What is the Baha’i Faith? An Introduction by Rainn Wilson

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Hi, my name is Rainn Wilson and here’s an
animated introduction to the Baha’i Faith that I put together with the help
of some friends. So I’m going to be trying to give you a general overview of the Baha’i Faith and it does bear noting that there are no clergy in the Baha’i
Faith so I’m just a regular Baha’i just like all of the other regular Baha’is on
the planet and I have my own perspective my own way of seeing the world and
interpreting the Baha’i holy writings. There are no Rabbis or Priests or Gurus
or Mullahs in the Baha’i Faith. No intermediaries between the common
worshiper or devotee and the holy writings or God. That is to say that this
little exploration in no way should be viewed as definitive or official in any
way. Just one guy’s perspective on what his faith is about. I want to start off
by talking about the word ‘cosmology’ literally the word means the study of
the cosmos ‘loggia’ plus ‘universe’ or ‘cosmos’ something like that but I’m using
the word as it relates to an overarching worldview. Taking a look at a belief
system from a 20,000 foot perspective. So, before we get to the cosmology of the
Baha’i Faith, let’s take a quick look at some of the other ones.
What is the cosmology of atheism for instance. Probably some words and
thoughts come immediately to mind like science and evolution, the Big Bang. So,
the Atheist universal belief system or cosmology in broad strokes is that there
was a big empty space and then there was some kind of explosion from a tiny speck
and within seconds, atoms erupted and formed into molecules and elements and
all of this energy and matter burst forth from this primal point eventually
becoming galaxies and solar systems and planets like ours. Energy, matter plus
apparently dark matter and dark energy and time itself were all created in one
random explosion over 13 billion years ago. So, our watery, mudball earth was spinning around our Sun for a few billion years
and then something happened, I don’t know, maybe a lightning bolt hit an ocean or a
meteorite fell in and created the first tiny specks of molecular life.
The specs eventually became guppies which eventually became tadpoles and
eventually crawled on land and became pterodactyls and marmosets and bunnies
and apes and then human beings. Voila! Evolution! Science is then the driving
force behind the universe which has no underlying or objective meaning
according to an atheist or a materialist. The consciousness that we are
experiencing right now is simply a result of our highly evolved and very
large brains. There’s not any real difference between us and monkeys. We
just have larger brains that have evolved into being able to know that we
will someday die. Brains that can create beautiful works of art, fall in love. Our
highly evolved consciousness is simply a matter of more evolved gray matter. The
only meaning we find in life is purely subjective and personal. If our work
gives us meaning or our family or children or hobbies or nature, great go
for that thing. There’s no supernatural creator ‘God’ as his existence can’t be
scientifically verified and therefore there’s no objective moral truth. Now
let’s think about what a Christian cosmology might look like. Forgive me for
being reductive or simplistic with either of these belief systems, but in a
nutshell there were a number of Jewish prophets every few hundred years in and
around Judea and Palestine and then all of a sudden God sent His only begotten
Son. Jesus Christ was born of the virgin birth, was baptized, saw the Holy Spirit
manifested in a dove and preached the gospel, performed many miracles and
eventually was put to death. The only way to the father is through him and he died
for our sins on the cross and then was resurrected three days later and went
back up to be with his father. Someday he will return and take true believers with
him and or rebuild the kingdom of God on earth. The Christian universe view holds
that salvation of one’s immortal soul comes from believing in Christ, being
baptized and that good Christians eventually go to heaven and that most
others go to hell. Now, there’s a lot more to Christianity than that, just as
there’s more to atheism than what I previously described but it gives you a
wide angle lens view of what they believe.
Now, let’s take a look at the Baha’i cosmology. I’ll start with one word, one
name: Baha’u’llah. Baha’is follow the teachings of Baha’u’llah who was the founder of the Baha’i Faith. He lived not long ago actually, in the mid 1800s and was a
Persian nobleman who turned away from his high status position and instead
became a great spiritual teacher. The name Baha’u’llah means the glory of God.
In Arabic ‘Baha’ is glory and ‘Allah’ is God of course. It’s those two words kind of
mashed up together and this is what Baha’u’llah taught: Baha’is believe
there is only one God call him or her or it whatever you like: Allah, Jehovah, Gaia
the Great Spirit but all people who worship are praying to the same God. An
all-loving, all-knowing, creative force in us and around us as well as in an
infinite amount of other universes beyond this material one. So, point number
one, there is only one God. This is the first key aspect of the Baha’i cosmology:
one God. Remember that. The next aspect is: that there is only one religion, that’s
right, but Baha’u’llah taught that, there is in actuality, only one religion. Now, you
might say ‘hey that sounds crazy there’s dozens of religions and they all believe
in hundreds of very different things how can that be?’
Well, Baha’u’llah taught that there is only one faith ever unfolding as revealed by
that one God that I previously mentioned. This one faith is gradually revealed and
updated by certain divine teachers who come along every 500 or
1000 years or so. You’ve heard of many of them before. Holy men or prophets or messengers, they go by the names of Abraham, Zoroaster, Krishna, Moses, the Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The forerunner of the
Baha’i Faith the Bab and now Baha’u’llah. Think of it this way, you have a computer
that gets various updates to its operating system, right? You’ve got Cougar
and then Leopard and the Mountain Tiger and Mountain Leopard 3.5
etc. They all build on one another. When you get a new operating system it’s an
update to what was there previously. Same with
iPhones you had the 3 and then the 3s and the 5s and now the 7
or 8 or whatever phone is next. Well, it’s the same thing with religion. Just
as humanity needs to progress materially, socially and technologically, we as a
species need to progress spiritually as well. God takes care of this by sending
his specially appointed messengers and teachers to update his message or his
operating system. Baha’is call this idea of a gradually unfolding faith of
God ‘progressive revelation.’ Baha’u’llah calls this one faith that is
progressively revealed the “changeless faith of God” eternal in the past, eternal
in the future. And eventually a long time from now this Creator will send more
holy teachers for humanity’s spiritual guidance. Now it’d be easy to look at the
differences in the various religious faiths that these men founded. There are
certainly a great deal of differences between say Islam and Buddhism but if
you really look at what the prophets themselves taught, what they specifically
said, or what they were supposed to have said. Remember, people usually didn’t
write down what they were saying for hundreds of years after they died. There
are way more similarities than differences. What are some of these
universal truths taught by these divine manifestations of God? Well, how about the idea that we should all love one another? That’s pretty universal through all
religions. All you need is love, the golden rule exists in some form in
literally every major world religion. What about the idea that there is a
reality greater than our merely physical life? That there is some kind of
afterlife, that our reality is not that we are just bodies in three-dimensional
space but that we have a soul or spirit that continues on its journey after the
lease on our meat suits runs out, that this material world is kind of an
illusion and that there is a deeper reality above, beyond and behind this
physical veil. This goes hand-in-hand with the concept that we have dual
natures. Although the physical world has its importance, the pursuits of selfish
animal, sensual or ego focused desires and fulfillments of our baser needs are
pointless and will not ultimately make us happy. But, if we pursue spiritual
service to others and goodly deeds and compassionate acts they will lead to
true fulfillment and spiritual bliss. Prayer and meditation, those are two universal actions for enlightenment that run through all the world’s major
religions. The concept that there is a divinely ordained idea of right and
wrong, a morality as it were, good deeds and bad deeds and that there are
reverberations and repercussions for both. The lists of commonalities goes on
and on. So, what did Baha’u’llah, the most recent prophet of God, teach? Well, I’d
like to go to a metaphor about these prophets that is really interesting, Baha’u’llah calls these holy teachers ‘divine physicians.’ He says this, and it’s
kind of a long quote, so get ready. You ready? Okay, here we go, “the all-knowing
physician hath his finger on the pulse of humankind. He perceiveth the
disease and prescribeth in his unerring wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problems and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the
world needeth in its present day afflictions can never be the same as
that which a subsequent age may require… Be anxiously concerned with the needs of
the age ye live in and center your deliberations on its exigencies and
requirements…” So, as I see it in a nutshell he’s saying that these divine
physicians come down to earth at a specific time and place and do two things:
They diagnose the illness for the time and place and they prescribe a cure, a
spiritual cure for what the world needs at that time, just like a doctor but and
it’s the last sentence of the quote that I love most: “be anxiously concerned with
the needs of the age you live in.” The last sentence is a command: “be anxiously
concerned.” And basically focus your conversations and actions on today’s
urgent needs and look for solutions. So, and here’s my question for you, if you
were a divine physician, sent down to diagnose the world’s spiritual problems
in this modern age of humanity, what would you come up with? and what
would you prescribe for that illness? I’ll give you a second. Okay, times up.
I’m guessing you might have thought about all the disunity on the planet
today, right? Differences of race, class

 

41 Responses

  1. Thomas Hernandez

    October 28, 2019 4:21 pm

    Great video! And what a wonderful gift for the Bicentenary! Can't wait to show it to my friends!

    Reply
  2. Rob Izadi

    October 28, 2019 9:30 pm

    Wow! What an amazing video by Rainn Wilson, a true spiritual educator and guiding light illuminating the path towards embracing a world vision, no matter our belief, culture or area of the world we are from. Thank you for producing this truly unique and awe-inspiring video, which everyone needs to watch to understand the potential prosperity of humankind in striving towards unity in diversity.

    Reply
  3. You Can't Be This Dumb

    October 29, 2019 3:16 am

    I grew up as a Bahai but I never wanted any type of religion in my life as I was so tainted by what I had seen in other religions. It wasn't until I was older that I realized how lucky I was to be exposed to the Bahai teachings a s a child in the 80's. Funny thing is my whole adult life I lived by what I had learned as a child but just never connected the dots. I still don't call myself a Bahai like the rest of my family does, but I am still registered as one and in the end still live my life as one. Yay.

    Reply
  4. terry trumps

    October 29, 2019 1:58 pm

    Why are we conflating atheism with science? I won't argue that most atheists DO accept these things as true, but to say that "atheists believe" anything is a faulty way to start. The ONLY thing you know about an atheist is what they DON'T believe; it literally tells you nothing (for sure) of what they DO believe. Not believing in a god is the only thing all atheists must have in common. After that, they're just people making people decisions.

    Reply
  5. Irina Musuc

    October 30, 2019 9:32 am

    I loved it. Brilliant work! Very concise, comprehensive and clear way of explaining the core of the Baha'i beliefs!

    Reply
  6. BuzzKill

    October 30, 2019 2:19 pm

    Hey Rainn/everyone, thanks for the video. Me and a friend watched it together and were discussing it afterwards. We werent sure how exactly women are oppressed/subjugated in the developed nations. Could you give us some examples?

    Reply
  7. Hemmage

    November 2, 2019 9:59 pm

    Interesting overview on the Baha’i faith. I learned a few things.

    That said, while it is hard to disagree with the overall message to live in peace and harmony, there are a couple of “issues” with this video…
    1) the atheist “cosmology” is not the Big Bang and/or science. What atheists have in common is a lack of a belief in the supernatural or specifically a supernatural creator because it cannot be demonstrated to be true.
    2) while the video explains what people of the Baha’i faith believe, it doesn’t explain why they believe it to be true. Perhaps this wasn’t the intent, but as someone who is concerned about justifying actions and thoughts based on truth instead of faith, I find this omission to be problematic.

    Reply
  8. Darren Hedley

    November 4, 2019 9:22 pm

    Excellent presentation, thank you. If someone wants to learn the Truth, they need to keep an open mind, be objective and not allow themselves to be prejudiced by whatever background they might come from. It is nice to see people commenting, I do hope people can have respect for others' beliefs and opinions and avoid bombing with multiple comments (the digital equivalent of shouting to get your way) about subjects which are well-explained in other locations. One comment on the content: I would refer to 1848 for Baha'u'llah's first engagement in promoting the equality of women and men, at the conference of Badasht, which He was behind, and Tahirih's dramatic statement, check it out in *God Passes By*.

    Reply
  9. Karen McCants

    November 7, 2019 1:49 am

    "When the lease on our meat suit runs out…"😂😂😂 Awesome video–love the Baha'i Faith–it's what the world needs!❤️🙏🏽❤️🙏🏿❤️🙏🏻❤️

    Reply
  10. Sean J

    November 7, 2019 1:57 am

    Amazing, already shared it with my friends. How can anyone dispute such wonderful teachings. Also love the site BahaiTeachings.org

    Reply
  11. Tam Nelson

    November 9, 2019 2:25 am

    You're wrong in your representation of what atheism is. Atheism is a lack of belief in a God or gods, period. Nothing more and nothing less. There is no such thing as an atheist universal belief system. Atheism is literally nothing more than a non- belief in God(s). There is no atheist cosmology.

    Reply
  12. Mus Jo

    November 12, 2019 3:16 am

    Thank you for the video. It is interesting to learn about other faiths especially when it is so similar to my faith, Islam. In Islam, we believe that:
    1. There is One God (the supreme being, no image, no human-like characteristics). He created the universe and all that is in it (heaven, earth, hell, angels, devil, animals, nature)
    2. Humanbeings are not evolved from apes, but is one of His best creations of God (humans are created with emotions, minds to think and do wonderful or destructive things).
    3. No intermediaries in Islam. Humanbeings can connect and pray straight to God even if there is no Imams, Mullahs or Ulama. Direct connection to Almighty.
    4. This world (material, physical world) is created by Him but will eventually one day come to an end. As all things die or come to and end, so as this world we live ine. The final destination is the Heavens where all of His creations will reunite and be with Him.
    5. Therefore, in order to maintain order, harmony and peace on earth in preparation for the after life, God sends down prophets and his Messengers as teachers, guides and reminders to humanbeings not to transgress in their actions. Prophets are sent to established empires/civilizations (to pharoahs, kings, tribe leaders who had transgressed, caused misery to their people or to others).
    6. Believing in past Prophets and their teachings is one of the pillars of Islamic faith. Muhammad is sent as the final and seal of all Prophets and mercy to all. He came to verify all other prophets teachings, he came to repair what has been damaged and to heal this modern world which is more compelexed than those living in previous era.
    7. People may argue that Prophet Muhammad have no miracles unlike Jesus (cure the blind, wake the dead), Moses (speak to God, change stick to Snake), Solomon (talk to birds, control the unseen)…..but the miracle that he has is the Al-Quran (words of God) and his Sunnah.
    Through Quran and Sunnah, God is sending humanbeings the solution to all the modern day problems such as how to worshiop God, how to treat parents, friends, neighbours, how to do business transactions without deceiving, how to walk, talk, eat, how to negotiate, how to govern, how to be compassion and forgiving, how to strive for success, science and all others,how to coexsit and live in a multi cultural environment.

    Reply
  13. Lawrence Michalec

    November 13, 2019 9:38 pm

    I found your channel on Lunatic dad channel There was a bad on it promoting your channel with this video I subscribed for sure

    Reply
  14. Phillip Gray

    November 14, 2019 6:51 am

    This is gonna go over horribly, BUT, if I was going to start a new world order this is how I’d do it. Religion is a powerful political weapon in the right hands. Is there a better way to establish a one world government? I’m just saying..
    Always love Rainn Wilson though!

    Reply
  15. NaeimG

    November 14, 2019 3:55 pm

    At last, a concise clear and refreshing introduction, presented in a straightforward way without the usual airy emotive undertone. Thank you Rainn and team. Please use this model to elaborate on other subject matters.

    Reply

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