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“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well, for there is a force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and never lets us go.”
That remarkable insight comes from the 13th century English Christian mystic Juliana of Norwich. Was she right? Is there a “force of love moving through the universe?”
If it is true, it’s not always an easy thing to believe, especially now.
However, Saint Juliana, revered by both Catholics and Anglicans, believed it – despite the fact that she lived during the time of Europe’s Black Death and the violent Peasant’s Revolt, arguably one of the darkest and most difficult periods in Western history.
Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe.
If love is the most great law, as the Baha’i teachings proclaim, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that the universe, the entire creation, is the result of the Creator’s love, and therefore perfect?
The Astounding Order of the Universe
Gazing further out into our infinite universe than ever before, which the new James Webb Space Telescope allows us to do for the first time, not only generates a sense of awe and wonder, but also lets us perceive its astounding order. In the cosmic cliffs of the Carina Nebula, we can now see stars being born. Planets are formed. Life begins. Entire galaxies spiral around black holes, like the pupil of the human eye swallows light. Galaxies that existed 13 billion years ago come into view. The further we can see, the more astonished we become.
We can now examine creation, as the Baha’i writings say, “with a penetrating eye,” and begin to grasp “the intricacies of created things:”
When one examines creation with a penetrating eye, when one grasps the intricacies of created things and witnesses the condition, the order, and the completeness of the world of existence, one is convinced of the truth that “there is naught in creation more wondrous than that which already exists.” For all existing things, whether on earth or in the heavens, even this limitless firmament and all that it contains, have been most befittingly created, arranged, composed, ordered, and completed, and suffer no imperfection. To such an extent is this true that if all beings were to become pure intelligence and to reflect until the end that has no end, they could not possibly imagine anything better than that which already exists.
The profound quotation Abdu’l-Baha refers to here – “there is naught in creation more wondrous than that which already exists” – comes from the writings of Hermes Trismegistus, the author of the Hermetica, the ancient Greek wisdom texts.
Hermes, Idris, and Enoch
Hermes, also known as Idris, and as the Biblical prophet Enoch in the Islamic scriptures, heavily influenced later thinkers and philosophers, including Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle. He taught a philosophy now called “prisca theologia,” (meaning “ancient theology”), which posits that the one true theology at the root of all religions was first given to humanity in antiquity.
Hermes believed in the existence of a single transcendent Creator – that “All is One” in the universe. Abdu’l-Baha explained that primary principle of all Faiths, which the Baha’i teachings view as eternal and undeviating, in his book Some Answered Questions:
… this endless universe is like the human body … all its parts are connected one with another and linked together in the utmost perfection. That is, in the same way that the parts, members, and organs of the human body are interconnected, and that they mutually assist, reinforce, and influence each other, so too are the parts and members of this endless universe connected with, and spiritually and materially influenced by, one another.
Throughout history a wide range of influential scientists and philosophers have incorporated this central idea and ideal into their discoveries and philosophical systems, including Isaac Newton and many, many others. In modern times, we have increasingly recognized life’s fundamental inter-connectedness and oneness as the basis of all ecological and environmental science – and also as a core principle of human spirituality.
Abdu’l-Baha said that the universe, as we can now better see, understand, and appreciate, has a coherence that could only come from one source:
… the wise and reflecting soul will know of a certainty that this infinite universe with all its grandeur and perfect order could not have come to exist by itself.
So the next time you stand on the Earth and look up into the heavens, whether through a powerful telescope or with the naked eye, know that you are seeing the perfect handiwork of a loving and kind Creator.