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Spirituality

What Chapter are You Reading in the Book of Life?

Jennifer Campbell | Dec 8, 2015

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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Jennifer Campbell | Dec 8, 2015

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

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit. – Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

Do you like to read?

With our remarkable 21st century technology, we have access to a tremendous volume of words, whether through e-books, online shopping, or any number of websites. But, for those of us who revel in the feel of turning a literal (pun intended) page with our fingertips, we also have access to those old-fashioned paper tomes stored on the shelves of libraries and bookstores.

reading-tabletMaybe you prefer reading comic books or magazines. Perchance your tastes lie in the realms of Sci-Fi, Young Adult, or Historical Fiction; perhaps blogs and websites like bahaiteachings.org or social media sites (like Facebook or Twitter) capture your interest. Maybe books-on-tape or reading via Braille are your thing—whatever your need or interest area, there’s a niche for you in the world of print.

Me? I love reading, I love writing, and if I have an opportunity to stop at a good bookstore, I will quickly jump at the chance. The pull of a good bookstore makes me feel as if a great fisherman is reeling me inside. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote a plethora of books. Some of the books he wrote include the following: The Hidden Words, The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, and the Book of Certitude. For me, one of the most amazing things about the Baha’i Faith is that we have access to numerous, spiritually enriching books, tablets, prayers, and meditations, written for all of humanity by a prophet of God. How exciting is that?!

Another connection between the Baha’i religion and books involves the subject of progressive revelation. Baha’is believe that God sends prophets—such as Buddha, Jesus, and Baha’u’llah—to teach us progressively. The Baha’i teachings say that these messengers all brought the same basic message, along with specific spiritual teachings pertinent to the needs of each era.

Imagine this: let’s say that each of the world’s religions makes up a chapter in a book, the Book of Life. In this scenario, the Baha’i Faith is, to put it simply, the most recent chapter.

If we think of the world’s religions in this manner, we might realize that we are all just reading chapters in the same book. Some of us might be starting Chapter 1, while others are in the middle of Chapter 9; several readers are on the same page; many have read the whole book and find something they enjoy and relate to in each chapter; a few readers have a favorite chapter that they love reading repeatedly and talking to others about; and still others are uncertain about this book and are not ready to read at this point in time.

All of these readers represent all of us, and they exemplify the Baha’i concept of unity in diversity. Put a different way, all of the readers have varying chapter preferences and interests; they are reading at their own pace; and they have their own unique interpretations and reflections on what they read—but underneath all of these diverse individual characteristics, they are all still just readers, and they are all reading the same book.

Instead of focusing on our individual preferences, our different speeds or styles of reading, why not pay attention to the beautiful story we’re reading together? Let’s find the commonalities in our chapters. Let’s appreciate the freedom to read, from any chapter, at any time, and at our own pace, in this wonderful Book of Life:

…revelation is progressive and continuous. It never ceases. It is necessary that the reality of Divinity with all its perfections and attributes should become resplendent in the human world. The reality of Divinity is like an endless ocean. Revelation may be likened to the rain. Can you imagine the cessation of rain? Ever on the face of the earth somewhere rain is pouring down. Briefly, the world of existence is progressive. It is subject to development and growth. Consider how great has been the progress in this radiant century. Civilization has unfolded. Nations have developed. Industrialism and jurisprudence have expanded. Sciences, inventions and discoveries have increased. All of these show that the world of existence is continuously progressing and developing; and therefore, assuredly, the virtues characterizing the maturity of man must, likewise, expand and grow. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 114.

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