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Religion Library: Baha'i

Ultimate Reality and Divine Beings

Written by: Moojan Momen

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.

Although Baha'is believe that God is unknowable, paradoxically, the Baha'i scriptures are full of descriptions of God and Baha'is are instructed in their scriptures to come to know and love God. This paradox is explained in the Baha'i scriptures in two ways. First, since the Essence of God is unknowable and unchangeable, descriptions of God and references in the scriptures to God acting in the world in reality relate to the Manifestations of God, the founders of the world religions.

The inmost reality of these holy figures is the Holy Spirit, which is the highest reality in the created world, the first emanation from God; these figures act "as God" for this world. Thus, knowing God is in fact coming to know the Manifestation of God, especially the Manifestation of God for the age in which one lives.

The second explanation is the fact that human beings are themselves capable of manifesting all of the divine names and attributes. Thus the command to come to know God is also explained as individual human beings coming to know the divine attributes within themselves, and thus coming to know their own selves, their spiritual reality.

Other divine beings are frequently mentioned in the Baha'i writings. Some of these figures appear to be rhetorical devices used by Baha'u'llah. Thus he says that one day he saw one of the beauties of the highest paradise calling aloud and saying, "I am Trustworthiness and the revelation thereof . . . I will recompense whosoever will cleave unto Me . . . I am the supreme instrument for the prosperity of the world . . ." This would seem to be a personification to emphasize the importance of trustworthiness.

We will now mention unto thee Trustworthiness and the station thereof in the estimation of God, thy Lord, the Lord of the Mighty Throne. One day of days We repaired unto Our Green Island. Upon Our arrival, We beheld its streams flowing, and its trees luxuriant, and the sunlight playing in their midst. Turning Our face to the right, We beheld what the pen is powerless to describe; nor can it set forth that which the eye of the Lord of Mankind witnessed in that most sanctified, that most sublime, that blest, and most exalted Spot. Turning, then, to the left We gazed on one of the Beauties of the Most Sublime Paradise, standing on a pillar of light, and calling aloud saying:  "O inmates of earth and heaven!  Behold ye My beauty, and My radiance, and My revelation, and My effulgence. By God, the True One! I am Trustworthiness and the revelation thereof, and the beauty thereof. I will recompense whosoever will cleave unto Me, and recognize My rank and station, and hold fast unto My hem. I am the most great ornament of the people of Baha, and the vesture of glory unto all who are in the kingdom of creation. I am the supreme instrument for the prosperity of the world, and the horizon of assurance unto all beings." Thus have We sent down for thee that which will draw men nigh unto the Lord of creation."


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