Mar 21st, 2008
The Sun of Reality is one Sun but it has different dawning-places, just as the phenomenal sun is one although it appears at various points of the horizon. During the time of spring the luminary of the physical world rises far to the north of the equinoctial; in summer it dawns midway and in winter it appears in the most southerly point of its zodiacal journey. These day springs or dawning-points differ widely but the sun is ever the same sun whether it be the phenomenal or spiritual luminary. Souls who focus their vision upon the Sun of Reality will be the recipients of light no matter from what point it rises, but those who are fettered by adoration of the dawning-point are deprived when it appears in a different station upon the spiritual horizon. `Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í writings
Bahá’ís are today celebrating the first day of their new year, Naw-Rúz. They have just ended their fast and begin the new year spiritual refreshed and recharged. Zoroastrians are also celebrating Naw-Rúz.
In fact, these few days see an amazing array of religious holy days and festivals. Yesterday Muslims commemorated the Milad-un-Nabi, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. Today Jews are celebrating the first day of Purim, which recalls how the Persian Jews were saved from annihilation by Esther, a young Jewish woman. Hindus are celebrating Holi, the Festival of Colours, to welcome the spring.
It is also Good Friday, when Christians commemorate the death of Christ on the cross – on Sunday they celebrate Easter, the day of Christ’s resurrection and the most important Christian festival.
For many people, these are all `different’ religions and, at first glance, they do appear completely dissimilar and even incompatible. What, you might ask, does throwing coloured paint during Holi have to do with Christians mourning the execution of the Son of God? But if you look beyond the particular festivals and practices to the essence of these religions, if you read their holy books, if you consider their purpose and their spiritual message, you will see that those messages are very similar. A study of their scriptures reveals that they deal with the same themes and ideas:
* the oneness of God
* that God is the creator of all existence
* that humanity exists to know its creator and to serve His purpose
* that the highest human response to this is worship and wholehearted submission to God
* recognition that all bounties come from God
* the responsibilities of humanity
* the station of those who respond positively to the message
* the succession of great teachers bringing God’s message to humanity revelations of the divine
Consider, for example, these passages from different holy books:
Hinduism: Lord of the world, Creator of creators the saviour God who overcomes the foeman. (Vedas, Rig Veda – Book 10)
Judaism: Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. (Isaiah 40:28)
Christianity: ‘Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.’ (Timothy 1:17)
Islam: This God your Lord. There is no God but He, the creator of all things: therefore worship Him alone; – and He watcheth over all things. (Qur’án 6, Rodwell)
Bábí religion: ‘I, verily, have not fallen short of My duty to admonish that people, and to devise means whereby they may turn towards God, their Lord, and believe in God, their Creator.’ (The Báb, Selections, p. 156)
Bahá’í: The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings, p. 70)
As the Universal House of Justice says,
For a sympathetic and objective reader of such passages what emerges is a recognition of the essential oneness of religion.
And Bahá’u’lláh Himself states that far from being `different’ religions they are `the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future’.
Worth thinking about deeply in this new year.
And happy Naw-Rúz to all my readers!