Principles of The Bahá'í Faith
THE ONENESS OF GOD, MANKIND AND RELIGION
The coming of new Messengers from God represent pivotal points in history. They release a fresh spiritual impulse, stimulating personal renewal and social advancement. Bahá'u'lláh's revelation, and the spiritual impulse accompanying it, is especially significant because it coincides with the maturation of humanity.
There is only one God, the Creator of the Universe. Throughout history, God has revealed Himself to humanity through a series of divine Messengers, each of whom has founded a great religion. The Messengers have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad.
This succession of divine Teachers reflects a single historic "plan of God" for educating humanity about the Creator and for cultivating the spiritual, intellectual and moral capacities of the race. The goal has been to prepare the way for a single, global and ever-advancing civilization.
A good analogy to help us reconcile the differences between religions could be if we imagine God to be the splendid physical sun in our solar system and the messengers of God to be perfectly shining mirrors, that are able to perfectly reflect the light of the Sun to humanity and bring forth revelations to aid the spiritual progression of mankind. Just as mankind is ever advancing scientifically, surely it makes sense that spiritual advancement must go hand in hand like two wings of a bird. We must be careful to be attracted to the sun rays and not to where the sun has risen one particular time, it is the same sun after all.
Truth is one but is also relative. For example as parents we know the instructions that infants are capable of receiving are very different to those we can give in their teenage years. Religion has also brought about different social teachings according to the varying capacities of mankind to comprehend throughout the ages. The clergy of former religions have shown a great attachment to some of these traditions which in turn has been a large factor in preventing wider acceptance of new revelations by the generality of mankind quicker. There is no clergy in the Baha'i faith as mankind has reached a maturity to understand spiritual teachings and laws directly from the writings.
THE INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION AND SEARCH FOR TRUTH
These days, most people if they are religious were born into that particular religion. There are actually 3 degrees of belief in religion, the first as described is from tradition, the second is when we have read and understood the teachings and use that as a reference to judge truth or falsehood, and lastly when our religion affects our actions and deeds on an everyday basis.
In the Baha'i faith, it is important that from an early childhood, education in spiritual matters is began but at the age of 15, it is for the older child to investigate all the religions and declare or follow the Baha'i faith if they so choose. Take comfort from this beautiful saying in Islam 'Who so maketh efforts for us, in our ways we shall assuredly guide them'. In fact Baha'u'llah make clears that there is no greater affliction for a human being than seeking but not being able to find the truth.
THE EQUALITY OF MEN AND WOMEN
Humanity will never reach its true potential up and until women are given equal opportunities to men. The fact that historically men have accomplished more is solely due to women's lack of opportunity. In the West the principle has become generally accepted, but don't forget that the vote, land and property rights are still relatively recent. In the East and other parts of the world, it is still evident that women do not possess equal rights. Baha'u'llah has said that this must be achieved before we can have world peace and furthermore it will be women who will be prominent in leading this effort!
THE HARMONY OF SCIENCE AND RELIGION
Throughout the ages religion and science have been in fundamental disagreement. Obviously we need both, religion without science can easily become superstitious and dogmatic, yet we cannot measure everything in this world scientifically like consciousness or human virtues eg. love, honesty.
Baha'u'llah explains that the spiritual worlds are infinite as is the universe. Even that creation is infinitesimal, mankind will never discover 'God's particle'. Interestingly some scientists and medical professionals, the more they research, suddenly believe there must be a creator.
Like the equality of men and women, these really should be viewed as two wings of a bird needing to be in balance to sore to higher altitudes. Science can also be useful in helping us understand spiritual concepts like life after after death. Baha'u'llah has said that every spiritual reality has a counterpart in this physical world.
ELIMINATION OF THE EXTREMES OF WEALTH AND POVERTY
It is not fair that today, most of the world's riches are held by so few, while there are lots of people in the world still struggling for daily sustenance. Wealth can be a mighty barrier to a soul's spiritual advancement, but motivated through conscience, giving and sacrifice no matter how small will help mankind redress the imbalance.
ABOLITION OF ALL PREJUDICES
God does not judge human beings through the colour of their skin, nationality or other background and neither should we. If we imagine we are all the flowers of one garden, the variety makes the garden more beautiful. Humanity started as one race , we should still consider ourselves one human race!
Education must be compulsory and for everyone. Many prejudices emanate from a lack of education. Moral education must also be given prominence as well as the sciences and arts.
The world is in greatest need of international peace. Until it is established, mankind will not attain composure and tranquility. It is necessary that the nations and governments organize an international tribunal to which all their disputes and differences shall be referred. The decision of that tribunal shall be final.
All the principles have a connectivity that strive towards this ultimate goal.
A UNIVERSAL AUXILIARY LANGUAGE
To the reader, it may be evident that many of Baha'u'llah's principles from the nineteeth century above have worked their way into accepted thinking today. This particular principle has not managed to gain traction, but in the future once the peoples of the world have agreed upon a second language, everyone in the world only need learn their mother tongue and the auxiliary language in order that everyone can communicate with each other!