What I Believe
|Word Count: 1510
faith means accepting
the common foundation of all religions.
I am a member of the Baha'i Faith. What does this mean to be a Baha'i? It means that I accept Baha'u'llah, the Glory of God, as the most recent messenger in the line of Divine Messengers1 sent by the Unknowable Spiritual Essence that humankind calls God. It means that I accept the Bab2 as an independent Manifestation of God and the forerunner of Baha' u'llah. It means that I accept unity or the three onenesses as the center of Baha'u'llah's teachings.
The three onenesses are (1) the oneness of God, (2) the oneness, or common foundation, of religion, and (3) the oneness of humanity. God is an unknowable spiritual essence who does not incarnate into a physical body. Instead, the Divine Essence is manifested or mirror through human beings who came at different periods in Earth 's history to instruct and assist humanity in its spiritual and material evolution. Each of these Manifestations, while reflecting the attributes of God, have established a religion and revealed sacred scriptures.
Each of these Manifestations were sent by God to help the human race grow and mature. Since they were all sent by the one Creator of the Universe, the religion that each established is part of the ever advancing religion of God. This is referred to as progressive revelation, is that each Manifestation has helped humanity advance to the next stage of its growth.
"Contemplate with thine inward eye the chain of successive Revelations that hath linked the Manifestation of Adam with that of the Báb. I testify before God that each one of these Manifestations hath been sent down through the operation of the Divine Will and Purpose, that each hath been the bearer of a specific Message, that each hath been entrusted with a divinely revealed Book and been commissioned to unravel the mysteries of a mighty Tablet. The measure of the Revelation with which every one of them hath been identified had been definitely foreordained..."
I was not born into a Baha'i family. I discovered the Baha'i Faith after several years of searching and asking questions. One of the most important things to me, at the time I declared my acceptance of Baha'u'llah, was the fact that I did not have to give up my belief in and love of His Holiness Christ to accept Baha'u'llah. The reason for this is that Christ is one of the Manifestations of God. Indeed, I expanded my faith to accept Adam, Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, Zoroaster, and the Bab.
One of the things that convinced me that Baha'u'llah was a Manifestation of God are the things he gave up and the abuse he endured during his life. Baha'u'llah was born, on Muharram 2, 1233 AH4, Mírzá Ḥusayn-`Alí Núrí in Tehran. His father, a vizier in the court of the Shah, was a wealthy man. In 1844, after receiving some of the scriptures of the Bab, Baha'u'llah became a Babi. In 1852. Baha'u'llah, with a number of other Babis, was imprisoned in Síyáh-Chál5. It was here that he received the first indication of his divine mission.
After being released from the Síyáh-Chál, he was exiled to Baghdad. In 1863, before being exiled to Constantinople, he declared his mission to the Babis in a garden outside of Baghdad. He and his family spent only a few months in Constantinople before being exiled to Adrianople. From Adrianople Baha'u'llah was eventually exiled to Acre in what is now Israel. Baha'u'llah spent his final years in Israel living in Bahji, just outside of Acre, where he died in 1892.
All his wealth was taken from him. The chains that bound him in the Síyáh-Chál were so heavy that they left scars on his neck. During his exile from Tehran to Acre he was poisoned, which caused his hands to shake the rest of his life. During his exile, he wrote tablets and letters to the rulers of numerous nations. One tablet was sent to Queen Victoria and another to the Pope. He walked on the slopes of Mount Carmel and he is buried in Bahji. Who else except a Manifestation of God could endure or accomplish what Baha'u'llah did the almost forty years of his ministry.
as the Promised One of All Religions
changed my world view.
Accepting Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of God for the present age started me on a journey that changed my world view. I believe that Baha'u'llah is the One Promised by all religions. He was sent by the Divine Creator with the message of unity. In the decades since declaring my faith in Baha'u'llah, I have realize--through meditation on the scriptures he revealed and prayer--that there is much more to the concept of unity than I ever imagined or could even comprehend.
How has my world view changed? Acceptance of progressive revelation has changed my view of religion. Now, instead of thinking of each revealed religion as a separated, I see them all as part of the religion of God. It no longer matters to me by which name a person calls God, because each name is a label referring to the same God.
God, the Divine Creator, is an unknowable spiritual essence without gender. The only way we humans can know God is through the Divine Manifestations who mirror the Creator's attribute to us. We refer to God as He because all the Manifestations are male humans who are born into this world like any other human being. It is women who gave birth to the Manifestations of the Divine Essence.
To me, the oneness of humanity means that the human race is a single species. The different colors that adorn the skin tones of the species are the results of adapting to various climates across the planet. I believe that the humanity came out of Africa and migrated across the planet, which resulted in the various skin tones. Another aspect of this oneness is gender equality. Every human being, male or female, has a soul. It is the soul, or spirit, of the individual that God looks at and not the individual's gender.
I am now a world citizen, who views the earth as a single homeland, a single country. The borders between countries are artificial man-made creations. That, if we let them, separate humanity. We are all children of God and children of the planet Earth, the borders between nations are less important than our common heritage and evolutionary background.
The last aspect of unity, which I have come to accept is the harmony of science and religion. Science is a gift from God, which helps us learn about the universe and ourselves. Both science and religion are necessary if humanity and civilization are to achieve their true potential.
Who do I believe Baha'u'llaj is? I have come to accept Baha'u'llah as the Lord of Hosts, the Glory of God, the Prince of Peace, and the Unifier of Humanity. Since Baha'u'llah is the Promised One of All Religions, the titles I mentioned here are only a few of the titles that refer to Baha'u'llah. Even though I have been a Baha'i since the last century, I still have not discovered all the titles that He can claim. I am still discovering aspects to His writing that I did not see before.
I am fluent only in English, and Baha'u'llah revealed His writings in Persian and Arabic. I can only read those that have been translated into English. Only a small percentage of Baha'u'llah's writing has been translated into English. This means that I have read and meditated on a few of His works, but not all. Even if they were all translated into English, I doubt that I could read and meditate on all of them in a single lifetime.
There are no clergy in the Baha'i Faith. Each individual has the responsibility of reading the scriptures, meditating on them, and finding discovering for the meaning themselves. When the individual has questions, on anything, they can go to the Local Spiritual Assembly or to a deepening to discuss the meanings and their understanding with other Baha'i. Each time I read a paragraph or a page from the Writings of Baha'u'llah I find something I overlooked before. Through prayer, meditation, reading the scriptures, and asking questions, the meanings usually become clear.
I have no doubt that Baha'u'llah is the Promised One of All Religions. I base my beliefs on the scriptures revealed by Baha'u'llah. The more of His scriptures I read, the stronger my faith becomes. I put some bits of Baha'i history in this essay, but not a lot. I attempted to focus on what I believe and how I came to these beliefs. This is the third or fourth time I have made an attempt to write my beliefs. Each time I write about this subject, I find more to write about.