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The Sovereign Remedy

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Two photographs showing the Bahá'í commitment to interfaith dialogue, 103 years apart:

Plymouth Congregational Church 1912

‘Abdu’l-Bahá (the son of Bahá'u'lláh who became the interpreter of his words and the leader of the Baháʼí Faith after his passing) addressing a large gathering at the Plymouth Congregational Church, Chicago, Illinois, 5 May 1912

Plymouth Congregational Church 2015

Up to 90 representatives from diverse religious organizations gathered at the royal palace in Oslo earlier this month as part of efforts to promote greater inter-religious dialogue and understanding

Let there be light, Part I

Perhaps unsurprisingly for two people who started something called The Utterance Project, one of our very favorite Sacred Texts is Genesis 1:1–4:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

There are four comforting things about this extraordinary pronouncement revealed by God to mankind:

The first is that light was brought into existence by God Himself.

The second is that the existence of light was the first thing to be created, after the heaven and the earth, and before mankind.

The third is that the light brought into the world for God was to be forevermore our guide, our lighthouse in the darkness and the chaos, our comfort.

And the fourth is a very personal interpretation, but we’ve come to feel that this “light” is, in fact, the word of God.

In this sense, for us personally, but more profoundly through our upbringing and our embrace of the Bahá'í worldview, we consider the word of God to be the gift of God to mankind, our lighthouse and guiding light in the darkness of chaos, our light of hope in times of despair and despondency, and a precious gift we can continually draw from.

In many of the Bahá'í holy writings, there is a magnificent balance in speaking about the interplay between the world of God and the world of man, the realm on high and the physical realm.

These are a set of terms from our holy writings that not only bring comfort to us when dealing with chaos and a disordered world, societal crises, and a global health crisis such as the pandemic we are currently grappling with, but also other matters such as tests and difficulties in our private lives.

The terminology often found in Bahá'u'lláh’s writings referring specifically to hope in situations of chaos is the metaphor of the illness, the physician and the remedy.

The Illness:

“the world is being afflicted with a fresh calamity every day. Its tribulation is continually deepening. (…) At one time it hath been agitated by contentions and disputes, at another it hath been convulsed by wars, and fallen a victim to inveterate diseases. Its sickness is approaching the stage of utter hopelessness”

Bahá'u'lláh - Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh: XVI

The Physician and the Remedy:

The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and centre your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.

Bahá'u'lláh – Tabernacle of Unity – Tablet to Mánikchí Ṣáḥib (Lawḥ-i-Mánikchí-Ṣáḥib)

The Remedy (Let there be light, Part II):

They that are possessed of wealth and invested with authority and power must show the profoundest regard for religion. In truth, religion is a radiant light and an impregnable stronghold for the protection and welfare of the peoples of the world, for the fear of God impelleth man to hold fast to that which is good and shun all evil. Should the lamp of religion be obscured, chaos and confusion will ensue, and the lights of fairness and justice, of tranquility and peace cease to shine. Unto this will bear witness every man of true understanding. The First Ishráq - Bahá’u’lláh – Tablet of Ishráq (Splendors)

The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God’s holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife. The religion of God and His divine law are the most potent instruments and the surest of all means for the dawning of the light of unity amongst men. The progress of the world, the development of nations, the tranquility of peoples, and the peace of all who dwell on earth are among the principles and ordinances of God. Religion bestoweth upon man the most precious of all gifts, offereth the cup of prosperity, imparteth eternal life, and showereth imperishable benefits upon mankind. The Ninth Ishráq – Bahá'u'lláh – Tablet of Ishráq (Splendors)

Every Prophet Whom the Almighty and Peerless Creator hath purposed to send to the peoples of the earth hath been entrusted with a Message, and charged to act in a manner that would best meet the requirements of the age in which He appeared. God’s purpose in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold. The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and guide them to the light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the peace and tranquility of mankind and provide all the means by which they can be established.

The Prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task is to foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity. To none is given the right to question their words or disparage their conduct, for they are the only ones who can claim to have understood the patient and to have correctly diagnosed its ailments.

Bahá'u'lláh – Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh XXXIV

The Utterance Project recently launched a new collection entitled “The Sovereign Remedy,” which is aimed specifically at sharing the Bahá'í understanding that the light of the word of God is the divine remedy prescribed by “the All-Knowing Physician” for ills and crises, the chaos and confusion, and the hopelessness and despair of the physical world in which we live. To bring this full circle, we will close with those same immortal words of God in the book of Genesis:

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

With abounding love to all,

Violetta Zein and Adib Masumian The Utterance Project

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