Thursday, May 30, 2002
To all religious leaders
A message from the Bahai community
Together with the crumbling of barriers separating peoples, our age is witnessing the dissolution of the once insuperable wall that the past assumed would forever separate the life of Heaven from the life of Earth. The scriptures of all religions have always taught the believer to see in service to others not only a moral duty, but an avenue for the soul’s own approach to God. Today, the progressive restructuring of society gives this familiar teaching new dimensions of meaning. As the age-old promise of a world animated by principles of justice slowly takes on the character of a realistic goal, meeting the needs of the soul and those of society will increasingly be seen as reciprocal aspects of a mature spiritual life.
If religious leadership is to rise to the challenge this perception represents, such response must begin by acknowledging that religion and science are the two indispensable knowledge systems through which the potentialities of consciousness develop. These fundamental modes of the mind’s exploration of reality have been most productive in those rare but happy periods of history when their complementary nature was recognised.
Religion has served throughout history as the ultimate authority in giving meaning to life. It has cultivated the good, reproved the wrong and held up, to the gaze of all those willing to see, a vision of potentialities as yet unrealised. The great advantage of the present age is the perspective that makes it possible for the entire human race to see this civilising process as a single phenomenon.
Inspired by this perspective, the Bahai community has been a vigorous promoter of interfaith activities from the time of their inception. Apart from cherished associations that these activities create, Bahai’s see in the struggle of diverse religions to draw closer together a response to the Divine Will for a human race that is entering on its collective maturity. The members of our community will continue to assist in every way we can. We owe it to our partners in this common effort, to state clearly our conviction that interfaith discourse must now address honestly and without evasion the implications of the over-arching truth that called the movement into being: that God is one and that, beyond all diversity of cultural expression and human interpretation, religion is one.
With every day that passes, danger grows that the rising fires of religious prejudice will ignite a worldwide conflagration the consequences of which are unthinkable. Such a danger civil government, unaided, cannot overcome. Nor should we delude ourselves that appeals for mutual tolerance can alone hope to extinguish animosities that claim to possess Divine sanction. The crisis calls on religious leadership for a break with the past as decisive as those that opened the way for society to address prejudices of race, gender and nation. Whatever justification exists for exercising influence in matters of conscience lies in serving the well-being of humankind. ‘‘The well-being of mankind its peace and security, are unattainable’’, Baha’u’llah’ urges, ‘‘unless and until its unity is firmly established.’’
Excerpted from The Universal House of Justice
©Copyright 2002, Indian Express (Bombay, India)