What is Baha’i?

The fundamental principle enunciated by Baha’u’llah… is that religious truth is not absolute but relative… that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony… that their teachings are but facets of one truth… that they differ only in the nonessential aspects of their doctrines…. – Shoghi Effendi

Baha’i is the attempt to synthesize Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism. Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. It interesting to look at their attempt at a synthesis.

We will take just one doctrine, “Baha’is believe in one God” (Frances Worthington). Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have no problem with this, accept Christianity will insist on a Trinity.

But, in Buddhism, there is no creator God. And in Zoroastrianism, there are two Gods. So how do they deal with this? They do what every other synthesizer does, distort the teaching they don’t agree with. Christ becomes “the second Buddha, Muhammad the third, the Bab as the fourth and Baha’u’llah the fifth” (Frances Worthington).

I have seen this before in Theosophy. The commitment to the unity of all religions means that you have to distort all the teachings of the various religions into a single truth. And the single truth is what the author has already predetermined.

This is not what Anekanta-vada is about. Accepting multiple perspectives does not mean that each is equally valid, equally clear, or equally helpful. Different religions really do contradict one another. Even in essential doctrines.

Published by

Jay N. Forrest

Zen Humanist Teacher.