O Lord, Thou hast said in Thy manifest Book: “God does not change that which a people have, until they change that which is within themselves. When men forgot God, He made them to forget their own reality.”
All the Teachings which have been given during past days are to be found in the Revelation of Baha’u’llah, but in addition to these this Revelation has certain new Teachings which are not to be found in any of the religious books of the past.
The oneness of the world of humanity is a Teaching of Baha’u’llah, for Baha’u’llah addresses Himself to mankind, saying: “Ye are all the leaves of one tree and the drops of one ocean.” That is, the world of human existence is no other than one tree, and the nations or peoples are like unto different branches thereof. Thus Baha’u’llah presented the fact of the oneness of the world of humanity, while in all the past religious books humanity has been divided into two parts, one part looked upon as belonging to the faithful, the other part as belonging to the irreligious and infidel; the first part consigned to the Mercy of their Creator, the second part considered as objects of the Creator’s Wrath. But His Holiness Baha’u’llah proclaimed the Oneness of the world of humanity, and this Teaching is unique to the Teachings of Baha’u’llah, for He submerged all mankind in the sea of Divine Generosity. At most, some of the people are asleep—they need to be awakened. Some are ill—they need to be healed. Some are children—they need to be trained.
A second Teaching newly revealed by Baha’u’llah is this: the injunction to investigate the Truth—that is, men are commanded not to follow blindly the ways of their ancestors. Nay, each must see with his own eyes, hear with his own ears, investigate the Truth for himself that he may attain the Truth by himself.
A third Teaching of Baha’u’llah which is new for this Day: that the foundation of all the religions of God is one and the same foundation, and that Oneness is the Truth, and the Truth is One, and cannot be made subject to division and plurality.
The fourth Teaching of Baha’u’llah special to this Day is that Religion must be the cause of unity, harmony and accord among men. If religion be the cause of inharmony, or leads men to separate themselves each from the other, creating conflict between them—then Baha’u’llah declares that irreligion is better than Religion.
A fifth Teaching of Baha’u’llah is new in this Day: that Religion must be in accord with science and reason. If a religion is not in conformity with science and reason—then it is superstition.
The sixth new Teaching of Baha’u’llah is the equality between men and women. All past Religions have established men above women.
The seventh new Teaching of Baha’u’llah is that prejudice and fanaticism—be it religious, sectarian, sectional, denominational or patriotic—is destructive of the foundation of human solidarity; wherefore men should release themselves from such bonds in order that the oneness of the world of humanity may become manifest.
The eighth of His Teachings is Universal Peace: that all men and nations should make peace; that there shall be a Universal Peace amongst governments, Universal Peace amongst Religions, Universal Peace amongst races.
The ninth of these special Teachings is that all mankind—men and women everywhere—should acquire secular and spiritual knowledge, and that this education is one of the necessities of Religion.
The tenth Teaching concerns the solution of the economic question; for no religious books of the past Prophets speak of the economic question, while this problem has been thoroughly solved in the Teachings of Baha’u’llah.
The eleventh is the organization called the House of Justice, which is endowed with a political as well as spiritual function, and embodies both functions, and is protected by the preserving Power of Baha’u’llah Himself. A Universal or World House of Justice shall be established. That which it orders shall be the truth in explaining the commands of Baha’u’llah, and that which the House of Justice ordains concerning the commands of Baha’u’llah shall be observed by all.
But as to the most characteristic and specific Teaching which belongs to the Revelation of Baha’u’llah, which is new and not given by any of the Prophets of the past: it is the Teaching regarding the Center of the Covenant. To guard against all manner of differences, Baha’u’llah entered into a Covenant with all the people of the world, indicating the Person of the Interpreter of His Teachings. Be ye cognizant of this!
The world had, through rotten, outdated and blind imitations of truth, become like unto a dark night. The foundations of the Teachings of God had been totally forgotten. People had adhered to the shell and neglected the kernel. The nations, like wornout garments, had fallen into pitiful decay.
In this intense darkness the light of the Teachings of Baha’u’llah appeared and adorned the body of the world with a new robe. This new robe is the Divine Principles. A new cycle dawned with Baha’u’llah; creation was renewed; the world of humanity received a new spirit; the season of autumn passed away and the life-giving springtime was come. Everything was renewed. Sciences were reborn, thoughts remodeled, manners and habits changed, industry revolutionized, inventions multiplied.
All these renovations originate in the renewal of the splendid graces of the Lord of the Kingdom through which the universe was inspired. Therefore the essential matter is to release people entirely from traditional thoughts, so that their minds may be entirely concentrated in the new teachings. The teachings of Baha’u’llah constitute the spirit of the age and the light of this century.
Ye should strive with heart and soul so that those who are negligent may become cognizant, those who are asleep may become awakened, those who are ignorant may obtain wisdom, those who are blind may obtain sight, those who are deaf may receive hearing, and those who are dead may be revived. Ye should exhibit such strength of steadfastness as to astonish the world. The heavenly confirmations are with you in service to the Cause of God.
The Teachings of Baha’u’llah, like unto Spirit, shall penetrate the dead body of the World, and like unto an artery shall beat through the heart of the five continents.
From The Universal Principles of the Reform Bahai Faith. 2008. Baha'u'llah & Abdul-Baha. Available from the Reform Bahai Press.