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Friday 17 December 1999
Posted at 0130 hrs IST

Discourses on Religion and Philosophy

A century of light?

Is the world getting better? There are some who believe that a golden era is about to dawn; others say Doomsday is not far ahead.

The Bahai's believe that a new era is about to emerge and the century, that is about to end, has been a ``century of light.'' The founder of the Bahai faith, Baha'u'llah, held that civilisation is a continuous spiritual process. It passes through stages analogous to the periods of infancy, childhood and adolescence.

The central spiritual issue facing all people of the world is that of laying the foundation of a global society based on the oneness of the human race. With the world achieving maturity, people will come to endorse this idea of oneness ending nationalistic and sectarian conflicts.

The prophet had foreseen ``new capacities of incalculable power'' awakening in earth's people and the powerful light of unity marking the course of events - among other things, in the way humans plan their collective future and in the way they regard one another.

In the wake of the World War II was born the United Nations which began consolidating the foundations of world order. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was another land mark. A parallel economic process began with the institution of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other agencies.

Education of the masses, information technology, developments in science and technology for enhancement of life, world wide communication networks, satellite systems through which knowledge became accessible to the masses - these were factors which unified the human race with far reaching implications.

Inter faith dialogues and collaboration through agencies such as Parliament of Religions had lessened religious prejudices. There was increasing realisation that whatever the religion, all people were children of the same one God.

There are areas of darkness: Inventions of weapons of mass destruction, extermination of millions, damage to physical environment, the prevailing cult of individualism bent on `pursuit of happiness' and so on. But these do not extinguish or diminish the light.

The Bahai's believe the ultimate Reality that has created and sustains the universe will forever remain beyond the reach of the human mind. Humanity's relationship with the divine, influenced by founders of great religions like Moses, Zoroaster, Jesus and Buddha, provided intellectual, spiritual and moral capacities in man and civilised human character.

The primary disease that cripples society is disunity; progress of humanity depended upon the ability and extent of collaboration. To regard conflict as inherent in human nature would be a grave error. According to Baha'u'llah, the present fruitless strifes and ruinous wars will pass away. Man will glory rather in loving his kind than merely loving his country.

(For details: Dr Merchant, House of Bahai's, 6 Canning Road, New Delhi. Phones : 3381353, 3386458))

M P K Kutty

©Copyright 1999, India Times
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