RELIGION LIBRARY

Baha'i

Beliefs

Ultimate Reality and Divine Beings

Although for Baha'is God exists as the Ultimate Reality and this universe came about as a movement of love within that Ultimate Reality, it is beyond the ability of finite human minds to conceptualize the infinite reality that is God. Therefore any concepts that humans form of God are only partial truths that are really just reflections of their own minds, the way that an individual human nature sees reality. Although the essence of God is unknowable for humans, the attributes of God, such as love, justice, and mercy are knowable.

From the Writings of Baha'u'llah on God and the Manifestations of God
To every discerning and illuminated heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the Divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is, and hath ever been, veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men . . .

The door of the knowledge of the Ancient of Days being thus closed in the face of all beings, the Source of infinite grace . . . hath caused those luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit, in the noble form of the human temple, and be made manifest unto all men, that they may impart unto the world the mysteries of the unchangeable Being, and tell of the subtleties of His imperishable Essence.

These sanctified Mirrors, these Day Springs of ancient glory, are, one and all, the Exponents on earth of Him Who is the central Orb of the universe, its Essence and ultimate Purpose. From Him proceed their knowledge and power; from Him is derived their sovereignty. The beauty of their countenance is but a reflection of His image, and their revelation a sign of His deathless glory. (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Section 19, pp. 46-47.)

Since everything in creation manifests one or more of the attributes of God to some extent, humans can discover something of the attributes of God by reflecting on nature and on some of the saints of the past. A much fuller revelation of God is sent down to humanity from time to time in the form of sacred figures who perfectly embody all of the attributes of God and are therefore called the "Manifestations of God." They are the founders of the world religions -- such figures as the Zoroaster, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and Baha'u'llah.

Words of Baha'u'llah regarding the Unity of the Prophets of God
It is clear and evident to thee that all the Prophets are the Temples of the Cause of God, Who have appeared clothed in divers attire. If thou wilt observe with discriminating eyes, thou wilt behold them all abiding in the same tabernacle, soaring in the same heaven, seated upon the same throne, uttering the same speech, and proclaiming the same Faith. Such is the unity of those Essences of being, those Luminaries of infinite and immeasurable splendour. Wherefore, should one of these Manifestations of Holiness proclaim saying:  "I am the return of all the Prophets," He verily speaketh the truth. In like manner, in every subsequent Revelation, the return of the former Revelation is a fact, the truth of which is firmly established. (From the Kitab-i-Iqan.)

These figures all have the same spiritual station; indeed they are all the appearance on earth of the same spiritual reality (the Holy Spirit in Christian and Baha'i terminology). Thus any one of them can be called the "return" of a previous figure and it is on this basis that Baha'u'llah  is said to be the return of Christ or the incarnation of Krishna . These figures are neither merely human nor are they God in essence; they partake of a human nature and of a divine nature. They occupy an intermediate station as the representatives and messengers of God on earth. In the Baha'i scriptures they are likened to perfect mirrors, reflecting to humans a perfect image of God. Thus it is not incorrect to call them "God" (just as one might say that the sun appears in a mirror), nor is it incorrect to call them a human being who is the messenger of God. They bring to earth the message of God. To know these figures is to know God and to obey them is to obey God.

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