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How do I become Baha’i?
Religion

Who Can You Trust? Teachers!

Rodney Richards | Nov 22, 2023

PART 2 IN SERIES The Independent Investigation of Truth

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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Rodney Richards | Nov 22, 2023

PART 2 IN SERIES The Independent Investigation of Truth

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

To gain knowledge, we all need teachers. Despite the many myths of the feral “wild child” growing up in the jungle, no human being ever learns much without wise instruction from a succession of teachers.

The Baha’i writings proclaim that the prophets or manifestations of God are humanity’s master teachers, with a divine curriculum and the example of their lives and their words as our textbooks. Those teachers prescribed their mission as a curriculum to impart love, compassion, and spiritual growth to all people, and the words they used contained in scripture represent the words of God. 

Jesus Christ, Buddha, Moses, Abraham, Muhammad, Zoroaster, Krishna, and most recently Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, all make up this holy faculty of divine teachers and universal educators.

RELATED: Who Is The Teacher For Today?

Abdu’l-Baha, in his book Some Answered Questions, listed three of the ways those divine educators impact humankind:

It is therefore clear and evident that man stands in need of an educator. This educator must … organize and administer [humanity’s] material affairs and establish a social order, that they may aid and assist each other in securing the means of livelihood and that their material affairs may be ordered and arranged in every aspect.

He must likewise lay the foundations of human education – that is, he must so educate human minds and thoughts that they may become capable of substantive progress; that science and knowledge may expand; that the realities of things, the mysteries of the universe, and the properties of all that exists may be revealed …

He must also impact spiritual education, so that minds may apprehend the metaphysical world, breathe the sanctified breath of the Holy Spirit …

In one sense the words of these great teachers are spiritual, both universal and eternal – and in another they are temporal, containing social laws pertinent to the people of their age.

My wife Janet is a teacher. Retired from elementary teaching, she now supervises budding teachers at the college level. She helps them gain certification in EdTPA (pronounced EdTap), a rigorous performance assessment program for educational licensure. Her past twenty-five years of teaching experience not only helps would-be teachers perform in classrooms better, she helps them with employment recommendations as well.

That is a teacher’s true job – to prepare students for life, to give students the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to be productive on their own, to earn a living, to raise families, and contribute to society. Teachers train us to have a good head on our shoulders, avoid trouble, and take advantage of opportunities – in other words, to have wisdom.

Outstanding teachers instruct us about how to learn, and at the same time they instill a love of learning. They train us in discernment – to know through our own knowledge, and not through the knowledge of others, so we can determine the truth of the matter before us using keen judgment. This is what justice is and does — it shows us the fairest way to the best outcome. The divine educators give us the spiritual and moral foundation needed to make good moral decisions, to decide in favor of fairness and justice, because every life requires decision after decision.

When we make life decisions, we use our sense of justice to guide us. That inner sense answers the question, “Will this work out?” We must then use our will and our knowledge to act, weighing our options and alternatives and choosing the path that’s right for us at that moment, usually with little time to vacillate. 

Today, that faculty has become crucial, because we are bombarded by data. From hundreds or thousands of advertisements every day for products or services claiming relief from pain or great taste, clean floors or the best mattress, on and on, it’s hard to judge what is true. Social media is filled with facts, half-facts, untruths, or outright lies. Searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu, DuckDuckGo and others show millions of results in less than a second.

RELATED: Unforgettable Teachers: Spellbinders, Challengers, Unifiers

Of course, there are ways to tell the truth from a lie. 

We can always expect the truth from God’s divine teachers. They are truth-tellers. As the greatest teachers of humanity, their chief concern is our unity, harmony, and happiness. They want us to be educated in the laws of God, spiritual and temporal, so that we can each promote justice, peace, and an ever-advancing civilization.

These holy personages bring us eternal teachings, their lessons memorable, their visions for us palpable. 

Baha’is believe that the most recent of those great teachers and Instructors is Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith. Abdu’l-Baha said:

He is the Educator of the Orient and Occident. He is the Teacher of the very world of divinity and spirituality, the Sun of Truth, the Word of God. The lights of His education are radiating even as the sun. See what it has accomplished, how it is developing all humanity

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