Eternal in the past, eternal in the future
Hello, friends! Due to illness this week, I respectfully submit the following column that I originally offered in 1995. My accompanying photo (from 1994) is not accurate, but I promise that the writing is spot on, timely and way needed.
There is only one religion, and that is the religion of God. Each and every prophet of God has always made it clear that His own personal identity and his personality should be regarded as secondary to the will, the identity, and the "personality" of God.
Bahá’u’lláh, the prophet-founder of the Bahá’í faith, has stated: "I can utter no word, O my God, unless I be permitted by Thee, and can move in no direction until I obtain Thy sanction. It is Thou, O my God, who hast called me into being through the power of Thy might, and hast endued me with Thy grace to manifest Thy cause."
The prophet of God most familiar to the western world is Jesus Christ. In the Bible it is recorded by John that Jesus stated clearly that the focus should be on our Creator:
"Jesus cried and said, he that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth Him that sent me... For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak." (John 12:44-5, 49)
Similar statements have been made by other Divine Manifestations, including Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha and Muhammad.
Here is a list of some additional common features shared by the world's great faiths:
• The belief in one supreme being.
• The claim of divine incarnation.
• The claim of divine revelation.
• The claim of an inspired scripture.
• The report of miracles wrought.
• The principle of 'the Golden Rule'.
• The recognition of an especially sacred community.
• The hope of a universal religion.
• The hopes and fears of a future life.
(This above partial list is excerpted from "The World's Living Religions" by R. E. Hume.)
Bahá’ís believe that all of the prophets have spoken with the same voice: the voice of God. Let's take a look at, for instance, the Golden Rule (or the Golden Principle) as found in the scriptures of these world religions:
Christianity: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." (Matthew 7:12)
Islam: "No one of you is a believer until you desire for another that which you desire for yourself." (Sunnah)
Buddism: "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." (Udana-Varqa 5:18)
Zoroastrianism: "Human nature is good only when it does not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self." (Dadistan-i-Dinik 94:5)
Judaism: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the entire Torah; the rest is commentary; go learn it." (Talmud: Shabbat 312)
Hinduism: "Do not to others what ye do not wish done to yourself; and wish for others too what ye desire and long for, for yourself. This is the whole Dharma, heed it well." (Mahabharata)
Bahá’í: "Lay not on any soul a load which ye would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for any one the things ye would not desire for yourselves. This is the best counsel to you, did ye but observe it." (Gleanings 128)
Hmmm... One need not be a rocket scientist to notice that all of these tunes share the same melody...
And now, here is a fun puzzle-quiz! A wacky brain-teaser! Can you identify which religion’s scripture is quoted in the following passages? (Here's a clue: No, you can't.):
A: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
B: "This is the sum of all duty: Treat others as you yourself would be treated."
C: "That which you want for yourself seek for mankind."
D: "Whatever thou dost not approve for thyself do not approve for anyone else; when thou hast acted in this manner thou art righteous."
E: "Make thine own self the measure of the others, and so abstain from causing hurt to them."
F: "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."
G: "Regard ye not others save as ye regards your own selves."
(Answers: If you decided that "These all sound the same," then you win! A). Judaism; B). Hinduism; C). Islam; D). Zoroastrianism; E). Buddhism; F). Christianity; G). Baha'i)
The one religion of God is being revealed to us progressively, a bit at a time, as we can bear it. This is also the way that our schools teach the children; we should not find it odd that our Creator practices the same logic when educating mankind.
Bahá’u’lláh has revealed that yet another Divine Educator will appear after the year 2844; this prophet will bring, as always, new and appropriate social laws, and, as always, He (She?) will repeat the unchanging spiritual laws, including, of course, the Golden Rule.
Here's hoping that our descendents will show more breadth of vision than the bulk of mankind evinces today.
In closing, from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh: "This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Let him that seeketh, attain it; and as to him that hath refused to seek it -- verily, God is Self-Sufficient, above any need of His creatures."