The Day of God

What does Bahá’u’lláh hold to be the goal of the evolution of human consciousness? In the perspective of eternity, its purpose is that God should see, ever more clearly, the reflection of His perfections in the mirror of His creation, and that, in the words of Bahá’u’lláh:

 

… every man may testify, in himself, by himself, in the station of the Manifestation of his Lord, that verily there is no God save Him, and that every man may thereby win his way to the summit of realities, until none shall contemplate anything whatsoever but that he shall see God therein.55

 

Within the context of the history of civilization, the objective of the succession of divine Manifestations has been to prepare human consciousness for the race’s unification as a single species, indeed as a single organism capable of taking up the responsibility for its collective future: “He Who is your Lord, the All-Merciful,” Bahá’u’lláh says, “cherisheth in His heart the desire of beholding the entire human race as one soul and one body.”56 Not until humanity has accepted its organic oneness can it meet even its immediate challenges, let alone those that lie ahead: “The well-being of mankind,” Bahá’u’lláh insists, “its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.”57 Only a unified global society can provide its children with the sense of inner assurance implied in one of Bahá’u’lláh’s prayers to God: “Whatever duty Thou hast prescribed unto Thy servants of extolling to the utmost Thy majesty and glory is but a token of Thy grace unto them, that they may be enabled to ascend unto the station conferred upon their own inmost being, the station of the knowledge of their own selves.”58 Paradoxically, it is only by achieving true unity that humanity can fully cultivate its diversity and individuality. This is the goal which the missions of all of the Manifestations of God known to history have served, the Day of “one fold and one shepherd.”59 Its attainment, Bahá’u’lláh says, is the stage of civilization upon which the human race is now entering.

 

One of the most suggestive analogies to be found in the writings not only of Bahá’u’lláh, but of the Báb before Him, is the comparison between the evolution of the human race and the life of the individual human being. Humanity has moved through stages in its collective development which are reminiscent of the periods of infancy, childhood, and adolescence in the maturation of its individual members. We are now experiencing the beginnings of our collective maturity, endowed with new capacities and opportunities of which we as yet have only the dimmest awareness.60

 

Against this background, it is not difficult to understand the primacy given in Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings to the principle of unity. The oneness of humanity is the leitmotif of the age now opening, the standard against which must be tested all proposals for the betterment of humanity. There is, Bahá’u’lláh insists, but one human race; inherited notions that a particular racial or ethnic group is in some way superior to the rest of humanity are without foundation. Similarly, since all of the Messengers of God have served as agents of the one Divine Will, their revelations are the collective legacy of the entire human race; each person on earth is a legitimate heir of the whole of that spiritual tradition. Persistence in prejudices of any kind is both damaging to the interests of society and a violation of the Will of God for our age:

 

O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention amongst you. . . . There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed. All of them, except a few which are the outcome of human perversity, were ordained of God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose. Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you. . . .61

 

The theme of unity runs throughout Bahá’u’lláh’s writings: “The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers.” 62 “Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.”63 “Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.” 64

 

The process of humanity’s coming-of-age has occurred within the evolution of social organization. Beginning from the family unit and its various extensions, the human race has developed, with varying degrees of success, societies based on the clan, the tribe, the city-state, and most recently the nation. This progressively broader and more complex social milieu provides human potential with both stimulation and scope for development, and this development, in turn, has induced ever-new modifications of the social fabric. Humanity’s coming-of-age, therefore, must entail a total transformation of the social order. The new society must be one capable of embracing the entire diversity of the race and of benefiting from the full range of talents and insights which many thousands of years of cultural experience have refined:

 

This is the Day in which God’s most excellent favors have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things. It is incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to reconcile their differences, and, with perfect unity and peace, abide beneath the shadow of the Tree of His care and loving-kindness. . . . Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth, and is the Knower of things unseen.65

 

The chief instrument for the transformation of society and the achievement of world unity, Bahá’u’lláh asserts, is the establishment of justice in the affairs of humankind. The subject has a central place in His teachings:

 

The light of men is Justice. Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men. The ocean of divine wisdom surgeth within this exalted word, while the books of the world cannot contain its inner significance. . . .66

 

In His later writings Bahá’u’lláh made explicit the implications of this principle for the age of humanity’s maturity. “Women and men have been and will always be equal in the sight of God,”67 He asserts, and the advancement of civilization requires that society so organize its affairs as to give full expression to this fact. The earth’s resources are the property of all humanity, not of any one people. Different contributions to the common economic welfare deserve and should receive different measures of reward and recognition, but the extremes of wealth and poverty which afflict most nations on earth, regardless of the socio-economic philosophies they profess, must be abolished.

 

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