|The coming of new
Messengers from God represent pivotal points in history. They release a fresh spiritual
impulse, stimulating personal renewal and social advancement. Bahá'u'lláh's revelation,
and the spiritual impulse accompanying it, is especially significant because it coincides
with the maturation of humanity.
There is only
one God, the Creator of the Universe. Throughout history, God has revealed Himself to
humanity through a series of divine Messengers--each of whom has founded a great religion.
The Messengers have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and
Muhammad. This succession of divine Teachers reflects a single historic "plan of
God" for educating humanity about the Creator and for cultivating the spiritual,
intellectual and moral capacities of the race. The goal has been to prepare the way for a
single, global and ever-advancing civilization. Knowledge of God's will for humanity in
the modern age was revealed just over 100 years ago by Bahá'u'lláh,
who is the latest of these divine Messengers.
That is the essence of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings about God,
religion and humanity. Bahá'ís often express these beliefs simply by speaking of the
oneness of God, the oneness of religion, and the oneness of humankind. Unity is at all
times the overarching theme of Bahá'í belief; in theological terms, it manifests itself
in the understanding that the sole Creator has a single plan for the one humanity.
Coupled with these ideas is an understanding that human
nature is fundamentally spiritual. Although human beings exist on earth in physical
bodies, the essential identity of each person is defined by an invisible, rational, and
"Know thou assuredly that the essence of all the Prophets of God
is one and the same..." -- Bahá'u'lláh
The soul animates the body and distinguishes human beings
from the animals. It grows and develops only through the individual's relationship with
God, as mediated by His Messengers. The relationship is fostered through prayer, knowledge
of the scriptures revealed by these Teachers, love for God, moral self-discipline, and
service to humanity. This process is what gives meaning to life.
Cultivation of life's spiritual side has several benefits.
First, the individual increasingly develops those innate qualities that lie at the
foundation of human happiness and social progress. Such qualities include faith, courage,
love, compassion, trustworthiness and humility. As these qualities are increasingly
manifest, society as a whole advances.
Another effect of spiritual development is alignment with
God's will. This growing closer prepares the individual for the afterlife. The soul lives
on after the body's death, embarking on a spiritual journey towards God through many
"worlds" or planes of existence. Progress on this journey, in traditional terms,
is likened to "heaven." If the soul fails to develop, one remains distant from
God. This, in traditional Christian or Muslim terms,is "hell."
The coming of new Messengers from God represent pivotal
points in history. Each releases a fresh spiritual impulse, stimulating personal renewal
and social advancement. Bahá'u'lláh's revelation, and the spiritual impulse accompanying
it, is especially significant because it coincides with the maturation of humanity.
Bahá'u'lláh teaches that humanity,
as a whole, has today entered a new stage in its collective existence. Like an adolescent
entering adulthood, new levels of accomplishment are now possible. Global undertakings,
once considered impossible, can now be achieved. Such undertakings include the realization
of world peace, the attainment of universal social justice, and the furtherance of a
harmonious balance between technology, development, human values and protection of the
natural environment. continues