Posted by: samandal | July 1, 2009

The Leaves of One Branch

Canada Day, Fête du Canada

“Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.”                     (Bahá’u’lláh: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, page 14)

Bahá’u’lláh is believed by “the people of Bahá” (i.e., Bahá’ís) to be but the latest in a holy lineage of Divine Manifestations that includes Sábí (Sabean), Krsna (Hindu), Músá (Jewish), Zartosht (Zoroastrian), Siddhártha (Buddhist), ‘Ísá (Christian), Muhammad (Islám), the Báb (Bábí), and Bahá’u’lláh (Bahá’í). God periodically sends forth chosen messengers or manifestations of himself to whom he reveals his infinite names and exalted attributes, who in turn reveal the names and attributes of God to humankind. A Manifestation of God (mazhar-i-iláhí) is like a mirror who reflects the Sun but is not himself the Sun; he is united to a physical body endowed with a rational soul, but his divine nature renders him distinct.

Bahá’u’lláh taught that the essence of God is unknowable and indivisible. God created the universe through an act of will, and creation continually flows forth from the divine realm and is itself eternal. God communicates with creation through his attributes, and it is through these divine attributes that humankind can personally relate to a God who is not himself a person. It is only through the person of the Manifestation himself that humankind can come to know God; he is the divine physician who reflects the glory of God in the realm of creation, whose message forms the foundation for human unity and progress.

“Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved?”                           (Bahá’u’lláh: Persian Hidden Word, number 4)

The various movements within the Bahá’í Faith are not strictly parallel to the sectarian divisions within post-Reformation Christianity; they are not separate denominations so much as divergent tendencies within the one Faith. There are differences among these movements, but all Bahá’ís are bound together in one Faith, encompassed by the light of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. A Bahá’í should see herself primarily as a member of the whole human race and only secondarily as a member of a particular nation, class, gender, identity, religion or ethnicity. Diversity in non-essentials is preferable to the principle that unity in error is better than division over truth.

“All that the sages and mystics have said or written have never exceeded, nor can they ever hope to exceed, the limitations to which man’s finite mind hath been strictly subjected.”                                                                                            (Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings, page 316)

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