The spiritual crisis of the West stems from the divorce of science from religion. Science is in the ascendent as it is able to explain the empirical, objective world without recourse to religion, going from strength to strength, explaining more and more phenomena that were previously in the realm of religious philosophy. "Revelation" and "inspiration" from "God" are currently discredited by the exposure of many previously revealed religious "truths" as just plain wrong in the light of modern scientific knowledge.
The spiritual crisis comes from the tendency for our scientific understandings, which are divorced from any religious teachings, to lead to materialistic nihilism, because science can not generate values, morality and reasons for living. Thus society is advancing materially and technologically but is adrift morally and spiritually.
For its part, religion can no longer coerce allegiance because religious truths can not be "proven" in the way in which modern society is accustomed due to the ascendancy and astonishing success of the scientific method. Post modern philosophy since Kant affirms the ability of science to ascertain empirical facts about the external, objective universe, but can not connect the inner, subjective reality of human consciousness to that objective, empirical world of science.
One of the first to carry this line of thinking to its logical conclusion was Nietzsche and he promptly went insane. He saw clearly that our old conception of "God" was dead, but without that Center his mind could not be circumscribed.
Rather than going insane as a society, the way out is for humanity to recognize that, while religion can not be proven, nor forced, it can be chosen. By choosing to affirm the worth and deep necessity of the human nousphere or inner life, people and society can decide that human life is only worth living with full attention to the meaning of the human condition, which is an idealistic, psychic realm that can inform society of values and meaning.
The new world religion must make room for people of all faiths and no faith, but it must also reach a critical mass of consensus. Since most world religions and philosophies have much in common in terms of values, ethics and world view, this is possible, but must involve the shedding of literal understandings of the theologies that so divide the world's individual religious traditions as well as their outdated mythologies. Religious thinking will need to focus on ultimate meanings and values as well as practical spiritual technologies.
Consensus will require a recognition of revealed psychic truths, but these revealed truths must needs be Recognized by a critical mass of society, not Forced down people's throats by fear. The new religious understanding must be that "God" guides and influences humanity by means of psychic inspiration of humans and societies, not by direct manipulation of the empirical laws of nature. On the other hand, "God" reveals the empirical laws of nature to human scientific enquiry, not through religious Revelation, which has a much higher purpose.
This way out, once chosen, leads to the conclusion that humanity must give birth to something beyond it's current self. The modern West is the culmination of many centuries of male dominated individualism. In order to give birth to the Future, the Western Spirit must embrace its feminine Soul in the form of the Psyche. Making this Choice will not be easy and will require a leap of Faith, but we as human beings can choose to affirm that faith in an ultimate purpose, in the ultimate goodness of existence and the Future, is our most valued Human quality.
Future of Religion:
Major religous revelations must be *historically validated* in order to have the desired effect on society. That is, a critical mass of believers must arise, and *also* the major points of the Revelation must be generally
accepted by the society and internalized by its intellectual leaders,
or else the Revelation has 'failed". For instance, Christianity and Islam were historically validated within their respective societies. I a revelation is historically accepted and validated, then it can be seen in retrospect to be "true"; if it is never historically validated, then in retrospect it was not meant to be. In the beginning, it is a matter of faith, one must make a leap of faith in order to recognize a religious revelation *before* it is is historically validated. One risks failure, one risks wasting one's self on an untrue revelation if one chooses incorrectly, some even risk and face martyrdom.
All societies have had religions. During the axial age, many societies evolved beyond their roots, and their first level religions went through a metamorphosis into second level religions such as Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. These second level religions retained many features of the original first level religions, but sublimated the original myths into higher level myths which were more appropriate to the new requirements of civilization. It is precisely these second level myths which we are now tempted to completely abandon. However, these myths are not untruths with which we deluded ourselves; rather, they are best-effort theories to explain the world as we find it, similar to the best effort theories we use in science. When we find a better theory, we change our paradigm, but we still recognize the utility of the previous theory and paradigm, in its day, and the need for better theories and paradigms for the future.
To quote Thomas Nagel from his book "The Last Word", as he discusses scientific beliefs and theories:
"This means that most of our beliefs at any time must in some degree be regarded as provisional, since they may be replaced when a different balance of reasons is generated by new experience or theoretical ingenuity. It also means that an eternal set of rules of scientific method cannot be laid down in advance. But it does not mean that it cannot be true that a certain theory is the most reasonable to accept given the evidence available at a particular time, and it does not mean that the theory cannot be objectively true, however provisionally we may hold it. Truth is not the same as certainty, or universal acceptance."
So, coming back to religion, when the first order world-explaining theories of societies began to fail, they sublimated them into much better second order theories, or world explaining myths, called Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. What works for science, works also for the realms of philosophy, religion, and the humanities.
So, we could abandon the second order myths of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam; or, we can create a new third order theory, or omni-myth, which represents the very best explanation possible to us at this time for the meaning and purpose of human life and human civilization.
While that meaning and purpose for an individual might be supplied by esoteric spirituality, for society as a whole and for civilization, something more is required. The meaning of civilization must be rooted in historicity. This historicity represents the story of meaning, the meaning of the story of human existence. I submit that the best theory to explain this meaning is rooted in the history of human progress found in the worldÕs great religious traditions.
As societies evolved, eventually so did religions. Eventually, an individual named Abraham became conscious of a truly unified Deity and guiding purpose to human affairs, and abandoned the need for human sacrifice. Gautama Buddha made profound breakthroughs in the science of human consciousness and spirituality. Jesus Christ made the profound breakthrough of triumphing over Death itself, by completely sacrificing His entire life for the good of all humanity, past, present and future. Muhammad made dramatic breakthroughs in applying this evolving ethos into a better governmental and societal organization structure.
All of the above must now be transcended. We must incorporate modern science, our best historical religious truths, and our best vision of the future into a new omni-myth; a new theory of everything. Fortunately, something in the spirit of combined humanity seems to always help us and point us in the right direction. Special individual humans seem to arise at just such moments as this, and coalesce the best strivings of the human spirit into a coherent whole.
At our current level of development, no new omni-theory or myth can make dogmatic claims or require adherence by force of any kind. Unproven statements are voluntary and must never be enforced, even by application of subtle psychological or mental pressures. This is rule number one for all time from now on; freedom of conscience and belief are each humanÕs eternal right, and are absolute minimal necessities for any theory or omni-myth. Religious truth is relative; theories are improved; new paradigms adopted. But we do have a choice; and we should choose to adopt those theories and paradigms, which best fit the facts, best promote the common welfare, and offer the best vision of the future. Indeed, we need a common vision, common goals, a community of meaning.
Our choices in these spiritual matters can be guided by reason, just as our scientific theories are. Karl Popper, the eminent theoretician of scientific method, has posited that in order to be a good scientific theory, a theory must be falsifiable. What this often means in a practical sense is that a scientific theory must be able to predict certain experimental outcomes which, if not forthcoming, would serve to falsify the theory itself. In religious terms, we can strive for an equivalent falsifiability of process. Where it is impossible to perform actual experiments on the entire history and future of the human race and the universe, we can instead observe the results which various processes have in human affairs. One religious theory is not as good as the next; we do have a choice to make, and an important one. We should make a sound choice based on reason, evidence, and observation.
Religion represents societyÕs long term memory and blue prints for the future; our civilizationÕs Vision. Some long term memories are so important, have been so painfully won and at such a price, that they must never be forgotten.
Most of all, we must have a common Vision of the future, a vision which recognizes our need for more than just material comfort and which represents the best possible aspirations of humanity. Most of our lives are spent on short-term affairs, duties, goals and pursuits. Religion serves that noble function of supplying a long-term guidance and direction, a momentum from generation to generation. As such, it is indispensable.
We need more than material comfort, technical advancement, and scientific understanding. We need community. We need common goals, We need a Vision of the future which holds us all in rapt attention and which includes the whole world. Nothing less will suffice for this new age.
Social Evolution of Religious Meaning:
Human social systems are a complex set of interacting systems across time and space, made up of the actions, thoughts, interactions and communications of many individual people. They are of at least a comparable level of complexity as the natural systems we see around us, the biological ecosystems, and the physical systems of the known universe. If we can grow to have faith in a natural world guided by God's grace and will, as in an unknowable but logically inferred reality; then why can we not grow to have faith in a complex evolutionary process of human social systems which, though surely made up of "only" the collective human actions and communications of a large number of individuals, nonetheless is guided in its complexity by an unknown and unseeable Hand?
From this scale and perspective, individuals still matter, but the broad social interactions of large numbers of people matter more, creating the cities, hubs of activity, and large scale social movements. It is on this level of viewpoint that religions unfold. Religions are large scale social movements, unfolding in the interactions of large groups of people over an extended period of time.
Being social in nature, religious movements naturally require the relative agreement of large numbers of people over an extended period of time. In order to achieve this large scale human cooperation, religious principles must be flexible enough to be adopted by a wide swathe of people of differing dispositions; but successful religious principles, or memes, must also contribute to the social solidarity necessary to hold society together for the common good. To some extent, religion is the glue which holds human societies together.
Religious impulses are hard wired into the human brain by genetic coding. This coding must have evolved over long periods of time, and it must have been favorable to the successful adaptation of human populations; it may even be that there has been a trade-off, in human evolutionary history, between individual adaptation and group, or social adaptation. If so, then surely religious impulses must have been selected because they fostered the greater stability and survival rate of groups, not individuals. To some extent, it was "genetically" to the advantage of an individual to sacrifice his own welfare or existence in favor of the more important survival of the group of which he was a part. Given this religious heritage in our genes, we can no more abandon religion than we can abandon human nature; so it is best to thoughtfully adapt our religious instincts to a modern reality.
When one contemplates the evolution of religious impulses in human individuals, and the co-evolution of religious norms amongst human population groups, it becomes apparent that it must have been a process involving numerous compromises; compromises between individual good and group good; compromises between alternative value-systems, and diverse methods of promoting group cohesion, cooperation, and survival. Thus religion is by its very nature both forward looking, and continually evolving towards better religious mechanisms. Trade-offs no doubt were made. Compromises were effected. What emerged slowly over time was an imperfect (by today's standards) but continually improving mode of thinking and acting in accordance with an evolving religious ethos.
Religion plays a specific role in human mental machinery which is indispensable. To be precise, the human animal, the first to think clearly, logically, and temporally, that is, towards the future, was faced with the dilemma of making sense of it all. Even on a day to day basis, the human mind's greatest strength was pattern recognition, prediction, analyzing, projecting, and surmising. While the human mind evolved to make forecasts based on inputs from the senses, it was also necessary to prepare mental frames of reference in which to stage the mind's work. These frames of reference grew more and more complicated and sophisticated, eventually requiring that the human mind make tentative but important attempts to see the "big picture", so to speak. I suggest this was the original root of religious instincts, the attempt to use the mind to make a best guess as to what the human's life and world were all about; in order to make more successful day to day assessments of alternative courses of action, and eventually to build the cohesive social groups which were the hallmark of humanity's most successful adaptations. Mankind is a social animal.
Mankind is a meaning making machine. Human societies are meaning generating mechanisms of great sophistication. Rather than ridicule the early attempts at the construction of meaning, which to our eyes may appear primitive, we should wonder at the glorious breakthrough which made meaning making social systems necessary and emergent.
Even in relatively primitive human societies, there are always explanations, social rules, mores, and codes of honor which guide the group, hold it together , and give meaning to the lives of its participants. As civilizations dawned and grew more complex, certainly religions grew equally more complex. There has been a continual process of meaning-construction going on since prehistoric times. This meaning is socially constructed, but real in the most important way that something can be real for human beings.
All civilizations were founded with religious underpinnings. Of course, religions, like civilizations, grow and sometimes die; forming an intellectual and ontological compost from which new civilizations often sprout. Often, these new civilizations are more complex and take root in earlier ideas while expanding them to meet new conditions.
Our situation today is most interesting. For perhaps the first time in human history, at first glance, it might appear that humanity is outgrowing its need for religion. The ultra-successful scientific paradigm appears to offer a non-religious meta-meaning structure, which in its extreme forms at least, is atheistic. Certainly some propose that we have outgrown our need for religion.
Our scientific paradigm is itself rooted in our religious instincts. The scientific method is , after all, looking for ultimate answers and to tie together loose intellectual ends. And it is most successful. The scientific and rational revolutions springing forth out of the Great Enlightenment are two of the greatest achievements of humanity's long history and are to be cherished.
But taken to extremes, the scientific paradigm still leaves ultimate questions unanswered, for as we solve one level of complexity, a new , more difficult level always emerges, like a child's computer game extravaganza. It would seem that there is still a need for the religious principle to function for group cohesiveness and to provide the meta system of meaning, the underlying best educated surmise as to the ultimate matrix of reality. But this religious principle must always be in accordance with and in partnership with the scientific paradigm itself.
We can not go back to barbarism and superstition. Neither can we profitably exist in a scientific-only mental universe with no shared values and no best guess conjectures as to what is the meaning of it all. We are meaning making creatures. We will seek meaning.
The attempt to allow no meanings other than scientifically generated ones leads to scientific dogmatism as surely as do its religious cousins. For in the absence of any meaning or value system other than science, we are still left gaping at the unknown. The human mind, and more importantly the human social systems, always fill the unknown with best guesses. Otherwise the social group can not function properly because nihilism and ennui result. The current extreme form of scientific atheism is every bit as dogmatic as any religion, and is in fact a religious mindset in and of itself. It is the religion of scientific totalitarianism.
Science plus religion are much better than religion alone; and science plus religion are much better than science alone. But the religion must be a new religious formulation which is compatible with science and in harmony with reason.
So religions evolve and improve. But, like the quantum states of matter, the evolution of religions is somewhat discontinuous in that there are periodic quantum jumps in state to new religious levels of understanding. These are associated with the appearance of new prophets who bring with them new religious revelations.
The appearance of a new religious revelation marks a quantum jump forward in religious understanding, but of course this new understanding is never perfect. And thus, hard as it is for us to see, eventually all revelations must be updated and upgraded by new prophets, as human individuals and societies become capable of a greater degree of understanding.
Religion is a historical process of socially constructed, integrative exploration of reality. Religion is ultimately oriented towards the far future, from which we are pulled as if by a most beautiful and strong chaotic, strange attractor. This Omega Point in the ultimate future influences the present most strongly. As we heed its powerful force, we are indeed in the process of actualizing the already subliminally present Kingdom of God.
The Baha'i Faith, a New Revelation:
In nineteenth century Persia, something new was born, a next level synthesis of the world's major religious streams.
The Baha'i Faith fulfills the role of affirming the truths of all the world's major historical religions, as well as many indigenous spiritual traditions from around the world, while moving them into the future in a manner consistent with modern science. The Baha'i Faith is a continuation and fulfillment of the Abrahamic Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions, while for the first time within this huge stream, equally affirming the Hindu-Buddhist stream of spirituality. This is achieved by virtue of the principle of Progressive Revelation, in which the core principles of God's religion never change, but some of the outward forms and social rules evolve to fit the needs of the times. The forward momentum of Progressive Revelation is maintained by a series of Manifestations of God who further the message, which includes Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Gautauma Buddha, Zoroaster, and others both known and unknown.
The Baha'i Faith was inaugurated, for the first time in human history, by a series of two Manifestations, or Prophets, in nineteenth century Persia, in the heartland of the Shi'ite branch of the Islamic faith. The "twelver" Shi'ites believe that the rightful succession to Muhammad was exemplified by the the twelve Imams who were direct descendants of Muhammad in the early days of the Islamic dispensation. When the last, or twelfth, Imam mysteriously disappeared, he became known as the hidden Imam. It was expected that, in the latter days, the hidden Imam would come again, to be known as the Mahdi, and would reform the faith and prepare the way for the second coming of Jesus. These beliefs accord with early Islamic beliefs promulgated by Muhammad Himself about the second coming of Christ and the last days.
As messianic expectations ran high in Persia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, a particular school of thought known as the Shaykhi school began to pay particularly close attention to the imminent advent of the Mahdi. Then, in 1844, a direct descendent of Muhammad known as Siyyid Ali-Muhammad declared His identity as the Bab, which means the gate, thus beginning the Babi dispensation. The Bab wrote an inspired holy book known as the Bayan, and His high character, holiness, and charisma attracted many followers all over Persia. One of His earliest followers was a Persian noble woman and poetess known as Tahirih, which means "the Pure One". She was a devout Babi and an advocate for women's rights who actually removed her veil in public, which was considered completely unacceptable and scandalous in that time and place. As she was led away to be executed, she said "You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women." There were many other heroic Babi martyrs who preferred death to the option of renouncing their faith in the Bab.
The Bab made a pilgrimage to Mecca and, while firmly grasping the holy ring of the Kaaba in his hand, he formally announced His mission and station at the most holy of Islamic sites.
Back in Persia, the Bab, like so many prophets and saints of the past, was arrested and tortured. Finally, in 1850, He was condemned to death by firing squad. When the guards came to get Him in His prison cell, the Bab was not quite finished dictating His final words to His secretary. The Bab told the guards that no one on earth could execute Him unless He allowed it and before He finished His final words. But they took Him to the firing squad anyway.
The events of that day were witnessed by many thousands of people, including several western European diplomats, and there is surprising unanimity in their accounts of what transpired. The Bab and His disciple were tied hanging suspended by ropes against a wall to be shot. The firing squad of 750 rifles was of Armenian Christian background, and commanded by one Sam Khan. Sam Khan did not want to execute the Bab, since he was obviously innocent of any crimes. The Bab told Sam Khan to "Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, The Almighty is surely able to relieve you of your perplexity."
The firing squad of 750 rifles fired at the Bab and His disciple hanging suspended from the wall. The smoke from the guns created a dark cloud and obscured the vision; but when the smoke cleared, the Bab's disciple was standing unharmed and unscathed beside the wall; the Bab was nowhere to be seen! After a frantic search, the Bab was found sitting calmly back in His cell, calmly dictating His last words to be recorded before he died. Evidently, all 750 rifle shots had completely missed the Bab and His companion, but had severed the ropes which held them!
Now, Sam Khan and His Armenian riflemen were absolutely unwilling to execute the Bab after such a miraculous occurrence. Hastily, and with some difficulty, a new firing squad was rounded up. This time, both the Bab and His companion were killed, their bodies riddled with bullets, but miraculously not one bullet marred the face and visage of the Bab.
The last words of the Bab to the crowd were "O wayward generation! Had you believed in me every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and would have willingly sacrificed himself in my path. The day will come when you will have recognized me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you."
His body was thrown in a ditch for the dogs, but mercifully some of His disciples were able to retrieve His body later that night, at great risk to their own personal safety. The body of the Bab is now enshrined on Mount Caramel at the Baha'i World Center.
The Babis continued to come under the heaviest of persecutions. Many thousands were tortured and martyred. Babis were to be seen being pulled behind horses, with knife-gouged wounds all over their bodies, filled with burning candles to make for the most excruciating of torture, and then dragged and pulled until dead. Still, the Babis refused to recant, and in fact many of them were to be seen dancing in profound religious ecstasy as they were pulled throughout the towns, with burning candles in their wounds, dancing for the love of God and the Bab! These scenes were so impressive that the number of Babis continued to grow. The Bab confirmed but reformed the Islamic faith, and announced that he would be soon followed by One Whom God Will Make Manifest, who would be greater than the Bab Himself and would found a world uniting religion.
One of the Bab's earliest and most prominent followers was Mirza Husayn 'Ali, who became known as Baha'u'llah, which means the Glory of God. Baha'u'llah was from a prominent noble family in a region of northwest Persia known as Mazindarin. Descended from the ancient line of Persian Kings going all the way back to King Cyrus of Biblical fame, the devout Zoroastrian who freed the Jews to return to their homeland after he conquered Babylon, and also descended from the royal line of King David of Israel, Baha'u'llah's father was a wealthy and highly respected court official. Baha'u'llah was a particularly bright and charismatic child who was expected to obtain a very high position in the royal court and live a life of luxury and prominence.
However Baha'u'llah showed more interest in helping the poor, in children and in nature. He was a precocious child of immense intellect, and was highly honored and revered by all. When, as an adult, He became one of the earliest supporters of the Bab, Baha'u'llah too came under suspicion and persecution. It is somewhat miraculous that He was not also executed, but the authorities were perhaps reluctant to execute one so prominent and so popular. However, Baha'u'llah was tortured and imprisoned. Thrown into the dungeon called the Siyah-Chal in Teheran, for four months Baha'u'llah lived in the wet, filthy, diseased dungeon packed so full with Babi's that there was not even room for one to lie down to sleep; nor was their any light or facilities of any kind. Each day, the guards would appear at the one door and take away some Babi's to be further tortured and then finally executed.
It was in this dank prison hole that Baha'u'llah had His vision announcing His great mission. In a dream the following words came to Him in the dungeon saying "Verily, We shall render Thee victorious by Thyself and by Thy pen. Grieve Thou not for that which hath befallen Thee, neither be Thou afraid, for Thou art in safety. Ere long will God raise up the treasures of the earth-men who will aid Thee through Thyself and through Thy Name, wherewith God hath revived the hearts of such as have recognized Him."
Eventually, Baha'u'llah was moved from prison to prison around the Ottoman empire. Throughout this period of imprisonment and persecution, He always conducted Himself with utmost dignity and holiness, often winning the grudging but admiring respect, love and even devotion of his captors and guards.
In 1863, in a garden in Baghdad, Baha'u'llah made His formal announcement to the world of His station. After this, and after a long series of forced movements in exile, at last Baha'u'llah came to be in the Ottoman prison at Acca, in northern Palestine near the modern city of Haifa, Israel. This was at that time a most foul prison where pestilence and disease were so endemic that prisoners were often left there to die.
But over a long stay at this prison, Baha'u'llah won the admiration and respect of his jailers and the townspeople, and was eventually allowed to receive visitors from around the middle east. By the time He died a natural death in 1892, Baha'u'llah was a revered figure by all. He had written 100 major tablets and books, all dictated at lightening speed and without revision. Baha'u'llah recognized and affirmed the truths of Islam, Christianity and other previous religions and declared that the time was ripe for world Unity, the harmony of science and religion, and the end once and for all of inequality, strife and discrimination based on race, religion, creed, gender or any other reasons.
The Baha'i World center is now located on Mount Carmel in Haifa in the immediate region of Baha'u'llah's prison home. This same mountain was holy from Biblical times, was the scene of the prophet Elijah's confrontation with the priests of Baal, the home of Elijah's cave on the side of the mountain, and the subject of Biblical prophecies of the future messianic age. The Mount Carmel area and the Baha'i World Center have now been turned into a most beautiful garden spot that attracts tourism and admiration from all around the world.
Baha'u'llah established the Baha'i Faith as a universal religion, in the long line of Abrahamic religions. He proclaimed the truth of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of mankind, the truth of Mohammad as God's Prophet, and the basic truth of the other major prophetic figures and founders of religions in human history, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Zoroaster, Buddha, the Bab and others.
Baha'u'llah's son, Abdul Baha, known as the Master, succeeded Him as head of the faith. Abdul Baha led a saintly life of charity in the Haifa and Acca regions, and consolidated the Faith. Abdul Baha traveled to Paris and to the United States, and was honored and revered wherever he went, winning many adherents to the Faith.
At His funeral in Haifa in 1921, Abdul Baha was mourned and missed by a crowd of over 10,000, including dignitaries from all faiths and walks of life, including leading Islamic and Christian clergymen. The saintly life of Abdul Baha is an inspiration and model for all Baha'is to try to emulate.
Abdul Baha was succeeded by his grandson, Shoghi Effendi, known as the Guardian of the Faith. Shoghi Effendi was educated at Oxford in England and he translated many of the writings of Baha'u'llah from the original Persian and Arabic to English. Shoghi Effendi also traveled extensively, and in the United States he laid the corner stone for the first North American Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois in the Chicago area. Under the Guardian's stewardship, the faith spread all around the world and was provided with a functioning Administrative Order. By the time of His death in 1957, the Faith was securely established.
Since the passing of Shoghi Effendi, the Faith is led not by a single individual , but by a universally elected Universal House of Justice, composed of nine members meeting at the Baha'i World Center in Haifa, Israel. The Baha'i administration is democratically elected in each town, country, and finally the Universal House of Justice which is the first and only democratically elected world-wide institution.
The Baha'i Faith thus represents historical continuity with the world's great streams of religious and spiritual thought, along with a healthy evolutionary thrust toward a new age. The Faith recognizes that there will be yet further stages of Progressive Revelation, and future Manifestations, as God's will in history can never be shut down. Baha'u'llah affirms that the next Manifestation will not occur for at least 1000 years.
Ten Key Principles of the Baha'i Faith:
1. The oneness of God, mankind and religion.
2. The independent investigation of truth.
3. The equality of women and men.
4. Harmony of science and religion.
5. Elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty.
6. Universal peace.
7. A world common-wealth of nations.
8. A universal auxiliary language.
9. Spiritual solutions to economic problems.
10. Universal education.
Nine reasons why you may want to become a Baha'i:
1. Because we don't reject the foundations of your beliefs, we renew them. Bah‡'’s celebrate the unity of the world religions - not by overlooking their differences, but by explaining them from a spiritual, cultural and historic perspective.
2. Because we offer a sense of Community based on acceptance, not exclusivity. Bah‡'’s consider every person on earth to be members of one family. There is not "us" and "them;" there is only "us".
3. Because we give you hope for the future. Bah‡'’s don't ignore the world's problems, we explain them in a way that makes sense and offer solutions that will work.
4. Because we have answers for the hard questions. If you've ever felt that your questions were unwelcome, you will be pleased to discover that the Bah‡'’ Writings not only encourage questions, but contain answers that you can explore for yourself.
5. Because these teachings will bring you joy. Developing your spiritual qualities, moving closer to God and working with a loving community may not bring you an easy life or lots of money, but they will bring you an inner peace and contentment that will last an eternity
6. Because you will fall in love with the Bah‡'’ Writings and their Author, God's latest (not last) messenger, Bah‡'u'll‡h. You will also fall in love with your own highest potential as a noble reflection of God's light, and begin to love others in that same light.
7. Because you will feel good about yourself, knowing that you are doing something to make the world a better place. In the Bah‡'’ Community you will be working for unity and cooperation between all people. This is the first step in solving any of the world's problems.
8. Because we are successful. Spiritual principles, sensible laws and an international administrative system have united millions of members from virtually every country on earth in a community which fosters personal growth and global harmony.
9. Because it feels right. In those quiet moments when you stop to listen to your heart, there will come a time when you will know that the Bah‡'’ Community has what you are looking for. Until then, keep reading, keep praying, and keep coming to activities. We are always glad to see you.
Bah‡'u'll‡h stressed the importance of:
¥ Purity of motive.
¥ Service to others.
¥ Deeds over words.
¥ Work as a form of worship.
"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." --Bah‡'u'll‡h
"The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens." Baha'u'llah
"Religion and science are the two wings upon which man's intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism. All religions of the present day have fallen into superstitious practices, out of harmony alike with the true principles of the teaching they represent and with the scientific discoveries of the time." Abdul Baha "Paris Talks"