Bahá'u'lláh: Manifestation of God
" The face of him on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one's very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow.... No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!"
Bahá'u'lláh was thus described by the well-known Cambridge University Orientalist Edward Granville Browne in 1890. Bahá'u'lláh had, at that time, been a prisoner and an exile for almost 40 years and His teachings were shrouded in obscurity; today He is recognized by millions of followers around the world as the Manifestation of God or Divine Teacher for this age. According to Bahá'í belief, Manifestations of God, including Moses, Abraham, Christ, Muhammad, Krishna, and Buddha, have appeared at intervals throughout history to found the world's great religious systems. They have been sent by a loving Creator to enable us to know and to worship Him and to bring human civilization to ever higher levels of achievement.
The station of these Manifestations is unique in creation. Their essential nature is twofold: they are at once human and divine. But they are not identical with God , the Creator, Who is Unknowable. Of God, Bahá'u'lláh has written,
e, in truth, hath, throughout eternity, been one in His Essence, one in His attributes, one in His works. Any and every comparison is applicable only to His creatures, and all conceptions of association are conceptions that belong solely to those that serve Him. Immeasurably exalted is His Essence above the descriptions of His creatures. He, alone, occupieth the Seat of transcendent majesty, of supreme and inaccessible glory. The birds of men's hearts, however high they soar, can never hope to attain the heights of His unknowable Essence. It is He Who hath called into being the whole of creation, Who hath caused every created thing to spring forth at His behest.
Furthermore, Bahá'u'lláh, addressing God in a prayer, says:
Exalted, immeasurably exalted art Thou above any attempt to measure the greatness of Thy Cause, above any comparison that one may seek to make, above the efforts of the human tongue to utter its import! From everlasting Thou hast existed, alone with no one else beside Thee, and wilt, to everlasting, continue to remain the same, in the sublimity of Thine essence and the inaccessible heights of Thy glory.
And when Thou didst purpose to make Thyself known unto men, Thou didst successively reveal the Manifestations of Thy Cause, and ordained each to be a sign of Thy Revelation among Thy people, and the Day-Spring of Thine invisible Self amidst Thy creatures...
Describing the relationship between the Manifestations of God and Their Creator, Bahá'u'lláh used the analogy of the mirror: God is as the Sun, and the Manifestations are as Mirrors that reflect that divine light -- but they are in no way to be considered as identical to that Sun:
These sanctified Mirrors...are, one and all, the Exponents on earth of Him Who is the central Orb of the universe, its Essence and ultimate Purpose. From Him proceed their knowledge and power; from Him is derived their sovereignty. The beauty of their countenance is but a reflection of His image, and their revelation a sign of His deathless glory.
Bahá'u'lláh's central message for humanity in this day is one of unity and justice. "The best beloved of all things in My sight is justice," He wrote, and "The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens" in two often-quoted passages. He also stated, "The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established." This is the prescription of God, the divine and all-knowing Physician, for our ailing world.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 2d rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 193.
Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations of Bahá'u'lláh (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1938), p. 128.
Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 46-49.
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