published in Lights of Irfan, Volume 11, pages 99-148 Wilmette, IL: Irfan Colloquia, 2010
1. PART I
In this first part of the presentation, the Global Ethic will be compared with the Bahá'í Faith; this comparison was suggested by the commentary of the German theologian Hans Küng, who prepared the text of the ‘Declaration Towards a Global Ethic’ in 1993 for the Parliament of the World’s Religions:
“It will now be an enjoyable task for the scholars of the various religions to work out the project for a global ethic further in the light of their own religions and to bring out three things:
How strongly the ‘Declaration Towards a Global Ethic’ is rooted in their own tradition;
How far their own tradition corresponds with other ethical traditions;
How far their own tradition has a distinctive, specific, special contribution to make to the ethic.”
In the official website of the Bahá'ís of the United States (http://bahai.us/) the following summation of the Bahá'í Faith is presented:
“The central theme of Bahá'u'lláh’s message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for humanity’s unification into one global society.
While reaffirming the core ethical principles common to all religions, Bahá'u'lláh also revealed new laws and teachings to lay the foundations of a global civilization.”
In all religious traditions these core ethical principles are described as the Path (the Way or Pathway) of God; in the Bahá'í Scriptures it is called the Straight & Righteous Path of God, the Path of Justice & Truth, the Glorious & Exalted Path of Remembrance & Guidance, the Path of Love of God
Quotes from other religions:
Zarathustra: “Making straight the paths for the Religion of the future” (Avesta-Yasna, Hymns)
Krishna: “O Indian Prince! of him whose feet are set On that fair path which leads to heavenly birth:” (Hindu, Bhagavad Gita)
Buddha: “It is the Noble Eightfold Path, the way that leads to the extinction of suffering.” (The Eightfold Path)
Isaiah:”I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.” (48:17)
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John14:6)
Mohammad: “Say: As for me, my Lord hath guided me into a straight path; a true religion, the creed of Abraham.” (Qur'an, Surah 6 Cattle)
The Báb: “My Religion which is none other than this glorious and exalted Path.” (SWB 158)
Bahá’u’lláh: “The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth.” (GWB 156-157)
Aristotle in the Nicomachean ethic has provided the groundwork for ethics in his basic understanding of virtues, saying that we become virtuous by doing virtuous acts, i.e., describing the virtuous life as a path one has actually to walk, or as a habit one has to practice, clearly stating that virtues have to be learned.
“The virtues we get by first exercising them, as also happens in the case of the arts as well. For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g. men become builders by building and lyre-players by playing the lyre, so too we become just be doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”
This presentation will demonstrate that the Bahá'í Tradition follows substantially in the same tradition and in the tradition of all other religions, having in common with them many spiritual principles. Further, it will compare several specific ethical principles as they are expressed in the Declaration of a Global Ethic with principles of the Bahá'í Faith. In this process it will become clear that the Bahá'í Ethical principles are not only corresponding with most principals of the Global Ethic, but are renewing them, extending and augmenting them, and adding a new spiritual foundation and an astoundingly deep theological balance to them, all of which could not be expressed in the Declaration and was only marginally present in all previous revelations.
In this process the Bahá'í Faith can be described as the fulfillment of all previous Revelations and providing for mankind a deeper and better, a more mystical and unifying ethic. One could even say the Bahá'í Faith is a resurrection or rebirth of the Path of God.
2. PART II
In the second part this paper will conclude that a common global ethic is the most likely first step towards the unification of all religions and could become the inspiration guiding the leaders of the diverse religion towards the goal of Unity in Diversity described by the beloved Guardian in the New World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.
The Prerequisites for the Wayfarer in the Path of God are described in the Bahá'í Writings as follows:
The Revelation of the Manifestation give Laws and Guidance for the wayfarer in the Path of God
The right attitude to recognize and accept the Path required that “A true seeker … must, before all else, cleanse and purify his heart” (KI 192)
In order to follow the Path of God this essential recommendation is made: O seeker, It behooveth us firmly to … embrace the dawning light of divine guidance (KI 37)
The presentation will have the following conclusions:
In order to go the Path of God we must have the “Revelation and Guidance” (PM 179) of the Manifestations`
In order to move towards a unity of all religion we have to have “a new love for, and a genuine appreciation of the unity underlying, the various religions” (WOB 196)
Further, we have to regard all religions “in no other light except as different stages in the eternal history and constant evolution of one religion.” (WOB 114)
The “unalterable purpose” of the Bahá'í Faith and the purpose of all fellow wayfarers must be “to assist” each other “in the realization of their highest aspirations.” (WOB 114)
The following can give a vision of how the Bahá'í Revelation can be understood as the Unity of different facet of ethical truth. The Prayer of the Báb, the four Pathways of Love of Bahá'u'lláh are placed in the frame of the description by Bahá'u'lláh of the four divine states, firstness and lastness, outwardness and inwardness, following this Verse:
In thine outward appearance, thou tellest of the appearance of power in the realms of divine creation; in thine inward being thou revealest the hidden mysteries which are the divine trust deposited within thee.
And thus firstness and lastness, outwardness and inwardness are, in the sense referred to, true of thyself, that in these four states conferred upon thee thou shouldst comprehend the four divine states, and that the nightingale of thine heart on all the branches of the rosetree of existence,re whether visible or concealed, should cry out: "He is the first and the last, the Seen and the Hidden...." [1 Qur'án 57:3.] (SVFV 27).
The Vision presented in this paper is opening the Path of God to all seekers and all religions, the Path leading to the True One in the City of the Heart, which can be described as the new Bahá'í Ethic.