Sunday, March 18, 2012

Suffering in the centuries... still we face the future

I think it useful to spend some time contextualizing what the history of the persecution of the Baha'is in Iran compares with in other circumstances and what the Baha'i response has been.

As onerous as the treatment of Baha'is has been in Iran it fails to rise to some of the worst atrocities human memory alas can take note of. From the ongoing genocidal events in the Congo and recently in Rwanda, to the well known Holocaust of Jews in Eastern Europe, to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during WWI, the devastation of the First Nations of the Americas - the mind wearies of such hugely sad events. These things transcend the outward treatment of the Baha'is in any circumstances. Thousand of Baha'is lost their lives in Persia in it's early decades of existence there but the situations were not systematic enough, pervasive or persistent enough to kill that many people and while some villages or towns had Baha'is driven out it did not rise to a whole region of what we might call, today, ethnic cleansing, as much as some may have hoped for it. This is not to say it wasn't tried. There are terrible tales of the suffering.

During the days of the Babi and Baha'is Faiths - which are inseparably linked - during such events our reactions were to send letters, walk into prisons, walk to firing squads, walk to whatever means of death was pushed on us. We counted only on God and the virtues that transcend time and place in the heart. We did not gather arms, we did not seek to shame leaders of government, or take sides in political squabbles seeking to advance the rightful treatment of Baha'is by siding with one side against another. Mind you we had opportunity to do so as well as the occasional overture from one side or another to seek to intercede on our behalf which would have resulted in a political agenda being advanced under the guise of helping our situation. We only sought fairness and peace and only in the earliest circumstances did we gather in self-defense. “You have demonstrated (it has been said to the Baha'is of Iran) in the example of your lives that the proper response to oppression is neither to succumb in resignation nor to take on the characteristics of the oppressor. The victim of oppression can transcend it through an inner strength that shields the soul from bitterness and hatred and which sustains consistent, principled action.”

An example of historical persecution in another case, it seems plain to me, outstrips what Baha'is in Iran have suffered after its earliest days, and still the Baha'is sought a standard of conduct to appear completely outside the machinations of political agendas. The events of the Soviet Union were far more heart straightening than things in Iran since the 19th century. The atheistic government systematically and viciously disrupted, deported Baha'is one family member from another or filled mass graves with our bodies on occasion.1, 2 The government was so implacable that standing up for the defense of the community from inside the system through perfectly legal means only earned more arrests and disappearances. They only stopped when they couldn't find any more Baha'is. Such was the case from the 1930s through the 1980s. But with the release of central control social and legal situations changed and Baha'is began to self-assemble into communities and begin to establish and enact the kinds of priorities the Baha'is have sought to do around the world. In some places the communities continue to flourish while in others reactionary governments comfortable with totalitarian control have reinstated some of the same rules on minority religions that existed previously for all - in fact the closer you get to Iran the more stringent the rules have been. But we can drink tea. Through all of this the Baha'is accepted the legal requirements forced on us - what was confiscated was given up, what was illegal to do we stopped doing, guarding only what was in our hearts and minds but acting with a rectitude of conduct that echo the accomplishments of the spiritual fortitude to seek independence in India or the nonviolent African-American Civil Rights movement but rising to a refinement unparalleled in eschewing partisanship and showing radiant acquiescence in the face of brutality. No government is our enemy, no religion, no people. "My object is none other than the betterment of the world and the tranquillity of its peoples. The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. This unity can never be achieved so long as the counsels which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed are suffered to pass unheeded." Given the opportunity to petition for change or speak to issues of society for the benefit of all we do. The object has been to note virtue and self-effacement.

As time has gone on there has been a broadening of international standards of conduct as historically most countries have done things too unfair to their minorities. Indeed I doubt any country has a radiant history of how it has treated its minorities. In all the history I know of there are only a couple of examples of real success in how minorities were treated. The first - and unquestionably to me the best - was when the (probably) Zoroastrian Cyrus the Great of ancient Persia took the enslaved Jews and others and not only freed them from Babylon but mandated they return to their home lands and rebuild their temples. A command that succeeding Kings of Persia saw through.3 For more on Cyrus see ** Alas the Zoroastrians did not live up to that standard in succeeding centuries but this remarkable set of actions has been immortalized in historical and religious writings to shine down on us to this day. The other example is the Islamic "golden age" when leaders of thought and peoples of all kinds were able to gather and live and prosper under a Muslim based system of government and society unlike anything we see around the world today. During such times towering intellects, mystics, poets, traders, doctors, engineers and artists of many kinds were more often rewarded than perhaps anywhere in the world before or since. I do not know the full cultural circumstances of the time - what Muslim schools of jurisprudence, what policies of government and religion commonly espoused, what relationships across peoples and lands existed, I do not know what made those times so successful for minorities and the majority. But it is worthy of note and awareness and appreciation in the West as it should be to the East. However, past glory cannot be regained by seeking to hold up the visible triumphs of the past because they were fermented by living hearts presently engaged with the life we have at hand. It is the spirit of the age that matters. An outmoded idea will fail to inspire the vitality of life necessary to accomplish coherent change. Something has to wake us up.

But turning our attention to the modern age again I was saying that international standards of conduct have begun to be known and agreed to. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva conventions and Hague Courts come to mind. Alas that they came after a century of punishing death of far too many. And even before they were widely promulgated there were circumstances where Baha'is had to deal with other forms of legal marginalization. Two come to mind - one was out of Morocco and the other across central Africa. In Morocco in 1962 Baha'is were noted publicly and the familiar reactions took place to the point that a handful of Baha'is were jailed and eventually sentenced to death for their belief. But a new dynamic entered the stage. World opinion mattered. The King of Morocco traveled to speak to the UN and while in the States had opportunity to appear on US TV. At the same time early harbingers of these international legal standards started to use diplomatic channels and public opinion about such circumstances. Only when private contacts failed and the penalties chosen became clear did the Baha'is make the situation public. The outcry got the attention of the TV producers in the US and the King was taken to task for the treatment of the Baha'is live on the air. The Baha'is were initially found guilty of being members of an illegal religion but things changed and they were released. While the Baha'is there do not enjoy substantial freedom they are not the objects of anything more the polemics published in newspapers, so far, since then. The other example was in the mid 1970s when various Saharan governments leveraged their economic muscle by giving financial aid with conditions like making the Baha'i Faith illegal in their sub-Saharan neighbors with the outward cry of fears of secret agendas against the common good. The Baha'i response to such concerns of the governments was to patiently show our true purpose in society and to prove our faithfulness amidst much suspicion such that by the later 1980s we were successful in all cases at having these restrictions lifted and all of this without any public campaign though sometimes murderous death very painful to behold came upon us.

But now these laws and international standards are here and attempts of people of good will are promulgated through various agencies to try to live up to them. And, through well worn habits, Baha'is have ample evidence to make claims about our treatment. Not that it's been easy or always successful. In Egypt hadith-based standards of laws had not only made the religion illegal but required Baha'is to either convert or lie in order to receive payment for work or when seeking medical treatment when the government required identity cards that listed religion and forbade the Baha'i Faith from being listed or from having the box blank. This was eventually overturned through legal redress thanks to the stalwart Muslim lawyers who systematically came to the aid of the Baha'is. But things are not all good. The Arab Spring's arrival in Egypt has not seen the extension of this brief new standard. Indeed again newspapers cover political parties announcing polemics calling for our systematic disenfranchisement.

Walls could be filled with stories of the suffering of Baha'is and are. (page can be slow to load.... there is so much to load just in the last 30 odd years, and hasn't been updated since 2010.) Above I said that the persecution in the 19th century was not "systematic enough, pervasive or persistent enough". Experts and agencies raise the warning alarms of genocidal intentions because of the secret policies and outward policies. Experts and agencies raise the warning alarms of genocidal intentions in the government of Iran.(4, 5, 6, 7.) Indeed it is not through lack of trying that the Baha'is have not been done away with. The Baha'is in Iran are too numerous to be ignored. The balance seems to be in the wind. But even the self-confessed have sometimes sought to mend their ways. Still some do not credit we exist as a religion.(9, 10, 10)

It is with these examples I think it prudent to see what is going on in Iran, and what the Baha'i institutional and community response has been. Public awareness has been engaged and Iranians responding outside and inside of Iran has been heartwarming in their eagerness to be aware of and publicly decry the treatment we have been faced with. Moslem Iranians inside Iran helped us homeschool universities when we were kicked out of public ones. Moslem, Christian and Jewish academics, theologians and philosophers from around the world echoed again and again. People who from their religious heritages _they_ see as the very application of the ideals of their religion to this case. From Indian to Brazil leaders of thought have taken up the cause. Prison mates lauded their conduct and gained strength from Baha'is in prison. Moved by the reality of hearts Muslims and others used their creativity, steadfastness, and eagerness for the Baha'is to live without such persecution. Lawyer after lawyer after lawyer stood up for us when we could not stand up for ourselves. They did this out of their *own* sense of what was right. Though it does not immediately redress the suffering of the imprisoned and martyred at least joins our calls for peace and fairness in common cause. Even in facebook and it's progenitor on the web and cousin sites stand as unique efforts - more than a century of suffering has not seen such outcry about how we are treated as we have seen in the last few years.

Thank you.

To the people of Iran and all countries who have stood up in their private lives to defend and find common cause with the Baha'is, a special note and prayer for blessing upon you from our hearts. And to the lawyers who have tried to stand up for us our heartfelt care and prayers. Your efforts will be remembered for many years to come. They seem to harken back to a bygone age. God bless you. Failure is no limit to your tireless efforts. May your families one day come to know the virtue of your efforts if they lack any understanding of what you have stood out publicly to do.

And to the people of Iran in general. Know this. Despite circumstances as are too easy to delineate know clearly that we pray for your safety, your health, your honor and that peace rules the day and the drums of war silenced. Too high a price may come from such eventualities. If it be something human hands make happen please God it will be without any hint of agenda from the Baha'is. We seek to live in peace and justice whomever is given the authority of a nation. We care less which regime is in power than any regime that lives with Godly virtues all have been informed of through the religious gifts of the ages God has given every people.


His Holiness Muhammad


Blessed King Cyrus

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Steven's thoughts on Karma

Karma means many things to many people.

First let's bring a few things together – science and religion. Strange bedfellows truth seekers are.

NDE research suggests that we remember everything after death but not the way we experience memories here normally. Here we remember events; this happened and that happened, I had that for breakfast, this happened on the way to work. The memory we have in the afterlife is different. It's more like what we have when we are in a time of great joy or turmoil or anniversaries or holy days - times when we remember how we got here, our great appreciation of who affected our lives whether close at hand or from across history. It is a memory governed by what matters to us. But NDE research suggests it goes further. We not only remember things we went through, we also experience how it affected others - how we affected them with our choices both mindless and mindful but again not in the way of a series of events but in a manner of the importance and meaning of those interactions. NDE also suggests that the value of all these is measured in spiritual terms - the ability to bring forth virtues of love, courage, caring, kindness, and sacrifice.  It is measured by giving and accepting, understanding or awareness - actions taken and not taken.  Renee Pasarow, one who has shared her extreme experience, speaks of this dynamic of memory, at (about 3/4ths in part 1 where she describes both general and a specific case in a daycare camp.) Baha'i scripture also speaks to these things in similar form. Here's just one quote: "And now concerning thy question regarding the soul of man and its survival after death.… the soul… will continue to progress … It will endure as long as the Kingdom of God… will endure.… that soul will freely converse, and will recount … that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God.…" So it is agreed we remember everything, and the meaning of everything to ourselves and to each other as we affected each other. This speaks an aspect of karma - that our deeds are measured and credit and debt are counted. "Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds." He says again.

So both in this life and beyond we are to take into account how we have made choices or not and affected others and ourselves. So in the sense that our deeds are noted and recalled and we get the deserts of our choices both evidence and scripture support it. So in the sense that karma deals with things actually mattering, that it comes back to us, yes there is something one can call Karma.

Some versions of the topic of Karma also deal with reincarnation - the idea being that the summary of good and bad we were responsible for previously affects our present lives. Generally speaking far eastern religions (Hinduism and Buddhism) support reincarnation and near eastern religions (Abrahamic) do not. This is complicated by the fact that the religions evolved over time. Even in Hinduism there is no mention of reincarnation at first and instead there are indicators of death being final.[1] Another part of the problem is that in the west we are only getting some of the discussion of what the other far eastern religions are like. Buddhism, for example, is as divided into groups as Christianity. So where Christianity has Catholic, Protestant, and groups neither accepts so too are Buddhists segregated into groups - ranging from pure atheists to a mixed case, to pure theists who claim a Buddha as a personal savior.[2] So across the evolution of religions and what we are likely to hear about in the west we are sometimes pretty far from how things began.

The subject is also part of psychic and NDE research with some taking it completely as real and some taking it completely as false. Few have taken care to review the evidence carefully. One NDE researcher, Phyllis Atwater, in “Coming Back to Life” (p. 143-4) after performing and experiencing past life regression came to feel that the attitude of the hypnotist seemed to be the leading indicator on what people experienced and no technique seemed to get round that, though profound healing could be achieved, whatever the facts were. David Fontana in “Is there an Afterlife” (p. 440-2) reviewed the available research and though something of past life regressions seems to be legitimate in terms of information content it was impossible to determine if these were the experiences of the same identity, or simply those of other identities with whom they were connected “beads on the same necklace and the memory they share is contained in the string.”

Never the less there are ideas of return that do appear in various ways in scripture. There is a way to bridge the gap and take into account both points of view. I first thought of this when I was wrestling with a topic in Baha’i scripture, (see a discussion of multiple kinds of “return”.) So on the one hand you have the return specified and at the same time there are denials of personally, individually, returning. So for example on the one hand Jesus says that John the Baptist was the return of Elijah and on the other John the Baptist says he was not Elijah. People argue about this in every direction. John just didn't know what he was talking about and he was the reincarnation, or this is just one example of the contradictions of the Bible, or it was just symbolic and prophetic but had no real meaning in itself. I think all these are wrong.

Think of it like this. We all play roles in life. We are fathers or mothers, friends, sons or daughters. We are bosses or employees. We serve as guides and helpers and we are guided and helped. There are only so many jobs, roles, we can play in the world and we shift among them all the time. Now above I emphasized that some things matter more than others and the spiritual emphasis is in how things matter. So to the extent we act in our roles with spiritual distinction and bring virtues to bear, we are acting in our roles well. And good or bad there are also others acting in their roles - across history, and every culture. Some of those roles are seemingly singular - like Jesus came - but become repeated - like Jesus will come again. And some are pretty crowded. But whatever role we play there are those like us - and we "get" them in ways we don't even have to talk about. We see what they go through and it's just like us. We read of some ancient event and we can see ourselves doing the same thing. There is a resonance. A kinship. I have done that. I know what that feels like from the inside. Even if we do not specifically see ourselves in roles others have inhabited sometimes these are pointed out to us. Thus Jesus saw John the Baptist in the role of Elijah even though of his own self he was not Elijah. Make sense? This is a natural capacity in fact - the basis of empathy.

Now there are also suggestions of one’s condition in this life being affected by the past; nature and nurture. We are given gifts and have to make our own choices. Consider - in the Bible there is the initial statement that the sins of the father are visited upon the sons which later evolves into a conditional statement that if one follows in the sins of the father the son too will suffer. A modern form of it might be called the cycle of poverty: on the negative side – and of primogenitary on the positive side - (hey, Jesus was in the station of the Son, remember?)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The times are confusing

Times are sure confusing. We are hearing of seemingly radically different approaches to life both from a diversity of places in the world and in the implications of changing society and technology affecting every corner of our lives including religion.

But this is not the first time religion in society has gone through transformation and challenge. And none are more substantial in history than when the largest religions who's origins we know of were themselves born. In the far-east when Buddhism arose there was a period of confusion and ferment - "The period during which the Upanishads were being formulated and eventually recorded, roughly… 800 to 600 BCE, was a period of tremendous religious fermentation… change was happening at an extraordinarily fast rate, historically."[1] During the time of the establishment of Christianity there was a period of "…confused and confusing systems of thought that are the direct outcome of the helplessness and confusion afflicting the Christian Faith and the great variety of popular cults, of fashionable and evasive philosophies which flourished in the opening centuries of the Christian Era, and which attempted to absorb and pervert the state religion of that Roman people….”[2] And in the case of Islam there was a period of wrestling with the so-called ''Ghulat'' when "There thus arose a ferment of discussion around some of the concepts introduced by these older religious systems (which were encountered by Islam's growth).… In Iraq  (various religious systems) contributed to a kaleidoscope of religious debate and speculation probably unequalled in the ancient world."[3]

There is some room for considering the recent age in parallel with such histories. We sure have had more than a few religious developments over the last couple centuries!

• the Protestant group separating into Methodists, Pentecostalism,[4]
• Seventh Day Adventists,     • consider Aikido,     • Tenrikyo,
• Christian Science,      • the Ghost Dance of Native Americans 
• Unification Church,   • …
And not only these new systems creating an air of confusion but a degradation of the heritage of systems of order were disintegrating like the final fall of the Holy Roman Empire,[5] the dissolution of the Caliphate of Islam[6], and the Pope's loss of most of his temporal authority's last vestige in the Papal States[7] amid harrowing scenes.[8]

Religion, it would seem, could never be the same as it was before. But we were forming one world - transportation and communications, organizing peoples and nations - we spread around the world and made it one, big (though seemingly shrinking every day), place and religion has to wrestle with that.

A few of the above are syncretistic - attempting to just merge traditions - while others are schisms. But there was another approach: simple acknowledgement of the fact of the authentic religious experience of the diversity of peoples. Into this period of ferment comes an attempt to look at the diversity of religious experience authentically. And this arose out of America - the United States and Canada in the form of two books and lives of research -  "Cosmic consciousness: a study in the evolution of the human mind" by Richard Maurice Bucke and The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James.

Seemingly for the first time the very fact of a diversity of religious experience was acknowledged and embraced. And it arose out of America where other institutions would unfold in time trying to bring world unity together - Wilson's 14 Points, the League of Nations, the United Nations, etc.  At the turn of the last century William James' work was the first definitive contribution of America to world philosophy and in it he mentions the founders of the religions mentioned above - Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad - in the same sentence: "First-hand individual experience of this kind has always appeared as a heretical sort of innovation to those who witnessed it's birth. Naked comes it into the world and lonely; and it has always, for a time at least, driven him who had it into the wilderness, often into the literal wilderness out of doors, where the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammed… had to go.”[9] In doing so he focused attention on the profound and moving experiences of religionists and gave credibility to such experiences thus founding the philosophy of Pragmatism (from which it can be said something is true if it works for people) - and "… paving the way for modern study of parapsychology and religious experience."[10] And related work has indeed shown up in research on parapsychological phenomena of near death experiences[11] where Phyllis Atwater in her book (and ongoing work) "Coming Back to Life" spends a chapter on the spiritual implications of what NDE might illumine of the spiritual world and our eternal nature. She calls up the work of Richard Bucke's who wrote Cosmic Consciousness that William James mentions.[12] Recognizing that a sense of God comes through NDE reports, Phyllis wrestles with the diversity of religion as well[13] while others research religious scriptures.[14] And papers and books continue to work on the realm of the study of religious experience.[15] And this wrestling with religion has continued in other circles arising out of America as well - consider Scifi author Robert Heinlein's "Job: A Comedy of Justice" where he tries to poke at the diversity of religions by saying they are all true, literally. Joseph Campbell and his "Hero with a Thousand Faces" finding the "monomyth" buried in all our stories of search and triumph – who also mentioning the Buddha, Jesus and Muhammed.[16] Indeed if the religions are all true somehow we have a lot of work of making sense of things, but if it is to be it surely must acknowledge the reality, if subjectivity, of experience. While science inquiry bids fair to wrestle with the issue of the ferment of religion, it seems to be supposing that the religions are going to change beyond recognition. It is remarkable that James wrote his book for scholars and scientists and spent no little time dismissing arguments of atheism (that religious experiences are derangements of biological basis for example[17]) and yet the academic study of religion in the field of the Psychology of religion suggests that the evolution of religion will align along one of three paths[18]: atheism, (a religion of science and technology, of which there are many posts on this site responding to), a religious transformation aiming at appreciation of spirituality vs religion (i.e. individualism vs organized institutional religion) or a cultural divide where the poor and uneducated have one experience of religion more aligned with history and the rich and or well educated fall into one of the previous groups which this site may address at some time.

America may have it's own mixed sense of manifest destiny following on the Great Awakening seeking to be that light on a hill, but I'd hazard this unique contribution to the understanding of religion - of giving fair air to the reality of the experiences of the diverse religions of the world also echoed by the "Parliament of the World's Religions" in Chicago in 1893 - makes fair play to be a place where a ferment of religion is being worked out in a way that recognizes the basis of all the religions and not just our own.

All that being the case there is also a sense that things are as they have never been before. Religiously this is expressed as the “end times”. After all, we’ve never had World Wars before – however much Rome or Persia and other Empires waged wars – even Genghis Khan didn’t reach the Americas, though the Native Americans died in great number from the arrival of the Europeans and might call it a world war.[19] Among those that saw a religious connection with the idea of end times was Joseph Miller. But the “Great Disappointment” of seeing a literal Jesus descending literally on clouds was smoothed over by the idea of a divine side-step into a heaven preserved from the eyes of men until the real end of days – an idea also used in Shi’a Islam, with similar overtones – that the fulfillment of the age before the end times would be when the occultation would end. And others have taken note that Armageddon may relate to the WWI Battle at Megiddo. Note that for hundreds of years we had a sense of a world not least by Columbus’ voyage. But only in the 1900s were we consumed in a process of world war and alienation and universal estrangement – even the struggle between British and Spanish Empires that included navies at odds around the world did not rise to a World War. And in this century tyrants rose up, some even who killed more of their own people than the World Wars (Mao Ze-Dong may have killed upto 78 million people through his decisions alone – then add Joseph Stalin and others while about 97 million were killed in the World Wars altogether).[20] Plagues[21] and new diseases[22] arose. Many religions have their own approach to end times – not just Christians. For example Hindus have the end of the Kali Yug to be followed by a golden age. While official interpretation taking things pretty literally pushes this into the deep future, looking at the characteristics of man’s inhumanity to man it sure seems to fit.[23] Even the Hopi tribe[24] and Mayan calendar[25] point to new golden age after a terrible one.[26]

But is there a way forward other than atheism, degeneration of institutional religion, or social fragmentation? Is there an approach that holds virtue together that arises out of such times of confusion, devastation and ferment and can call all people together?

Beginning in the 1800s a new age has indeed been announced, implemented in ever greater detail, and rolled out across the world by another religion that appeared amid the tumult of the last centuries. And in recent decades it has been recognized as the second most widespread of the world's independent religions in terms of the number of countries with organized communities[27] while still numbering less than 10 million.[28] The only place it is clearly absent is in North Korea and the Vatican[29] having arrived in "outer" Mongolia in 1989.[30] And it has placed first or second in world wide growth according to Christian based statistics since 1970 when such statistics began.[31] Indeed it is wrestling with the diversity of rich and poor experiences.[32] And I think it no accident that America figures prominently in the history of the religion.[33] Indeed one of the things that comes to mind is that when `Abdu'l-Baha traveled across Europe (twice) and America (US and Canada) a century ago[34] He talked to certainly thousands or tens of thousands of people - looked in the faces and shook hands with hundreds or thousands - and with all the unique terrors about to be unleashed in the world millions upon millions more would die. Yet He was endlessly merciful and encouraging and trying to awaken on every turn. Surely they faced trials that dwarf ours. I think more people died then from war and disease at that time than any time previously. And the Baha’is were not side stepped in the pains of the age - Baha'i populations centers in His lifetime - mostly in Iran and north into southern Russia generally speaking - were going to be gutted, not just figuratively, in the coming decades while with this act of reaching and sending plans to the West brought a scale of the spreading of the religion magnified several times. This is what He chose to do, was inspired to do, in the face of scales of devastation we cannot, perhaps should not, clearly appreciate. He chose these acts - the best acts available - to change the course of civilization, by investing in people personally.

And this religion has made clear both its support the religious enterprise of humanity, and also their reconciliation:

"The Faith of Bahá’u’lláh has assimilated, by virtue of its creative, its regulative and ennobling energies, the varied races, nationalities, creeds and classes that have sought its shadow, and have pledged unswerving fealty to its cause. It has changed the hearts of its adherents, burned away their prejudices, stilled their passions, exalted their conceptions, ennobled their motives, coordinated their efforts, and transformed their outlook. While preserving their patriotism and safeguarding their lesser loyalties, it has made them lovers of mankind, and the determined upholders of its best and truest interests. While maintaining intact their belief in the Divine origin of their respective religions, it has enabled them to visualize the underlying purpose of these religions, to discover their merits, to recognize their sequence, their interdependence, their wholeness and unity, and to acknowledge the bond that vitally links them to itself. This universal, this transcending love which the followers of the Bahá’í Faith feel for their fellow-men, of whatever race, creed, class or nation, is neither mysterious nor can it be said to have been artificially stimulated. It is both spontaneous and genuine. They whose hearts are warmed by the energizing influence of God’s creative 198 love cherish His creatures for His sake, and recognize in every human face a sign of His reflected glory."[35]

"Nor does the Bahá’í Revelation, claiming as it does to be the culmination of a prophetic cycle and the fulfillment of the promise of all ages, attempt, under any circumstances, to invalidate those first and everlasting principles that animate and underlie the religions that have preceded it. The God-given authority, vested in each one of them, it admits and establishes as its firmest and ultimate basis. It regards them in no other light except as different stages in the eternal history and constant evolution of one religion, Divine and indivisible, of which it itself forms but an integral part. It neither seeks to obscure their Divine origin, nor to dwarf the admitted magnitude of their colossal achievements. It can countenance no attempt that seeks to distort their features or to stultify the truths, which they instill. Its teachings do not deviate a hairbreadth from the verities they enshrine, nor does the weight of its message detract one jot or one tittle from the influence they exert or the loyalty they inspire. Far from aiming at the overthrow of the spiritual foundation of the world’s religious systems, its avowed, its unalterable purpose is to widen their basis, to restate their fundamentals, to reconcile their aims, to reinvigorate their life, to demonstrate their oneness, to restore the pristine purity of their teachings, to coordinate their functions and to assist in the realization of their highest aspirations. These divinely revealed religions, as a close observer has graphically expressed it, “are doomed not to die, but to be reborn… ‘Does not the child succumb in the youth and the youth in the man; yet neither child nor youth perishes?’””[36]

"The Revelation, of which Bahá’u’lláh is the source and center, abrogates none of the religions that have preceded it, nor does it attempt, in the slightest degree, to distort their features or to belittle their value. It disclaims any intention of dwarfing any of the Prophets of the past, or of whittling down the eternal verity of their teachings. It can, in no wise, conflict with the spirit that animates their claims, nor does it seek to undermine the basis of any man’s allegiance to their cause. Its declared, its primary purpose is to enable every adherent of these Faiths to obtain a fuller understanding of the religion with which he stands identified, and to acquire a clearer apprehension of its purpose. It is neither eclectic in the presentation of its truths, nor arrogant in the affirmation of its claims. Its teachings revolve around the fundamental principle that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is progressive, not final. Unequivocally and without the least reservation it proclaims all established religions to be divine in origin, identical in their aims, complementary in their functions, continuous in their purpose, indispensable in their value to mankind."[37]

And this religion has continued to release statements and work on interfaith projects local and international:
• at the United Nations,[38]
• helping the NGO forum at the 1992 Earth Summit,[39]
• participating in the 1995 World Conference on Women,[40]
• schools in many many countries,[41]  
• relief efforts,[42]
just to name a pittance[43] of endeavors where it has not been legal proscribed.[44]

I recommend you investigate it. It's trying to make one world in our experiences even as it must be in even as it must be in reality.

[1] The emergence of Buddhism, by Jacob N. Kinnard,  p. 10
[2] The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, by Shoghi Effendi, p. 184.
[4]  Diagram of Protestant denominations and movements, Wikipedia editor, Lokal_Profil
[8] The Promised Day Is Come,  by Shoghi Effendi, p. 53 ( and next three paragraphs)
[9] The Varieties of Religious Experience‬,  by William James, p. 269.‬‬
[11],  (FAQ).
[12] The Varieties of Religious Experience, by William James, p. 439.
[13] Coming Back to Life; The After-Effects of the Near-Death Experience (Revised and Updated), by PMH Atwater, chapter “Spiritual Implications” pp. 109–149. (sorry, no url.)

[16] The Hero with a Thousand Faces,  by Joseph Campbell, p. 30.
[19] Indigenous Native American Prophecy,  (Elders Speak part 1, youtube.)
          • • World War II casualties, Wikipedia
          • World War I casualties, Wikipedia.
[26] Native American Indian prophecies, talk by Lee Brown, 1986.
[32] FUNDAEC, Wikipedia.
[33] "Abdul Baha Talks to Kate Carew of Things Spiritual and Mundane",  New York Tribune by Mary Williams (page 1) May 5th, 1912 and bottom left of (page 2).
[35] The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh,  by Shoghi Effendi, p. 197-8.
[36] The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, by Shoghi Effendi, p. 114.
[37] The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh,  by Shoghi Effendi, p. 57-8.
[40] The Role of Religion in Promoting the Advancement of Women, statement to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, distributed officially to all participants. (Beijing, China; 13 September 1995)