So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.
A warm, welcome awaited the Philadelphia Interfaith Visionary Women’s Council in the beautiful Baha’i Center. The meeting of our differing faiths would have pleased the founder of the Baha’i faith, Bahᾱ’u’llᾱh, as the spiritual unity of all humankind is the foundation of all he taught.
Bahᾱ’u’llᾱh, was born November 1, 1817. He was persecuted for his beliefs and spent forty years of his life imprisoned. He wrote tirelessly of his insights and these writings are the basis of the Baha’i faith. Underlying everything in the Baha’i faith is the idea that humankind advances towards God as a whole. No one person or people can alone grow closer to God. Unity is essential.
When someone of the Baha’i faith speaks of unity, they are not referring to conformity. Instead, each person has a specific role to play and to try to play someone else’s role undermines your own journey to truth and the whole of humankind suffers the loss of your unique contribution.
We are meant to bless all of humankind with our diverse gifts and talents. Therefore, there is unity in diversity; not unity in conformity.
This beautiful, all-embracing unity is at the heart of what Christians, believe as well. I found myself examining my own heart as I listened to the teachings of Baha’i. Do I have full unity with others? Do I separate myself from someone else because of misunderstandings or pride? Am I truly trying to be one with others?
The greatest sin for a follower of Baha’i is to gossip or back-stab someone else. Division is the opposite of unity, so division, caused by backstabbing, is the principal sin. To a follower of Baha’i, this discord is also the root of all other sins. When this was shared in our meeting, I began to turn inward and genuinely apply this to myself.
How am I truly doing in my personal life in healing division? The more I pondered this concept, the more I found could be worked on. Take a moment and think on it, “Are you truly at one with those in your life? Even within your thoughts?” Our thoughts are the birthplace of our words and actions.
Discover for yourselves the reality of things, and strive to assimilate the methods by which noble-mindedness and glory are attained among the nations and people of the world. No man should follow blindly his ancestors and forefathers. Nay, each must see with his own eyes, hear with his own ears and investigate independently in order that he may find the truth.
~Abdu’l Baha, Divine Philosophy
The active investigation of truth in all areas of life is strongly encouraged in the Baha’i faith. There is no separation of science and religion, rather there is simply an all-encompassing search for truth in all areas of learning.
This independent search for truth resonated with me, as one of my faith’s prophets taught us much the same:
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. –Moroni 10:4
Sincerely searching for truth, regardless of its purview is the only way we can fully develop and grow. It is not enough to be studying things of the spirit, we need to learn of God’s creations that surround us. We need to continually be humbly searching for truth and use this search for truth to guide our lives.
I am so very grateful for the journey that has allowed me to walk beside my sisters of other faiths as we each share our beliefs and traditions. This experience has made me examine my own faith with new perspective. With each new examination, I have grown to more profoundly love my own faith’s teachings. Truly, God is over all and His truths are to be found in so many unexpected areas.
By Elizabeth Latey