in awe before it—the simple fact that God is right where you are.”
― Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind