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One Common Faith

  • Author:
  • Bahá’í World Centre

  • Source:
  • Bahá’í World Centre, 2005 edition
  • Pages:
  • 56
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Pages 49-53

“Everything in its history has equipped the Bahá’í…”

Everything in its history has equipped the Bahá’í Cause to address the challenge facing it. Even at this relatively early stage of its development—and relatively limited 50 as its resources presently are—the Bahá’í enterprise is fully deserving of the respect it is winning. An onlooker need not accept its claims to Divine origin in order to appreciate what is being accomplished. Taken simply as this-worldly phenomena, the nature and achievements of the Bahá’í community are their own justification for attention on the part of anyone seriously concerned with the crisis of civilization, because they are evidence that the world’s peoples, in all their diversity, can learn to live and work and find fulfilment as a single race, in a single global homeland.
This fact underlines, if further emphasis were needed, the urgency of the successive Plans devised by the Universal House of Justice for the expansion and consolidation of the Faith. The rest of humanity has every right to expect that a body of people genuinely committed to the vision of unity embodied in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh will be an increasingly vigorous contributor to programmes of social betterment that depend for their success precisely on the force of unity. Responding to the expectation will require the Bahá’í community to grow at an ever-accelerating pace, greatly multiplying the human and material resources invested in its work and diversifying still further the range of talents that equip it to be a useful partner with like-minded organizations. Along with the social objectives of the effort must go an appreciation of the longing of millions of equally sincere people, as yet unaware of Bahá’u’lláh’s mission but inspired by many of its ideals, for an opportunity to find lives of service that will have enduring meaning. 51
The culture of systematic growth taking root in the Bahá’í community would seem, therefore, by far the most effective response the friends can make to the challenge discussed in these pages. The experience of an intense and ongoing immersion in the Creative Word progressively frees one from the grip of the materialistic assumptions—what Bahá’u’lláh terms “the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy” 1 —that pervade society and paralyze impulses for change. It develops in one a capacity to assist the yearning for unity on the part of friends and acquaintances to find mature and intelligent expression. The nature of the core activities of the current Plan—children’s classes, devotional meetings and study circles—permits growing numbers of persons who do not yet regard themselves as Bahá’ís to feel free to participate in the process. The result has been to bring into existence what has been aptly termed a “community of interest”. As others benefit from participation and come to identify with the goals the Cause is pursuing, experience shows that they, too, are inclined to commit themselves fully to Bahá’u’lláh as active agents of His purpose. Apart from its associated objectives, therefore, wholehearted prosecution of the Plan has the potentiality of amplifying enormously the Bahá’í community’s contribution to public discourse on what has become the most demanding issue facing humankind.
If Bahá’ís are to fulfil Bahá’u’lláh’s mandate, however, it is obviously vital that they come to appreciate that the parallel efforts of promoting the betterment of society and of teaching the Bahá’í Faith are not activities competing 52 for attention. Rather, are they reciprocal features of one coherent global programme. Differences of approach are determined chiefly by the differing needs and differing stages of inquiry that the friends encounter. Because free will is an inherent endowment of the soul, each person who is drawn to explore Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings will need to find his own place in the never-ending continuum of spiritual search. He will need to determine, in the privacy of his own conscience and without pressure, the spiritual responsibility this discovery entails. In order to exercise this autonomy intelligently, however, he must gain both a perspective on the processes of change in which he, like the rest of the earth’s population, is caught up and a clear understanding of the implications for his own life. The obligation of the Bahá’í community is to do everything in its power to assist all stages of humanity’s universal movement towards reunion with God. The Divine Plan bequeathed it by the Master is the means by which this work is carried out.
However central the ideal of the oneness of religion unquestionably is, therefore, the task of sharing Bahá’u’lláh’s message is obviously not an interfaith project. While the mind seeks intellectual certainty, what the soul longs for is the attainment of certitude. Such inner conviction is the ultimate goal of all spiritual seeking, regardless of how rapid or gradual the process may be. For the soul, the experience of conversion is not an extraneous or incidental feature of the exploration of religious truth, but the pivotal issue that must eventually be addressed. There is no ambiguity about Bahá’u’lláh’s words on the subject and 53 there can be none in the minds of those who seek to serve Him: “Verily I say, this is the Day in which mankind can behold the Face, and hear the Voice, of the Promised One. The Call of God hath been raised, and the light of His countenance hath been lifted up upon men. It behoveth every man to blot out the trace of every idle word from the tablet of his heart, and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His glory.” 2
1. Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán, paragraph 213.   [ Back To Reference]
2. Gleanings, section VII.   [ Back To Reference]