Security for a Failing World
A World-Wide Appeal
LET us at this point sum up our investigation of world conditions and world needs. We find that the world is in a chaos because the baser elements of man's emotional nature are become the cause of national and international disintegration in every phase of human living. We find that politico-economic plans expressing lofty humanitarian ideals fail to bring complete and permanent solution to world problems because, although they can reach man's intellect, they cannot universally inspire willing loyalty. We find that there is no force capable of molding the universal will of man into ideal behavior patterns except the force of religion, because religion is the only thing that can sublimate sufficiently man's motives and elevate his will above the plane of self-seeking, egoistic and aggressive conduct. We find meeting the imperative need of the world today a world movement which shows the power of attracting to itself all races and all creeds and of uniting them into a practical working brotherhood.
A world religion is imperatively needed today. Such a religion, however, must be reasonable; must be in complete harmony with the findings of modern science; and must demonstrate a catholic and universal power capable of inspiring men and women of every race and every type.
2How the Bahá'í Movement appeals to men of many different races and creeds is best demonstrated in the words of some of its adherents in different quarters of the globe.
For instance, here is Chikao Fujisawa who for three years was a member of the Secretariat of the League of Nations in Geneva and subsequently for six years held the Chair of International Politics in the Kyushu Imperial University in Japan. His work in the League of Nations and his study of the world situation had convinced him of the inadequacy of human ideals to the achievement of world unity. Then he came in contact with the Bahá'í Movement, and he describes in an address given before a Bahá'í group in Tokyo the appeal which this world movement for brotherhood and universal peace has made to him: —
"We are witnessing humanity hopelessly in the grip of moral bewilderment, political chaos, and class antagonism, which threaten to undermine the very foundations of our civilization. In the face of these actualities, an easy-going popular belief that the realization of economic, financial and technical solidarity of the nations would ipso facto give rise to a golden epoch of permanent peace and sincere co-operation among mankind has suffered a miserable shipwreck and proved a naive illusion. The world war and the post-bellum international complications specifically bear witness to this blunt realism of our
day. Indeed, in attempting to combat the social maladies, a variety of ingenious remedies such as socialism, communism, bolshevism, and fascism have been proposed, but they have after all fallen far short of the final solution of the problem concerned.
"In a word, the unifying tendency of our modern material civilization cannot automatically call into existence the spiritual and moral unity of mankind. This is a great lesson frought with far-reaching consequences and which we should take to heart very seriously....
"The wonderful progress achieved in the realm of natural science and material technics has had no direct bearing upon the solution of the philosophical problem of subduing what we may call ego centrism, whose lamentable rampancy so far has hindered us from bringing about the unity of mankind on a firm moral and religious basis.
"From what precedes, it now becomes evident that the matter of great urgency for us all is reconstitution of the absolute authority of one single religion to be worshiped by all mankind, irrespective of the diversity of nationalities, races, languages, and traditions, because religion is the very key wherewith to disclose the otherwise hidden sanctuary of our genuine heart, through which only we can have communion with God, the originator of the universe.
"Why have the existent religions ceased to play the supreme role of leading us back to the stern presence of God? It appears to me that there are two causes answerable for this visible decline of religions:
the one is sectarianism which is adverse to the inner nature of religion itself, and the other is the anachronistic narrow-mindedness of religious leaders. For many a century the great religious communities — Christian, Buddhist, Muhammadan, Hindu and others — have not only existed indifferently side by side, but also they have been in constant hostility and strife one against the other. Besides, what has rendered the situation worse is that each of them has become split up into a large number of sects, which are often bitterly opposed to one another. It goes without saying that this phenomenon has considerably discredited the past religions and deprived them of their original spiritual force. Secondly, religious teachers have shown an exceedingly bigoted and narrow-minded attitude toward the achievements of modern sciences and often betray a hardly justifiable disposition in blindly condemning those who wish to refute candidly such a fantastic story as the passage from the Bible according to which the world was made in six days by the hand of a personal God. It is obvious that true religion will never come into conflict with science, for the plane of the religious world is situated much higher than that of the scientific world. I believe personally that science is not merely reconcilable with religion, but also it should serve as the most powerful means of carrying into effect the religious ideal on earth.
"We have waited long for the advent of a new all-embracing religion which would be able to fittingly meet the requirements of the times, and this
ardent desire was at last fulfilled in the person of Bahá'u'lláh, a great modern prophet who appeared in Persia sounding his mighty trumpet call to afflicted humanity.
"Bahá'u'lláh's sublime mission was to recover the unity of all mankind through God. He conveyed the following message with regard to the future of mankind: 'All nations should become as one in faith and all men as brothers; the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened, diversity of religion should cease and the differences of race be annulled.... These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease and all men be as one kindred and one family.'
"As a means of promoting religious unity he advocated above all the utmost charity and tolerance as being conducive to overcoming egocentrism of all shades, and he earnestly called upon his followers to consort with the people of all religions with joy and gladness.
"In connection with the desirability of stimulating a close cooperation between the Occident and Orient, he refers to the value of modern scientific civilization as follows: 'In these days the East is in need of material progress and the West is in need of spiritual ideal. It would be well for the West to turn to the East for illumination and to give in exchange its scientific knowledge. There must be this interchange of gifts. The East and the West must unite to give to each other what is lacking.' This union will bring about true civilization where the
spiritual is expressed and carried out in the material.
"Thus, the spiritual unity of mankind must first of all be guaranteed and then contemporary material civilization instead of continuing, as at present, to weigh heavily upon us, will turn out to be the most efficacious device to translate into reality the divine will of the Absolute.
"Thus, there is no wonder that the Bahá'í Movement is bound to sweep the most enlightened strata of society in every country."
3In China leaders with vision are proclaiming the value of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings for their own country as well as for the whole world. Chan Ming-Shu, Governor of Kwangtung Province in 1930, has stated: "I believe Bahá'u'lláh was a Prophet, and China has need of a Prophet in these days. Such teachings at their lowest estimate could not harm any nation and at their highest they could do a great good in China and in every other country. No nation is more fitted to receive these teachings than China, for the base of Chinese civilization is universal peace. Just now we are going through great disturbances, but when China is righted and we are on an equal footing with other nations, China will take her place in all international welfare."
Dr. Y. S. Tsao, former President of Tsing Hua University, one of the keenest educationists in China and a distinguished writer of Chinese affairs, says:
"An analysis of Chinese culture shows that the Eastern philosophers when in trouble dig deep down into their souls. This Bahá'í Movement is a new way of 'digging down' and the teachings supply the help they are seeking. China is calling, in fact the whole world is calling, for Light. That is why people are taking such an interest in these Bahá'í Principles and the books explaining them. There is a need, there is an approach, and there is a fulfillment. This is a new message of great value; it is liberalizing, quickening. It makes religion more dynamic to solve world problems. For all this there is a need, and the deep thinking men of China all realize this great necessity; for we cannot go back to the old stereo-typed, half-dead creeds. This Bahá'í Movement supplies a new ideal, and the world cannot win against it. The older religions may struggle on till they are dead: they may never attain to the goal of accepting this. The world may sink farther down until it drinks the last dregs, and then it will come up again. Chinese history has been like that. After a number of years of suffering some ruler or teacher appears and for several hundred years there is progress. Then a relapse comes, but in these modern times China cannot afford a relapse. Confucius himself taught that about every five hundred years or so a great teacher or reformer will come.
"These Bahá'í Teachings carry universality and supply the educational, the economic, and the social solutions for this new epoch. Not alone China, but the whole world needs these Teachings. China needs them specially because her leaders are groping for Light."
An American Bahá'í traveling in India in behalf of the Bahá'í Movement states:
"My journey through the south and heart of India was most fruitful, and the leading men and rulers of many different states are now studying the Bahá'í teachings. One of the foremost ministers of the Great Nizam of Hyderabad had heard of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, and weeks before my arrival he was impatiently waiting for books.
"An official attached to one of India's greatest princes gave me every assistance in meeting those I most wished to know. When I told him the nature of my work, he explained, 'I too am a believer in Bahá'u'lláh, but I have never had the courage to openly admit it as it would mean absolute ruin overnight if it was discovered that I had embraced a new Revelation.'"
5Dr. Auguste Forel, of Switzerland — leading world authority on the ant, psychologist, humanitarian, voluminous writer in three languages — at the age of seventy became a Bahá'í when he discovered how Bahá'u'lláh years ago had enunciated completely and powerfully principles for a cooperative world order such as his own soul had been envisioning and evolving. "The world organization of the nations is inevitable," he said to me in 1922, when
I made a pilgrimage to Yvonne in order to interview the venerable scholar then in his seventy-sixth year. "There is bound to be a world state, a universal language, and a universal religion. The Bahá'í Movement for the oneness of mankind is, in my estimation, the greatest movement today working for universal peace and brotherhood."
6Queen Marie of Roumania, while in this country, contributed a series of articles to American newspapers among which appeared the following striking tribute to the Bahá'í Cause:
"A woman brought me the other day a Book. I spell it with a capital letter because it is a glorious Book of love and goodness, strength and beauty.
"She gave it to me because she had learned I was in grief and sadness and wanted to help.... She put it into my hands, saying: 'You seem to live up to His teachings.' And when I opened the Book I saw it was the word of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, prophet of love and kindness, and of his father, the great teacher of international good will and understanding — of a religion which links all creeds.
"Their writings are a great cry toward peace, reaching beyond all limits of frontiers, above all dissension about rites and dogmas. It is a religion based upon the inner spirit of God, upon that great not-to-be-overcome verity that God is love, meaning
just that. It teaches that all hatreds, intrigues, suspicions, evil words, all aggressive patriotism even, are outside the one essential law of God, and that special beliefs are but surface things; whereas the heart that beats with divine love knows no tribe nor race.
"It is a wondrous Message that Bahá'u'lláh and his son 'Abdu'l-Bahá have given us. They have not set it up aggressively, knowing that the germ of eternal truth which lies at its core cannot but take root and spread.
"There is only one great verity in it: Love, the mainspring of every energy, tolerance towards each other, desire of understanding each other, knowing each other, helping each other, forgiving each other.
"It is Christ's Message taken up anew, in the same words almost, but adapted to the thousand years and more difference that lies between the year one and today. No man could fail to be better because of this Book.
"I commend it to you all. If ever the name of Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá comes to your attention, do not put their writings from you. Search out their Books, and let their glorious, peace-bringing, love-creating words and lessons sink into your hearts as they have into mine."
7In 1924 there was held in London a notable Conference of Some Living Religions within the British
Empire. Dr. Walter Walsh, in a sermon given in Steinway Hall, summed up his impressions of the week's conference:
"It is through the unity of the spirit exemplified in this Conference that the peace of the world will be finally secured.
"Of all the notes in the General Evangel, none has sounded sweeter and clearer than that uttered by Bahá'u'lláh and his successor, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, whose gracious, healing message some of us were privileged to hear from his own lips some years ago. The Bahá'í Movement occupies a foremost place among those new orientations which make for universal harmony and peace. It emphasizes the unity of the spirit of man, the unity of religions in their essential characteristics and principles, and it prophesies and prepares the way for the final unity of the races.
"Here is a highly devotional form of religion, offering full encouragement to the spiritual and aspirational side of human nature, but at the same time giving discouragement to its superstitious tendencies; a religion disclaiming supernatural sanctions non-miraculous, ethical, pacifist, humanist, universalist, yet withal profoundly spiritual — to such a religion the blundering blood-stained world may hopefully look for guidance and inspiration."
8An American business man, George Orr Latimer, who has devoted much of his time and energy to the
spread of the Bahá'í Cause, states the world need of this quickening Faith:
"The body politic is sick on account of lack of altruism. The want of a common faith is the life-destroying ill of humanity at the present time. Everywhere, in the old world and in the new, man has become a worshipper of the idol SELF-INTEREST. Everyone is striving for self-advancement at the expense of his fellowman. Faith is blind and dying.
"What then is the faith of the future? It is not a mere confession. It is a profession and a practice. To the Bahá'í it is 'first of all conscious knowledge, and second the practice of good deeds.' It is confidence, as 'Abdu'l-Bahá points out: 'The greatest divine bounty is a confident heart.' It is assurance of a new heaven and a new earth for man. It is the vision fulfilled of that famous Italian patriot, idealist, and apostle of the new democratic evangel, Joseph Mazzini, when he declares: 'The first real, earnest religious faith that shall arise upon the ruins of the old worn-out creeds will transform the whole of our actual social organization, because every strong and earnest faith tends to apply itself to every branch of human activity; because in every epoch of its existence the earth has ever tended to conform itself to the heaven in which it then believed — in form and degree varying according to the diversity of the times — of the words of the Dominical Christian prayer: Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.'
"The new faith must withstand the hurricanes of skepticism, evolution, race riots, international wars, and religious enmities. The quickening power of the Bahá'í spirit already has accomplished the awakening of a new assurance in everyone with whom it contacts. It produces severance from selfish motives; it supplies a complete attraction to spiritual attributes. It accepts the plan of God for man's practical and spiritual welfare as both workable and livable. It acknowledges the voice within but translates that voice into conscious action for the betterment of all humanity. It sees the vision of the heavenly kingdom established on earth as it should be today. It is the motive power of a new and radiant century."
9Such citations could be continued, but these given are sufficient to show how strong is the appeal of the Bahá'í Movement to men of thought and ideals who earnestly desire and seek a remedy for the confusion and despair into which the world seems plunged. Whatever one's social or religious station has been previous to becoming a Bahá'í, whatever one's intelligence or degree of education, once a Bahá'í all are committed to the same great universal program for the unification and progress of mankind.
But it is not only to the intellectual that the
Bahá'í Movement appeals. Let a peasant of Persia, of India, of China, illiterate and ignorant, become a Bahá'í, and he accepts the world program of Bahá'u'lláh and strives with all his power to aid in its establishment. From the depths of ignorance and provincialism he rises to a high plane of world citizenship by virtue of his adherence to this world movement. Those who have been atheists, attracted by the humanitarian program of Bahá'u'lláh, gradually come to accept also the religious doctrine-simple and scientific — of the Bahá'í Movement. Those who have been narrowly credal and dogmatic in their religion broaden out, because of the Bahá'í Movement, into an appreciation and understanding of all the world religions.
Thus actual brotherhood is being created between Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Muhammadans and Hindus. The Bahá'í world traveler finds himself at home among every race and every creed. He is welcomed like a brother, has the privilege of entering intimately into the family life of Bahá'ís the world over.
Is there any other movement in the world today that has proved itself so capable of uniting men of various races and creeds, of bringing into one common fold the scholar and the peasant, the religious zealot and the liberal, the capitalist and the laborer — and uniting them in a powerful working organization which strives for the peace, the prosperity, and the progress of the world?