This Week's Quotation
O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home. May they all live together in perfect harmony.~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
As a Baha’i I understand these simple and moving words to be a revealed prayer. They were spoken by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a figure we call the Exemplar, the successor to Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith. Abdul-Baha gave public talks when he visited the United States in 1912, and these lines are part of a longer prayer for World Unity—a goal I have been striving for throughout my entire adult life.
I believe these words are part of God’s current educational program for humanity, and they function as a kind of interfaith imperative. They suggest to me that World Unity has become not only possible and desirable for humanity to co-establish—but also mandatory—whereas in earlier centuries this lofty aim was not yet attainable. However today, new Revelatory Light shines and a moral-spiritual breakthrough is possible, if we have ears to hear and eyes to see.
We are told that religions can agree, and this seems easier to imagine if we bring humility and symbolic appreciation to our use of religious language. If we give each other permission to describe Ultimate Reality in personal, concrete terms, on one hand, as well as in more impersonal, abstract terms on the other, then we will come closer to celebrating common ground. We should keep listening whether we hear people talking about their Heavenly Father or alluding to a Higher Power. And if we fully accept our own human frailties and finitude, then we will find it easier to consult one another receptively about perceptions and purposes, for our aspirations all fall short of Infinite Wisdom.
This prayer also suggests that religions and nations can play crucial roles in the emerging global transformation. We seem to be in the midst of a great transition from divided nation-states to ever more consultative forms of global governance. Perhaps to a surprising degree, religions and nations can see humanity as one family. If indeed we have one and the same Creator, then we are children of the very same Divine Parentage. We are a diverse yet essentially unified world family, each and all endowed with the potential to re-fashion our world so as to reflect its spiritual heritage. We should finally begin to co-design a world order that assures peace, justice and prosperity for all people.
Perhaps to a surprising degree, religions and nations can view the earth as one home. The mineral, vegetal, animal and human realms are intricately interwoven. What truly benefits the parts will truly benefit the whole, and vice versa. This seems to be the consensus of spiritual wisdom, secular expertise and scientific investigation. World order, our global economy and our ecosystem all require unity-in-diversity. But the type of unity that our Creator guides us toward is not a dull uniformity, but rather, an enriching and dynamic integrating of diversity. The honor of one is the honor of all.
And of course, perfect harmony is not to be achieved overnight. The New Jerusalem will not be built in a day. The universe God fashioned is developmental and evolutionary, both in its visible and invisible dimensions—a kind of workshop or school for moral-spiritual beings like you and me. Therefore effort, spiritual discipline and education on our part are ongoing requirements for advancement. Short-term and long-term projects and stages, as well as severe trials and heroic triumphs, are to be regularly expected. Learning, difficulties and growth will mark humanity’s gradual co-fashioning of an ever-advancing global civilization—a Baha’i phrase and image recasting the traditional kingdom of heaven on earth.
About Open Windows
We, the authors of this blog, dedicate it to the transparent exploration of the world’s sacred scripture and enlightened spiritual thought. We believe that the original inspiration of all faiths comes from a common source, named and revered in a myriad of ways. With that understanding, the innumerable symbols, beliefs, and practices of faith cease to divide. They become open windows to a common reality that inspires and unifies us. We find deeper insight and nourishment in our own faith and from the expression of faith from others.
We hope these weekly quotations and meditations speak to your heart and soul.