Bahá’ís believe that there is but one God, Creator of the universe. As a creation of God, man cannot understand his Creator:
“…Know that the Reality of Divinity or the substance of the Essence of Oneness is pure sanctity and absolute holiness—that is to say, it is sanctified and exempt from all praise. The whole of the supreme attributes of the degrees of existence, in reference to this plane, are only imaginations. It is invisible, incomprehensible, inaccessible, a pure essence which cannot be described, for the Divine Essence surrounds all things. Verily, that which surrounds is greater than the surrounded, and the surrounded cannot contain that by which it is surrounded, nor comprehend its reality. However far mind may progress, though it may reach to the final degree of comprehension, the limit of understanding, it beholds the divine signs and attributes in the world of creation and not in the world of God. For the essence and the attributes of the Lord of Unity are in the heights of sanctity, and for the minds and understandings there is no way to approach that position. ‘The way is closed, and seeking is forbidden.’
It is evident that the human understanding is a quality of the existence of man, and that man is a sign of God: how can the quality of the sign surround the creator of the sign?—that is to say, how can the understanding, which is a quality of the existence of man, comprehend God? Therefore, the Reality of the Divinity is hidden from all comprehension, and concealed from the minds of all men. It is absolutely impossible to ascend to that plane. We see that everything which is lower is powerless to comprehend the reality of that which is higher. So the stone, the earth, the tree, however much they may evolve, cannot comprehend the reality of man and cannot imagine the powers of sight, of hearing, and of the other senses, although they are all alike created. Therefore, how can man, the created, understand the reality of the pure Essence of the Creator? This plane is unapproachable by the understanding; no explanation is sufficient for its comprehension, and there is no power to indicate it. What has an atom of dust to do with the pure world, and what relation is there between the limited mind and the infinite world? Minds are powerless to comprehend God, and the souls become bewildered in explaining Him. …”
However, it is possible for man to understand the teachings of God brought by His Manifestations:
“In the world of existence the greatest bestowals of God are His teachings. The other bounties of God are limited as regards their benefits and provision. Human existence itself is a divine bestowal, but it is circumscribed with limitations. Sight and hearing are bounties of God; both are limited. And so it is with all the other bestowals; the circle of their operation is confined, restricted, whereas the sphere of the divine teachings is boundless. Centuries and ages pass away, but their efficacy continues like the spirit of life which animates the world of existence. Without the teachings of God the world of humanity is like the animal kingdom. What difference is there between the animal and man? The difference is this: that the animal is not capable of apprehending the divine teachings, whereas man is worthy of them and possesses the capacity to understand. In the animal kingdom there is no such bestowal; therefore, there is limited progression. At most, evolution in that kingdom is a development of the organism. In the beginning it is small, undeveloped; it develops, becomes larger; but its sphere of intellectual growth is limited. Therefore, the teachings of God are the bestowals specialized for man.”
For a more conversational introduction to the subject of understanding God than found in the above excerpts from the Bahá’í Writings, refer to the topic “The Bahá’í Concept of God.” For further independent study of the Bahá’í Writings on this subject, “God, His Manifestations and Man: Part I” and “God, His Manifestations and Man: Part II” provide many quotes by Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. For collaborative study of this and other subjects, please call the Bahá’ís of Comox (250.702.3041).
UNITY OF RELIGION
Bahá’ís believe that there is but one religion, revealed progressively through the ages by various Manifestations of God—rather than absolutely by any one of them—to assist humanity along the pathway to maturity. Bahá’u’lláh, the Manifestation of God for this Day, does not differ in reality from the Manifestations of the past Who, as He explained, “abide in the same tabernacle, soar in the same heaven, are seated upon the same throne, utter the same speech, and proclaim the same Faith” and “differ only in the intensity of their revelation and the comparative potency of their light.”
Bahá’u’lláh’s son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, stated plainly: “The religion of God is one religion, but it must ever be renewed. …it is the educator of humankind, but still, it needs must be made new. When thou dost plant a tree, its height increaseth day by day. It putteth forth blossoms and leaves and luscious fruits. But after a long time, it doth grow old, yielding no fruitage any more. Then doth the Husbandman of Truth take up the seed from that same tree, and plant it in a pure soil; and lo, there standeth the first tree, even as it was before.”
To develop a greater understanding of the unity of religion, refer to the topics “The Oneness of Religion” and “The Changeless Faith of God,” which expand on the subject from a Bahá’í perspective. For collaborative study of this and other topics, please call the Bahá’ís of Comox (250.702.3041).