These divine principles are a healing 'prescription' for the ills of our age
POST 109. Prescription For Living
Bahai's believe that there is only one Creator, known by the various languages current amongst diverse cultures at each period of their development. And each of these periods has had special needs unique to each place and age. Hence, the diverse names for that one God, and the differing yet mutually supportive teachings of His Prophets.
Each of these Prophets has appeared at approximately 1,000-year intervals, and been divinely empowered by that one God to act as a physician to the needs of that specific age.
The true function of every religion has been to offer an ideal pattern or 'prescription for living' for the diverse ages and cultures in which each appeared; a series of 'scripts' diagnosed by a Divine Physician to heal the pressing needs of individual and collective human lives. Their various ingredients reflect the unique age in which each lived.
With the passage of time, the teachings of these religions and prophets have all too often become abandoned, altered, or highly contentious. Today most can only be summarised in superficial ways;
‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: The Message of Krishna is the message of love. All God’s prophets have brought the message of love. None has ever thought that war and hate are good. Everyone agrees in saying that love and kindness are best.
- ---‘Abdu’l-Baha, 9. The Universal Love, Paris Talks
Hinduism (approximately 500 BC) prescribed eternal principles such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, patience, forbearance, self-restraint, and compassion, among others. Challenging western ignorance, studies have shown great wisdom in the respect accorded to the cow, which has actually ensured the preservation of countless adherents over millennia. This prescription has over the ages ensured a sustainable source of needs as diverse as ‘vegetarian’ drinks and food, transport, and building materials, with dung being used in many ways including as an energy source and a ‘plaster’ for walls and floor. A spiritual practice with powerful material consequences.
The teachings of Buddha (2500 years ago) expand the teachings of Krishna and include not to harm others and to live peacefully and gently, working towards the ultimate goal of pure and lasting happiness for all living beings.
The light of truth shone in Jesus Christ also shone in Moses and in Buddha. The earnest seeker will arrive at this truth. This is what is meant by the “Search after Truth.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá / 41. The First Principle—Search after Truth
Judaism was founded in the Middle East over 3500 years ago and teaches that the unspoken Divinity appointed Jews as a chosen people for that time, to set an example of holiness and ethical behaviour to the world. It teaches that divinity is one, unique and eternal, to whom prayer is directed. The words of the Torah given by Moses, greatest of the Hebrew prophets, are accepted as truth. This divinity knows the thoughts and deeds of men, and will reward the good and punish the wicked, a principle described as 'Karma' in previous religions, or 'reaping what you sow' in consequent religions. (However even these very basic and general principles are disputed by the liberal movements of Judaism).
In the Old Testament we read that God said, “Let us make man in Our own image.” In the Gospel, Christ said, “I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.” In the Qur’án, God says, “Man is my Mystery and I am his.” Bahá’u’lláh writes that God says, “Thy heart is My home; purify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation.”
-Abdu’l-Bahá / 5. God Comprehends All; He Cannot Be Comprehended
Christ (2,000 years ago) was a Jew who extended the teachings of Moses, identifying Himself as the Son of God. Jesus's teachings can be summarised briefly as the love of God and love of one's neighbour. Today Christianity remains a powerful influence and there are countless denominations, each with unique beliefs and practices.
Christ was the Prophet of the Christians, Moses of the Jews—why should not the followers of each prophet recognize and honor the other prophets also? If men could only learn the lesson of mutual tolerance, understanding, and brotherly love, the unity of the world would soon be an established fact.
Bahá’u’lláh spent His life teaching this lesson of Love and Unity. Let us then put away from us all prejudice and intolerance, and strive with all our hearts and souls to bring about understanding and unity between Christians and Muslims.
‘Abdu'l-Bahá / Paris Talks 13. Religious Prejudices
Islam is another Abrahamic monotheistic religion, reiterating that there is only one God (Allah) and establishing the divine role of Muhammad as his Messenger. The Muslim Holy book, the Quran, contains many references common to the Bible, and further extends teachings regarding the life of Moses and Christ. Muhamed united the warring tribes of Arabia and succeeded in establishing a great civilisation, extending at its peak from Spain in the west to Indonesia in the east, founding the first universities and exerting a powerful influence on many branches of science.
“In the Qur’án we read that Muḥammad spoke to His followers, saying:“Why do you not believe in Christ, and in the Gospel? Why will you not accept Moses and the Prophets, for surely the Bible is the Book of God? In truth, Moses was a sublime Prophet, and Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit. He came to the world through the Power of God, born of the Holy Spirit and of the blessed Virgin Mary. Mary, His mother, was a saint from Heaven.
--Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks
Bahá'ís see the Báb as the forerunner of Bahá'ullah. His writings introduced the concept of a Messianic figure whose coming was announced in the scriptures of all of the world's great religions.
The Bahá’í Faith originated in Iran in the middle of the nineteenth century, and owes its origin to the labors of two successive founding Prophets: the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. As the former explained, His mission was to prepare the way for "Him Whom God shall make manifest... Bahá’u’lláh declared Himself to be the fulfillment of the Divine promise.
The Baha'i Faith, established by that Messianic figure, Baha'u'llah, upholds the oneness of God, the unity of religion, and the oneness of humankind. It promotes the agreement of science and religion, the equality of the sexes, the elimination of all prejudice and racism and many others.
Blessed souls—whether Moses, Jesus, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius or the Bab —were the cause of the illumination of the world of humanity. How can we deny such irrefutable proof? How can we be blind to such light? How can we dispute the validity of Christ? This is injustice. This is a denial of reality. Man must be just. We must set aside bias and prejudice. We must abandon the imitations of ancestors and forefathers. We ourselves must investigate reality and be fair in judgment.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá / 109. Japanese Young Men’s Christian Association
In this extremely basic exploration of the world religions, a pattern emerges. We can see humanity over the ages as pupils in a graded school. The earliest of the religions offered a syllabus for grade 1 children, teaching the very basics of elementary school, including ideas around sharing, safe foods, and basic hygiene. Subsequent religions built upon and reinforced what was learned in earlier grades. They taught principles upon which advanced societies could become developed. The most recent of these religions, the Bahá'í Faith, teaches principles at ‘college’ and ‘university’ level, whose application can result in a harmonious global world community.
So this is where we stand today. We, the collective descendants of that single African woman, and working together with our newly discovered global family, are collectively charged with the peaceful unification of our home, planet Earth. This is the purpose of Baha'u'llah, the purpose of the Bab and of each of those great Divine Teachers.
"The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established"