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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 71-72

Chapter 5: What is a Bahá’í

Man must show forth fruits. A fruitless man, in the words of His Holiness the Spirit (i.e. Christ), is like a fruitless tree, and a fruitless tree is fit for fire.—BAHÁ’U’LLÁH, Words of Paradise.
Herbert Spencer once remarked that by no political alchemy is it possible to get golden conduct out of leaden instincts, and it is equally true that by no political alchemy is it possible to make a golden society out of leaden individuals. Bahá’u’lláh, like all previous Prophets, proclaimed this truth and taught that in order to establish the Kingdom of God in the world, it must first be established in the hearts of men. In examining the Bahá’í teachings, therefore, we shall commence with the instructions of Bahá’u’lláh for individual conduct, and try to form a clear picture of what it means to be a Bahá’í.

Living the Life

When asked on one occasion: “What is a Bahá’í?” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied: “To be a Bahá’í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.” On another occasion He defined a Bahá’í as “one endowed with all the perfections of man in activity.” In one of His London talks He said that a man may be a Bahá’í even if He has never heard the name of Bahá’u’lláh. He added:—
The man who lives the life according to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is already a Bahá’í. On the other hand, a man may call himself a Bahá’í for fifty years, and if he does not live the life he is not a Bahá’í. An ugly man may call himself handsome, but he deceives no one, and a 72 black man may call himself white, yet he deceives no one, not even himself.
One who does not know God’s Messengers, however, is like a plant growing in the shade. Although it knows not the sun, it is, nevertheless, absolutely dependent on it. The great Prophets are spirits suns, and Bahá’u’lláh is the sun of this “day” in which we live. The suns of former days have warmed and vivified the world, and had those suns not shone, the earth would not be cold and dead, but it is the sunshine of today that alone can ripen the fruits which the suns of former days have kissed into life.