Bahá’u’lláh observes that each era has its own needs. Attitudes, standards and practices of the past are not applicable to the needs of the present or the future.
As to thy question concerning the heavenly Scriptures: 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, and every soul its particular aspiration. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and centre your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.
The world of the past was a world of domination, violent conflict and division. As commented in a previous article the soul does not change – and so spiritual teachings remain constant. Social teachings, however, cannot remain the same. Despite the undeniable spiritual wisdom embodied in the religious heritage of humankind, it is unreasonable to expect that ancient scriptures will be designed for a constantly changing world – and the new circumstances facing humanity. We are in a world finding its own unity. A world in which domination is no longer celebrated. A world in which men and women are equal and in which feminine and masculine qualities are more balanced.
What are the needs of our modern world? In the Tablet of the World, written almost at the end of Bahá’u’lláh’s life – Bahá’u’lláh reveals the design he has applied to his teachings.
O ye that dwell on earth! The distinguishing feature that marketh the preeminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth in that We have, on the one hand, blotted out from the pages of God’s holy Book whatsoever hath been the cause of strife, of malice and mischief amongst the children of men, and have, on the other, laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding, of complete and enduring unity. Well is it with them that keep My statutes.
In this same work, we find some of the most striking and unique teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.
We have erewhile declared—and Our Word is the truth—: “Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.” Whatsoever hath led the children of men to shun one another, and hath caused dissensions and divisions amongst them, hath, through the revelation of these words, been nullified and abolished. From the heaven of God’s Will, and for the purpose of ennobling the world of being and of elevating the minds and souls of men, hath been sent down that which is the most effective instrument for the education of the whole human race. The highest essence and most perfect expression of whatsoever the peoples of old have either said or written hath, through this most potent Revelation, been sent down from the heaven of the Will of the All-Possessing, the Ever-Abiding God. Of old it hath been revealed: “Love of one’s country is an element of the Faith of God.” The Tongue of Grandeur hath, however, in the day of His manifestation proclaimed: “It is not his to boast who loveth his country, but it is his who loveth the world.” Through the power released by these exalted words He hath lent a fresh impulse and set a new direction to the birds of men’s hearts, and hath obliterated every trace of restriction and limitation from God’s holy Book.
The unbelievers and the faithless have set their minds on four things: first, the shedding of blood; second, the burning of books; third, the shunning of the followers of other religions; fourth, the extermination of other communities and groups. Now however, through the strengthening grace and potency of the Word of God these four barriers have been demolished, these clear injunctions have been obliterated from the Tablet and brutal dispositions have been transmuted into spiritual attributes.
In Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings we find the prerequisites of peace.
(This article is the 189th in a series of what I hope will be 200 articles in 200 days for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh. The anniversary is being celebrated around the world on 21 and 22 October 2017, The articles are simply my personal reflections on Bahá’u’lláh’s life and work. Any errors or inadequacies in these articles are solely my responsibility.)
Image Credit: With thanks to Kath Podger. Gardens at Bahji, 2016.