The Prophetic Cycle hath, verily, ended. The Eternal Truth is now come. He hath lifted up the Ensign of Power, and is now shedding upon the world the unclouded splendor of His Revelation. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 60.
…just as the solar cycle has its four seasons, the cycle of the Sun of Reality has its distinct and successive periods. Each brings its vernal season or springtime. When the Sun of Reality returns to quicken the world of mankind a divine bounty descends from the heaven of generosity. The realm of thoughts and ideals is set in motion and blessed with new life. Minds are developed, hopes brighten, aspirations become spiritual, the virtues of the human world appear with freshened power of growth and the image and likeness of God become visible in man. It is the springtime of the inner world. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 11.
We have the great privilege and bounty, the Baha’i teachings say, of living in that “springtime of the inner world,” the dawning of humanity’s greatest age, the fulfillment of a complete spiritual cycle, the flowering of awareness and life that always occurs when the light from a new messenger of God brightens the horizon:
It is the inherent nature of things on this earth to change, thus we see around us the change of the seasons. Every spring is followed by a summer and every autumn brings a winter—every day a night and every evening a morning. There is a sequence in all things.
Thus when hatred and animosity, fighting, slaughtering, and great coldness of heart were governing this world, and darkness had overcome the nations, Baha’u’llah, like a bright star, rose from the horizon of Persia and shone with the great Light of Guidance, giving heavenly radiance and establishing the new Teaching. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 27.
This powerful realization, Baha’is believe, is gradually dawning on humanity.
Just as spring emerges little by little, so too do the effects of the penetrating light and heat of a new divine message. When Christ appeared, for example, society’s immediate reaction involved rejection and persecution. Only a small handful of perceptive, spiritual souls responded positively. Slowly and gradually, his message spread, its influence broadening and deepening until its power and influence blanketed the Earth.
This happens in all new revelations:
It is daybreak, and from the rising-point of the invisible realms of God, the light of unity is dawning; and streaming and beating down from the hidden world of the Kingdom of oneness there cometh a flood of abounding grace. Glad tidings of the Kingdom are sounding from every side, and wafting in from every direction are the first morning signs of the exalting of God’s Word and the upraising of His Cause. The word of unity is spreading, the verses of oneness are being sung, the sea of God’s bestowals is tossing high its waves, and in plunging cataracts His blessings are pouring down. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 228-229.
This everlasting process—the dawning of a new revelation—doesn’t only renew religion. It enlightens the worlds of science, art, culture, learning and human interaction. It renews industries, inventions and the laws and procedures of governments. It makes the old ways, the old concepts and the old traditions obsolete things of the past. It releases a new flood of knowledge, insight and truth. It transforms us, from the inside out:
When the Sun of Reality shed its endless bounties from the Dawning-Point of all desires, and this world of being was lit with that sacred light from pole to pole, with such intensity did it cast down its rays that it blotted out the Stygian dark forever, whereupon this earth of dust became the envy of the spheres of heaven, and this lowly place took on the state and panoply of the supernal realm. The gentle breeze of holiness blew over it, scattering abroad sweet savours; the spring winds of heaven passed by it, and over it, from the Source of all bestowals, were wafted fruitful airs that carried boundless grace. Then the bright dawn rose, and there came tidings of great joy. The divine springtime was here, pitching its tents in this contingent world, so that all creation leapt and danced. The withered earth brought forth immortal blooms, the dead dust woke to everlasting life. Then came forth flowers of mystic learning, and, bespeaking the knowledge of God, fresh greenery from the ground. The contingent world displayed God’s bounteous gifts, the visible world reflecting the glories of realms that were hidden from sight. God’s summons was proclaimed, the table of the Eternal Covenant was readied, the cup of the Testament was passed from hand to hand, the universal invitation was sent forth. Then some among the people were set afire with the wine of heaven, and some were left without a share of this greatest of bestowals. The sight and insight of some were illumined by the light of grace, and there were some who, hearing the anthems of unity, leapt for joy. There were birds that began to carol in the gardens of holiness, there were nightingales in the branches of the rose tree of heaven that raised their plaintive cries. Then were decked and adorned both the Kingdom on high and the earth below, and this world became the envy of high heaven. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 7-8.
Next: Welcome to the Maturation of Religion