Indigenous Religion & the Bahá'í Faith

Indigenous Religion & the Bahá'í Faith
The focus around which Bahá'í theology and society revolve is the fundamental oneness of humanity. All peoples are seen as children of a single loving God, Who has consistently guided their education and development over time by sending great Teachers. For the followers of Bahá'u'lláh, those Teachers are the mouthpieces of God for the time and place in which they lived. "In the Baha'i view the protection of all human rights depends on a recognition of the fundamental unity of the human race. Most certainly minorities of every kind should be encouraged to cherish their unique individual and group identities. Only an appreciation of the bonds uniting all peoples can sustain productive dialogue between minorities and majorities and promote the conditions in which the enjoyment of human rights can flourish." - Bahá'í International Community, Rights of Persons Belonging to National, Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, Written statement submitted to the 47th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Item 20 of the provisional agenda, 21 January 1991

Further, "It is a great mistake to believe that because people are illiterate or live primitive lives, they are lacking in either intelligence or sensibility. On the contrary, they may well look on us with the evils of our civilization, with its moral corruption, its ruinous wars, its hypocrisy and conceit, as people who merit watching with both suspicion and contempt. We should meet them as equals, well-wishers, people who admire and respect their ancient decent..." - Lights of Guidance, p. 523

Such a set of beliefs means that far from limiting religion to a particular Teacher, language, people or place, the core of all religions is seen by Bahá'ís as a unified and progressive whole. Core spiritual values are familiar: who is God, who is man, how should they relate and how to be happy in a difficult environment. Differences, especially in social laws, arise from the understanding and needs of the time in which they were revealed. Indigenous religions, therefore, can be respected as proof that God has never left humanity without guidance, no matter how long ago or far distant from one another.

Besides the elimination of enormous suffering and cultural deprivation caused by ignorant prejudice and racism, the reconnection of all peoples will greatly enrich society's ability to grow and understand true human experience. One aspect of this enrichment may turn out to be critical for survival by leading the dominant industrial culture back to a truer understanding of Nature and humanity's place in it:
"The identification of places of particular spiritual power points to yet another important aspect of Indian religious traditions: these places are experienced as powerful because they are experienced as alive. Not only are they sentient; they are intelligent manifestations of what Native Americans call the Sacred Mystery or the Sacred Power. The Sacred Mystery, sometimes simplistically and badly translated as "the Great Spirit," is typically experienced first of all as a great unknown. Yet this unknown becomes known as it manifests itself to humans spatially: as the Mystery Above and Mystery Below; as the Mystery (or Powers) of the Four Directions; as the Sacred Mystery in its self-manifestation in a particular place, in a particular occurrence, in an astronomical constellation, or in an artifact such as a feather. All of the created world is, in turn, seen as alive, sentient, and filled with spiritual power, including each human being. The sense of the interrelationship of all of creation--of all two-legged, four-legged, winged, and other living, moving things (from fish and rivers to rocks, trees and mountains)--may be the most important contribution Indian peoples have made to the science and spirituality of the modern world." - George E. Tinker (Osage Nation) Professor of American Indian Cultures at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, from the Encyclopedia of North American Indians
Perhaps if First World Nations recognized and respected Mother Earth, decisions would be made to stop destroying life in search of momentary profits or temporal power. It is going to take every person on the planet to solve the problems some of them have caused. The planet will survive, as it has weathered catastrophes before, but the human species may not do so well.

I am a Bahá'í because this view of life makes sense to me.




You Should Also Read:
The 5 Most Outrageous Things Bahá'ís Believe
Is It Too Late ?
What Are Bahá'ís Working for ?

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