Words Spoken by Abdu’l-Baha in Pastor Wagner’s Church (Foyer de L’Ame) in Paris
November 26th, 1911
I am deeply touched by the sympathetic words which have been addressed to me, and I hope that day by day true love and affection may grow among us. God has willed that love should be a vital force in the world, and you all know how I rejoice to speak of love.
All down the ages the prophets of God have been sent into the world to serve the cause of truth—Moses brought the law of truth, and all the prophets of Israel after him sought to spread it.
When Jesus came He lighted the flaming torch of truth, and carried it aloft so that the whole world might be illumined thereby. After Him came His chosen apostles, and they went far and wide, carrying the light of their Master’s teaching into a dark world—and, in their turn, passed on.
Then came Muḥammad, who in His time and way spread the knowledge of truth among a savage people; for this has always been the mission of God’s elect.
So, at last, when Bahá’u’lláh arose in Persia, this was His most ardent desire, to rekindle the waning light of truth in all lands. All the holy ones of God have tried with heart and soul to spread the light of love and unity throughout the world, so that the darkness of materiality might disappear and the light of spirituality might shine forth among the children of men. Then would hate, slander and murder disappear, and in their stead love, unity and peace would reign.
All the Manifestations of God came with the same purpose, and they have all sought to lead men into the paths of virtue. Yet we, their servants, still dispute among ourselves! Why is it thus? Why do we not love one another and live in unity?
It is because we have shut our eyes to the underlying principle of all religions, that God is one, that He is the Father of us all, that we are all immersed in the ocean of His mercy and sheltered and protected by His loving care.
The glorious Sun of Truth shines for all alike, the waters of Divine Mercy immerse each one, and His Divine favour is bestowed on all His children.
This loving God desires peace for all His creatures—why, then, do they spend their time in war?
He loves and protects all His children—why do they forget Him?
He bestows His Fatherly care on us all—why do we neglect our brothers?
Surely, when we realize how God loves and cares for us, we should so order our lives that we may become more like Him.
God has created us, one and all—why do we act in opposition to His wishes, when we are all His children, and love the same Father? All these divisions we see on all sides, all these disputes and opposition, are caused because men cling to ritual and outward observances, and forget the simple, underlying truth. It is the outward practices of religion that are so different, and it is they that cause disputes and enmity—while the reality is always the same, and one. The Reality is the Truth, and truth has no division. Truth is God’s guidance, it is the light of the world, it is love, it is mercy. These attributes of truth are also human virtues inspired by the Holy Spirit.
So let us one and all hold fast to truth, and we shall be free indeed!
The day is coming when all the religions of the world will unite, for in principle they are one already. There is no need for division, seeing that it is only the outward forms that separate them. Among the sons of men some souls are suffering through ignorance, let us hasten to teach them; others are like children needing care and education until they are grown, and some are sick—to these we must carry Divine healing.
Whether ignorant, childish or sick, they must be loved and helped, and not disliked because of their imperfection.
Doctors of religion were instituted to bring spiritual healing to the peoples and to be the cause of unity among the nations. If they become the cause of division they had better not exist! A remedy is given to cure a disease, but if it only succeeds in aggravating the complaint, it is better to leave it alone. If religion is only to be a cause of disunion it had better not exist.
All the Divine Manifestations sent by God into the world would have gone through their terrible hardships and sufferings for the single hope of spreading Truth, unity and concord among men. Christ endured a life of sorrow, pain and grief, to bring a perfect example of love into the world—and in spite of this we continue to act in a contrary spirit one towards the other!
Love is the fundamental principle of God’s purpose for man, and He has commanded us to love each other even as He loves us. All these discords and disputes which we hear on all sides only tend to increase materiality.
The world for the most part is sunk in materialism, and the blessings of the Holy Spirit are ignored. There is so little real spiritual feeling, and the progress of the world is for the most part merely material. Men are becoming like unto beasts that perish, for we know that they have no spiritual feeling—they do not turn to God, they have no religion! These things belong to man alone, and if he is without them he is a prisoner of nature, and no whit better than an animal.
How can man be content to lead only an animal existence when God has made him so high a creature? All creation is made subject to the laws of nature, but man has been able to conquer these laws. The sun, in spite of its power and glory, is bound by the laws of nature, and cannot change its course by so much as a hair’s breadth. The great and mighty ocean is powerless to change the ebb and flow of its tides—nothing can stand against nature’s laws but man!
But to man God has given such wonderful power that he can guide, control and overcome nature.
The natural law for man is to walk on the earth, but he makes ships and flies in the air! He is created to live on dry land, but he rides on the sea and even travels under it!
He has learnt to control the power of electricity, and he takes it at his will and imprisons it in a lamp! The human voice is made to speak across short distances, but man’s power is such that he has made instruments and can speak from East to West! All these examples show you how man can govern nature, and how, as it were, he wrests a sword from the hand of nature and uses it against herself. Seeing that man has been created master of nature, how foolish it is of him to become her slave! What ignorance and stupidity it is to worship and adore nature, when God in His goodness has made us masters thereof. God’s power is visible to all, yet men shut their eyes and see it not. The Sun of Truth is shining in all His splendour, but man with fast shut eyes cannot behold His glory! It is my earnest prayer to God that by His Mercy and Loving Kindness you may all be united, and filled with the utmost joy.
I beseech you, one and all, to add your prayers to mine to the end that war and bloodshed may cease, and that love, friendship, peace and unity may reign in the world.
All down the ages we see how blood has stained the surface of the earth; but now a ray of greater light has come, man’s intelligence is greater, spirituality is beginning to grow, and a time is surely coming when the religions of the world will be at peace. Let us leave the discordant arguments concerning outward forms, and let us join together to hasten forward the Divine Cause of unity, until all humanity knows itself to be one family, joined together in love.