Baha'is study writings of Manifestations of God

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Thou art He, O my God, Who hath unlocked the gate of heaven with the key of Thy Name, and hath summoned all mankind to the ocean of Thy presence."

These words were written by Bah'u'llh in reference to the scriptures which were revealed to Him from God. It's difficult for us to comprehend the way prophets of God receive their information. When Moses first delivered His commandments, those who heard His words responded with wonder. Followers of various religions rely upon their individual sense of right and wrong to guide their personal path to salvation, yet while we need to claim our worship for ourselves, still we must refer to sacred texts which have been delivered to us by a messenger of God. So, how does that work?

Bah'u'llh addressed many of His tablets to inquiring friends who asked Him regarding the source of His teachings. The Baha'i Faith refers to prophets as Manifestation of God. A few of these religious leaders are Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, The Bb, and Bah'u'llh. They are as mirrors of God Who reflect in Their words guidance to spiritual advancement. The Manifestations are imbued with "innate knowledge" of God which operates as second nature in their earthly commentaries. Theirs is definitely a mystical relationship.

The images we are given as to the medium of their contact with God vary remarkably. Moses spoke to a burning bush, and also held conversations with God on a mountain top. Buddha received His revelation while meditating under a bodhi tree. Muhammad experienced revelation while meditating in a cave. A good demonstration of innate knowledge in the Christian tradition comes to us in the story of the young Jesus. The story goes that He had separated from His parents who were shopping in the market place. Jesus had gone to a synagogue and was talking to the Jewish rabbis who were astonished at His interpretations of the sacred texts. When His parents finally discovered Him they asked why He was there and not at home, Jesus answered, "I am in my father's house." This story stands as an early sign of Jesus' immanent work as a teacher and Manifestation of God. At an early age and without formal education, He already had innate knowledge of God. Ultimately the physical setting and the exact moment of revelation is irrelevant to the stream of extraordinary information these Holy Beings have given us. It's Their messages which transcend all other writing that we need to address and study for our spiritual advancement.

Regarding the moments of revelation, Bah'u'llh has written in His long poem on the spiritual quest, entitled, "The Seven Valleys":

"Praise be to God Who hath made being to come forth from nothingness; graven upon the tablet of man the secrets of preexistence; taught him from the mysteries of divine utterance that which he knew not; made him a Luminous Book unto those who believed and surrendered themselves; caused him to witness the creation of all things in this black and ruinous age, and to speak forth from the apex of eternity with a wondrous voice in the Excellent Temple: to the end that every man may testify, in himself, by himself, in the station of the Manifestation of his Lord, that verily there is no God save Him, and that every man may thereby win his way to the summit of realities, until none shall contemplate anything whatsoever but that he shall see God therein."

Todd Oleson is a member of the Baha'i Faith in Walla Walla. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at catherinehicks@wwub.com.

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