International Academy for Human Sciences and Culture

Statement

 

In Celebration of the 200th Anniversary

of the Birth of the Báb

 

“If His Holiness Jesus Christ had not possessed love for the world of humanity, surely He would not have welcomed the cross. He was crucified for the love of mankind. …

“If His Holiness the Báb had not manifested love for mankind, surely He would not have offered His breast for a thousand bullets.

”If His Holiness Baháu’lláh had not been aflame with love for humanity, He would not have willingly accepted forty years’ imprisonment.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1

 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words emphacise that all the founders of the world religions were aflame with the greatest love for humanity and were thus willing to make the greatest sacrifices for the spiritual progress of humanity, for its peace and security.

 

This supreme love is impossible for us to fathom, as are these supreme beings themselves whose station and abilities far surpass our own. Accordingly, it is not possible for us to befittingly honour the Báb, whose 200th birthday we celebrate with this International Peace Seminar. We can only try in all humility to draw near to Him.

 

But what is possible for every person of good will, is to serve the cause of these extraordinary beings—namely the cause of love for mankind, spiritual progress and peace. The 13th International Peace Seminar would like to contribute to this goal.

 

Let us be thinkers, mystics, peacemakers and lovers all in one!

 

Peace research and peace education and the bridge to religion

 

For more than 30 years, the Peace Institutes of the International Academy for Human Sciences and Culture, namely the Institute of Psychology for Peace Research and Peace Education and the Psychology Research and Counselling Institute for Sexuality, Marriage and the Family, have been engaged in deciphering the connections between the development of conflicts and wars on the one hand and friendship and peace on the other. This research soon revealed the need to strengthen the two basic capacities of man, the capacity to know and the capacity to love, and to connect them with one another. This led to the development of the Psychology of the Capacity to Know and to Love.

 

This research also specifically revealed the human ego that constantly evokes insecurity, fears and prejudices as the cause of even great wars and conflicts. The ego is likewise responsible for the widespread pursuit of superiority and power that victimizes and disparages others, and declares them outsiders, aliens and inferior. Even in the course of normal daily life, people are commonly made victims of xenophobia, bullying and racism. And, aside from the obvious resulting disadvantages, difficulties and harm, many more people than one might think bear serious psychological suffering therefrom as well.

 

Overcoming fears and prejudices, overcoming human egoism and the striving for superiority and power is ultimately only possible through love, spirituality, and Thou-relatedness2.

 

This logically and necessarily creates a bridge from science to religion, as the founders of the world religions are also the great teachers of love for mankind.

 

In view of the disintegration of human relationships and bonds, global crises and conflicts, political and economic instability, environmental catastrophes, threatening epidemics and pandemics, is it not imperative that the two decisive factors for human progress, science and religion, work together for a fundamental, sustainable and world-embracing peace? Is it not more than ever necessary to become thinkers, mystics, peacemakers and lovers all in one?

 

The importance of science and the limits of science

 

While individuals and human communities must more and more learn to take their destiny into their own hands, it is, at the same time, necessary to recognize that the great, even ego-conquering forces that check egoism, that lead to justice, friendship and love, and finally to peace, are not subject to feasibility, but are blessings.

 

Love and friendship, as essential as they are for peace, are not doable by means of techniques or procedures. While this leads many people to question entirely the possibility of a lasting peace, a fundamental teaching of all world religions is that humility and the admission of human helplessness bring about divine assistance. Only then does the helplessness of man become a positive helplessness that exactly attracts help.

 

Science is most valuable in every respect and can analyse and help to understand interrelations and interactions. But science cannot create spiritual realities such as friendship, love and peace. Here science too is helpless.

 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá expresses it clearly in a letter dated 12 July 1920 to the Central Organisation for a Durable Peace in The Hague where He writes that, although the benefits of universal peace and the harmful effects of war are clear to all, knowledge alone is not sufficient and does not provide the power to implement peace throughout the world. Abdu’l-Bahá continues: “It is our firm belief that the power of implementation in this great endeavour is the penetrating influence of the Word of God and the confirmations of the Holy Spirit.” 3

 

Here too the importance of the cooperation of science and religion becomes clear!

 

Science appeals to the mind of man. True religion also appeals to the mind, but to the heart as well. And only both together can motivate and move man to peace!

 

To see the world religions in the same larger context, to learn from all world religions!

 

World history elucidates that ultimately all the cultures of the world have their origin in the world religions. Likewise, not only are they related to one another, but the ethics and basic teachings of the world religions are the same, which makes it clear that they have the same source. Moreover, in their original form, unfalsified by man, they have a unifying, peace-making and culture-producing power. And finally, world peace today is only possible if we value all world religions and thus all cultures.

 

Therefore, we can only gain if we are willing to learn from all world religions.

 

The path to human progress and peace as central themes in the teachings of the two luminaries, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh

 

The 200th anniversary of the birthday of the Báb is correspondingly an occasion to address the central themes of progress and peace in the teachings of the two luminaries, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.

 

A young man from Shíráz (Persia), named Mírzá ‘Alí-Muhammad, known as the Báb (“the Gate”), announced in May 1844 at the age of twenty-five, that He was “the Herald Who … must needs announce and prepare the way for the advent of One greater than Himself, Whose mission would be … to inaugurate an era of righteousness and peace, an era that would be hailed as the consummation of all previous Dispensations, and initiate a new cycle in the religious history of mankind. Swift and severe persecution, launched by the organized forces of Church and State in His native land, precipitated successively His arrest, His exile to the mountains of Adhírbáyján, His imprisonment in the fortresses of Máh-Kú and Chihríq, and His execution, in July, 1850, by a firing squad in the public square of Tabríz. No less than twenty thousand of his followers were put to death with such barbarous cruelty as to evoke the warm sympathy and the unqualified admiration of a number of Western writers, diplomats, travelers and scholars ...” 4

 

 

The message of the Báb encompassed a fundamental spiritual and social transformation and the imminence of an even greater dispensation. “With His call for spiritual and moral reformation, and His attention to improving the position of women and the lot of the poor, the Báb’s prescription for spiritual renewal was revolutionary.” 5

 

Following are three examples of His visionary teachings:

 

“The path to guidance is one of love and compassion, not of force and coercion.” 6

 

“We have created you from one tree and have caused you to be as the leaves and fruit of the same tree, that haply ye may become a source of comfort to one another.“ 7

 

“Become as true brethren in the one and indivisible religion of God, free from distinction, for verily God desireth that your hearts should become mirrors unto your brethren in the Faith, so that ye find yourselves reflected in them, and they in you.” 8

 

Such teachings created thousands of intrepid heroines and heroes, who stood up for the cause of the Báb—such as the learned renowned poetess, Tahirih, who proclaimed an age of equal rights for women.

 

The appearance of Bahá’u’lláh was the fulfilment of the teachings of the Báb. The comprehensive peace message of Bahá’u’lláh revolves around the theme of unity, namely the unity of God, the unity of His manifestations and the unity of mankind in its diversity.

 

Bahá’u’lláh’s great-grandson, Shoghi Effendi, explains:

 

“The fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá’u’lláh … is that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary, that they differ only in the nonessential aspects of their doctrines, and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society.” 4

 

Bahá’u’lláh’s peace message “proclaims the necessity and the inevitability of the unification of mankind, asserts that it is gradually approaching … It, moreover, enjoins upon its followers the primary duty of an unfettered search after truth, condemns all manner of prejudice and superstition, declares the purpose of religion to be the promotion of amity and concord, ...” 4

 

 

It proclaims the conformity of religion and science, emphasizes the necessity of equal rights and equal opportunities for men and women, postulates universal and comprehensive education as a duty, demands the elimination of the extremes of poverty and wealth, “urges either the creation or selection of an auxiliary international language, and delineates the outlines of those institutions that must establish and perpetuate the general peace of mankind.” 4

 

Strangers in the world or citizens of one world?

 

If one traces a person’s family history back even only a few generations, it will come to light that the ancestors of this person had other homelands and nationalities.

 

The study of anthropology, archaeology and history reveals that we are all descendants of migrants.

 

The USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are known as countries of immigrants. Moreover, in these times of easy and rapid global travel, it can no longer be assumed that we, and much less so, our children, will always live and work in our current countries of residence.

 

Intercultural relationships and marriages are increasing everywhere. In Switzerland, for example, the Federal Office for Statistics stated that “in 2017 a total of 35.8% of marriages entered into were mixed-national.” 9

 

 

And, while many people voluntarily move to other countries, there are millions who are forced to flee their homelands because of war, violence, persecution and poverty. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for the first time, more than 70.8 million people are suffering forced displacement. More than half of refugees are under the age of 18. This is the highest number of refugee children since the Second World War. In 2018, 138,600 children sought refuge as “unaccompanied minors”. 10 “There are also millions of stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.“ 11 Eighty-four percent of refugees find asylum in developing countries. 10

 

According to the estimate of the UNHCR, one in one hundred people worldwide have been forced out of their countries because of war or political instability. One person is forcibly displaced every two seconds. 11 Given the current world situation, this could happen to any of us.

 

We can therefore all become foreigners in a very short time, intentionally or unintentionally.

 

Mankind is confused by the globality of the world and at a loss in its own discord. So far it has neither the spiritual consciousness nor a just world order to deal aptly with the manifold challenges confronting it.

 

But Bahá’u’lláh’s message of peace is to regard the entire planet as one country:

 

“The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.” 12 And further: “Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. ... So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” 13 And finally:

 

“The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”14

 

 

 

 

Notes:

1 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1979). Foundations of World Unity (p. 89). Wilmette: Bahá‘í Publishing Trust.

2 Compare „the eternal Thou“ and „the world of Thou“ in Martin Buber (1923 / English translation 1937 ) I and Thou, Part Three.

3 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1920, July12). Letter to the Central Organisation for a Durable Peace in The Hague

4 Shoghi Effendi (1947, July 1). Summary of the origin, teachings and institutions of the Baha’i Faith prepared for the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine. Retrieved June 18, 2019, from The Bahá’í International Community online: https://www.bic.org/statements/faith-bahaullah-world-religion

5 The Bahá’í International Community (2019). The Báb — Herald of the Bahá’í Faith. Retrieved June 18, 2019, from The Bahá’í International Community online: https://www.bahai.org/the-bab/

6 The Báb (1976). Selections From the Writings of the Báb (3:1) Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre.

7 The Báb (1976). Selections From the Writings of the Báb (5:1, p. 129) Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre.

8 The Báb (1976). Selections from the Writings of the Báb (2:24). Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre.

9 Swiss Federal Statistical Office (2018). Retrieved June 19, 2019, from Swiss Federal Statistics Online: https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/de/home/statistiken/bevoelkerung/migration-integration/integrationindikatoren/alle-indikatoren/familie-demografie/gemischt-nationale-ehen.html

10 UNHCR (2019). Global Trends. Retrieved June 27, 2019 from https://www.unhcr.org/5d08d7ee7.pdf

11 UNHCR (2019). Figures at a Glance. Retrieved June 19, 2019, from https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

12 Bahá’u’lláh (1969). Gleanings (CXII). Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust.

13 Bahá’u’lláh (1988). Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, (p. 14). Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust.

14 Bahá’u’lláh (1969). Gleanings (CXVII). Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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