“Note thou carefully that in this world of being, all things must ever be made new.” - Abdu’l-Baha
On one hand we can see the positive and far-reaching aspects of religion over history, for example many great civilizations and nations have been built based on the teachings and inspiration brought to a nation through these unique personages like Moses, Buddha, Christ, and Muhammad, and countless hearts have been transformed and made loving and noble through their influence, but on the other hand we see that these same religions which have been the cause of so much order and tranquility, as well as both material and spiritual progress to civilisations, over time can become a strong pretext for hatred and disunity. Why is this?
One thing that is observed is that so long as the people are faithful to the spirit of the teachings of their religion, their civilization progresses, and there is harmony and tolerance, but over time the essence of the religion is forgotten and the beauty and love and spirit fade and all that is left is outward actions and rituals and man-made traditions which have no meaning and cause no benefit, then their society actually declines.
One example is to think of these religions as originally like a young plant which is beautiful and gives fruit and sustenance to mankind, but over time the tree grows old and dries and no longer bears fruit, and that is when the Divine Gardener takes a seed from that same tree and re-plants it in the soil of mankind in order that a new tree (religion) would grow and bear new fruit to revitalise and nourish the world again.
Here are some examples from the different world religions showing this concept of progress and decline, and that even the influence of religion itself goes through the process of growth, and then decline, and is then renewed, like everything else in this universe. Each religion goes through its spring, and summer, but then comes autumn, and winter, where most of its influence has been spent, but then a new springtime comes again (a new religion) to refresh the world.
“Whenever there is decay of righteousness… and there is exaltation of unrighteousness, then I Myself come forth…for the sake of firmly establishing righteousness, I am born from age to age.”
“I am not the first Buddha who came upon earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise in the world, a Holy One… He will reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you… He will proclaim a religious life, wholly perfect and pure; such as I now proclaim.”
And similarly in Christianity and Islam there is the concept of Christ returning when the world is in a very bad state.
History has shown us the remarkable influence the Founders of the world Faiths have had on entire civilisations. Their revelations have inspired individual and social transformation on massive scales, and have accelerated both material and spiritual progress, however over time the essence of the Faith is forgotten and replaced with man made opinions and selfish advantage, and the bounty and progress associated with that Faith also decline. For example Christ taught “If one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”, but we eventually had the crusades, and even conflicts between Christian denominations.
Notice that it is not the religion itself which is the cause of the lack of nobility and harmony, it is the reduction of the influence of true religion in people’s hearts that is the cause. These Divine Faiths are like the Springtime. Springtime is never the cause of the dying of plants, on the contrary, but over time the influence of the Springtime is lost and as winter approaches the plants begin to droop, and so there is a need for a renewal of spring yet again so that the plants can become beautiful and blossom once again.
It is not that the religions themselves are bad or imperfect, it’s just a universal principle of creation that all things go through cycles, and once their time is up, and their strength is spent, they are in need of renewal. Can we say that a tree is bad because now it is old and dry? It used to be a young tree with fruit that fed many people
From another perspective these world religious systems are also considered as medicine for a sick society, and were specifically suited to the time and place they were revealed, however as time changes and humanity progresses, the “remedy” previously given is no longer necessarily relevant to the worlds current condition, and a new remedy is necessary.
In the words of Baha’u’llah – Prophet Founder of the Baha'i Faith
“The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problem…The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require”.
In summary, religion at its core is not a cause of disagreement and war, on the contrary, the Founders of the world Faith’s have always taught their followers to strive towards nobility, and during their eras they were the chief cause of good-will and individual and social transformation, however:
That’s not to say that religion will always become a pretext for disagreement when it approaches its “winter”, because as humanity is progressing, we are naturally becoming more and more advanced and wider in our vision. In the Baha’i Faith for example it is a fundamental principle that if your Faith somehow becomes an excuse for disunity, then you are better off without a religion.
“Bahá’u’lláh taught, that Religion is the chief foundation of Love and Unity and the cause of Oneness. If a religion become the cause of hatred and disharmony, it would be better that it should not exist. To be without such a religion is better than to be with it”.- Abdu’l-Baha
Except for direct quotations from the Baha'i Writings, all opinions expressed on this blog are simply personal understandings and therefore not authoritative. This site is an individual initiative and is not affiliated with any Baha'i Institutions. To visit the official website of the Baha’i Faith please visit www.bahai.org