The baha’i world


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THE ONENESS OF RELIGION 

 

BY 



DORIS MCKAY 

 

I. 



 

THE VOICE OF THE ANCIENT OF DAYS 

 

PRIMITIVE man, for all his limitations knew 



awe, 

a quality which modern man has lost: primitive man, his intellect still 

unawakened, had the gift of wonder. He wondered at the sense of Presence that came with dawns, high winds, incoming tides, birth 

and death. There was a Force more powerful than his own hands, more fleet than his running footsteps. There was a spirit that decreed 

light and darkness, and knew the secret of fire before man stumbled upon it. Man, groping in intellectual half- light, personalized this 

force. Animism and pantheism were the results of his deductions from cause and effect.  

Then the Voice of the Ancient of Days began to make Itself heard. It did not speak out of a cloud for all to fall face-downward and die 

in their terror, but to one man at a time. Here and there throughout the darkness of history some man heard God and told what He had 

said. To Zoroaster, Ahura-Mazda, (the Glory of God) said:  

“My Name is I am 

. . . 

I am the Keeper, I am the Creator and Maintainer; I am the Discerner; I am the Most Beneficent Spirit!”  



And to Moses the Voice said,  

“I Am That I Am. Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am (Jehovah) hath sent me unto you 

. . . 

This is My Name forever, 



and this is My memorial unto all generations.”  

In another part of the world the Voice raised again through Krishna has been brought down to us in the Bhagavad Gita;  

“Know thou this, 0 Prince, that whenever the world declineth in virtue and righteousness; and vice and injustice mount the throne—

then come I, the Lord, and revisit My world in visible form, and mingle as a man with men, and by my influence and teachings do I 

destroy the evil and in- 

 

justice, and reestablish virtue and righteousness. Many times have I thus appeared; many times hereafter shall I come again.”  



So faith in an Ancient Being became a legend, not in one part of the world but in many. There came to be an accumulated literature of 

the sayings of this Voice, a passed along tradition of His ways of coming.  

It is man’s tragedy that, even as the untrained intellects of the growing race had proved inadequate in dealing with the idea of God in 

Nature, so did superstitions and half-tnsths creep into their interpretations of the words and situations which God had left. One was a 

regional difficulty: God’s revelation to a selected people was “final,” a culmination of all the remarks of God, until some prophetic 

time when the prophet, Himself, the Holy One, should come again in person. Another was the superstition that the prophet became 

God: the belief in the Incarnation. This had its reason in the fact that the Unknown Beneficent Power had borrowed, as it were, the 

personality of Him Who seemed to speak. The Power possessed Him, used Him, acted in Him like electricity in a dynamo, said “I 

Am,” but still was not identified with Him Whom God manifested. The people called God Him instead of It after they had seen one or 

another of the Men of God—true, the Ancient of Days had indeed personified, and the appellation would have been correct had they 

clearly understood that “He” meant God speaking on the human throne, and that He spoke while the throne kept silence. 

“For I 

spake 

not 


from myself” 

said Jesus, 



‘tbut the Father that bath sent me, He bath given me a commandment, what I should 

say, and what I should speak.”  

The tendency to fallacy was heightened by the fact that it was but seldom that religion was renewed. As whole centuries 

 

835 

 

836 



 

THE BAHA’i WORLD 

 

rolled around since the phenomenon of the appearance of God in a human temple had occurred, men would forget, or 



develop strange distortive dogmas, more especially since the ancient holy books were hoarded by the priests, and the 

knowledge of reading belonged but to a few. We know that the people before the coming of Abraham, and Moses, and 

Christ, and Muhammad, had relapsed again into forms of paganism, imagining an incarnation of the Divine Being in 

the life about them and in the idols that they built with their own hands of materials from the mineral and vegetable 

worlds. With the Voice obscured by time, there has seemed little innate in man’s individual intelligence capable of 


coping with the fact called God.  

Up until Mubammad every prophet had to deal with these decadent paganistic practices. Mu5ammad’s teachings made 

possible the investigation of natural laws and the rise of science by freeing His followers from a fear of natural forces, 

thus also dealing a death blow to animism. Forgetfulness of the Almighty in our day expresses itself in a higher form of 

pantheism consistent with the conceptions of the Greeks in the time of Plato and certain Muhammadan and Christian 

mystics in the worship or enhancement of the Self, called the God Within, as defined by a diluted form of God-

incarnation  

—an identification vigorously disclaimed by the founders of the world’s religions for themselves, let alone for their 

followers. Those with such a belief are referred to by Bahá’u’lláh as “those who have joined partners with God.”  

Mu5ammad calling for witness the stars in their courses played upon the primitive sensitiveness of His desert 

followers. Today we have learned how to make telescopes but we have lost touch with the stars. A device called the 

seismograph has robbed even the earthquake of our wonder. Those who are not aware of the Hour would call this the 

midnight of the Day of God. Yet, God or not—God is in the very fiber of human consciousness the world over. Man 

holds to some kind of a belief in God or he despairs. But the effectiveness of this Godconsciousness is lacking as the 

near wreckage of a civilization warns us. It is because 

 

our bond with the essential Wisdom is broken—as is our bond with nature. It is as if some Secret of Being had become obscured; or as 



if a Spring had been hidden beneath leaves while the pilgrims fainted with thirst.  

The marvel of it is that in our day of machines and machine-personalities the Ancient Beauty has come and has spoken again in 

unmistakable accents. The same signs of Godhead are there; the same significant Appearance, through Bahá’u’lláh; the same assertion 

that God has spoken through a chosen Messenger, and the Messenger’s testimony to that truth; there are the same authoritative 

statements in regard to the social adjustments which fit the age; the same poetry and mystery and power; the same sacrifice of the 

material welfare of the Messenger as an earnest of His sincerity in His Mission.  

“Let thine ear be attentive,” Bahã’u’lláh admonishes us, ‘(to the Voice of the Ancient of Days, crying to thee from the Kingdom of His 

all-glorious Name. He it is Who is now proclaiming from the realms above, and within the inmost essence of all created things: 



‘I 

truly am God, there is none other God hut Me. I am He Who, from everlasting hath been the Source of all sovereignty 

and tower, He Who shall continue, throughout eternity, to exercise His kingship and extend His protection unto all 

created things. My proof is the greatness of My might and My sovereignty that embraceth the whole of creation.’  

The declaration of the renewal of religion in this age cannot be set aside as superstition. The scientific method of ascertaining truth 

looks at effects: it marks the evidence of evolution whether in progressive social theory, or in the maturing of human character. The 

religions of the past have found a lasting place in modern man’s innermost soul by one means alone—by their fruits. The young tree 

of the new appearance of religion in our own day is radiant with bloom. It has stood resilient and unbroken before the winds of such 

tests as would have uprooted a lesser organism. It bids fair to spread its foliage over all mankind and to nourish the multitude upon its 

wonderful fruits. 

 

THE ONENESS OF RELIGION 



 

837 

 

II.  



THE COMING OF REVELATION 

 

Followers of Muhammad celebrate an event which they call “The Night of Power and Excellence” commemorative of the time when a 



Voice from heaven is said to have informed Muhammad of His prophetic mission. Every world religion has its equivalent tradition, its 

“night of power and excellence.”  

It is as if, at the beginning of each religious cycle, a Miracle Play has been, not acted, but lived. The theme, the order, and the 

characters are familiar—only the setting is each time new. There is an unnatural darkness before the curtain is thrown back:  

the time of darkness is of a tribe or of a world. Then the sequence. Someone (a f ore- runner, a crier in the wilderness) has had 

foreknowledge of a Promised One, a Messiah. There is a gifted and eloquent Youth; He becomes aware of His destiny; begins to 

teach, and to attract and glorify His disciples. Inevitably He is feared and persecuted by the world, which angrily tries to shake free of 

His insistent voice. After His going, somehow a nucleus remains to keep alive His Teachings until that ‘Word takes hold in a poition 

of the world.  

Perhaps the most breathless moment of this Drama is at the coming of Revelation— that moment when the Ancient of Days speaks to 

His chosen Messenger. Our human imagination lingers among the records of the ancient manuscripts. The Man chosen of God has 

been shaken as knowledge of His mission has overtaken Him. He cannot believe it is true; but it is true. An intimation deepens into 

certainty. He is to receive direct inspiration beyond the ability of even His own mind to encompass. God-possessed, He is to hear 

words not His own issuing from His lips. For this Youth has become host to the Ancient Beauty, with Whom He shall henceforth be 

consciously identified, Whose bidding He shall unquestioningly obey, for Whom all His human qualities shall be crucified. Forever 

He shall leave His own pursuits and become a Shepherd of humanity.  

The Zoroastrian Gathas tell us that Zoroaster (who is believed by modern Parsis 

 

to have lived about 1600 B.C.) was awakened to His mission by a succession of seven visions. Then one night (so the legend goes) the 



Bactrian peasants, who had been praying for help to the Supreme Being, saw a mountain suddenly burst into flame. Since a boy in His 

teens, Zoroaster (Zaratrustra) had lived in solitude in the lonely mountain retreats. Now in His flowing white robes He stood unscathed 



in the midst of the flames. Lit by the heavenly fire, they saw the Prophet descend from the mountain, bearing in one hand the sacred 

fire and in the other a rod, or wand, of cypress wood. We are not told what occurred on the mountain or what transpired in the heart of 

Zoroaster that He should have stepped from the life of a recluse right into the world, with the Word of God upon His lips, but to this 

initial experience we have reference in Zoroaster’s own words:  

“When first I received and became wise with Thy words,  

When obedience came to me with the good mind—  

Verily, 0 Wise Lord, I believed Thee  

to be  


The Supreme Benevolent Providence.”  

Obedience to the vision took the forM of acceptance of the divine Task as the next stanzas indicate—  

“And though the task be difficult,  

Though woe may come to me— Thy message which Thou declarest to  

be best  

I shall proclaim to all mankind.”  

The Old Testament account of the coming of Revelation to Moses’ is as follows:  

“The angel of the Eternal appeared to him in a flame of fire rising out of a thornbush. When he looked, there was the thornbush ablaze 

with fire yet not consumed! ‘I will step aside,’ said Moses, ‘and see this marvel, why the thornbush is not yet burned up.’  

‘Moffatt translation. 

 

838 



 

THE BAHA’i WORLD 

 

God called to him out of the thornbush saying, ‘Moses, Moses!’ He answered ‘Here I am!’ And He said, ‘Do not come close; remove 



your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’ He said ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of 

Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’”  

The Ancient of Days, the I AM, according to the legend, outlined to Moses His Will for the rescue of the Israelites. Twice Moses 

spoke from His human plane, said “but,”— “But suppose they will not believe Me, or  

listen to what I say; suppose they say, ‘Eternal never appeared to you.’ 

“  


The Eternal showed Him two miracles and told Him what to do. Still hesitating Moses said, “But, Lord, I am no speaker, I have never 

been and am not now, not even since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; I am slow of speech. I have no command of words.”  

And the Ancient of Days said to Moses (and we can see the Bush blazing higher with these words) 

:—  


“W/,o gives man his month? Who makes  

one man deaf or dumb, who gives him his sight or makes him blind? Is 

it not I, the Eternal? Go 

then, I will 

be with your mouth and teach you what to say.”  

Moses still could not accept this, so the Eternal sent Aaron, of easy speech, with Him, and together they accomplished the release of 

the Israelites from the Egyptians.  

John, clad in his garment of camel’s hair, preached to the people, “There cometh after me He that is mightier than I, the latchet of 

whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.”  

When Jesus came from Galilee He asked John to baptize him. When the ceremony was completed and Jesus came out of the water 

“the heavens were opened unto Him and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and coming unto Him; and lo, a voice out of 

the heavens saying ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”  

After His forty days of prayer and struggle in the wilderness, Jesus returned “in the power of the Spirit” to Gahlee and to His own 

town of Nazareth. Calling for the book of Isaiah He stood up in the synagogue and read: 

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,  



Because He anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor:  

He hath sent Me to proclaim release to captives,  

And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised, To proclaim the acceptable year of the  

Lord.”  


Closing the book He said “Today hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears.”  

We have a closer picture of the coming of Revelation to Muhammad. Mount Hira, near Mecca, has been described as “a huge, barren 

rock, torn by clifts and hollow ravines, standing out solitary in the full white glare of the desert sun.” This Rock or Mount was the 

Sinai of Muhammad. No bush grew there to burn before His eyes while the Voice spoke, but here the celestial Visitor sought Him. He 

heard a Voice say “Cry” (recite). “What shall I cry?” Muhammad answered; and the Voice said “Cry in the Name of thy Lord.” He 

thought He saw a vast, shadowy Presence and He fled down from the Mount toward Mecca.2  

It is said that the people of the market place then saw Muhammad grow thin and  

ill. Shadowed by the superstitions of His time He thought He was possessed of a devil. Khadija, His wife, told Him that an angel had 

spoken. According to tradition she believed in Him before He believed in Himself. He went back and forth torn between the Mount 

and the town. One night He could bear it no more—He would hurl Himself from the cliff. But the angel, inexorable and mighty, stood 

there between Him and His suicidal leap, and the Voice spoke: “Thou art the Messenger of God, and I am Gabriel.” Worn out in body 

and mind, the story tells us that Muhammad again sought refuge in His Home, in Khadija. She wrapped His shivering human form in 

her cloak. But they were not alone even in the sanctuary of the familiar home, for the Presence of the Ancient of Days was there, as on 

the Mount. “0 Thou, Who art wrapped,” said the Voice, “rise up and preach, and magnify thy Lord, and thy raia The word Qur’an 

translated means literally, the  

Crying. 

 


THE ONENESS OF RELIGION 

 

839 



 

ment purify, and patiently wait for thy Lord.”  

Old Waraka, learned in prophecy, was the first to hear this from Khadija. “By the Lord,” said the aged man, “He 

speaketh the truth. It is the beginning of Prophecy, and the great Law will soon come upon Him, as it did upon Moses.”  

The Voice of Divine Inspiration spoke to Bahá’u’llah far from the scenes of natural beauty that were a setting for the 

coming of Revelation to His Predecessors. He had been thrown with other followers of the Báb into a felon’s dungeon 

in Tihran. The prison, called the Siyáh-Chál (Black Pit), was fantastic in its horror. Chained by the neck to another 

prisoner, His feet in stocks, in icy darkness and in filth, Bahá’u’lláh waited weary weeks for release or death. We have 

His written testimony that the Spirit of Revelation penetrated to Him in this Gethsemane. He recounts that although the 

galling weight of the chains and loathsome atmosphere of the prison allowed Him but little sleep, still there were 

moments of slumber when He felt as if something were pouring like a mighty torrent over His breast. It was as if this 

celestial torrent were descending from the summit of a mountain to precipitate itself over the earth. “All My limbs 

seemed to have been set aflame,” declared Bahá’u’lláh. “At such moments my tongue recited what mortal ears could 

not hear.”  

Then, as Bahá’u’llah bears witness in His Epistle to the Son of the Wolf: “One night in a dream this all-glorious word 

was heard from all sides: ‘Verily, We will aid Thee to triumph by Thyself and by Thy pen. Grieve not for that which 

bath befallen ‘Thee and have no fear. Truly Thou art of Them that are secure. Ere long shall the Lord send forth and 

reveal the treasures of the earth. Men will give Thee the victory by Thyself and by Thy Nasise, whereby the Lord bath 

revived the hearts of them that know!’”  

In His Discourse of the Temple we find a like reference. “But when I saw myself at the culmination of calamity, I heard 

from above my head the most wonderful and melodious voice, and when I turned I witnessed a Maiden (symbol of 

spiritual be- 

 

stowal), of the celebration of the Name of My Lord, suspended in the air on a level with my head. 



. . . 

Then with her finger she pointed 

to My head, and addressed all those in heaven and earth saying: By God, this is the Beloved of the universe, but ye do not understand! 

This is the Beauty of God among you, and His Dominion within you, if ye are of those who know! This is the Mystery of God, His 

Treasure, the Command of God and His Glory, to those who are in the Kingdom of power and creation—. if ye are of those who 

reason!”  

In other references we find further ekorts to describe for us those moments of “Power and Excellence”:  

“God is My witness, 0 people! I was asleep on My couch, when lo, the Breeze of God wafting over Me aroused Me from My slumber, 

His quickening Spirit revived Me and My tongue was loosed to voice His Call.  

“Whenever I chose to hold My peace and be still, lo, the voice of the Holy Spirit, standing on My right hand aroused Me, and the 

Supreme Spirit appeared before My face, and Gabriel over-shadowed Me, and the Spirit of Glory stirred within My bosom, bidding 

Me arise and break My silence.”  

Finally, we find Bahá’u’lláh in a rhapsody of evanescence before the Adored One:  

“i have no will but Thy Will, 



My Lord, and cherish no desire except Thy Desire. From My pen floweth only the 



summons which Thine own exalted Pen hath voiced, and My tongue uttereth naught save what the Most Great Spirit 

hath Itself proclaimed in the kingdom of Thine eternity. I am  

stirred by nothing else except the winds of Thy will, and breathe no word except the words which, by Thy leave and 

Thine inspiration, I am led to pronounce.”  

The statements of Bahá’u’lláh set down within the last century have stepped outside the category of tradition. Critics of the source 

records of religion cannot say this is mere religious lore passed on and modified by generations of followers. Here is no mythology. In 

the literature of the Bahá’i Faith we have instead first-hand utterance through an inspired Pen of the mystery of the infusion of a 

human soul with the Spirit 

 

840 



 

THE BAHA’I WORLD 

 

of Revelation. Was 



it 

true experience or delirium? Sufficient 



it 

is to those who call themselves Bahá’is that the divine Power and the 

Ancient Wisdom should have re maine 

 

vested in Bahá’u’lláh for a quarter of a century of unbroken Revelation, filling no less than a hundred volumes with the  



creative, living Wbrd.  

III.  

THE VEHICLES OF GRACE 

 


The study of Comparative Religion impresses us with the fact of 

mystery. 

There are mysteries in every religion, and usually they are 

the same mysteries. One comes to admit that the Prophets, separated from each other by hundreds of years and speaking often from a 

relative isolation, have expounded the same doctrines as if they had been read from one Book. The conclusion is that there is an 

ancient Truth in the world that is beyond the intellectual comprehension of man. To the Founders of the world’s religious systems 

alone was given an understanding, not acquired, because that would have been impossible, but 



innate. 

This knowledge was a state of 

consciousness which set them above the rest of creation. Degrees of intellectual and spiritual perception are noticeable among the 

grades of mankind: the prophetic consciousness was in the highest degree, the absolute. Therefore They knew and understood truths 

so profound that man’s relatively limited comprehension gives up before them. These then are the mysteries.  

Chief among the mysterious allusions of the sacred books is that to the emanation of a spirit or state of super-being from the Supreme 

Power. This is known to us as the Holy Spirit. Associating this consciousness with religious experience William James says: 



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