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Raise ye a clamour like unto a roaring sea; like a prodigal cloud, rain down the grace of heaven. Lift up your voices and sing out… Quench ye the fires of war, lift high the banners of peace, work for the oneness of humankind and remember that religion is the channel of love unto all peoples. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 35.
Many people in the world now see traditional, dogma-laden religion as a purely negative force, the cause of conflict, pain, suffering and warfare. The Baha’i teachings acknowledge and agree with that view—but also point out that the era of that negative force has begun to fade into the past:
This is the cycle of maturity and re-formation in religion as well. Dogmatic imitations of ancestral beliefs are passing. They have been the axis around which religion revolved but now are no longer fruitful; on the contrary, in this day they have become the cause of human degradation and hindrance. Bigotry and dogmatic adherence to ancient beliefs have become the central and fundamental source of animosity among men, the obstacle to human progress, the cause of warfare and strife, the destroyer of peace, composure and welfare in the world. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 9.
The Baha’i teachings say that the coming of Baha’u’llah radically changed the entire course of the river of humanity’s belief. The decline of the beneficial influence of the pure, true messages of the world’s great Faiths has taken place for centuries. What were once powerful, positive teachings of love and human harmony were corrupted and co-opted by religious leaders with their own agendas. The divine light of religion, dying out in every land, no longer provided the “channel of love unto all peoples” it originally offered.
Until Baha’u’llah brought the Baha’i teachings to humanity, the river of faith had definitely diminished and dried up. Baha’is believe this new revelation has replenished the rushing waters of that mighty spiritual river. Once depleted, they now flow free. Once weakened and dammed by contending interpretations, those waters now rush into our hearts again. Once polluted by wars, sectarian divides and power struggles, the river of religion now runs pure and strong, a torrent of new teachings and inspiration designed to re-vivify and reawaken every soul:
The central purpose of the divine religions is the establishment of peace and unity among mankind. Their reality is one; therefore, their accomplishment is one and universal — whether it be through the essential or material ordinances of God. There is but one light of the material sun, one ocean, one rain, one atmosphere. Similarly, in the spiritual world there is one divine reality forming the center and altruistic basis for peace and reconciliation among various and conflicting nations and peoples. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 98.
The Sun of Truth hath risen above the horizon of this world and cast down its beams of guidance. Eternal grace is never interrupted, and a fruit of that everlasting grace is universal peace. Rest thou assured that in this era of the spirit, the Kingdom of Peace will raise up its tabernacle on the summits of the world, and the commandments of the Prince of Peace will so dominate the arteries and nerves of every people as to draw into His sheltering shade all the nations on earth. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 246.
In order to accomplish this remarkable goal of peace in the world, the Baha’i teachings say, Baha’u’llah:
…endured the most afflictive of calamities. He bore countless agonies and ills. He enjoyed not a moment’s peace, drew not an easeful breath. He wandered, homeless, over desert sands and mountain slopes; He was shut in a fortress, and a prison cell. But to Him, His pauper’s mat of straw was an eternal throne of glory, and His heavy chains a sovereign’s carcanet[crown]. By day, by night, He lived under a whirring sword, and He was ready from moment to moment for death on the cross. He bore all this that He might purify the world, and deck it out with the tender mercies of the Lord God; that He might set it at rest; that conflict and aggression might be put to flight, the lance and the keen blade be exchanged for loving fellowship, malevolence and war turn into safety and gentleness and love, that battlefields of hate and wrath should become gardens of delight, and places where once the blood-drenched armies clashed, be fragrant pleasure grounds; that warfare should be seen as shame, and the resort to arms, even as a loathsome sickness, be shunned by every people; that universal peace raise its pavilions on the loftiest mounts, and war be made to perish forever from the earth. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 257-258.