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What Does God Have to Do with Peace?

Joseph Roy Sheppherd | Jul 2, 2019

PART 29 IN SERIES A Spiritual Wayfarer’s Guide

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 | Jul 2, 2019

PART 29 IN SERIES A Spiritual Wayfarer’s Guide

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

The Baha’i writings say the word of God, with its “collective wisdom, absolute knowledge and eternal truth,” raises our vision and understanding to see beyond our immediate environment. 

Only God’s penetrating influence, the Baha’i teachings assert, has the power to unite humanity:

Naught but the celestial potency of the Word of God, which ruleth and transcendeth the realities of all things, is capable of harmonizing the divergent thoughts, sentiments, ideas and convictions of the children of men. – Abdu’l-Baha, quoted by Shoghi Effendi in The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 42.

Praise be to God, today the splendor of the Word of God hath illumined every horizon, and from all sects, races, tribes, nations, and communities souls have come together in the light of the Word, assembled, united and agreed in perfect harmony. . . . Verily, this is from the penetrative power of the Word of God! If all the forces of the universe were to combine they would not be able thus to gather a single assemblage so imbued with the sentiments of love, affection, attraction and enkindlement as to unite the members of different races and to raise up from the heart of the world a voice that shall dispel war and strife, uproot dissension and disputation, usher in the era of universal peace and establish unity and concord amongst men. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 292.

As with the whole, so with the parts; whether a flower or a human body, when the attracting principle is withdrawn from it, the flower or the man dies. It is therefore clear that attraction, harmony, unity and Love, are the cause of life, whereas repulsion, discord, hatred and separation bring death. 

We have seen that whatever brings division into the world of existence causes death. Likewise in the world of the spirit does the same law operate. 

Therefore should every servant of the One God be obedient to the law of love, avoiding all hatred, discord, and strife. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 139-140. 

The Baha’i teachings stress that harmony, love, attraction, and union create the life of the world of humanity, while repulsion, discord, hatred, and separation lead to its death:

Love is the fundamental principle of God’s purpose for man, and He has commanded us to love each other even as He loves us. – Ibid., p. 122.

Love and good faith must so dominate the human heart that men will regard the stranger as a familiar friend, the malefactor as one of their own, the alien even as a loved one, the enemy as a companion dear and close. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 84.

Unity requires us to keep in mind that we are three things at the same time: different, equal, and together.

These three things cannot be dealt with separately; we cannot discuss diversity, equality, or oneness in isolation—they are interconnected components. Without the component of equality, social diversity stratifies into social hierarchy. Cultural and social differences imply neither inferiority nor superiority. 

There are no first-class or second-class citizens in the sight of God. Without the component of oneness, without the basic realization that we share a common fate and that we are all together here on the same planet, we develop destructive systems such as segregation and apartheid that serve the interests of the few at the expense of the many. Such systems falsely propose that people can be separate but equal. In reality, these systems have repeatedly shown that they never promote equality or perpetuate mutual love. Such systems can only be maintained through tyranny, and their results inevitably culminate in hatred and violence:

How long will humanity persist in its waywardness? How long will injustice continue? How long is chaos and confusion to reign amongst men? How long will discord agitate the face of society? … The winds of despair are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divideth and afflicteth the human race is daily increasing. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 216.

Beware lest ye harm any soul, or make any heart to sorrow; lest ye wound any man with your words, be he known to you or a stranger, be he friend or foe. Pray ye for all; ask ye that all be blessed, all be forgiven …. Beware, beware, lest ye offend the feelings of another, even though he be an evil-doer, and he wish you ill. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 73.

So without a new perspective, one that enables us to see each other as God sees us, we can never establish unity in the world. We need a spiritual perspective:

You must manifest complete love and affection toward all mankind. … Know that God is compassionate toward all; therefore, love all from the depths of your hearts … be filled with love for every race, and be kind toward the people of all nationalities. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 453.

The use of prayer and reading the word of God constitute the most powerful means by which we can turn to God to help us unite with each other. Nothing short of internalizing those profound spiritual messages will help us build true, lasting unity in the world. It requires spiritual fortitude, and the word of God is the greatest source of strength that we can access.

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  • Jul 10, 2019
    Hi Joseph, thanks for this. " the Word of God is collective wisdom, ..." is not an authenticated text, as no Persian notes were made of that talk. The source is Howard MacNutt, whose earlier notes (quite different to those in The Promulgation of Universal Peace) were published in Star of the West 3.10.13. As a rule of thumb, when Abdu'l-Baha sounds most like an American, you'll find it's an American doing the talking.
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