The distorting effects of time

Time can play funny tricks when we look at the world. Seen today, it is true that there are many faiths, and they all profess ultimately the same goal. In fact, as I look at things through the eye of “now”, I think Bahá’ís have just added one more piece to an already overly complicated puzzle.

As I dilate my view, however, and comprehend the entire span, I see that there are not several faiths, but a progression marching steadily through history.

The appearance of “many” today is the result of past rejection. If all of these faiths – any of them – are true, there would be fewer now. If Muhammad were true, the Christians should have accepted Him when they encountered the Muslims. Already that would have made the world simpler today. If Christ were true, the Jews would have acknowledged Him. If Buddha were true, the Hindus surrounding Him would have listened more closely, etc.

Bahá’u’lláh says, “This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future”. Our mistakes are what fracture truth, just as Muhammad said, “Knowledge is a single point, but the ignorant have multiplied it”. When I look at the world and see so much contention of belief, I realize I am not looking at Divine truth, but instead I’m seeing the nature of our own psyche at this time: divided, separated, clinging to past ways and patterns.

As we grow toward inner health, isn’t it natural we will come to recognize one truth? “Bahá’í” is not the name of this truth; as Lao-Tzu wrote, “The name which can be named is not the Eternal Name.” We are always, always midwives of a future truth, endlessly unfolding in pace with man’s ability to comprehend. This is true of my own education; I think it’s also true of the world at large.

The question is, are Bahá’u’lláh’s writings what we need to continue our progression? I don’t think humankind has plumbed the depths of its spiritual potential – no matter the actual nearness of God – nor is such development by any means universal. Watching the evening news proves this to me every time. Where is the plan, the path, the means for this to happen?

Acceptance works well on an individual basis, but alone it cannot lead to education. If I had a room full of children under my care, would leaving them alone to choose their own way ever lead to unity and mutual understanding, or inner growth? Instead, lack of guidance would cause whatever is strongest in their character to become dominant.

The world’s people are at varying stages of growth; they need a parent, a guardian, to oversee its needs and provide direction. It needs genuine authority! This is what the words of God offer, for the time in which they are revealed. And this is why Bahá’ís see a special place for Bahá’u’lláh writings, since they are especially suited to the requirements of world unity, and address humanity’s problems on a global scale.

And when we’ve finally conquered that problem – a situation poets have begged and longed for for thousands of years already – our growth will simply continue from there. Always under a different name, but always with the same theme and spirit: unfoldment of human potential, personally and collectively.

Likewise, reflect upon the perfection of man’s creation, and that all these planes and states are folded up and hidden away within him.

Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form When within thee the universe is folded?

Then we must labor to destroy the animal condition, till the meaning of humanity shall come to light.