Divine Educators and Religious Unity

“The foundation of all the divine religions is one. All are based upon reality. Reality does not admit plurality, yet amongst mankind there have arisen differences concerning the Manifestations of God. Some have been Zoroastrians, some are Buddhists, some Jews, Christians, Muslims and so on. This has become a source of divergence, whereas the teachings of the holy Souls Who founded the divine religions are one in essence and reality. All these have served the world of humanity. All have summoned souls to peace and accord. All have proclaimed the virtues of humanity. All have guided souls to the attainment of perfections, but among the nations certain imitations of ancestral forms of worship have arisen. These imitations are not the foundation and essence of the divine religions. Inasmuch as they differ from the reality and the essential teachings of the Manifestations of God, dissensions have arisen, and prejudice has developed. Religious prejudice thus becomes the cause of warfare and battle. . .

Blessed souls — whether Moses, Jesus, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius or Muhammad — were the cause of the illumination of the world of humanity. How can we deny such irrefutable proof? How can we be blind to such light?”

(Abdu’l-Baha, talk in Oakland, California, 7 October 1912, published in The Promulgation of Universal Peace)

“‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: The Message of Krishna is the message of love. All God’s prophets have brought the message of love. None has ever thought that war and hate are good. Every one agrees in saying that love and kindness are best.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, talk in Paris, France, 24 October 1911, published in Paris Talks)

“I hope that the lights of the Sun of Reality will illumine the whole world so that no strife and warfare, no battles and bloodshed remain. May fanaticism and religious bigotry be unknown, all humanity enter the bond of brotherhood, souls consort in perfect agreement, the nations of earth at last hoist the banner of truth and the religions of the world enter the divine temple of oneness, for the foundations of the heavenly religions are one reality. Reality is not divisible; it does not admit multiplicity. All the holy Manifestations of God have proclaimed and promulgated the same reality. They have summoned mankind to reality itself and reality is one. . .

Until the heavenly civilization is founded, no result will be forthcoming from material civilization, even as you observe. See what catastrophes overwhelm mankind. Consider the wars which disturb the world. Consider the enmity and hatred. The existence of these wars and conditions indicates and proves that the heavenly civilization has not yet been established. If the civilization of the Kingdom be spread to all the nations, this dust of disagreement will be dispelled, these clouds will pass away and the Sun of Reality in its greatest effulgence and glory will shine upon mankind.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, talk in Chicago, Illinois, 5 May 1912, published in The Promulgation of Universal Peace)

“In the Word of God there is still another unity — the oneness of the Manifestations of God, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. This is a unity divine, heavenly, radiant, merciful — the one reality appearing in its successive Manifestations. For instance, the sun is one and the same, but its points of dawning are various. During the summer season it rises from the northern point of the ecliptic; in winter it appears from the southern point of rising. Each month between, it appears from a certain zodiacal position. Although these dawning points are different, the sun is the same sun which has appeared from them all. The significance is the reality of Prophethood which is symbolized by the sun, and the holy Manifestations are the dawning places or zodiacal points.

There is also the divine unity or entity, which is sanctified above all concept of humanity. It cannot be comprehended nor conceived because it is infinite reality and cannot become finite. . . Although it transcends our realization, its lights, bestowals, traces and virtues have become manifest in the realities of the Prophets, even as the sun becomes resplendent in various mirrors. These holy realities are as reflectors, and the reality of Divinity is as the sun, which, although it is reflected from the mirrors, and its virtues and perfections become resplendent therein, does not stoop from its own station of majesty and glory and seek abode in the mirrors; it remains in its heaven of sanctity. At most it is this: that its lights become manifest and evident in its mirrors or manifestations. Therefore, its bounty proceeding from them is one bounty, but the recipients of that bounty are many. This is the unity of God; this is oneness — unity of Divinity, holy above ascent or descent, embodiment, comprehension or idealization — divine unity. The Prophets are its mirrors; its lights are revealed through Them; its virtues become resplendent in Them, but the Sun of Reality never descends from its own highest point and station. This is unity, oneness, sanctity; this is glorification whereby we praise and adore God.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, talk in Brooklyn, New York, 16 June 1912, published in The Promulgation of Universal Peace)

Symbols of the world's religions

“Bahá’ís believe that religious revelation is continuous and progressive and that, from the very beginning of human history, God has periodically sent divine educators to the world to guide mankind. The appearance of these divine educators — Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad and, in our own age, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh — has signified the founding of a new religion, and yet none of these religions is really new; they are stages in the unfoldment of the same religious truth proceeding from the same God. They teach the same, unchanging spiritual principles, and they differ only in their social teachings, which vary according to the needs of the age in which they were revealed.

Bahá’ís accordingly believe in the divine origin of all the major religions and honor and revere their founders as prophets of God. The reason that Bahá’ís are Bahá’ís is solely because they believe that Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of their Faith, is the latest — but not the last — of the divine educators sent by God, and that his teachings have been sent by God specifically to meet the needs of our own age.”

(Baha’i International Community, 1993 Feb 18, Eliminating Religious Intolerance)

“So far as earthly existence is concerned, many of the greatest achievements of religion have been moral in character. Through its teachings and through the examples of human lives illumined by these teachings, masses of people in all ages and lands have developed the capacity to love. They have learned to discipline the animal side of their natures, to make great sacrifices for the common good, to practice forgiveness, generosity, and trust, to use wealth and other resources in ways that serve the advancement of civilization. Institutional systems have been devised to translate these moral advances into the norms of social life on a vast scale. However obscured by dogmatic accretions and diverted by sectarian conflict, the spiritual impulses set in motion by such transcendent figures as Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, and Muhammad have been the chief influence in the civilizing of human character.”

(Baha’i International Community, 1995 Mar 03, The Prosperity of Humankind)

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