Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Era of Independence; An Interview with the Master

What Abdu'l-Baha said to five American Christian Missionaries

From the Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab. (Star of the West, Vol. 12, p. 13)

ABDU'L-BAHA to five young American teachers attending a Missionary Conference in the vicinity of Mt. Lebanon, and who came to see him, said, when asked his opinion of the United States:

"The true, liberal, religious spirit is more in evidence in America than in Europe; from an ethical standpoint they are far ahead of European nations. The American people are as a whole, a religious people. They investigate the Reality, and are free from the fetters of prejudice. The Europeans are not deeply religious, and they have their
prejudices. The American(s) are an inventive nation. In the light of their manifold inventions, their services to the world of humanity are considered as incalculable."

QUESTION: "Is there any leader or head in the Baha'i Religion?"

ANSWER: "The Baha'is are a community of cooperative servants, they have no leader. Their only leader is God. They have no ordained ministers or priests. Whosoever hears and believes in the principles of this Cause, it is required of him to convey this Message to others.

The Baha'is have no organized missionary headquarters. Because their cardinal creed is the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, they have no theological wrangles and no metaphysical speculations."

QUESTION: "Do the Baha'i teachings renovate the individual private life? Or are they only a set of principles for the adjustment of general relations between men, without the necessary requirement of personal regeneration?"

ANSWER: "THE TEACHINGS OF BAHAOLLAH are the breaths of the Holy Spirit which create men anew. Personal amity, both in private and public, is emphasized and insisted upon."

QUESTION: "What do the Baha'is believe?"

ANSWER: "They believe that mankind must love mankind, that universal amity must be practiced; that dead dogmas must be thrown away; that we are at the threshold of the Era of Independence; that we must forget prejudice and that universal love must become the dominant note of the Twentieth Century.

QUESTION: "What do the Baha'is teach?"

ANSWER: "They teach that the internal, spiritual idea is the same in all the religions; that a unique general plan underlies the foundation of the past faiths; that priestcraft has discredited the Religions of God; that the active, divine idea is hidden under the incrustation of dead ecclesiasticism; that religion must shuffle off its tattered garments of medieval ages and put on the robe of the Universal Precepts of God."

QUESTION: "What is the Baha'i Faith?

ANSWER: "Trust in God. Be kind to their fellow men, fill the world with the spirit of love. The spirit of faith in a Baha'i is very strong. His trust is in the grace of the Holy Spirit."

Later, about the history and teachings of the Cause, etc. they said to Abdul Baha: "We (the Missionary World) are watching with great interest the progress of this movement, for it seems to us it is advancing with great rapidity without the usual organization, which to us hard headed Americans is so essential and necessary. We are watching to see what will be the objective aim of this Cause."

Abdul Baha replied:

"The objective aims are: The Oneness of the world of humanity, Universal Peace, universal Love, International Cooperation and reciprocity; the promotion of the principles of human consanguinity and solidarity, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God, first, in the hearts of man and then upon earth. These are the
noble objective aims. Are you not in sympathy with them? Will you not also do your utmost to hasten that day?
What harm is there in this? We are working day and night for the realization of these ideas and purposes. God and His servants are also pleased with these souls who are serving under a different flag and in a different camp to actualize these principles of humanity."

After several questions Abdul Baha said to them: "The doors of colleges and universities must be wide open to the adherents of all religions and the members of all nationalities, so that these people from widely scattered countries may meet and associate with each other in those educational institutions, learn each other's customs and habits, interchange their ideas and discard their purposeless prejudices. In this way these young men and women will grow up with the ideas of world patriotism.

There are a number of Missionary Colleges in the East that are dogmatically sectarian, trying all the time to teach the students the falsity of their parents' religions and the grandeur and sublimity of Christianity. The net result has been a woeful failure, for generally the students turn out of the college with no religion. Thus it has been witnessed that when a missionary teacher tries to undermine, either with bitter antipathy or indirect references, the religions of the students in which they have been brought up, he is unconsciously undermining the religion of Christianity.

"In short, in this Radiant Century, the Sun of Reality has dawned, scattering its bright rays upon all humanity. We are beginning to realize that this globe is one home and all men are brothers and sisters, the members of one family, the stars of one heaven, the tents of one camp, the pearls of one necklace, the trees of one garden and the signs of the mercy of the Almighty.

"Creationally there are no bad people; they are all good. It is only when we subvert the original plan concerning our progress that the outcome is a distorted, abnormal state of being. The tree of humanity is one and is planted by God. The origin is one and the end must also be one."

John Taylor

No comments: