Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On Answering Her Question, "What Is the Baha'i Faith?": Drawing Again on Anna's Presentation

The following is an email response to a Baha'i blogger's Internet friend who has inquired about the Baha'i Faith. Note the writer's skillful integration of Anna's Presentation in her letter. -gw

Dearest Xxxxx ~ it was so wonderful to receive your sweet, generous e-mail from several days ago. I enjoyed it so much then, but could not reply as I was running to many activities on the weekend. I like to find a quiet moment to answer your e-mail. ...

Every morning I start my day like this, in gratitude for the great life of the world, and for man's generosity in writing about it, photographing it, and sharing it. With the advent of the computer and instant communication, I feel a kinship with it, eager to celebrate it, too.

Thank you for the photo of the hyacinth, for International Women's Day. I'm going to enclose a photo for you, of a new plum blossom I saw yesterday. This time of spring is so enchanting, as if everything is 'made new' and fresh, and hopeful. On March 21st it is the first day of Spring. For Baha'is, this is the beginning of the New Year, when we come out of our deep winter slumber, and awaken to new life, the renewal of our energies.

That thought, of renewal, is really what the Baha'i Faith is - the renewal of the spirit of Christianity, with new teachings for this day. You asked how Baha'i is different from Christianity, and I would answer this by showing first how they are similar: They both originate from the same source, God; their motivating force is to uplift and guide humanity. Just as a week has 7 days with one sun overhead, the religions may differ from age to age like the days of the week, but they have the same sunshine throughout the week.

The great Covenant of God, in his love for humanity, says we will always have guidance. Baha'is feel that the teachings of Baha'u'llah,the Manifestation of God for today, have the greatest possibility of bringing about world unity...that is, all countries and people working together for the common good of all, as if they are one country, with humanity as one race, the human race.

Religions are also like the grades in school, ever progressing, from one level of awareness to the next. Baha'is embrace all religions as significant paths to spiritual understanding, and for the maintenance of order in society. So, many Baha'is have Christian, Buddhist,Jewish, and Islamic backgrounds - they appreciate their former traditions, but add on these new teachings.

So how is Baha'i different from Christianity? Well, Christ addressed the social structure (city-state) of his day 2000 years ago, and Baha'u'llah's teachings address contemporary (global) issues, such as economic inequities, racial prejudice, and the inequalities between men and women. For the world to heal from these injustices (which impede progress), we have to awaken our minds to new concepts which broaden our focus, to care about building a world free from thesel imitations and constraints.

Baha'u'llah did not die on a cross as Jesus Christ did, as a way of absorbing all the grief and sin of humanity. But, he was banished, exiled, and tortured by the clergy and governments of Persia and the Ottoman Empire for spreading his teachings. He was banished to Istanbul, Edirne, then to Akka in Israel, where he spent all of hislife as a prisoner. His life was a sacrifice, just as Jesus's was, forthe good of humanity. Today, there are Baha'is all over the world, spreading these teachings of peace, just as people embraced the new teachings of Moses, Christ, the Buddah, and Mohammad.

Both Christ and Baha'u'llah tell us about the nature of the soul, of the afterlife, and of the nature of man. Christ says, "only through Me can one enter the kingdom of Heaven". Baha'u'llah says that it is the pure message of the Manifestations which shed the greatest light on humanity, and that Heaven is a 'state of consciousness' that one can have while on Earth. Life is an ever-evolving process of heightened states of consciousness, even after death. In Baha'i, everything is in the affirmative (positive).

Well, dearest Xxxxx, that is my best answer. The great Messengers, the Prophets of God, are more alike than different, I guess. They do God's will, they suffer great pain to bring new teachings to the people, and they encourage humanity to grow to serve God's Purpose for mankind.

Thank you again for your generous e-mail, with all the nice photos,and for the hyacinth. It is the fragrance of your friendship which is especially dear to me, Xxxxx. I give you many big hugs for your kindness, and for your sincere question.

I'll close with a quotation of Baha'u'llah's regarding the creation of man: "O Son of Man! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life."

Warmest Regards, Xxxxxx

No comments: