"O God! Thou art kind to all, Thou hast provided for all, dost shelter all, conferrest life upon all. Thou hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties, and all are submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy."
God is the loving Shepherd of mankind, and the human race has existed for many centuries prior to the appearance of His Holiness Jesus Christ. Although the human race like all other phenomena in this universe has been continually changing and evolving, the people who lived prior to the birth of Christ were still recipients of the bounty and loving care of Almighty God. They too were most certainly created by the same God, and in the image of the same God.
"O SON OF MAN! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty." - Baha'u'llah
Likewise today, countless millions of souls will never have had the opportunity to adequately know of Jesus Christ in their entire lifetimes - even in the 21st century. For instance those in remote regions of the world, and those living in regions where the masses have found a love for God, or a love for humanity, through the Teachings of other Divine Educators such as Zoroaster, Krishna, and Buddha.
Circumstances which were in large part outside of your control would have been major factors in you being able to have heard of His Holiness Christ. If you had instead been born in India, you would likely have heard of the concept of the love of God through Krishna, and would have been a Hindu, or if you had been born in Asia, you would likely have heard of the Path to righteous living and salvation through Buddha, and would have been a Buddhist.
Is access to the redeeming Grace of God a lottery only available to those fortunate enough to have lived recently, and in regions of the world who have heard of Christ? Can we believe that God's All-Encompassing Grace has boundaries which exclude large parts of Asia and the Middle East? There are millions of blameless children under the age of 10 in these regions. Can we believe that our Creator has intentionally denied them access to Divine Guidance during their entire lifetimes through no real fault of their own? Do they not have the same Heavenly Father that Christ spoke of Who “sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust"?
We know and believe that Jesus Christ was the Image of God on earth, and that whatever He spoke was absolutely truthful and good. It is hoped that this brief article will shed some more light on this often quoted but misunderstood verse of Jesus Christ:
"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." - John 14:5
According to Baha’i belief, all of mankind has always been under the guidance and care of the Creator. Throughout the centuries each region of the world has had its own divinely inspired Educator who provided spiritual guidance and nourishment in a way that best suited the capacity of the people's, and needs of the times in which they appeared. Krishna, Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, are some examples of those Divine Educators revealed by God to mankind, and Baha’is regard Baha'u'llah to be the most recent in this line of Divine Educators, and whose teachings are specifically suited to solving the illnesses of society in its present stage of evolution.
The religious systems and teaching that each of these Divine Educators brought was likewise specifically suited to the needs of the times, and the capacity of the recipients of those messages, and so each religion is quite different and unique, however the purpose and core of their teachings has always been identical and timeless, and that purpose is – the upliftment of man to reach his true and noble destiny.
In the words of Baha’u’llah:
"The Purpose of the one true God, exalted be His glory, in revealing Himself unto men is to lay bare those gems that lie hidden within the mine of their true and inmost selves. That the divers communions of the earth, and the manifold systems of religious belief, should never be allowed to foster the feelings of animosity among men, is, in this Day, of the essence of the Faith of God and His Religion. These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source, and are the rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated.”
"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” – John 9:5
As long as Christ was in the world, He was the light of the world. These Messengers of God resemble the sun, which when it rises, is the only significant source of light and life to the world - but which appears numerous times throughout history. No matter how often it riseth and setteth though, it is still regarded as the one and the same sun.
These Divine Educators shine the light of God into the world, and like the coming of the sunrise, the process of their coming and going amongst mankind has been from everlasting, and will continue for all of eternity - because the Grace of God to man has had no beginning, and it will have no end.
"Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” – Micah 5:2
Krishna (3200 BC)
“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.”
Buddha (600 BC)
“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.”
Jesus Christ (30 AD)
“Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Baha'u'llah (1852 AD)
“O Jews! If ye be intent on crucifying once again Jesus, the Spirit of God, put Me to death, for He hath once more, in My person, been made manifest unto you. Deal with Me as ye wish, for I have vowed to lay down My life in the path of God. I will fear no one, though the powers of earth and heaven be leagued against Me. Followers of the Gospel! If ye cherish the desire to slay Muhammad, the Apostle of God, seize Me and put an end to My life, for I am He, and My Self is His Self. Do unto Me as ye like, for the deepest longing of Mine heart is to attain the presence of My Best-Beloved in His Kingdom of Glory. Such is the Divine decree, if ye know it...I have come in the shadows of the clouds of glory, and am invested by God with invincible sovereignty. He, verily, is the Truth, the Knower of things unseen. I, verily, anticipate from you the treatment ye have accorded unto Him that came before Me. To this all things, verily, witness, if ye be of those who hearken.”
"He, the Revealer of the unseen Beauty, addressing one day His disciples, referred unto His passing, and, kindling in their hearts the fire of bereavement, said unto them: “I go away and come again unto you.” And in another place He said: “I go and another will come, Who will tell you all that I have not told you, and will fulfil all that I have said.” Both these sayings have but one meaning, were ye to ponder upon the Manifestations of the Unity of God with Divine insight." - Baha'u'llah
"Every one of them is the Way of God that connecteth this world with the realms above, and the Standard of His Truth unto every one in the kingdoms of earth and heaven. They are the Manifestations of God amidst men, the evidences of His Truth, and the signs of His glory." - Baha'u'llah
Krishna (3200 BC)
“I am the sacrifice and the offering, the sacred gift... I am the Way, and the Master who watches in silence; thy friend and thy shelter and thy abode of peace...this is my word of promise, that he who loves me shall not perish. For all those who come to me for shelter, however weak or humble or sinful they may be - women or Vaisyas or Sudras - they all reach the Path supreme”
Buddha (600 BC)
“This is the way, there is no other that leads to the purifying of intelligence. Go on this path! This is the confusion of Mara (the tempter). If you go on this way, you will make an end of pain!”
Jesus Christ (30 AD)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Baha'u'llah (1852 AD)
"Follow ye the Way of the Lord and walk not in the footsteps of them that are sunk in heedlessness. Well is it with the slumberer who is stirred by the Breeze of God and ariseth from amongst the dead, directing his steps towards the Way of the Lord. Verily, such a man is regarded, in the sight of God, the True One, as a jewel amongst men and is reckoned with the blissful."
“Be thou assured in thyself that verily, he who turns away from this Beauty hath also turned away from the Messengers of the past and showeth pride towards God from all eternity to all eternity.”
We are living in interesting times, a time when the world is becoming global, and the followers of these Divine Educators are meeting each-other with far more frequency than was ever possible in ancient times. Metaphorically speaking, one group says “God most certainly loves us, He has provided us with bananas and coconuts, and other tropical fruits that perfectly suited our tropical climate”, the other says “No, God loves us, He has provided us with apples and pears, and other fruits that perfectly suited our cool climate”. Now that they are meeting they are slowly realising that although the fruit that nourished them are completely different, the origin of these fruit is the same One Creator, and their purpose – which is the nourishment of the body, is identical. Perhaps they will be willing to put away their prejudices, and not see the followers of other religions as “rejected by God”?
Now that the world is becoming less isolated, and more global, there is no longer a requirement for there to be exclusivity of religion, or even exclusivity of language. The challenge now facing the adherents of these Faiths, including the followers of Jesus Christ, is whether they can put aside prejudices and tradition, and acknowledge the light which God has allowed to be shone into the world through the other Divine Educators. Man must be a lover of the light, no matter from what lamp it may appear. He must be a lover of the rose, no matter in what soil it may be growing. He must be a seeker of the truth, no matter from what source it come. Attachment to the lantern is not the same as loving the light.
"Some souls were lovers of the name Abraham, loving the lantern instead of the light, and when they saw this same light shining from another lantern, they were so attached to the former lantern that they did not recognize its later appearance and illumination. Therefore, those who were attached and held tenaciously to the name Abraham were deprived when the Abrahamic virtues reappeared in Moses. Similarly, the Jews were believers in Moses, awaiting the coming of the Messiah. The virtues and perfections of Moses became apparent in Jesus Christ most effulgently, but the Jews held to the name Moses, not adoring the virtues and perfections manifest in Him. Had they been adoring these virtues and seeking these perfections, they would assuredly have believed in Jesus Christ when the same virtues and perfections shone in Him. If we are lovers of the light, we adore it in whatever lamp it may become manifest, but if we love the lamp itself and the light is transferred to another lamp, we will neither accept nor sanction it. Therefore, we must follow and adore the virtues revealed in the Messengers of God -- whether in Abraham, Moses, Jesus or other Prophets -- but we must not adhere to and adore the lamp...If we renounce these fetters, we shall agree, for all are seekers of reality. The counterfeit or imitation of true religion has adulterated human belief, and the foundations have been lost sight of. The variance of these imitations has produced enmity and strife, war and bloodshed....This is, verily, the century when these imitations must be forsaken, superstitions abandoned and God alone worshiped. We must look at the reality of the Prophets and Their teachings in order that we may agree."
The divine Manifestations since the day of Adam have striven to unite humanity so that all may be accounted as one soul. The function and purpose of a shepherd is to gather and not disperse his flock. The Prophets of God have been divine Shepherds of humanity. They have established a bond of love and unity among mankind, made scattered peoples one nation and wandering tribes a mighty kingdom. They have laid the foundation of the oneness of God and summoned all to universal peace. All these holy, divine Manifestations are one. They have served one God, promulgated the same truth, founded the same institutions and reflected the same light. Their appearances have been successive and correlated; each One has announced and extolled the One Who was to follow. They summoned and invited the people to love and made the human world a mirror of the Word of God. Therefore, the divine religions They established have one foundation; Their teachings, proofs and evidences are one; in name and form They differ, but in reality They agree and are the same. These holy Manifestations have been as the coming of springtime in the world. Although the springtime of this year is designated by another name according to the changing calendar, yet as regards its life and quickening it is the same as the springtime of last year.
If we investigate the religions to discover the principles underlying their foundations, we will find they agree; for the fundamental reality of them is one and not multiple. By this means the religionists of the world will reach their point of unity and reconciliation. They will ascertain the truth that the purpose of religion is the acquisition of praiseworthy virtues, the betterment of morals, the spiritual development of mankind, the real life and divine bestowals. All the Prophets have been the promoters of these principles; none of Them has been the promoter of corruption, vice or evil. They have summoned mankind to all good. They have united people in the love of God, invited them to the religions of the unity of mankind and exhorted them to amity and agreement
The bringing together of the peoples and tribes of the world of varying traditions and Faiths - into genuine fellowship and Unity, is one of the needs of the times, and one of the goals of the Baha'i Faith.
"Bahá'u'lláh has drawn the circle of unity, He has made a design for the uniting of all the peoples, and for the gathering of them all under the shelter of the tent of universal unity. This is the work of the Divine Bounty, and we must all strive with heart and soul until we have the reality of unity in our midst, and as we work, so will strength be given unto us." - Abdu'l-Baha
"It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." - John 16:7
"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." - John 16:12
"Verily, He Who is the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all truth. He speaketh not as prompted by His own self, but as bidden by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise." - Baha'u'llah
In the Gospel of John, in speaking of the Promised One Who was to come after Christ, it is said in chapter 16, verses 12, 13: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak."
Now consider carefully that from these words, "for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak," it is clear that the Spirit of truth is once again to be embodied in a Man Who has individuality, Who has ears to hear and a tongue to speak - and Who will speak using innate/inspired knowledge. In the same way that the name "Spirit of God" is used in relation to Christ's first coming, it is likewise used in relation to Christ's second coming.
Some Christians claim that the Holy Ghost descended after the resurrection of the Christ and that Christ is alluding to this. But as the Holy Ghost was always with the Christ, is this logical? Again he says, "He will guide you into all truth," “he will be better for you than I”. He adds, "Until I go, he cannot come."
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me" - John 15:26
"Say, verily, He hath testified of Me, and I do testify of Him. Indeed, He hath purposed no one other than Me. Unto this beareth witness every fair-minded and understanding soul." - Baha'u'llah
"And I will write upon him my new name." - Revelation 3:12
The Prophet Founder of the Baha'i Faith was formally designated "Baha'u'llah", an appellation signifying at once the glory, the light and the splendour of God. Baha'u'llah is an Arabic title which translated into english means "Glory of God".
"O followers of the Son! Have ye shut out yourselves from Me by reason of My Name? Wherefore ponder ye not in your hearts? Day and night ye have been calling upon your Lord, the Omnipotent, but when He came from the heaven of eternity in His great glory, ye turned aside from Him and remained sunk in heedlessness. Consider those who rejected the Spirit (Jesus) when He came unto them with manifest dominion. How numerous the Pharisees who had secluded themselves in synagogues in His name, lamenting over their separation from Him, and yet when the portals of reunion were flung open and the divine Luminary shone resplendent from the Dayspring of Beauty, they disbelieved in God, the Exalted, the Mighty. They failed to attain His presence, notwithstanding that His advent had been promised them in the Book of Isaiah as well as in the Books of the Prophets and the Messengers. No one from among them turned his face towards the Dayspring of divine bounty except such as were destitute of any power amongst men...Moreover, call thou to mind the one who sentenced Jesus to death. He was the most learned of his age in his own country, whilst he who was only a fisherman believed in Him. Take good heed and be of them that observe the warning." - Baha'u'llah
To Him Isaiah, the greatest of the Jewish prophets, had alluded as the "Glory of the Lord", the "Everlasting Father", the "Prince of Peace", the "Wonderful", the "Counsellor". Who "will come with strong hand", Who "shall judge among the nations", Who "shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips slay the wicked". Of Him David had sung in his Psalms, acclaiming Him as the "King of Glory".
"The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God" - Isaiah 35:2
After being exiled to Israel, Baha'u'llah pitched His tent on Mount Carmel which is backed by the plain of Sharon. Lebanon, Carmel and Sharon did see Baha’u’llah the Glory of God.
"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels" - Matthew 16:27
"And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory." - Ezekiel 43:2
Baha'u'llah arrived in Israel, exiled from the east by order of the Ottoman Empire, and not of His own choosing. He has revealed over one hundred volumes of sacred Scripture, some of which has been translated into english.
"And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east.
The Glory of God came to the world by way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. In 1844, a wonderful and unique Youth of only 25 years of age named Siyyid Alí Muḥammad and titled “The Báb” (which translated into english literally means "The Gate"), publicly announced Himself as the Herald of the promised Day of God - the Day promised in the Sacred Scriptures of all of the World’s Great Faiths, the Day when a Personage far greater than Himself would be publicly made manifest to the world.
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD...” - Malachi 4:5
"Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face." - Ezekiel 3:23
The reactions of individuals who had the unique honor of being in the presence of Baha’u’llah was not dissimilar to the experience of witnessing the Glory of God described in Ezekiel.
“Though I dimly suspected whither I was going and whom I was to behold (for no distinct intimation had been given to me), a second or two elapsed ere, with a throb of wonder and awe, I became definitely conscious that the room was not untenanted. In the corner where the divan met the wall sat a wondrous and venerable figure...The face of him on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one's very soul...No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!" - (Professor Edward Granville Browne from the University of Cambridge, a non-believer who had attained the presence of Baha’u’llah in Akka)
"His explanations were so profound and the ocean of His utterance surged with such a power that my whole being was overtaken with awe and fear. Spellbound by His words, I was plunged into a state of dazed bewilderment. After a few minutes of listening to His words -- words of unparalleled wonder and majesty -- I became dumbfounded...Like a helpless bird which is freed from the claws of a mighty falcon I rose to my feet and went out.” – (Mulla Muhammad-i-Qa'ini, a highly regarded muslim religious figure, and one of the most outstanding men of learning in Persia at the time, who after these meetings acknowledged belief in Baha'u'llah as the most recent Manifestation of God on earth, from then onwards dedicating his whole life to the service of the Cause, suffering much persecution in service to the Blessed Beauty)
And still the people, even as the Messiah saith, slept on: for the day of the Manifestation, when the Lord of Hosts descended, found them wrapped in the slumber of unknowing. As He saith in the Gospel, My coming is even as when the thief is in the house, and the goodman of the house watcheth not.
"Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping." - Mark 13:35
"If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. - Revelation 3:3
"The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." - 17:20
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