By Nader Saiidi
21 Mar 2009
Baha'u'llah affirmed three fundamental, essential unities at different levels of being. First, he proclaimed the absolute unity of divine.
Metaphysical aspects of love and unity reality. (Getty images)
The unity of divine reality, however, is beyond the capacity of human understanding, even in terms of a conceptual framework. Also, the categories of oneness and plurality are incapable of expressing the unknowable divine unity, but this divine reality is the foundation and ultimate purpose of all beings.
Human beings are capable of reflecting divine reality through their longing and love for recognition and attainment of God. For Baha'is, all beings are signs and indications of the divine.
The mind can only understand the realms of appearance, manifestations and phenomena. However, by divine decree there is a mediation between God and humans. This is the realm of the supreme manifestations of God in whom the invisible becomes visible. These are the prophets of God who appear in each age in accordance with the stages of human development to exemplify the highest perfection of humanity and the actualisation of the divine sign, which is latent in all humanity. Therefore, the ultimate meaning and the fulfillment of human destiny are realised through the recognition of the supreme manifestation of God in each age.
The second level of unity is related to the realm of the manifestations of God. According to Baha'u'llah, all divine messengers and prophets like Krishna, Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, the Bab and Baha'u'llah are of one and the same essence.
Baha'u'llah talked of the unity of all manifestations of God and unity of all religions and of the truth and the purpose of all religions being the same. Divine revelation is one but takes different forms in accordance with the stage of development of human cultures and their specific historical and social needs. The teachings of all religions, therefore, are equally valid and true.
Divine messengers, Baha'u'llah said, are spiritual healers who prescribe different medicine depending on the specific illness of their patients. However, these medicines must change in accordance with changes in the illness. Hence Baha'u'llah talked about "progressive revelation" while emphasising the unity of divine revelation. Similarly, Baha'u'llah used the metaphor of the sun and horizons to convey the same idea. The divine reality of all manifestations of God is the same like the same sun that appears each time from a different horizon. What differentiates Jesus and Buddha is not their essential reality but only their human appearance.
Following the two previous levels of unity, Baha'u'llah also spoke of the unity of humankind, a metaphysical and essential reality and truth. All humans are endowed with the reflection of divine attributes in their beings. Humanity is a mirror of divine unity and hence, a sacred reality. Our task is to purify the mirror of existence to allow the divine unity to become visible at the individual, social, cultural, economic, political and intellectual levels of human reality.
The realisation of the divine in human life is not conditioned on flight from social and cultural life and avoidance of participation in advancement of human civilisation. It can only be realised through history, human civilisation and social progress. Therefore, the spiritual challenge of humanity is to create moral, spiritual, social, economic and political cultures and institutions that make it possible for the latent sacred unity of humankind to be realised in people's actual life and in the midst of the diversity of individuals and cultures.
21 March was Naw Ruz, the Baha'i New Year.