Search This Blog

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"The newly born babe..."

"The newly born babe of that Day excels the wisest and most venerable men of this time, and the lowliest and most unlearned of that period shall surpass in understanding the most erudite and accomplished divines of this age...." - The Bab, quoted in "The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil's Narrative of the Early Days of the Baha'i Revelation, p.65

Several questions come to mind when reading this quote.  What level of understanding should we expect from today's generation?  What was the level of understanding of the 'most erudite and accomplished divines of' the past age?  In what manner and content does the newly born babe excel?

Perhaps, the newly born babe's excellence comes from at least two things, so many new things being made known to humanity since that time both materially and spiritually and a greater collective thinking that propels the individual's excellence beyond what an individual can achieve.

The material developments over the past 168 years must be considered phenomenal.  Consider the vast technological advances since the mid to late 1800s.  To be able to travel from one side of the Earth to the other in less than 24 hours was unfathomable.  The earliest message sent by Samuel Morse via cable in 1844 was "What hath God wrought" and it only travelled from Baltimore, MD to Washington, D.C.  And now, not only could you call someone on the other side of the Earth and hear their voice without delay by phone - you can do this with a device found in your pocket, untethered.  You can even be reading this blog on that same device.  It can also be used to give you the best driving route from Baltimore, MD to Washington, D.C.  Oh yes, in 1844 automobiles were only a dream.

Spiritually, we have come from being isolated in our own familial religious history to having the potential to being knowledgable about religion in all forms.  Information about and contact, through direct and indirect means, with followers of all religions is readily available.  The opportunity for individual investigation of truth is upon us in an astounding way.  The dogma of others dictating one's spiritual actions (clergy) has been broken - even within those religious traditions in which it was most strong.  This spiritual transformation has been shaped by new revelations from God and by the pace at which the material world has developed.  The material can have a great impact (positively and negatively) on our collective spiritual progress.

Consider how fragmented society was in time and place prior to today.  To provide two examples, only 26 of the 50 states that make up the United States were created by 1844.  The rest were, at best, territories of the U.S.  The Mexican Cession didn't occur until 1848.  The United States was fragmented and the scope of one's travels correlated strongly with one's religious exposure.  As a second example, Italy wasn't united until 1861. The present formation of nations is a recent phenomenon.  Not until stable nation-states and transportation systems that went beyond one's own ethnic and religious experience could we begin, as a whole, to learn from one another and put together the pieces of this grand covenant between humanity and God.

Imagine how the quote "The Earth is but one country and mankind its citizens." would have been received at that time?  It is an astounding declaration given the division of humanity along national, ethnic, and familial lines.  Many of us take such a declaration as an assumption of modern society, even though not all agree with its implications for political and religious aspects of humanity.  The first gathering of followers of many religions to promote greater understanding didn't occur until 1893 in Chicago.  It was the Parliament of the World's Religions.

Over the past 168 years, humanity has connected its separate communities to form an even greater worldwide community.  It is still fragmented in many ways; however, even the "most erudite and accomplished divines of" the past would find it difficult to envision the world as it is today - in terms of transportation, commerce, communication, and many other aspects.

So, what does this grand transformation mean to that "newly born babe" of today.  She has opportunities to understand many more things at an earlier age than others did in the past.  She has the opportunity to harness those gems within to help others in far away places to do the same.  The plight of others in a far corner of the world can be learned of very quickly and she can apply creative solutions by leveraging social tools only available within the past ten years.  She can benefit reciprocally from that interaction as well.  It is not merely those well off providing funds to those with less.  It is about making this world new.

If only we consider education outside of the 19th century manufacturing model and modernize it in line with the knowledge and understanding of today's spiritual gifts, then, and only then, will we be able to roll out a new world before our very eyes.  What part will you play to deepen your understanding of what it means to facilitate those newly born babes to meet their potential?

No comments: