We were given the opportunity to compile a short programme to be aired on Radio St. Helena on Sunday 17th January 2010, to mark World Religion Day. As a group we gave the following readings, each taking a section and aided by two visiting Bahá’ís from Canada, Eileen and George Collins. We hope our selection of readings helped listeners to understand World Religion Day and how all the teachings of all the world’s religions point to the same loving God and his desire for our welfare.
The third Sunday in January is designated World Religion day by the Bahá’ís, to remind us of the common thread running through all the great World Religions, stressing that the basic beliefs are the same. There are many differences in custom and methods of worship, but we all believe in the same God, whatever name we use to describe our Creator, and His teachings are always for the good of humankind.
We begin with a prayer from the writings of the oldest recorded world religion - the Hindu faith, which has been adopted as a prayer for World Peace for all religions.
Lead us from death to life,
Bahá’u’lláh emphasises that, at the deepest level, there is but one religion. Religion is religion as science is science. Together they constitute the knowledge system, which causes the advance of civilisation. Each is an "effulgence of the Sun of Truth". The religions founded by Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Mohammed and the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh are appreciated when these Manifestations of God are acknowledged as the spiritual Educators of history. That these Manifestations are held in reverence reflects the attempt to express feelings in the hearts of unnumbered millions of people around the world. In loving them, humanity has progressively learned what it means to love God. There is realistically no other way to do so. They are honoured by the soul’s unconditioned surrender of its will to their transformative influence.
Bahá’u’lláh wrote over 140 years ago:
It is clear and evident to thee, that all the Prophets are the Temples of the Cause of God, Who have appeared clothed in diverse attire. If thou wilt observe with discriminating eyes, thou wilt behold Them all abiding in the same tabernacle, soaring in the same heaven, seated upon the same throne, uttering the same speech, and proclaiming the same Faith.
All the teachings of the Manifestations were to remind the peoples of their time to lead good, fulfilled lives and to develop their talents in this world for their continued happiness in this world and the next.
And now we have some readings from the Holy Books of all the world’s great religions through the ages.
Further, hear the highest secret of all, My supreme message. Because thou art greatly loved by Me, therefore, I shall tell thee what is good for thee.
The man who, casting off all desires, lives free from attachments; who is free from egoism and from the feeling that this or that is mine, obtains tranquillity.
It is you who must make the effort. The Great of the past only show the Way. Those who think and follow the path become free from bondage.
A man should control his words and mind and should not do any harm with his body.
If these ways of action are pure he can make progress on the path of the wise.
Trust in the Lord and He will guide you aright. One who has this trust need fear nothing. He can be at perfect peace and happiness for he will be guided aright.
This do I ask, O Lord, reveal unto me the truth!
Who is the first begetter, father of the Cosmic Law?
Who assigned orbit to the sun and the stars?
Who causes the moon to wax and again to wane?
Who other than Thee? This and else I wish to know!
This is true religion; to cleanse oneself with pure thoughts, pure words, and pure deeds.
Seek ye for a store of good deeds, men and women! For a store of good deeds is full of salvation.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom He loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, "’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’ on these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets".
The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, " Lo, here it is!" or "There!" for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
The true believers are those whose hearts are filled with awe at the mention of God, and whose faith grows stronger as they listen to His revelations. They put their trust in their Lord, pray steadfastly, and give alms of that which We have given them. Such are the true believers. They shall be exalted and forgiven by their Lord, and a generous provision shall be made for them.
Treat people in such a way and live amongst them in such a manner that if you die they will weep over you; alive they crave for your company.
O you who believe, seek courage in fortitude and prayer, for God is with those who are patient and persevere.
The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever continue to be, to enable him to know his Creator and attain His Presence.
O Son of Being! Love Me that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee.
O ye children of men!
The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men.
One of the great longings of mankind has been the Peace promised in the scriptures of all the religions of the world. Now we read from some of the Holy Writings on Peace.
When a man surrenders all desires that come to the heart and by the grace of God finds the joy of God, then his soul has indeed found Peace.
If you want to see the brave, look at those who can forgive. If you want to see the heroic, look at those who can love in return for hatred.
Happily we do live without hate amongst the hateful. We dwell with hateful men and hate not ---- Victory begets hatred, and the defeated live in pain. Happily do we live as peaceful beings, renouncing victory and defeat. There is no fire greater than longing, no greater crime than hate. There is no greater evil than form, and no greater bliss than Peace.
O Maker of the world! O Holy One! Where is the place where the earth feels most happy?
Ahura Mazda answered: "It is the place where one of the faithful steps forward, O Zarathustra ---- fulfilling the law with love and beseeching aloud the Lord of wide pastures, the God that gives good folds and good pastures."
Peace is great because peace is to the earth what yeast is to bread. If the Holy One, blessed is He, had not given peace to the earth, swords and men, like the beasts of the fields, would destroy the world.
You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others?
Shall I not tell you what is better than prayers and fasting and giving alms to the poor? It is making peace between one another: enmity and malice destroy all virtues.
War is destruction while universal peace is construction; war is death while peace is life; war is rapacity and bloodthirstiness while peace is beneficence and humaneness; war is an appurtenance of the world of nature while peace is of the foundation of the religion of God; war is darkness upon darkness while peace is heavenly light; war is the destroyer of the edifice of mankind while peace is the everlasting life of the world of humanity; war is like a devouring wolf while peace is like the angels of heaven; war is the struggle for existence while peace is mutual aid and cooperation among the peoples of the world and the cause of the good pleasure of the True One in the heavenly realm.
There is not one soul whose conscience does not testify that in this day there is no more important matter in the world than that of universal peace.
O Friend! In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of Love.
A Bahá’í Prayer for Humanity
O Thou kind Lord! O Thou Who art generous and merciful! We are the servants of Thy threshold and are gathered beneath the sheltering shadow of Thy divine unity. The sun of Thy mercy is shining upon all, and the clouds of Thy bounty shower upon all. Thy gifts encompass all, Thy loving providence sustains all, Thy protection overshadows all, and the glances of Thy favor are cast upon all. O Lord! Grant Thine infinite bestowals, and let the light of Thy guidance shine. Illumine the eyes, gladden the hearts with abiding joy. Confer a new spirit upon all people and bestow upon them eternal life. Unlock the gates of true understanding and let the light of faith shine resplendent. Gather all people beneath the shadow of Thy bounty and cause them to unite in harmony, so that they may become as the rays of one sun, as the waves of one ocean, and as the fruit of one tree. May they drink from the same fountain. May they be refreshed by the same breeze. May they receive illumination from the same source of light. Thou art the Giver, the Merciful, the Omnipotent.