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How do I become Baha’i?

The Purpose of Human Life for Baha’is

Joseph Roy Sheppherd | Feb 6, 2020

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Joseph Roy Sheppherd | Feb 6, 2020

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

The Baha’i teachings point out that God was, is, and always will be beyond the knowledge of humankind. 

Just as the created can never fathom the creator, like the ink on the page cannot understand what it means much less grasp the mind of the calligrapher, so humans, although striving to understand more and more of the creation, can never comprehend God:

… the habitation wherein the Divine Being dwelleth is far above the reach and ken of any one besides Him. Whatsoever in the contingent world can either be expressed or apprehended, can never transgress the limits which, by its inherent nature, have been imposed upon it. God, alone, transcendeth such limitations. He, verily, is from everlasting. No peer or partner has been, or can ever be, joined with Him. No name can be compared with His Name. No pen can portray His nature, neither can any tongue depict His glory. He will, for ever, remain immeasurably exalted above any one except Himself. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 150.

He it is who knoweth and bestoweth all. He it is who transcendeth all that hath been said or heard. His knowledge will remain forever above the grasp of human vision and understanding and beyond the reach of human words and deeds. – Baha’u’llah, Tabernacle of Unity, pp. 3-4.

In his writings, Baha’u’llah reaffirmed the singularity of God, an absolute truth which it has taken some cultures longer to acknowledge than others: that one means one. 

But with the diversity of languages and customs in the world, many people in the past never recognized what they considered as “their God” in the forms of worship of others. However, we still hear expressions like “my God,” “your God” and “their God” in everyday discussions about religion. Unchallenged, these phrases reveal and perpetuate the illogical concept that there is more than one God. 

In America and Europe, for example, people say things like: “Those Muslims have a different God than we do.” When asked if they are monotheists, if they believe that there is just one God, they say: “Yes, of course, there is only one God, but Allah is not the same thing as God, Allah is a different God.” This begs the obvious question: “So, how many Gods are there?” 

For many people this logical confrontation marks the first time they have paused to think about what monotheism means – what “one” really means. Throughout world history, the integer “one” (1) has been written in a hundred different ways; but regardless whether expressed in the Incan, Babylonian, Mayan, Egyptian, Greek, Chinese or the more familiar Hindu-Arabic numeral system, it did not change its mathematical value. 

We can glean something else from this logical confrontation – that while the name of God has varied from language to language, from people to people, and from time to time, for some, their particular name for God has become an exclusive possession marking themselves as elite and religiously superior. This issue has led throughout history to many internecine conflicts.

Thankfully, we now live in potentially more enlightened times. The information age and the internet now allow us to see that the Hebrew Yahweh or Jehovah, the Arabic Allah, the Korean Shin, the Spanish Dios, the English God, the Slovak Boh, and the Ntumu Zamba all refer to the same Supreme Being, Whose reality transcends any and all of the names we human beings have assigned to the Creator. 

In other words, humanity has begun to acknowledge that no one group of people is more spiritually blessed than any other:

In every dispensation, there hath been the commandment of fellowship and love, but it was a commandment limited to the community of those in mutual agreement, not to the dissident foe. In this wondrous age, however, praised be God, the commandments of God are not delimited, not restricted to any one group of people, rather have all the friends been commanded to show forth fellowship and love, consideration and generosity and loving-kindness to every community on earth. Now must the lovers of God arise to carry out these instructions of His: let them be kindly fathers to the children of the human race, and compassionate brothers to the youth, and self-denying offspring to those bent with years. The meaning of this is that ye must show forth tenderness and love to every human being, even to your enemies, and welcome them all with unalloyed friendship, good cheer, and loving-kindness. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 20-21.

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