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Ask A Baha’i: Manifestations of God, Part 2

Ask A Baha’i: Manifestations of God, Part 2

Do you have a question about the Baha’i faith? Submit it online or fill out the form below. 

Read part one in this series

By Daniel Pschaida

The Hindu tradition tells a wonderful story in which The Supreme God Vishnu’s joyous avatar, Krishna, is dancing and playing on his flute with many cow-herd maidens (gopis) at the same time. Such is the attention and gracious love that Lord Krishna gives each maiden that she experiences Krishna as if she alone is dancing with her heart’s Desire.

Like the cow-herd maidens, throughout much of history, human groups, in our great devotion to the extraordinary Founder(s) of our own religion, have celebrated our own Founder while dismissing and sometimes denigrating those of other religions. However, in this age, we can observe our collective global history and the extraordinary impact the various Founders of religions have had on human civilization—as rays of one Light. In addition, when we learn with equity and care of the teachings of other religions, we discover much good and truth in faith traditions other than one’s own.

For example:

  • A Muslim might read in the Bible “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” from Proverbs 17:17, and whole heartedly agree that this is the characteristic of a true friend and brother. 
  • A Buddhist may read in the New Testament “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24) and it might be reminded of the statement in their own scripture that the one who just learns of good teachings and does not put them into practice is like a “like a cowherd counting the cattle of others.”
  • A Christian might read Hindu scriptures that say “The one who is motivated only by the desire for the fruits of their action, and anxious about the results, is miserable indeed” (Bhagavad Gita) and might be reminded of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them” (Matthew, ch. 6).  
  • A Jew might hear the Buddhist teaching “You are not just here for yourself alone, but for the sake of all sentient beings. Keep your mind pure and warm,” and be reminded of Jewish teachings to be “a light unto the nations.”

The Bahá’í Writings say:

“Light is good in whatsoever lamp it is burning! A rose is beautiful in whatsoever garden it may bloom! A star has the same radiance if it shines from the East or from the West. Be free from prejudice, so will you love the Sun of Truth from whatsoever point in the horizon it may arise!”

Bahá’ís believe that we do not take anything away from Jesus by also celebrating Muḥammad, and we do not take anything from Muḥammad by celebrating the Buddha.  While we may continue to believe our own tradition is the best, most complete, or most perfect truth, we can still show genuine appreciation and find points of unity and friendship with people of other religious communities. Light is light, no matter from what lamp it shines, a rose is beautiful no matter in which garden it grows. 

Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, taught that a key reason we can find so much good and beauty in other religious traditions of others is that the various Founders of world religions are not in competition with each other in a kind of conflict between angels and demons.  Rather, these Founders are on the same side of the Ultimate, in service of humanity’s collective upliftment, as rays of one light of the Sun of Truth—God. 

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