While attending the Landmark Education Advanced Course earlier this year, the concept of a world in agreement, was presented. This resonated strongly with me from several viewpoints including possible new understanding of the concept of the purpose of religion and the covenant of God as taught by Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith.
These concepts go to the heart of the purpose of the world itself. Baha’u’llah notes three aspects to the world:
Firstly, “Know ye that by “the world” is meant your unawareness of Him Who is your Maker, and your absorption in aught else but Him. The “life to come,” on the other hand, signifieth the things that give you a safe approach to God, the All-Glorious, the Incomparable. Whatsoever deterreth you, in this Day, from loving God is nothing but the world.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 275)
Secondly, the world is identified by the station of distinction, differentiation, temporal limitations, characteristics and standards, in which even the Manifestation of God has a distinct individuality, prescribed mission, predestined revelation, designated limitations.
Thirdly, the limitations of the capacity for understanding among humans, sets the limits to the message of revelation: ” Oh, would that the world could believe Me! Were all the things that lie enshrined within the heart of Baha, and which the Lord, His God, the Lord of all names, hath taught Him, to be unveiled to mankind, every man on earth would be dumbfounded. How great the multitude of truths which the garment of words can never contain! How vast the number of such verities as no expression can adequately describe, whose significance can never be unfolded, and to which not even the remotest allusions can be made! How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the appointed time is come! Even as it hath been said: ‘Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it.’ Of these truths some can be disclosed only to the extent of the capacity of the repositories of the light of Our knowledge, and the recipients of Our hidden grace. We beseech God to strengthen thee with His power, and enable thee to recognize Him Who is the Source of all knowledge, that thou mayest detach thyself from all human learning, for, “what would it profit any man to strive after learning when he hath already found and recognized Him Who is the Object of all knowledge?” Cleave to the Root of Knowledge, and to Him Who is the Fountain thereof, that thou mayest find thyself independent of all who claim to be well versed in human learning, and whose claim no clear proof, nor the testimony of any enlightening book, can support.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 175)
The purpose of the Manifestation of God is to raise the capacity of humanity to greater spiritual understanding. They do this through humanity itself, seeking out those with some capacity and enrolling them in an awareness and committment to the Great Agreement in the world, the Covenant of God as renewed by Baha’u’llah. Everyone is in agreement with this covenant, just as everyone is in agreement with gravity. Some, however, are conscious of the agreement, many are not. Abdu’l-Baha explains, “Know that faith is of two kinds. The first is objective faith that is expressed by the outer man, obedience of the limbs and senses. The other faith is subjective, and unconscious obedience to the will of God. There is no doubt that, in the day of a Manifestation, all contingent beings possessed subjective faith and had unconscious obedience. For all parts of the creational world are of one whole. ..All the parts are subordinate and obedient to the whole. The contingent beings are the branches of the tree of life while the Messenger of God is the root of that tree. The branches, leaves and fruit are dependent for their existence upon the root of the tree of life. This condition of unconscious obedience constitutes subjective faith. But the discerning faith that consists of true knowledge of God and the comprehension of divine words.”
We humans, therefore, are all restrained by our limitation of capacity. We are all free to stretch those limitations. However, that freedom may equally be restrained by the overall limitations of humanity with which we must be in agreement to the extent all of humanity is aware of and applies itself to the Great Agreement.