Bahá'í cosmology

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The Bahá'í ringstone symbol, showing the worlds of God, the Manifestation of God and creation, all linked by the Holy Spirit.

In Bahá'í cosmology reality is divided into three divisions. The first division is God, who is preexistent and on whom the rest of creation is contingent.[1] The second division is God's Logos, the Primal Will, which is the realm of God's commands and grace. This realm pervades all created things. The Manifestations of God, Messengers from God, are appearances of the Logos in the physical world.[1] The third division is Creation, which includes the physical world.[1] Creation is not seen as confined to the material universe, and individual material objects, such as the Earth, are seen to come into being at particular moment and then subsequently break down into their constituent parts.[2] Thus, the current universe is seen as a result of a long-lasting process (cosmological time scales), evolving to its current state.[3] In Bahá'í belief, the whole universe is a sign of God and is dependent on him[1] and humanity was created to know God and to serve his purpose.[4]

Realms[edit]

Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, distinguished five realms of existence.[1][5] The terminology used can partly be traced back to Islamic Neoplatonism and Sufism, but this does not mean that Bahá'u'lláh supports a Neoplatonist or Sufi worldview.[6][7][8] He views all metaphysical viewpoints as relative, reflecting only the soul or psyche and cultural background of the individual rather than any Absolute Truth. The Bahá'í teachings de-emphasize the importance of metaphysics, while focusing primarily on social and personal ethics.[5]

God is manifested in all five realms, the Manifestations of God in all but the first realm, and humans exist between the angelic and physical realms and can choose which to live in.[1]

Realm Descriptions Stages of creation (arc of descent) Colour symbolism
Háhút
  • The essence of God unmanifested.[6]
  • The ‘Hidden Mystery’ or the ‘Hidden Treasure’,[6] the Absolute Unknown, the Primal Oneness.[9]
Láhút
Jabarút
  • The all-highest Paradise.[5]
  • The realm of Command or Decree.[9][14]
  • The station of distinction: the Manifestations of God (including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh) acquire individual existences and become channels of the divine will.[6]
  • The Mother Book (eternal spiritual laws), the Preserved Tablet (divine decrees, knowledge of past and future) and the divine Pen.[6]
Malakút
Násút
  • The physical world, subdivided into the human, animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms.[5][6][9]
  • Fate, decree (qada)[12]
  • Implementation
  • Destiny
  • Record[11]

All the divine worlds revolve around this world, and all are interdependent. The divine worlds can only be described by metaphors,[6] and can be compared with the world of dreams.[15] The realms of Nasut and Malakut are parts of the ‘world of creation’ and are ruled by the same spiritual laws.[6] The purpose of life in this world is to develop spiritual qualities that are needed in the next world.[6] Man has a free will to live a material life in the world of Nasut, or a life of detachment in the realm of Malakut, manifesting the names and attributes of God.[5][16] Bahá'u'lláh explains that the ‘realm of subtle entities’ (‘alam-i-dharr, a reference to God's primordial covenant with humanity mentioned in Qur’án 7:172[Quran 7:172]) refers to the revelation of the Prophets. Before the Word of God is revealed, all people are considered equal in rank. Differences only appear after the Prophet reveals himself, caused by the different responses of each individual's free will.[11]

Bahá'u'lláh also wrote of many worlds of God. In the Súriy-i-Vafa, he writes: "Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise."[17] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, son and successor of Bahá'u'lláh, writes in the Lawh-i-Aflákiyyih (Tablet of the Universe) that there are infinite Manifestations of God in the infinite worlds of God.[18]

Bahá'u'lláh explained that while humans should seek knowledge, no human can understand the nature of God's creation or God himself. He stated that while God had given humans a rational mind, humans are unable to comprehend the inner reality, as they are limited by creation.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Smith, Peter (2000). "metaphysics: God and the world". A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 245–246. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
  2. ^ Smith, Peter (2000). "creation". A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 116. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
  3. ^ von Kitzing, Eberhard (1998-03-08). "Originality of Species". Retrieved 2008-04-13.
  4. ^ Bahá’í World Centre. One Common Faith. pp. 30-31.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Momen, Moojan (1988). Studies in the Bábí and Bahá’í Religions vol. 5, chapter: A Basis For Bahá’í Metaphysics. Kalimat Press. pp. 185–217. ISBN 0-933770-72-3.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Lepain, J.M. (2010) [1990]. The Tablet of All Food: The Hierarchy of the Spiritual Worlds and the Metaphoric Nature of Physical Reality. Baha’i Studies Review 16, pp. 43–60. doi: 10.1386/bsr.16.43/1.
  7. ^ Kluge, Ian (2010, 2011). Neoplatonism and the Bahá'í Writings. Parts 1 and 2, published in Lights of Irfan.
  8. ^ Savi, Julio (2008). Towards the Summit of Reality: An introduction to Bahá'u'lláh's Seven Valleys and Four Valleys. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 978-0-85398-522-8.
  9. ^ a b c d e Momen, Moojan (2003). "The God of Bahá'u'lláh". In Momen, Moojan (ed.). The Baha'i Faith and the World's Religions. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 1–38.
  10. ^ Milani, Kavian; Fananapazir, Nafeh (1999). A Study of the Pen Motif in the Bahá'í Writings. in: Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 9:1. Association for Baha'i Studies North America, Ottawa.
  11. ^ a b c d e Kazemi, Farshid (2009). Mysteries of Alast: The Realm of Subtle Entities and the Primordial Covenant in the Bábí-Bahá'í Writings. Bahá'í Studies Review 15.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Saiedi, Nader (2008). Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Báb. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-55458-035-4.
  13. ^ a b c d Lambden, Stephen (2004). "Kaleidoscope: Some Aspects of Angelology, Light, the Divine Throne and Color Mysticism in Bábí and Bahá'í Scripture" (PDF). Irfan Colloquia. 5. Wilmette, IL: Irfan Colloquia. pp. 179–180. ISBN 1904510000.
  14. ^ Momen, Moojan (2000). A Study of the Meaning of the Word "Al-Amr" in the Qur'án and in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Lights of Irfan, Book 1.
  15. ^ Lepain, Jean-Marc (2007). An Introduction to the Lawh-i Haqqu'n-Nas.
  16. ^ Kluge, Ian (2018). Freedom and the Bahá'í Writings. in Lights of Irfan 19.
  17. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1994) [1873-92]. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 187. ISBN 0-87743-174-4.
  18. ^ Hatcher, John S. (2005). Close Connections: The Bridge Between Spiritual and Physical Reality. Wilmette, Illinois. pp. 150–151. ISBN 1-931847-15-0.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]