3. New Teachings for a New Day

The ultimate goal of Bahá’u’lláh’s social Plan is global unity. Ours is the age of the oneness of humanity. All nations, religions, and races must work together to overcome the obstacles that divide them. They must associate in a spirit of love and fellowship to create a new civilization based on justice, cooperation, peace, and concern for all humanity.

The first step in overcoming any obstacle or improving any condition is to expand one’s perception. In the Bahá’í Faith this is called the Independent Search for Truth.

The essence of all that We have revealed for thee is Justice, is for man to free himself from idle fancy and imitation, discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye.60 _Bahá’u’lláh

In a talk given in 1912 in Sacramento, California, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stated:

The first teaching is that man should investigate reality, for reality is contrary to dogmatic interpretations and imitations of ancestral forms of belief to which all nations and peoples adhere so tenaciously. These blind imitations are contrary to the fundamental basis of the divine religions, for the divine religions in their central and essential teaching are based upon unity, love and peace, whereas these variations and imitations have ever been productive of warfare, sedition and strife. Therefore, all souls should consider it incumbent upon them to investigate reality. Reality is one; and when found, it will unify all mankind. Reality is the love of God. Reality is the knowledge of God. Reality is justice. Reality is the oneness…of mankind. Reality is international peace. Reality is the knowledge of verities. Reality unifies humanity.61

Love for truth should rank first in our lives:

To love truth for truth’s sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues. _John Locke

Of all duties, the love of truth…ranks first and highest. To love God and to love truth are one and the same. _Silvio Pellico

As citizens of one planet, with one destiny, we must recognize that we are facing a new age with unparalleled crises and opportunities. We must reach beyond all the boundaries of our prevailing perceptions, our self-interests, untested beliefs and assumptions, fear of the unfamiliar, submission to or tolerance for decayed and outmoded ideologies such as nationalism, racism, sexism, and every other “ism” that places one segment of the human race apart from or above the others. We must also rise above the prevailing cynicism and apathy, the attitudes of “there is not much I can do” and “what will be will be.”

Only the consciousness of a purpose that is mightier than any man and worthy of all men can fortify…the souls of humankind.

We need to look with a fresh gaze at the world, the people, religion, politics, economics, education, and our responsibilities as citizens of one planet. We need a new mode of thinking, a new vision inspired by our devotion to God and humanity with a desire to restore love and hope to the heart of the world.

Where there is no vision, the people perish… _Proverbs 29:18

If mankind is to stop operating reactively and become truly proactive, we need a star to follow …Ideals and positive visions are important not because they can be immediately and fully attained, but because they can set standards by which we can direct our steps.62

But in the realm of positive images, we are still moving at the pace of a snail. Our “speed limits” are not imposed by an outside force: they are limits inner to our cultures…Why, then, are our powers of positive vision atrophied? 63

The word which God has written on every heart is Hope.

If we bring Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of peace and unity to all the peoples of the planet, if we learn to communicate, to understand one another, to speak in one language, then no goal, no dream remains beyond our reach.

To succeed, our new vision must be upheld by these principles:

  • All great religions come from the same Source. They unfold an ever-evolving truth; they reveal the divine Wisdom progressively according to the needs and maturity of humankind. Recognizing and respecting other great faiths is the most vital step towards unity and peace.
  • The purpose of religion is to unify humanity, to join people in love and harmony. But today religion is often a source of dissension and prejudice among the peoples of the world. This is the exact opposite of the true goals of religion. If a “remedy” intensifies the disease, it should be avoided.
  • Religion and science are perfect partners. Their harmony must be recognized and their powers integrated. By clarifying religious symbolism, the Bahá’í Faith demonstrates the unity—indeed the oneness—of these two vital forces in society.
  • Prejudice—racial, national, religious—must be uprooted. Prejudice is a false perception that justifies selfish and egotistical desires and demands; it is a veil that distorts truth and obscures reality. It blinds one’s inner vision, and allows the ego to justify its selfish ends and to descend to the depths of its desires. It is mainly an impurity of the heart and the soul. Prejudice is so powerful, it can, by itself, stifle any achievement, prevent any progress, cause any conflict, lead to any crisis. Love of God is the most powerful weapon against prejudice. Prejudice cannot coexist with love and justice. Its prevalence is a proof of the loss of love in the heart of the world.
  • Gender discrimination must be abolished. Equal opportunities and rights must be provided for both men and women. One’s excellence depends upon nobility and character, not upon one’s gender.
  • Universal education must become a reality. It must enlighten and uplift the minds of all humanity. True knowledge expands and enriches human perception and vision.
  • Much effort should be directed toward establishing universal peace. Global war in our time could cause the virtual destruction of our planet and its people.
  • Extremes of wealth and poverty must be eliminated, both through laws and through the recognition of the individual’s spiritual responsibility. As long as masses of humanity cannot meet their urgent needs, global unity and peace cannot be attained.
  • Diversity among peoples and nations must be cherished and prized, for diversity enriches the world and enhances human perception. Various customs and traditions
  • should be preserved; diversity adorns and strengthens unity. The richness of an orchestra results from many instruments played in harmony.
  • A universal auxiliary language must be adopted and learned throughout the planet. Communication is an essential prerequisite for understanding and peace. A family of nations whose members cannot talk to one another, cannot cooperate and live in harmony.
  • A global order must be established to regulate international relations. A planetary community cannot live by laws and regulations dictated by national self-interest. The time has come for establishing a global federation of nations.
  • We are in essence spiritual beings. To live in peace and contentment, to enjoy an abundant life, we must recognize our role in the grand cosmic plan of creation. Without knowledge of God and love of God, no human being can reach his or her full spiritual potential. Growing without God is as impossible for humans as for a flower to bloom and flourish in darkness. If left unguided, we submit to our selfish needs and desires. When God enters our lives, He changes our perspective. The lesson we learn is this: serving one’s self is great, but serving others is even greater. This perspective inspires us to expand our small “circle of selfishness” to incorporate all human beings. Those who assume they can do without God, underestimate the heights of spiritual fulfillment they can reach.

Bahá’ís believe that the perception or mode of thinking that can save us from global conflict and war, the vision that can lead us to peace, prosperity, and contentment, must include the recognition and realization of all the preceding principles.

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