Specific Teachings

Prophet and Seer

humiliation of germany at versailles

Is it possible to see the future? All of us can predict the future to a small degree, simply on the basis of past experience. Yet the idea that someone could see events far in the future raises scepticism. It is outside our common experience. Some of us have subjective experiences of deja vu (a feeling…

As Mild As Milk – the Human Power of Speech

people speaking - the power of speech

We live in a time where increasingly shouting down those who think differently than we do, is the “normal” of public discourse. Words are bludgeons to be used to subdue and humiliate an opponent or win an argument. Truth is distorted or disregarded. Listening plays a marginal role in this verbal warfare and polarisation of society…

Human Nature: What does it mean to be human?

What does it mean to be human? We rarely think about it. Yet implicitly and explicitly our actions are based on assumptions or beliefs about human nature. Are human beings essentially selfish? Are we essentially material beings – animals with enhanced intelligence?  Are we defined primarily by our material characteristics, such as our nationality or…

Against Religious Fanaticism and Hatred

Bahá’u’lláh condemned religious fanaticism and hatred. Perhaps most strikingly in the following passage: Religious fanaticism and hatred are a world-devouring fire, whose violence none can quench. The Hand of Divine power can, alone, deliver mankind from this desolating affliction.[1] I admit that when I first read this passage sometime in the late 1980s or early 90s, I found…

No Human Being is Unclean

Bahá’u’lláh abolishes the concept of “uncleanness”. In different cultures, at different times, human beings and things have been held to be “unclean” – in the specific case of religion – “ritually unclean”.  In 1873, Bahá’u’lláh wrote: God hath, … abolished the concept of “uncleanness,” whereby divers things and peoples have been held to be impure. … Verily, all…

Bahá’u’lláh’s Love

Rarely does the historical record show us the fullness of Bahá’u’lláh’s human experience. An exception is a moment of love between Bahá’u’lláh and his son, captured in the recollections of Baha’iyyih Khanum (Baha’u’llah’s daughter). More of that story below. Love is a recurrent theme in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings. Love of the divine, of creation, of humanity.…

Troubled Times

It won’t have escaped your attention that we live in troubled times. The sense of uncertainty and unease is palpable even for those of us lucky enough to live at a distance from the world’s conflict zones.  The world is suffering and we all know it. Every few days a new shock, a new event…